Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

So, I recently began my fifty-ninth year on the planet. As my birthday approached I pondered on how to auspiciously mark the occasion.

What I did was this. I donated fifty-eight items. Things that I already had in my possession. I know it sounds big but it’s not. For me, anyway. And, going out on a limb here, probably not for you.

I have a lot going on at the moment, so probably putting more pressure on myself via lofty goals/challenges has a tinge of masochism to it. But that is how I roll. Remember when I did the 100 book a year challenge? Yeah, that was sick. That had me reading the last book on New Year’s Eve!!

Routinely, I cull the inventory in the home. I’m pretty good about it. But there is always more. When different charitable organizations (who pick up at your door!) ask for donations, I usually say, “Yes.” Because then I am totally committed. So, when they contacted me just before my birthday, it was a well-timed call.

I like giving. And I don’t like clutter. I also don’t want to leave messes for folks to clean up in my absence.

For my birthday, I gathered books already read, games not being played, supplies not utilized, clothes not being worn, vases, dishes, kitchen items and more. All things that someone else can use and enjoy.

Totally met my number of fifty-eight. Surpassed it actually. Easier than one would think.

Enjoy your weekend. Keep safe and healthy.

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Well, tomorrow is my birthday. And although tomorrow is not promised to any of us, if I wake up to greet another day then I will be fifty-eight years old. I did the math. It’s true. It feels strange to write that. The fifty-eight part.

I actually took a minute thinking about what I want for the special day.

I do not want cake. And I do not need candles to make wishes.

My preferred method of making wishes is blowing on dandelions that have gone to seed.

A month or so ago, I was chatting with the groundskeeper on the front lawn of a local church where I volunteer. Small world. His late Uncle was my English teacher in high school.

In the midst of the conversation I crouched down, plucked a dandelion and made my wishes. And in the process, most likely made this guy’s future work a bit more difficult by spreading more weeds.

He laughed and said, “I just knew you were going to do that.”

Now, I didn’t even know I was going to do that.

But I do it often.

When I visit my father’s grave there is always an errant dandelion.

I could look at it like, “Mary, you need to do a better job of tending this area.”

Or like I actually do, “This is a moment of solitude, conversation with my Dad and a time for wishes.”

Common folklore that has been attached to dandelions. In addition to granting wishes, many people believe that dandelion seeds will carry your thoughts and dreams to loved ones when you blow them into the air.

So, my birthday wish is to send my thoughts and dreams to my loved ones. Wishing only good health and time that is worry free.

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Here is number nine on the “Is it April yet?” list.

Find something to serve as a cheerful reminder that sunny days are just around the corner.

I have a few items scattered around my house for this very reason. I really love these guys.


They were a gift so I can’t take any credit for finding them. My daughter, Norah, bought them for my birthday last October.

I love everything about them.

Recycled/renewed. Unique. Useful.

I’m  even happy that I received them after the herb season ended.

Because that gives me just one more thing to look forward to this Spring.

They are displayed on a trunk right by the back door. Ready and waiting!

Find a cheerful reminder. Sunny days are just around the corner.


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Tomorrow is my father’s birthday. Those of you who know me personally are aware of how much I miss him. Not a day goes by that he is not on my mind.

But I write a lot about him. What I haven’t written about is my mother. The woman my father was crazy about since the day he met her.

My mother, weirdly enough, is very different from me. She has always been practical, direct, exact and organized.

Um, not me. She’s a Scorpio. I’m a Libra. You get it.

I look like her in many ways. Same height, weight depending on age, foot size, etc.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that she is actually one of the most positive people I know.

When Dad died, at the onset of Mom’s radiation treatments, I thought it would be really difficult.

It wasn’t easy.

But I had a mother who left every radiation session (and I mean every) saying to me as we were getting into the car, “I am so blessed.”

She was thinking of the young women that she chatted with in the rooms. That might have had it worse.

This from a woman who buried her husband a week ago.

She has always said, “No matter how bad things are you can always find some good in it.”

My mother lost her sister due to unfortunate circumstances when they were young and yet she still was there for her parents-writing out thank you notes-because they could not.

She told me, when her younger sister was having some heart problems-probably early 1980s-“I lost one sister. I am not going to lose another.”

She bought her mother a winter coat from her earnings. And also furniture for her parents’ living room.

My mom was the one who advocated for us, stayed up until we were all safely home and went up against folks in our defense.

She worked, maintained a household and did the very best she could.

She was responsible, acted like a parent and was a loyal mother, wife, daughter and sister.

I can’t remember what I had for breakfast but I remember these things.

So, Mom, on Dad’s birthday I want to think about you. And I want to thank you.

To use your words, “I am so blessed.” But I want to add something.

I am so very blessed.


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Today my daughter turns twenty three years old. Not sure how that happened. Tempus fugit!

She lives in a different country and I wish we could celebrate together. But this is life.

I did ask her if there was anything special she wanted for her birthday.

She replied, “Nothing. Just my health and my family’s health.”

Continuing she said, “Wise words from my favorite man.”

So, if you ever doubt that your kids are absorbing everything (or anything) you say I think it would be safe to remove that doubt!

We learn from our parents. And our children learn from us. We learn from our grandparents. And our children learn from them also. Either directly or through us.

Warning: This applies to the good and the bad. So we need to choose our words wisely.

Happy birthday, Rory, we love you and wish you the very best of health. For many, many, many years!

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Today is my father’s birthday. He would have been eighty four.

I am sharing an old blog posting that I incorporated into the following eulogy for his service at the cemetery last week.

I called my Dad when I moved to Malaysia. 

I said, “Dad, do you know what I am afraid of?” 

He got concerned and said, “What???” 

I told him, “Driving on the left side of the road.” 

He said, “Ah, no. You already know how to drive. You’re a good driver. You can do it. I give you twenty four hours.”

I said, “Really?”

He said, “I promise you. Twenty four hours. You just follow those in front of you. You just go with the flow of traffic.”

My dad was 100% right. Of course, every phone call after that began with him asking me if I was driving.

He knew that I needed to overcome the fear and also that driving would give me a freedom that I absolutely needed to navigate new and unfamiliar territory.

So, now, during this great loss of my family’s, we will try to follow those in front of us and go with the flow. My mother, brothers and other family members will need to navigate a new and unfamiliar territory without him.

I want to briefly share something I wrote about my dad. This was years ago and he’s read it. The only thing that has changed since I wrote it in 2009 is that he is no longer with us. My brothers share my sentiments. 

Dad-written March 12, 2009

I was thinking that I would write something about my dad. Too many people wait until someone is gone before they write about them. Don’t worry, my dad is not going anywhere…he is alive and well and enjoying life in New England.

My dad is and always was a simple man.  He was born to a life that was probably pretty typical for Irish immigrants. His parents came to the U.S. for work, met in New York, married and had four children (one set of twins) and then they all went back to Ireland. There would be three more children born to the family once they were back in Ireland. Dad did not complete his education and joined the U.S. Service before he hit adulthood.  He was discharged to the U.S. and never really went back to Ireland for any extended period of time.

So he lived with an uncle in the U.S.  and as luck would have it,  the woman who would become my mom, babysat for his little cousins.  I guess the rest is history.

I guess the coolest thing about my dad is that he is living a really good life.  Maybe even great.

He is a one woman man and he married that one woman. As he says, “She was a bit of alright”.  He didn’t swear. He never overindulged in anything. I have never seen my dad have one too many.  He quit smoking as a young man. He exercises, he reads the newspaper from front to back page and he loves cutting the lawn or shoveling the snow on his small patch.  He loved working and never missed a day of work that wasn’t necessary.  He had three children. As much as he loved work he also loved retirement.  He had a namesake. He has grandchildren.   He paid his bills. He attended Mass. He gave blood. He voted. He was a good citizen. He didn’t argue with my mother. He was never violent. He was never weird. He never bought anything he couldn’t afford. He loves working in the vegetable garden. He is not fussy. He will eat anything you put in front of him. He loves the Cape.  He loved his two weeks vacation every July. If you ask him what he wants for his birthday he will say, “my health.”   He is satisfied. He lived the American dream. Not the overinflated, glitzy, Hollywood dream but the real, honest to God, American dream. Which is to make a living, buy a house, raise a family and then enjoy those things later on.

I always felt safe with him.  He would always do what I considered the “lock up” at the end of the night which meant checking our bedroom windows before he went to bed. If it was too cold he would shut them or if it was warm he would make sure they were cracked open a bit.  He would then go downstairs and the last thing I would hear before he went to bed was him turning the lock on the front door.

I remember his friend had a boat and Dad would take us along for the day.  The boat would be anchored some way from shore and we would all have to swim to shore.  I remember being so frightened of the water as a  little one but he would put us on his back, our arms clasped around his neck and he would swim us to shore.

I have no issues to resolve with him. He owes no apologies.  I hope I am a little bit like him. I enjoy him. I am proud he is my father and I will always love him.

This priest at the beginning of Lent told the congregation that we need to take a good look at who we are.  Are we defined by the degrees hanging on the wall? Do we say “I live for my spouse” or ” I live for my children.”  What happens when something happens to the mind, the spouse or the child? What is your core? Who are you?

And I was thinking if God is looking down at my dad right now He would say, “His core is a bit of alright”

When I was moving to Malaysia nearly three years ago and getting ready to leave his house for the airport, Dad got emotional and said, “But it’s so far.”

Little did he know, at the time, that I would be plunking down at his house all summer for the following two years.

Each and every time, probably for the last ten years, whenever we said goodbye he got choked up and said, “We love to have you but we sure do hate to see you go.”

Dad, Papa, Uncle Pat, Patsy, Patrick, Pat…..we loved having you but sure do hate to see you go. Safe home, Dad, safe home. 

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This one is for my Auntie Maureen in Dublin, Ireland. She will soon be turning eighty years old. The fourth of the seven kids to do so. Bless her and bless them all.

I know everyone gets a little on edge if they think I am going to write about them. But I do not think that anyone should worry. My blog is intended to share things I have learned on this journey called life. Never to disparage. Maybe poke a little fun. But usually at the ones that can take it.

She can take it.

Maureen, who is fluent in the Irish language, has many different names. Maureen is what we call her. She was baptized Mary Frances. She was never, ever called that. Her husband called her Maire. Irish for Mary. She has said on more than one occasion that she will accept cheques made out to any of the above names.

She is one of seven wonderful children that my Granny and Granda brought into this world. My grandparents both made their way, as single young people, across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City. Luckily, for this huge clan, they met and married.

Maureen was their fourth child born in New York. The family would soon make the decision to return to Ireland in 1935.  Maureen’s older twin siblings, my Dad and his sister Betty, would turn four years old during that voyage on the “Transylvania” They landed in Glasgow on March 24, 1935. The family was met in the port of Derry by my great-grandfather Lennon and my great-uncle Frank McCabe.

There would be more children born in Ireland and the family was complete after the birth of three more lovely girls.

Auntie Maureen grew up in Ireland. Met the love of her life there and made a family of her own. All lovely.

She has a love of Irish history, language and ancestry. But that’s not all.

She is good-humored. We were once in the back seat of a car. She hadn’t been feeling well. A bit of a cold. So she would blow her nose now and again. And whip out the Chapstick tube meant to moisten her lips. It is a clear lip balm. Well, at one point I looked over and there was Auntie Maureen going at it for a good few minutes taking care of those lips. But she had mistakenly taken out her colored lipstick. I gave the “stop” signal immediately upon noticing. It was a bit like a mad woman in a horror flick. I had visions of a little boy going crazy on his sister’s dolls with a tube of lipstick. The point of it was that we had a good laugh.

She is a loyalist. Okay, that was a joke. Sort of a joke. By definition she is a loyalist. One who is loyal to a cause. She is and will always be loyal to her Ireland.

But not just her country.

She is loyal to her family. She is the go-to girl for all things family. History, ancestry and current day news. She is the one that keeps connected with all branches of the family. Whether it is the folks from our ancestral town or local Dublin folk. Or family across the Atlantic. Or ones that lived more than a hundred years ago. It’s all about being connected.

She is dependable. The one that would run around and take care of business. Whether it was wrapping up details of her parent’s affairs or getting Aunt Mary situated in her old age. And if she said she would do something, by golly, it would get done. She would be the one to visit you and check on you.

She is a woman. Of course, you know that.  But when I was younger, I was just a girl and she was just an aunt. A lovely auntie but just an aunt. When I grew older and I became a woman myself I was fortunate to be able to spend time with her. And then I realized that it was no longer just kid and aunt. So, I asked her about her life. Woman to woman. Childbirth. Raising children. Living with in-laws. And she was open and honest with me.

She is sacrificing. Whether she acknowledges it or not. My Uncle Stiophan, may he rest in peace, was most definitely the love of her life and they raised two wonderful children together. In the home of his parents. Without complaint. Now, I am sure the in-laws were lovely people, but I think we all can imagine the sacrifices that took place on a daily basis. With all eyes upon you and not a ton of privacy. Raising kids is hair-raising enough. I couldn’t imagine doing it in front of other folks. Especially if they weren’t my own parents. The ones who raised me. Forget about raised hair. I’d probably lose my hair.

She is helpful. When I started actually researching my family’s ancestry she was with me all the way. My kindred spirit. Assisted me in so many ways. On both sides of my family. Tromped around graveyards and churches. Sometimes in the pouring rain! Well, it is Ireland, after all.

There was one graveyard in Ballynahinch, County Down, that took us hours to find.  A priest had told us it was just down a lane on the other side of town. Off Crabtree Lane. We were just about ready to give up and head back but we gave it one more go and the fifteenth cruise around the town finally paid off. With the help of God and a friendly fellow who led us there. It was a bit creepy with the overgrown trees, bushes and terrible gray clouds that made the place almost black.  We were all alone. There were gaping holes in the untended grounds. I kept thinking a skeletal hand would reach out and grab my ankle bringing me into the netherworld. I said more than once, “And that was the last time we ever saw Maureen and Mary!”

She is adventuresome. We explored different places together. We visited the St. Patrick’s Center in Downpatrick. And we just missed the start of the tour. But there were a bunch of British tourists already grouping together. Yes, that’s right, we quietly melted into their group while giving an occasional nod or smile. Imagine the two of us with a group of Brits in Northern Ireland. We were not going to give up our “free” tour by tipping them off with a slip of the accented tongue. Don’t worry about us “getting over” on the St. Patrick’s Center. I am sure we made a donation along the way. And I gave them a bit of good PR after the enjoyable visit.

She is resilient. She lost her loving husband Stiophan. I remember she sent me a note saying “Life will never be the same.” I never forgot that and knew that it would be true. But she kept herself busy. Maybe even too busy, by her account, during the grieving process. And no, life never would be the same for her after losing her best friend. But she kept going and continued to create a life of her own. She has friends, sisters, children, grandchildren, activities, and hobbies that keep her involved and living. Not the same life. A different one. But still a life of her own.

She is smart and quick. About five years ago I wrote her a note asking for family information but I sent it to her daughter, my cousin Maire. Because Auntie Maureen wasn’t “on the computer” and didn’t have an email address. Well, that quickly changed. Within a couple of years she was not only “on the computer” but she meticulously typed up a book on our family history from her perspective. She thanked me for giving her the nudge to document it. I can’t thank her enough for her dedication to the history. She also thanked me for having the courage to send her very first email. I was so proud of her. Sure, there were a few, “I sent you an email but it seems to have disappeared!” but in time she became an old pro.

I think you get the idea. She was and is all of these things. There are many adjectives that can be used to describe this woman. Welcoming, warm, helpful, loving, intelligent, good-natured, good-humored, interesting, loyal, dependable, charitable, devout are just some that come to mind.

I really just wanted to wish her a happy birthday in case my card gets lost somewhere between Malaysia and Ireland. But it morphed into this blog posting.

Auntie Maureen, or whatever your real name is, I hope you have a wonderful day filled with good health and happiness. Not just on your 80th birthday. But every day for the entire year. And many, many more years.

In the last eighty years you were a caretaker, mother, friend, lover (yeah, that’s right, I said lover), aunt, niece, cousin, daughter, companion,  and grandmother. And each and every one of us is a better person for having felt your touch. We all appreciate you.

I love you and I am glad that you are my aunt.  And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Go mbeannaí Dia duit

Your loving niece,

Mary Beth


P.S. My apologies for not using the fada on appropriate words. Auntie Mairead once told me how to do it on my keyboard but it didn’t work. I know where they belong. I just don’t know how to get them there. You probably learned that in your first computer course.


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I am closer to forty nine years old today. So this is an old one. Wrote it in October on my birthday. Not sure why I didn’t post it before today. But digging it out was prompted by a friend’s visit last night. Jeannette had to fill out paperwork for her daughter’s school and it contained questions that required some thought. Not exactly the “If you were a tree then what tree would you be?” question. But close.

Today is my birthday. 48 years old. I can’t believe it. It seems like I was just 16 years old a short while ago. But I’m not complaining. I love my life and plenty of folks have been robbed of this growing old privledge.

It just seems to blow by so quickly. Only the body has changed. In many ways. That can be a bit startling. Although not as startling as say procreating at this ripe old age. Not sure if I actually could but I do a lot of genealogy work. I have seen some old mamas out there. Fingers crossed, people!

Went to a restaurant with my peeps. A bunch of great gals that I have had the good fortune to meet and befriend here in Kuala Lumpur. It’s always a fun time.

On the table there was a pile of cards in a wooden box. It contained questions of an icebreaking sort. Like “Three words you would use to describe yourself.” Honest self assessment is not always easy. But doable.

This next one was a good one. “How did you rebel when you were younger?” Not sure how doable that one is. Ummm, I think I will have to leave that question to Eileen. Although I do have to say she has been the best mother in the world and wouldn’t share. That’s not how we do in my family.

But this one was kind of a stumper. “What was your proudest moment?”

I don’t know if it is kind of like “Pride goeth before the fall” or what but I really had to ponder this one. I’m still thinking about it. What have I done that would be considered my proudest moment?

Not the happiest moment. That might be reserved for seeing your vernix coated child for the first time.

Not the most exciting moment. That could be anything from obtaining a driver’s license, graduating or landing a new job.

I’m not saying I don’t have proud moments. I do. We all do. When the children do well. When they show compassion. When the husband gets promoted. I’m proud of my parents and brothers and the rest of my family. There are plenty of those moments.

But I just don’t know what would be my proudest moment. Maybe I haven’t experienced it yet. Or maybe I am just confusing the words. Overthinking it.

I was not the only one struggling with this. The answers did not come easy to the other ladies.

What is your proudest moment?

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