Giving Blood

I remember, when I was young, accompanying a friend who was donating blood. Her grandfather was in the hospital. I sat with her and when she was done with the bloodletting she sat at the table to have some juice. She immediately passed out, slumped in the chair and hit her head on the table as she was going down.

I thought then that this was no easy thing.

In the years that have passed I got over that. I have donated blood. Pints and pints. Certain drives for people in need. After 9/11 my husband and I sat with veins exposed because we didn’t know what else to do. And many other instances.

Once you get on their list it tends to become a habit.

It’s easy.

Most likely this stems from memories of my father when I was a young girl. On so many Saturday mornings, after a long week of work, he would come home from blood drives sporting stickers saying “I gave blood today.”

My dad is not feeling well at the moment. And he will soon be having blood transfusions. I am far away from him but like to think that this is a cycle. He, who gave life, not just to me :) but to many others by giving up just an hour of his time, will be the recipient of some new blood.

This week I am going to donate my blood once again.

Because it’s the easiest thing in the world. And because my father taught me well.

Not by telling me what to do. But by his example.

 

Six Years

I just received a notification from WordPress wishing me a “Happy Anniversary.” Apparently it’s been six years of blogging.

Seems hard to believe.

Started the blog (okay, Annie helped set up the blog) because I realized I had too much to say and a Facebook status was not going to cut it. I’d lose virtual friends -left and right -if I let my blathering loose.

Was also in the process of quitting smoking at the time and I had a bit of nervous energy I needed to dispel.

So the blog was born.

I soon realized it was a fabulous place for me to document everything I wanted to share.

Hopefully, my kids can look back one day and know exactly how their mother felt about so many things.

It’s a bit of a mishmash. This blog incorporates memories of my family, friends, and old neighborhood. It includes jobs, travels, life lessons, relationships, current events and so much more. Sometimes the postings are happy and chirpy. And sometimes they aren’t.

That’s life.

But this is definitely not a fictional account. And it is the world according to Mary. The only faulty thing on the pages is my memory. Not as keen as it used to be.

Every single posting is here for a reason.

Many thanks to my email followers, fellow WordPress bloggers and those that might just stop by once in awhile. I really appreciate you reading along and I value your feedback.

Sincerely,

Mary

Keep Trying

I never posted this although I wrote it more than two years ago. Not sure why. Maybe because I wanted to respect his privacy. It seemed so personal. I suppose it still is.

Since the time of this writing I reconnected with Billy. He joined Facebook and sent me a request. I accepted.

There once was a boy in the neighborhood where I was raised. His family belonged to the same parish. We attended the same Catholic school. He was good friends with my older brother. He was quick witted and funny. Kept the nuns on their toes.

I always liked him. Some of my memories include him wearing his signature polka dotted hat, making crank calls to Monsignor (bless his heart- I think Monsignor was starting to think he actually did order the pizza) and singing the words to a Frankie Valli song, at the top of his lungs, in the middle of the football field near my house. “I love you, baby. And if it’s quite all right, I need you baby……”

He was one of the few kids in our neighborhood that went out of state for college. Sort of a big deal.

The last time I saw Billy was more than thirty years ago. We went downtown to an Irish pub together. I didn’t usually hang out with him since he was my older brother’s friend and I cannot recall how we got thrown together that night. But we had a great time. And he was a gentleman.

My brother worked for his father’s company for years. And they remained friends. But Billy ended up taking a wrong turn and he got lost. Everyone takes detours. But he couldn’t seem to find his way back.

Whenever I visited home I always asked my brother, “How’s Billy?”

Hoping that I would hear, “He’s doing fine.”

But they were out of touch.

And I never got the answer I was seeking. That he was getting well. That it was only temporary. That he would get it together and live a happy life.

He is now in a place that no one would want to be.

His father’s death this week prompted this posting. I was actually going to write about his dad but I got sidetracked.

I didn’t know his dad that well since most of his kids were older than me. But I do know he was an amazing man. Someone I would want to be like. He was a man of faith who demonstrated it every day by helping others. Visiting sick neighbors. Mentoring young people. Taking young guys under his wing. Many a young lad sought him out, instead of their own dads, when they needed help. He was a man of compassion. He helped people change their lives.

Anyway, I remember saying to my brother, “It’s heartbreaking. His dad touched so many but he couldn’t reach him.”

My brother looked at me and said, “It wasn’t for lack of trying.”

I thought about that. We always tell our kids to keep trying. Our employees. And so many others.

We need to keep trying to help others. It is not just about us. It is about living life, making mistakes, learning from them and then helping others. We need to be compassionate.

I hope the clever boy who once had an impish grin will one day find his way. I know it will require some help and some compassion. Until then, whenever I hear this song, I will remember him standing in the middle of a football field singing at the top of his lungs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGFToiLtXro&feature=related]

Update.

Billy found his way. On a good and healthy path. Recently celebrated a year of clean living. In Facebook messages he told me that the worst of his experiences led him to turn his life around and in retrospect he was grateful. I was happy for him and his family. He said that my obvious happiness in life made him smile. And called me “kiddo” in one message. Made me chuckle because even when we are in our 50s we still consider the people we grew up with as “kids.”

I received a message yesterday morning that Billy had been killed. Was stabbed outside a convenience store late Tuesday afternoon. I have no details other than that. They didn’t catch the guy who did it yet.

It’s just such a shame. It’s a shame that his father didn’t have the chance to see Billy trying. And it’s a shame he won’t have the opportunity to enjoy years of healthy and happy living. It’s a shame that his mom and family have to go through this heartbreak.

Every time I hear the song, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” I will think of Billy Mc Kenna standing in the middle of the football field -just singing at the top of his lungs.

BillyMcKenna

Rest in peace.

All Different

I was at lunch the other day with a friend. We were discussing many things but one topic that came up was how we are all so different. What is pleasing to one person might not be pleasing to the next person. I was talking about the resale shop I had worked in for the last two months as a prime example. You never know what will appeal to a person. And the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is definitely true.

Then we moved on to gift giving. And how you need to do it with no strings attached.

In that same vein we also discussed accepting the fact that the recipient might not like the actual gift. Back to the no strings business.

How many times have we given someone a thoughtfully chosen present? And then we never see them use, display or appreciate it? And we get a little miffed?

There is a reason for this. They probably didn’t like it. Or need it. Or it didn’t suit them. Or some other reason.

Maybe it wasn’t as thoughtfully chosen as we like to think. Sometimes we choose gifts based on what we think others need, like, or want. And sometimes we are dead wrong.

I can think of plenty of gifts I/we have given to folks in the past only for them to sit unused and collecting dust.

So, another lesson in the life book for me.

Be truly thoughtful when giving gifts. It should be about them and not about us. And when we are truly thoughtful and they still don’t like the gift then accept that. I am sure they appreciate the present. They just might not like it. And that’s okay.

We are all unique and our likes are quite varied. Clothing designers are in business because they know this.

I thought back to my recent birthday. A few of my friends gave me a beautiful red lacquered Chinese box.

Afterwards, I remembered a conversation that one of those friends and I had about Chinese furniture. She mentioned that she wasn’t a big fan of all the lacquer. I said that I had never gone in big for it in the past but that it started to grow on me and I now really like it.

When it was time to shop she chose a present that she knew I would like. Not what she liked or she thought I should have.

It shouldn’t be about us.

 

 

Parents

It’s Christmas time again. Not sure how that happened. I mean, like I had a 364 day heads up to start preparing. And I did nothing with it. At all.

I am now 50. Yeah, that just happened. I had quite a bit of notice on that one also. But I do feel like I have done something with it. I’m not done, of course, but I’m in a good place.

Yes, I have wrinkles, spots, stretch marks and a few extra pounds. And all of these things tell my unique story. So they can stay. Ok, except for those stubborn pounds. Maybe I will work on those guys. One of these days.

This is not what bothers me about being fifty. What bothers me is not that I have aged. It is the fact that others have.

I see my contemporaries losing their parents. Every time I hear of someone losing a parent my heart really, really breaks for them.

See, I am blessed. I still share the same earth as my parents. And the truth is that I cannot imagine a world without them in it. Might sound a tad unrealistic. But it is the absolute truth. Because I think they are the best. They are my “go to” people.

I really don’t want a thing for Christmas. Because I already know that I have been given and continue to enjoy one of the greatest gifts.

My parents.

Thank you, Patrick and Eileen, for being the best parents for me. You know how much I love you. But you’ll never really know.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate! And for those that don’t I hope that you still find a way to incorporate some form of thankfulness into your day.

I woke up this morning, prepared my cup of coffee, opened the fridge and found that there was NO MILK! How does that happen????

First feeling?

Utter annoyance. And I’ll be honest. Sort of bordering on anger. I was looking to blame the last milk drinker. Or the one who should have put it on the shopping list.

This is my routine! How I start my day! Get my engines running!

Then I said, “Oh Mary, you’ll just have to take it black.”

Umm, because that was my only choice? It was that or no coffee at all. I decided to have the coffee. In its oh-so imperfect state.

Many people feel that they don’t have a choice when they wake up in the morning. Their routine is disrupted. Life has turned their world upside down. It could be that a loved one is battling an illness. Or war has caused them to flee their home. Or they’re starving. Or they have lost a family member. Or suffered indignities and maybe even death fueled by racism, sexism and any other ism.

So I actually thought, “Mary, it’s just a cup of coffee.” I then shrugged off any residual annoyance I might have been feeling. And was thankful for a cup of coffee.

Sometimes we have to take it black. Because if we don’t then that means no coffee at all.

It’s not our usual. And we might not even like it at all. Might even hate it. But there just might be some healing power in our adjustments to life’s disruptions. Big and small. We cannot escape life’s curve balls but we can choose hope over despair. And choose how we deal with the blows.

I’m now going to get my second black coffee. Because the lure of what could be is still somewhere in that cup. And I do want some of that. Even if it’s different from yesterday.

My thoughts and prayers today are for those who are struggling with life’s challenges.  May miracles abound, your worries cease and your cup runneth over.

I wish you and your families many days of Thanksgiving.

 

 

Note: I am fully aware of what is going on in my home country at the moment. That’s another posting. So my unintentional phrasing might seem a bit ironic. But I see that the parallels are there. There are a lot of folks who have had to “take it black” their entire lives. Just because they are black. I hope for peaceful solutions that will someday ensure justice and equality for all.  There’s no shame in being angry. Hopefully, that anger can be channeled into a positive and peaceful force for a marginalized people. 

M.

 

 

 

 

Check Yourself

Almost the end of October! My, how time flies!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Everyone knows that.

And everyone knows someone who has battled this terrible disease. Some have lost the battle but many have won.

I recently attended an American Association of Malaysia benefit for this cause. One of the things I learned was not just that one in eight women will be stricken with it. But that many more women are living with breast cancer today than dying from it.

Because of early detection. Get your mammograms. Check yourself.

For you hipsters with iPhones there is even an app. Check it out. And check yourself.

http://www.upworthy.com/this-selfies-worth-taking-because-it-could-save-your-life-it-saved-hers?c=ufb1

It matters. You matter.

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