Archive for the ‘Growing Old’ Category

I have a birthday coming up soon.

Don’t mind the birthdays so much. Maybe because I really hardly ever know old I am.

Been known to say to one of my brothers, “How old are you?”

And then I do the laborious math.

I know the difference of years between us.

What do I mind about getting older?

Wrinkles? Forgetfulness? Weight gain?

No, the thing I really do mind is my eyesight not being as keen as it once was.

I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my Dad. I was a young girl and I was threading a needle.

My Dad said, “I remember when I was a boy in Ireland threading a needle for my Granny.”

Oh my gosh.

I’m now the Granny.

I’ve worn the “cheaters” for years. Pushing them back on my head when I didn’t need them to see fine print. Hair had a permanent imprint from the glasses.

Finally succumbed to multi-focal glasses. Wasn’t easy getting used to them.

I’d be climbing down stairs and escalators making sure I didn’t kill myself due to a misstep while looking out the distance lens when I should have been looking a little closer to home.

I appeared, on more than one occasion, to be really challenged.

Now I am wearing them all the freaking time!

I remember a few years back, while we were taking a family photo, saying to Mom, “Do you want to take your glasses off for the photo?”

She said, “Why would I want to take them off? I wear them all the time.”

Ummm, okay.

See, I’m not there yet.

I have nothing against glasses. Some of my best friends wear glasses. LOL

I just realize it’s not so easy.

How do you put makeup on each day? You need your glasses to see but how can you apply eye makeup with the glasses perched on your nose?

The other day I was in a hotel room. Before I hopped in the shower I lined up the shampoo, conditioner and shower gel in order of use.

Because I don’t wear glasses in the shower.

So, I’m like Mr. Magoo in a steam filled cubicle.

I’m not sure what I should do.

I could be chasing the botox people down, hiring a trainer to tone this fifty something year old body and furiously doing crossword puzzles to help my memory.

But what I am thinking about is laser surgery. If I am a candidate.

Not just because of the makeup or because I might put shower gel in my hair. Or gargle with astringent. Or brush my teeth with facial hair remover.

But because I want to see everything. Without assistance.

Like I did when I was young.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

My husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary in November. So, of course, I get to thinking about “that day” so many years ago.

It was a very small wedding. Maybe sixty guests. If that.

Many are no longer with us. My next door neighbors, Dot and Eddie and Mr. and Mrs. Thomson. My Auntie Elaine, my Uncle Pat, family friends Danny and Phyllis O’Hara, Frank P., my aunt’s in-laws Jargu and Gram, my beloved Nana, and my best friend’s parents Mr. and Mrs. Amerantes.

All gone.

And my Dad.

I posted this photo on my husband’s Facebook page with the caption, “Papa. Probably thinking, She’s all yours now. Good luck!”

wedding

So after I posted this photo one of my daughters asked me, “Do you still miss Papa?”

I said, “Yes, every day. Today I just wanted to ask him something.”

She asked, “What did you want to ask him?”

I replied, “Something about the family history. He loved that and always had time for me.”

But there are so, so many times when I just want to ask him something.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Good Health

When I was a young girl I would ask my father, “Dad, what do you want for your birthday?”

“Dad, what do you want for Father’s Day?”

“What would you like for Christmas?”

He would always, always say, “My health.”

I probably did an eye roll. What that even a thing back then?

Was hoping he would make my shopping easier. Because we are conditioned. We need to buy people presents on these special days. Would be nice if we had a clue as to what was wanted or needed.

He always meant it. He was nothing if not sincere.

Now I  am older. And Dad is gone.

If you asked me today, “Mary, what do you want for Mother’s Day? Christmas?”

I would say, “My health. The health of my family and friends.”

That’s all I want. That’s all I need.

Nothing else matters.

We don’t need to buy anything.

Some things just can’t be bought.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

I dropped my daughter off at the Rhode Island airport yesterday.

On the ride, I reminisced a bit.

Said, “Reminds me of all the times Papa (my father) picked us up at this very airport.”

I continued, “Papa knew a lot of people. Whenever we were out with him there would invariably be the hearty hello or head nod to/from some random person.”

Some years ago Dad was milling about the luggage carousel looking for my bags. Think we just arrived from Dallas via Chicago.

Guy walks by, “Hey, Pat, how are ya?”

Dad responds in kind.

Rhode Island is a small state. No surprise that you would run into someone you know. Or their cousin.

Few minutes later a woman strolls by, “Hi Pat! How are you?”

Dad smiles and asks her how she’s been.

Okay, doesn’t stop there. More and more people in our path with same, “Hi Pat, how are you?”

Ummm, Dad, this is getting crazy.

Dad finally clued me in on the situation. These people were all members of an Irish society based in Rhode Island. Can’t remember now whether it was the Irish Ceilidhe Club or Ireland’s 32 Society. Or another group.

Apparently they had been on a trip (and on same flight as me) and were returning back to Rhode Island from Chicago.

Just thought it was a lovely memory. And, according to my kid, I hadn’t shared it before which is amazing in itself. Because I am kind of a broken record with my stories.

Made me remember how I felt when I would first see my father as I was coming down the escalator at the airport after months away.

How he always did the heavy lifting. Not going to let his daughter pick up the heavy bags. ūüôā

Brought back the fact that everyone, who knew my Dad, had a smile when they greeted him with nothing but respect.

Made me remember that every time I left him in his later years, he said, with eyes filling, “We love to have you and we sure do hate to see you go.”

How it’s hard to arrive at the airport and no one in that crowd is eagerly and expectantly looking for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

There is a ten year anniversary coming up in the next week.

Not a happy one.

It was ten years ago that a school friend of my eldest daughter lost her life in an accident. Veronica was fourteen at the time. She held on for awhile but finally succumbed to her injuries on October 20th.

Her mother asked me in a message the other day, “Does it seem longer than ten years or shorter? Or both?”

So hard to answer. Ten years seems like such a long time ago for me. A lot has happened since that time. I moved from Dallas to California. And then overseas to Malaysia. My eldest, who was Veronica’s friend, graduated from university. I lost a parent.

Life went on and just happened.

And yet I can remember the day of the accident like it was yesterday. It was a beautiful autumn afternoon.

I’ve always been one for denial. When my daughter told me that Veronica had been in an accident I asked, “How do you know?”

She said, “Some of the football kids who were at Sonic came back and said it.”

I said, “Well, we don’t know for sure.”

Then we passed by the site and her yellow backpack was sitting there in the street while the rescue and police were securing the area.

Felt like I could vomit.

I didn’t know Veronica’s mom except for a community service project at the parish, communication about cross country car pooling and a confirmation of a birthday party.

But I did vow that I would not be one to drop off a casserole and just forget about them.

Can good things come out of bad? I guess her mom would have to answer that.

I remember, after we got word of Veronica’s death, thinking that I needed to make that call. Also thinking it would be the worst thing ever. How selfish of me.

Talking to my husband who was away at the time I said, “I can’t call her.”

He said,” You have to….”

I replied, “I know I have to but…”

He told me, “Call her tomorrow.”

I said, “I will.”

And then I paced and paced. Smoked a bunch of cigarettes. Went into my bedroom, locked the door and picked up the phone to dial. Shaking like a leaf on a tree. Knew I wouldn’t sleep if I didn’t call that very night.

Veronica’s mom picked up the phone. When she heard from me she said, “Oh, Mary, I am so glad you called. Your family is one I had hoped I would get to know better.”

We had some things in common. Being on our own in Texas while husbands were working in the Northeast. Cross country girls. Same parish.

A few days later Monsignor called me to say that the family wanted me and another mom to be the speakers at Veronica’s service. I agreed and it was one of the few times I actually felt God’s presence with me. I honestly did not think I could do it but I felt like God was just sitting on my shoulder.

This posting is getting a little long.

Veronica’s mother amazed me in so many ways. When she needed help she knew it and asked for it. And she never wanted to be known just as the mother of the child who died.

When she knew the yard needed raking she said it. And all the cross country kids came out and raked away and bagged up the leaves.

When the thought of taking down Xmas decorations was overwhelming she called me.

When she needed help cleaning the house she let me know. And we got it done. Laughing and crying.

She and her eldest came to my house for dinner and we went to hers. Went to movies and dinner. Had a celebration of life with balloons soaring into the air for Veronica’s birthday.

I guess my posting today is to remember a sweet girl who will forever remain a fourteen year old child to us. Even if ten years have passed.

But it is also a testament to the strength of her mother.

And it is also a reminder to not take even one single day for granted.

A beautiful autumn day or a muggy day.

Seems like a long time ago. Seems like yesterday. Seems like both.

RIP Veronica Grace Sheer

ronrory.jpg

ronrory1

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

My Mac died in Malaysia but was revived once I brought it to the Providence Apple Store.

Just like Lazarus.

Sadly, it died again two weeks later. So I am at a loss.

But thanks to us being an Apple family my daughter is letting me use hers to write this post.

I write about life. And I write about death.

I am home now. Visiting Mom and family for the summer in Rhode Island.

Read three obituaries in the last week. I either knew the person or knew the family of the person. It’s a small state. The place where I spent my formative years.

If I read the obituaries in Dallas (lived there twelve years) I would not know the folks. Sure, there would be the odd, unexpected death of someone in the community that I would know. But it would not be the norm.

I lived in Southern California for quite a few years. Same. Wouldn’t know a soul in the obits.

But once you come back home. Well, that’s different. ¬†You know everybody. Especially when you grew up in a state that has a population of one million.

Yes, I once was one in a million. #Truth.

I was attending the funeral of my best friend’s father-in-law yesterday. He was ninety years old. A lovely man who led a truly wonderful life. Nine children and twenty-four grandchildren. Also great grand children in the mix. A family man. A faith filled man. A community man.

I stood outside the Portuguese church waiting for the doors to open. I was told we couldn’t enter because there was another funeral taking place.

Standing with others who were also waiting to fill the pews for the next funeral Mass.

The doors of the church finally opened.

There was a hearse outside on the street with its doors open ready to receive the blessed remains.

I spied a teddy bear in the back of the hearse. But I was still not prepared for what I saw next.

The smallest coffin I have ever seen came out of the church doors. It only required four pall bearers. I almost gasped. My throat closed. I looked at another couple who was also waiting to go into the church. And I could only glance at them and whisper, “Oh, God!”

Watching the young mother broke my heart.

The mourners of the young child left and the mourners of the old man entered the church.

The whole stinking process is sad.

It made me think.

The loss of a beloved father. No matter how old.

But still. A feeling of gratefulness.

Because his death was one of the best scenarios.

He left this world.

After serving his country.

Meeting and marrying the love of his life.

Bringing eight fabulous sons and a daughter into the world.

Starting his own business.

Being a community member.

Involved in his parish.

Caring about others.

I left the funeral service with sadness because I understand what it means to lose a father.

But I also left with an appreciation of a life well lived. And I sort of felt okay.

Not everyone has the same opportunity. For whatever reason.

Bless us all.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

I met with a friend yesterday. We were chatting about this and that. Traveling was one of the topics. Specifically about airports.

Jenny¬†mentioned a line from the movie, “Love, Actually” which claims that the Arrival Gate at the airport¬†is the happiest place to be.

Yes, that’s so true.

Even though an arrival gate can be quite chaotic.

Go through the doors and there’s a mess of humanity staring you directly in the face. Before they quickly dismiss you as not being their person.They continue searching for their loved one. Holding signs. Flowers.

Anxiously waiting.

Then the cries of joy. The smiles and laughter. The hugs.

It’s overwhelming when it’s face to face-on the same floor level. For the ones coming out of the gate. Especially if you are a shorty like me! Desperately looking for their own loved one in the sea of bodies.

What I always liked about the small airport in my home state is that you had to ride down the escalator to the waiting crowd. It allowed a bird’s eye view, while descending, to scan the masses and seek out your own people.

Also allowed them to look up and find you gliding down slowly.

And I would see my parents. Standing together and smiling when they saw us.

Would nudge my kids, “Hey, there they are! There’s Nana and Papa!”

Although they would have already spotted them on their own.

I went home last summer and then again for Christmas and it was different.

My father would never again be waiting at the Arrival Gate for me.

So, we passed through the excited crowds, collected our baggage and hopped into a taxi.

The Arrival Gate is a happy place. Love everywhere.

But not always. Sometimes it’s a memory of love everywhere.

And those memories are truly cherished.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »