Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

“A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.”

I’ve read that quote more than once and I believe this to be the absolute truth. You all know how I feel about family. If we share the same blood/family we are members of a very special club. Ain’t nobody getting kicked out of it. Even if we no longer see each other very often.

I have more than twenty-five first cousins. But when I was a kid most lived in Ireland and some in England.

So, sadly, I didn’t share a childhood with all of my cousins. But that was just reality.

The ones who I did share my childhood with consisted of three families who lived in the U.S. like me.

They were my Dad’s sister, Rose Marie and her family in New York. In Rhode Island we had the families of Mom’s sister, Patsy and her brother, Jimmy.

Summer holidays and other times during the year were spent with the New York cousins.

Christmas, Easter, cookouts and regular Sunday visits to the grandparents were spent with the Rhode Island cousins.

Oh, what fun we had when we were young.

There were the older cousins in our (my brothers and me) age range and then a few younger ones came along in the 1970s. That was pretty exciting for us. Everyone liked babies and they were just absorbed. Welcomed into the fold.

That’s the funny thing about babies. They are not like the future in-laws who take awhile to break into the family. To be a part of the club and inner circle. Going through the initiation and all.

But a baby? Born into the family? The bouncer just lets that little bundle of joy right into the club! Like a celebrity with status. No stopping at the door, stamping its hand or questioning their right to be there. They’re totally in!

One of my baby cousins died on March 18th. John was just shy of his forty-seventh birthday. He will be interred tomorrow with his beloved mother.

I last saw him when he made the trip to Rhode Island for my Dad’s funeral three years ago. Even though it was a sad time I was really happy to see him and so many family members. These days everyone lives in different places and reunions are not always easy or frequent. So weddings and funerals are the “go to” places for the big catch ups.

John was a beautiful child. An adorable kid with a mop of curly red hair. He was intelligent and good humored. He was a nice and decent boy who grew up to be a nice and decent man.

He died young. Too young.

For the record, I think all deaths under the age of eighty are sort of tragic.

Today is no different.

John died because he was a human being. Lest we forget -we are all afflicted with that title.

A death reminds us that we are all human. Some might dodge the bullets of life. Others aren’t so fortunate and get hit head on. But we all know, really, that sometimes we just have no say or control. Our expiration date, like a milk carton, might (I say might) have been printed long ago. Even if we argue or beg that it could have been/should have been different.

It’s still tragic. It’s heartbreaking and sad.

One of the benefits of being in the cousins’ club is that there is only love. No jealousy or judgement. We’re family and are grateful for the shared and special memories. We take joy in the success and happiness of each other. We are sympathetic when one is experiencing family problems, job loss, illness and other maladies of life.

There is profound and utter sadness when we lose one of our gang.

When John was a baby I was sleeping at his house one weekend. Poor little thing couldn’t pronounce my name (Mary Beth) but he tried. In the morning I heard a little voice coming from the crib, “Maybell?”

Since then it’s been “ours” and we didn’t ever let it go.

So every year on our birthdays and other Facebook messages we used Maybell instead of my real name. Now, I’m wondering if he actually ever knew what my real name was.

Anyway, it was like we were little kids. He in his forties and me in my fifties. In a way, a simple word brought us back in time and kept us young. Even if it was for a minute. It was a shared memory.

See, because a cousin is a little piece of childhood that can never be lost.

John will always and forever be a part of my childhood that can never be lost.

We will miss you, John. Rest in peace. Like one of your sisters said, “Rest is not so easy right now on this side of Heaven.”

The club will no longer be the same, little cousin.

With all my love,

Maybell

 

 

In memory of John J. Kelly

1971-2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here is one more story about social media. And using it responsibly.

Maybe it’s more about responsible parenting.

I saw a posting/link on Facebook that someone shared.

About a father in Virginia teaching his ten-year-old son a lesson. The kid was kicked off the bus for bullying others.

Dad made his son run the mile to school each morning. Even in the rain. He filmed the kid’s punishment from the car.

It went viral.

His message to other parents?

Don’t be a friend. Be a parent. That’s what kids need these days.

He felt like filming his son’s punishment and sharing it with millions of strangers was a good parenting move. And I suppose some type of public service announcement for the world.

The father received a lot of positive feedback.

“Good for you!”

“Great parenting!”

“Yay!”

No one wants their kid to be a bully. I’m on the same page and I certainly appreciate his “no bullying” stance.

I don’t agree with anything else.

Good God, I hope he doesn’t run for elected office. Laugh out loud. You all know how crazy stuff can go down. Like a locomotive picking up steam.

I’m not into family shaming. At all.

Why on earth would I publicly shame my own kids? Or even my dog, Thumper?

I didn’t name any of them Hester Prynne.

They trust me. As their parent.

I’m not sure that kid is ever going to trust his old man. Any time that guy whips out a camera everyone is going to stop, drop and roll.

It’s our job, as parents, to determine why a child is bullying others or behaving inappropriately. What is the root cause?

Sure, punish the kid. Even make them walk everywhere because they lost the privilege of riding the bus.

But film it? And share it?

Sounds like something a bully might do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I was reading an article the other day.

Its title?

Six things that can help keep you young.

That caught my eye. Let me state, for the record, that I am aware of the attention grabbing numbers in an article’s title. A marketing thing that seems to work quite well. I’m guilty of succumbing to it. And then cruising through lists.

5 foods that will guarantee weight loss.

Top 20 universities in the world.

10 spots you must visit before you die.

20 best places to retire.

Bloggers are told if you want more “hits” use numbers and lists.

It’s nothing new. Because it has proven to be successful through the years. Most likely because of our limited attention spans and also knowing that we’ll be able to skim through the list in a timely manner. Without wasting too much time.

I don’t usually use it when writing. But I fall for it when reading.

Anyway, this one grabbed my attention and I thought it was a pretty good list.

Six things that can help keep you young. All doable.

Keep moving. Go for a thirty minute walk. Clear out a cupboard. Work in the garden. Don’t have to do everything all at once. But choose something every day to keep active.

Friends. Friends. Friends. Being connected is good for your health. It just is.

Quit smoking. This article stated that smoking one cigarette a day impairs cognitive ability and fifteen cigarettes hinders critical thinking and memory. Okay, I did not know that. If this is true it’s just one more reason that I am glad I stopped. Because my memory is not that great.

Eat like a Mediterranean. Fruits, vegetables, mixed nuts, fish, olive oil and whole grains.

Play games and puzzles. Whip out the daily crossword puzzle and also challenge yourself to some problem solving exercises.

I love, love, love this last one.

Revisit old favorites. Think about what made you feel good when you were young. Not sure why we abandon the things that once made us feel fabulous.

For example. I met a neighbor last Sunday and she brought me to her home. Her kids had friends over and they were playing in the living room. They built this fort with blankets draped over the chairs and sofas. Like I did when I was young. Like my kids did. Because it was soooo fun.

These children were having a blast. Smiles galore. I was happy just looking at them and I told them, “Oh my gosh! What fun! I did this when I was a kid. And so did my kids!”

Now, I’m not saying go grab blankets and build a fort in your living room. Or climb a tree.

But do something. Try to remember what brought you joy.

Ride a bike. Fly a kite. Listen to music. Go to the airport and just watch planes. Picnic with your friends.

Have a great week and I hope you all feel super young!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I received a notification today that congratulated me on my ninth anniversary of blogging.

Geez. Feels like those years went by rather quickly.

I could say a lot has changed for me in nine years. But you could say the same. I mean, that’s almost a decade. A long time.

Think about a baby being born and then fast forward nine years. Whoa. That’s a whole lot of change taking place.

One thing hasn’t changed and makes me so grateful. I am able to wake up and put my fingers on a keyboard and type away. That’s truly a gift. Each and every day. Not my actual writing. BUT the ability to move my fingers, read, type and comprehend. 

I’m also very grateful for YOU. Thank you for following my blog and for your many supportive comments along the way.

Also a big shout out and sincere thanks to my lovely daughter, Hannah, who was just a little kid nine years ago. Now she is a nineteen year old university freshman. It’s a pretty sure bet that if she didn’t set up this blog for me then it never would have happened. She also chose the name and tagline. Not bad for a pipsqueak.

Thanks again and have a wonderful weekend!

Big hugs,

Mary

 

 

 

 

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This past summer I was driving to my friend’s home in Rhode Island with my two daughters. It’s a lovely area near the beaches. Tree lined roads winding by horses grazing, babbling brooks and placid ponds. Gorgeous old, clapboard homes on green acres dot the landscape.

My eldest, who is twenty five, says, “This area is so beautiful. Not like the usual creepy New England towns.”

I exclaim, “What?? Creepy like how? A van with no windows is creepy. But not New England!”

Later on, while we are soaking up the sun on a fabulous beach, same daughter proceeds to tell my friend that ever since she was a little kid I’ve told her probably every single ghost story or mystery that took place in our part of New England.

Okay, when you put it like that. I sound like a monster.

It’s true. I might have pointed out a haunted house or two.

The Westport house where folks claimed a ghost resided.  One of the occupants fell asleep in a rocking chair and woke up with a haircut.

I probably mentioned the ghost of the red-headed hitchhiker on Interstate 195.

Most likely gave the background of the childhood rhyme about Lizzie Borden. I did take my youngest (seventeen at the time) to Lizzie’s house last year where the gruesome crimes took place.

I may have pointed out the lovely house that sits at the bottom of Metacomet golf course in my home town. Shared that murders were never a thing while I was growing up but a few years before I was born an elderly widow had been murdered in that very home during a robbery.

Could have mentioned the still unsolved mystery of the “New Bedford Highway Killer.” Eleven prostitutes went missing. Nine were found strangled and dumped in the woods. And that it was very possible a local attorney was the killer and actually indicted at one time. He moved to Florida in 1988 and there were no more murders on that stretch of highway since then.

Yes, I might have shared a story or two.

Dear Norah,

I’m very sorry and hope that you realize it’s not New England that’s creepy. Stuff happens everywhere.

It’s just your Mom who is creepy.

Hope I didn’t do too much damage. I’m just thankful that I spent a lot of quality, non-creepy time with you when you were young.

I absolutely loved cuddling up with you at bedtime every evening while reading you many, many wonderful fairy tales. As you peacefully drifted off to sleep.

Like Snow White and her killer stepmother. The orphaned Bambi who yearns for his murdered mother. Three little pigs trying to protect themselves from the wolf who wants to destroy their home. Hansel and Gretel’s great escape from the witch who attempted to burn them alive in an oven. And so many others.

I pray that, in some small way, it makes up for the ghost stories.

Love,

Mom

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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Flush

I was in Vermont at the end of June with my daughter who is preparing for university. We were in a hotel room getting ready for the day.

She was in the bathroom drying her hair and her bracelet somehow became unclasped and flew across the room and plunked right into the toilet.

Kerplunk!

What are the chances? Even considering the smallness of a hotel bathroom.

Why didn’t it land in the sink, tub or behind the toilet?

I glanced down at the clean bowl of water. The “Evil Eye” bracelet was staring up at me with something like eleven blue eyes.

Hmmmm. What to do? I’m not overly superstitious but did think that maybe we should attempt to save a piece of jewelry that was designed to ward off evil spirits. Didn’t seem too cool that it was sitting at the bottom of a toilet bowl.

I said hesitantly, “I’ll………”

She replied, “No, Mom, it’s okay. No, don’t.”

“Okay, but I would have totally done that for you.”

“We will see what housekeeping will do. Maybe they’ll flush it or retrieve it.”

Arrived back to the room later in the day and it was gone. We will never know if it was flushed, retrieved, trashed or repurposed on someone else’s wrist. And that’s just fine.

I did, however, have to ask my daughter this question.

“Honestly, what would you have done if it was your iPhone that ended up in the toilet?”

Don’t have to be a genius to figure out that answer.

 

 

 

 

 

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