Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

 

Last Sunday, my older brother and I were driving through the neighborhood where we grew up and Mom still resides.

We were talking about the train tracks along the river and I couldn’t remember when the trains stopped running. I recall sliding down, many a time, the steep hills to the river because that’s where kids played, built forts, caught poison ivy and smoked cigarettes. Boys rode their XR75s on the dirt paths. I certainly remember the tracks and hearing about hobos. But I don’t remember the actual trains.

My brother said they were still running when we were kids. Because he and his friend Billy would put pennies on the tracks so the train would flatten them.

We drove up First Street and we reminisced about who used to live in this house and that one.  When we got to the corner of First and Schuyler my brother pointed at a house and said, “So and so lived there. Always wanted to see if my name is still up there in that tree. Billy and I climbed it and carved our names.”

Billy and my brother grew up together. He died two years ago.

Shortly after he passed away my brothers and I were sharing memories of him on our whatsapp sibling group chat. I was in Malaysia, one brother in Connecticut and the other in Rhode Island.

Even though we were texting, and it was a tragically sad death, we were all literally laughing out loud recalling Billy. He was such a character and truly funny.

It’s odd how sometimes, at this age, we can hardly remember what we had for breakfast but there is such clarity in some memories that are decades old.

My little brother recalled the time that my older brother and Billy were supposed to be watching him. He was about nine or ten at the time so the older boys must have been about fourteen or fifteen. Billy and my brother really wanted to go a nearby Portuguese feast. So they dropped him off at their friend’s house and my little brother was left with the older sisters of people he didn’t even know! My older brother apologized (forty years later) and my younger brother claims he wasn’t scarred for life. Just felt a bit out of his comfort zone.

He also remembers when we would listen to the “crank call” recordings of Billy, my brother and their other friends. I definitely remember them. Because we would listen to them over and over again! Yes, Billy and company taped the actual calls. Even my mom thought they were hysterical.

My younger brother said, “Those tapes were comedy gold.”

He also said that was the very first time he heard the word “verify.”

Monsignor, the unfortunate (but not the only) target of the pranksters, said repeatedly that he did not order the pizza. He suggested that the pizza shop should call back the person to confirm the order.

Billy finished for Monsignor, “You mean to verify?!!??”

Monsignor said, “Yes.”

I remember Billy making me laugh when he was describing the telephone/address book at his house. He said the names were not all properly alphabetized by last name. He said it was so random. Like under the “P” tab it would say “Pat’s friend.”

My younger brother also remembered being on Cookie Hill with his friends. This was a small hill across the street from Billy’s house.

He said, “Billy was walking his dog (Moses) and wrestling around with him. He showed us little kids a peppermint tree. He cut the bark and it smelled exactly like peppermint.”

My older brother said Billy was the only kid that wasn’t afraid of my dad. That’s why my Dad liked him so much. My father probably seemed big and a bit intimidating to little kids back in the day. But not to Billy.

I guess it’s a good thing my dad never found out that my brother and Billy took his car for a little spin around the block.

When we finished up our reminiscing my older brother typed, “Love U both.”

I then typed, “Love U both, too.”

Younger brother types, “Ditto. Watching movie with Patty.”

I’m like, “Write it. U don’t get to say ditto.”

And he said, “I love u both.”

You take a moment and realize life is so very precious. Just like those childhood memories that haven’t faded in forty-five years. Ensuring some people will never be forgotten.

I’ve forgotten the train’s whistle but I remember so much.

 

 

Read Full Post »

The last six months have been very busy for me. At times quite stressful.

The weekend of my daughter’s high school graduation (she graduated on the Friday) seemed especially busy. My husband was preparing to fly back to India on the Sunday with Thumper (the infamous canine) in cargo. We were worried about the mutt. And doing a bunch of last minute things.

We drove them to the airport (an hour from our home) hours earlier than the flight to ensure all paperwork in order.

It was hot. But it’s always hot in Malaysia.

And I was sweating. But I was always sweating in Malaysia.

Had to rush home from the airport because a friend was in from Australia and we needed to meet a group for dinner.

It was rush, rush and rush.

Got home but no time for a shower. What to do?

Brushed my hair and put it up in a clip. Some lip color.

I stunk. Just being honest. So I grabbed a face cloth and soap and cleaned under my arms.

Because I smelled like a person who had labored all day in the Malaysian heat without deodorant. For the record I do wear deodorant. Sometimes it fails me. In Malaysia.

At least I’m aware of it.

Hightailed it out of the house with my daughters and our friends who lived two doors down to meet up with our visiting friends at an Indian restaurant in the city.

It ended up being a lovely evening. The young folks went home right after dinner. My daughters had an early flight out in the morning. My friend and I went with the visitors for a couple of drinks after dinner.

Not a late night.

Arrived home and readied myself for bed. Now, thankfully, I only smelled like Indian food and wine.

My eldest, who sleeps with me when she’s at home and my husband is not, mumbled a few words like, “How was it?”

I took that as my cue for conversation.

She’s not always a fan. Because I’m sometimes pillow to pillow, “Remember your friend, Melissa, from second grade? Whatever happened to her?” and the like.

So I said, “Was a good night with the friends.”

And then continued conversing.

She said, “Not tonight, Mom. Early flight tomorrow.”

Totally respected that and snuggled into my pillow for a good night’s sleep.

Few minutes later I hear, “Mom?”

“Yes?”

“When we came back from airport did you shower?” she asked.

“No! You know I didn’t have time for that. Had to get downtown. I just cleaned under my arms with soap and water.”

She continued, “With the face cloth that’s on the sink?”

“Yup.”

“Oh.”

Okay, I laughed out loud even though I was nearly in slumber town. Couldn’t help myself.  Total belly laugh.

I said, “I’m going to blog about this one day.”

She replied, “Be more embarrassing for you though.”

I retorted, “Not really. It was my face cloth. Who uses someone else’s face cloth????”

Wishing you all a fun weekend! With a belly laugh or two! I promise to be better at updating the blog!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

It’s that wonderful time of the year. Good will and good cheer!

And sometimes a bit awkward. The whole gift giving thing.

What’s the first thing we think of when we receive an unexpected present from a friend or neighbor during the holidays?

Not, “Isn’t this wonderful!” but more like,”OH NO, I didn’t get them a gift!”

We feel bad. Maybe a little thoughtless. Not sure why we are programmed in this way.

But what we really need to remember is that most of those people who are giving the gifts are acting without expectation.

Accept the gift graciously and thankfully. And then let it go.

Which leads me to another aspect of gift giving.

Thoughtfulness.

Have you ever attended a White Elephant gift exchange or a Yankee Swap party?

It’s a game where everyone brings a wrapped gift. Something that they’ve found hanging around the house or in the back of a closet. Because it’s unwanted. Might be really nice or kind of wacky but mostly unwanted. There’s a numbered system and also a “stealing” component.The results can be hysterical and entertaining. No one knows who brought what gift.

I recently attended one in my neighborhood. Chatting with the woman beside me while she secretly pointed out the gift she brought to the party. It was a lovely frame that her mother had given her.

She said, “I’m like, Mum, have you ever visited my home? That frame doesn’t match a thing! What were you thinking?”

I laughed because it’s so true.

When choosing a gift are we being mindful? Is it what they would really enjoy or is it what we like or think would be best for the recipient? It can be tricky. Our intentions are, no doubt, always good. But if we are thinking more about us than them then don’t be surprised if it’s wrapped up for next year’s White Elephant party.

This season I wish you all graciousness, thankfulness and acceptance of the many gifts you will receive. Material gifts and the ones that truly matter.

Act without expectation and don’t forget to throw in a bunch of thoughtfulness.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Many of us are already starting to feel sluggish from the many social events and holiday parties.

Here in Kuala Lumpur there is always something happening on the expat scene. It’s a lively and active social life. I’d say it’s because most of us don’t have our families around us so friends and neighbors sort of become substitute family members. Who tend to congregate with astonishing frequency and celebrate everything. Also a lot of us have extra time freed up for us which we wouldn’t have back home.

Since the second week of November I have attended numerous social events. Not all involved drinking (most) but all involved food.

There was a farewell brunch for a neighbor who was moving to Scotland. Then a 50th birthday party. Followed by book club later in the evening. Next night there was another 50th birthday bash. Different person. And then my monthly cultural club lunch. Had to beg off another monthly lunch gathering due to a conflict.

Then there was a lovely Thanksgiving dinner celebration with neighbors. Jazz night. Lunches with small groups of friends. Canadian Association coffee -and mimosas if one were so inclined. Christmas party with PTA. Holiday party next evening in the neighborhood. Book Club again. Couldn’t make my monthly culture club lunch this time. Unable to commit to an upcoming cookie exchange. Another goodbye gathering for neighbors moving to the U.S. took place last night.

I have one more event tomorrow. A Christmas luncheon with the Canadian and American Associations.

Then I am officially throwing in the towel.

It has totally been a blast. But quite exhausting. I’m feeling a bit sluggish. Need to recharge the batteries.

Here’s a recipe for those of you who have had enough already and want to get ahead of the game. And not wait until that pesky new year resolution ritual rolls around in January. Flush the toxins, suppress the appetite and possibly flatten the belly.

Flat Belly Water

Pour six cups of filtered water in a pitcher. Add one tablespoon of grated ginger. One sliced cucumber. One sliced lemon. Half cup of mint leaves. Let sit overnight in fridge.

Drink the next day.

I meant drink the water. LOL

Wishing you all loads of energy as you embrace the holiday season.

 

 

Read Full Post »

John Glenn, a true American hero, died at the age of ninety-five. What an amazing human being.

He’ll always be remembered as the first American who orbited the earth.

What he might not always be remembered for was his attempt at running for the presidency of the United States.

Hearing about his death brought back a lot of memories for me.

I didn’t know him personally but I sort of felt like I did. And I’m pretty sure there is a personalized thank you note from him hiding somewhere in my personal files.

Back in the early 1980s my mom was working for Billy who was elected to the State Senate. I remember being at his house on numerous occasions stuffing envelopes with a bunch of people around the table. It was a great experience being a part of something exciting.

Next thing I knew, I was on a bus with two of those fellow envelope stuffers (friends of Billy’s, Mom’s and mine) and about forty total strangers. We were heading to Nashua, New Hampshire to campaign, door to door, for John Glenn.

I was totally out of my comfort zone. The only two people I knew, John and Chip, were organizers of the event so I was on my own. With strangers. Yuck.

The first night I stayed with a host family. It was kind of creepy. I just remember feeling really uncomfortable. First time ever staying in a home with strangers. Did not want to stay another night.

So the second night I stayed in the hotel room with John and Chip. Totally not creepy.

Because I was friends with John. I went to school with him and we belonged to the same parish. He was one of the truest people you would ever want to meet.

Chip was always at Billy’s house or his office so I was also comfortable with him. He was one of the funniest guys.

Anyway, we ate pizza that night and laughed and laughed.

Of course, Chip just couldn’t wait to get back to Rhode Island to tell my mother that he spent the night with me. She got a chuckle out of that one. LOL.

It was over thirty years ago and quite a lot has changed since then.

Except the wonderful memories.

 

John Glenn was a courageous, respectable and decent gentleman. It was an honor to campaign for him.

Thank you for your service to our nation. Thank you for your authenticity and thank you for making me travel down memory lane today to fondly recall special people and moments.

You most definitely had “The Right Stuff.”

Rest in peace.

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

When I lived in Southern California I had the most wonderful dentist. Loved going each and every time. I wouldn’t be lying if I said it felt like I was visiting family. Everyone always asking about the kids. Even asking about Thumper the dog. The staff had been the same for years. Never any new faces. That’s very telling.

She was actually my neighbor -lived about five doors up from us. But I never saw her in the neighborhood so we caught up during my appointments.

Kind, funny, smart, beautiful on the inside and outside.

And she was a refugee.

When she was just five years old her parents, four siblings and a ton of other family members boarded a boat to escape Vietnam. No idea where they were going but the Dad knew they had to flee.

She told me she could remember being in a sack and thumping her head on the bottom of the boat.

They were rescued at sea, after floating for days amidst bombs, by a ship and soon found refuge in the United States. A Catholic Church in the Midwest sponsored them.

Sadly, her mom died from cancer some time after they arrived in the U.S.

Dad, a physician, ended up doing a fine job raising his children.

My dentist originally was pre-Med but once completed decided on dentistry. Her father had five children. All chose medicine or dentistry.  That’s a bunch of Drs. in just one family.

That is truly a success story. Against many odds.

Being a doctor might not necessarily be everyone’s idea of the pinnacle of success. We all know a profession is not the whole person. Doesn’t make you a better person or a person who is better than anyone else. But it is a wonderful accomplishment, an honorable profession and requires tremendous hard work. For anyone but especially for folks who start off fighting the odds without the usual support systems in place.

During the recent elections I read that a woman said her candidate would win if only the people whose four grandparents were born in the U.S. would vote.

I pondered that one. And I’d say she was probably right on the money.

But what she missed with that statement was that we all should be reminded that America has always been a nation of immigrants and refugees. Always. Even folks whose four grandparents (or great grandparents) were born in the U.S. have immigrant blood coursing through their veins.

 

My dentist arrived in a boat. Fleeing murder and mayhem. No papers. No nothing.

It was only through the goodness and generosity of the American people and a church community that allowed her family to not just survive the ordeal but to flourish. To serve the greater community. To become respectable, outstanding, tax paying citizens.

This story just reminds me of why I always loved my country. Her essence. The goodness, generosity and community of the people. Candidates and politicians come and go but I have every hope that the essence of America will and should remain the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

When you grow up with an Irish background-even if you weren’t reared in Ireland- you grow up with a bunch of phrases your non Irish friends would never hear or would probably never even understand. We don’t even understand them so how could they?

My Nana laughingly called the little boys and/or the male dogs in my house, “McGuffin.” As in, “How’s McGuffin?” Or “McGuffin was over today.” Or “McGuffin barked all night.” You always knew who or what she was talking about and responded accordingly without missing a beat.

I had a boyfriend, S., and he liked my grandmother. All of my friends did. We went to an Irish festival one weekend and he bought something for her. She loved it. It was a coffee mug with the name “Mc Govern” on it. Nana’s mom was Maggie Mc Govern.

I asked him, “How did you know that??? That it was a family name?”

He said, “Well, I bought it for her because she’s always calling everyone McGovern.”

I laughed out loud. All this time he thought she was saying McGovern when she was actually saying McGuffin.

So you sort of had to grow up with it to really get it.

“Mother Machree!!!” was another one spewed out on a regular basis. My mom said it when she was exasperated. I suppose it’s better than swearing. Machree means “of my heart.” When I was young I just thought there once was some old lady who went by the name.

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” frequented our home. The exclamation not the trio. Most everyone I knew in my neighborhood was Catholic but they weren’t Irish. Never, ever heard any of my friend’s parents utter this. Just mine.

I remember when I first started working at AT&T and sitting in the break room minding my own business. I heard this gal, Tracy, exclaim, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” Probably over spilled coffee. My head instantly popped up and I thought, “I don’t know you but I know you.” It’s like when little kids notice other little kids in a crowd. You just know.

This one I never really understood when I was little. Just accepted it like all the others. They’d say, “Oh, sitting there like Lipton’s Orphan.” What?? I understood it to mean a woeful being and I was correct. But what?? Where on earth did that phrase originate? Adult research shows the origin of the phrase stemmed from a Lipton Tea marketing campaign. An Irishman, a pig, etc.

Sorry for your trouble. A phrase used for bereavement. Trouble means to agitate spiritually or mentally.  Not just as we commonly think of it when referring to that pesky neighborhood kid. But a bit more than that. One will never be more agitated spiritually or mentally than when a death occurs. So the phrase is not wordy but totally appropriate. And very Irish.

As an American kid I (and my friends) used the word “terrific” for everything. The weekend was terrific! You look terrific! The concert was terrific! My grandmother used the word in its original form. As in terrifying. She would tell me about a terrible storm the night before (she was deathly afraid of storms and would stand on the cellar stairs until it passed) and say, “It was absolutely terrific!” I have to think that was an Irish thing as I never heard anyone else’s parents or grandparents using it in that context.

Plenty more phrases and sayings were thrown around the house. Those were just a few that popped into my mind.

The truth is that I’d give anything to hear a few of those sayings. From the mouths of those who used to say them.

But still very thankful I had the opportunity to hear them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »