Posts Tagged ‘dad’

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.

 

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Once you go Mac you never go back.

Or do you?

What happens if your Mac goes kaput? Like mine did. Nothing. Not a light. Not a whir. Not a gasp.

Well, I gasped. Possibly shed a tear.

I wasn’t expecting a Mac to die.

Here’s the thing.

I didn’t want the laptop in the first place. I am not first in line when it comes to new technology. That would be my husband. I’m about four years behind him.

If I didn’t get the iPhone finally shoved down my throat I would still be happily using the flip phone. You’d get a phone call from me and not a text.

Now, I text and the only phone calls I make (where I actually have to speak to someone besides my Mom) or receive are wrong numbers, the unbearable conversations with repairmen which end up with me enunciating very clearly and the odd call from the school.

In this case the iPhone is a blessing. Laptop gone and phone to the rescue. I can do most things on it. But it’s not the same.

So I went and found the old laptop. The beloved one that put up with my hammering away on it for years. So much so that the letter “S” is non existent. Faded away because of me and my writing.

As an aside, “S” is very popular. I am not a yes girl but I am most definitely an “S” girl. Hangman, crossword puzzles and Scrabble. “S” always comes in handy. As in SOS! What would happen if you got a distress call “O”??

Anyway, back to the ThinkPad. I fired that baby up and was back in business.Except this bad boy literally heats up like nobody’s business. Could end up with third degree burns on your lap if not careful. I could rename it “lap-top layer of skin.”

Took getting used to again. I was trying to use my finger tips to move things around the screen to no avail. Kept deleting things. And getting frustrated.

Now here is the very cool thing.

When I opened up the laptop I discovered a file titled “Papa.” It contained photos and four videos that I hadn’t seen in a few years. Forgot they existed. They were sent to me by one of my cousins. Taken at my father’s surprise party when he turned eighty.

It was me, at my cousin’s Irish Social Club, giving the speeches in honor of my Dad. Was a great day.

I came up with a game “How well do you know Pat Lennon?” followed with fun facts.

Then poked fun at him for his phrases in my growing up years. About how he never pronounced “th” only the “t” Like how my kids would ask the gas price (on purpose to hear his answer) and he would reply, “Tree-tirty-tree a gallon.”

I told him my memories of him would last a lifetime.

And then I thanked him. Not just for creating me and acknowledging that I was his best work ever. LOL. But I also told him I was grateful he was my Dad and that I was always aware I was one of the lucky ones.

At the end of the speech I told him I loved him.

You know what?

I was absolutely right that day.

My memories of him will last a lifetime.

And I was reminded of this by my Mac biting the dust and me having to figure out something else.

My Nana used to say, “Light from another window.”

One could also say that one door closes and another opens.

Sometimes that’s hard to believe.

But sometimes it is so true. Even if we don’t know it at the time.

 

 

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Recently there was a tragedy in Ireland. By the sea in Buncrana, County Donegal.

Many of my Irish family members and friends had shared the articles and links on Facebook so it was in my newsfeed for a few days.

Tragedies occur every day. We all know this. But this was even more heart-wrenching than the usual headlines.

A family of six savoring precious moments together while watching the sunset from a pier. Enjoying life and the presence of each other.

Minutes later the car plunged into the water. Possibly skidding on algae while the driver was attempting to turn the car.

The only survivor was a four month old infant. Held out by her father, who had broken the window and was on the ledge of the door, to a fellow who had jumped in the water to help.

The last thing the Dad said was, “Save my baby.”

As he went back into the car with the rest of his family.

Everyone in the car perished.

That’s not the worst of it.

The mother of the four month old child was away at a friend’s “hen party” in England. A hen party is a gathering for a woman about to be married. The first time she had been away from her family for more than a few hours. They had urged her to attend for a much needed break.

She called them to say her flight from Liverpool was delayed. Only five minutes before the tragedy occurred. While they were still on the pier.

It just gives me the shivers.

Her little boy told her she was the best Mammy in the world and was going to give her a squeezy hug when he saw her.

Here is the worst of it.

This thirty-five year old woman lost her two young sons, partner, mother and only sister that evening.

There are just no words. Who could imagine a loss like this?

The man who rescued the baby is hailed as a hero. He is certainly that but I am sure he will be haunted for years to come.

Hard to find any good news in this story.

But there are some things she will always know.

She will always know that she chose the right man as her partner. One who put his children and family before himself.

She will always know that the courage of an absolute stranger saved her one remaining child. Maybe her only reason for getting up in the morning after such a devastating loss.

She will always know that they were enjoying each other as a family-savoring life’s beautiful moments.

She will always know that her child’s last words to her were that she was the best Mammy in the world and that he was going to give her a squeezy hug.

These thoughts will probably also keep her up at night but maybe, just maybe, give her some measure of comfort in the future.

I can’t imagine her heartbreak, loneliness and despair.

Savor the moments.

Let our last words be loving ones.

Reach out to those who mourn. For days and years. Grief doesn’t disappear with the returned casserole dishes. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes, there were times when I thought my Dad was mean.

I was probably in the fourth or fifth grade and I was invited to a sleepover at the home of a classmate. Sleepovers were not as popular then as they are these days. People just didn’t do it back then. Probably figuring out where their own were going to sleep was enough of an issue.

So way more exciting for me.

I asked my father if I could attend. He said, “No.”

I remember being heartbroken, crying and asking why.

He said, “Because I said no. I don’t want you to go.”

I was inconsolable.

The next weekend my father took us to an amusement park called Rocky Point. It was not the usual thing for us. And just for the record- it was in no way a “makeup” to me. He never played mind games with us. He was totally black and white.

But I remember thinking then and I still maintain the thought to this day. Maybe you won’t believe me. But it’s the truth.

I thought then that when we don’t get what we want (as hard as it might be to take) there is going to be something special or better around the corner. I tell my girls this all the time.

I now also think that my father had every right to tell me, “No.” I was his daughter and he had some reason he didn’t want me to go. Maybe he knew something I didn’t know. Maybe he thought I was too young.

And he didn’t have to tell me why or give some drawn out explanation (no matter how badly I wanted one) because he was my father.

It’s old school. He was old school. But, as a result, I learned a few lessons. I won’t always get what I want and that’s okay. And I also learned, as a parent, you have to trust your instinct. It’s totally okay to say no. You do not owe an explanation to anyone.

And there’s always something better around the corner!

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Remember in my last posting when I stated that my father didn’t have a mean bone in his body?

Well, that was the truth.

But when I was young there were many times when I thought he was mean. Like when I wasn’t allowed to do things that other kids were doing.

I would exclaim, “But Diane is allowed to go!”

He would say, “I don’t care. You are not Diane. Your name is Mary Beth.”

After he died in March, my two brothers and I spent the day on Cape Cod. No kids, spouses or other distractions. Just his kids. We went to all the places he used to bring us when we summered there every July. A pilgrimage of sorts. It was a “Big Chill” reunion minus the pot, drama and cool soundtrack. Because we didn’t have any of those three things with us.

We usually stayed in a house for two weeks-sometimes at his uncle’s place- but there were a few days we stayed at a hotel. Maybe until the house was vacant. I can’t remember.

Anyway, we went by the hotel and my younger brother said, “I wonder if the pool is the same. I remember when we would get out of the car I’d get so excited that I would make a bee-line for the pool. Mom and Dad were still unpacking the car and Dad would yell at me to stay right where I was. As a parent of two little ones I totally get it now.”

I agreed and thought of a gal that I used to work with at the phone company. In 1999, I had read in the newspaper that she had experienced a tragedy beyond comprehension.

Not long after arriving at a R.I. beach, on a summer’s day, her eight year old baby girl went into the water and drowned. She could not be revived even though there were doctors and emergency personnel on the beach that day.

I had a baby that year and was the mother of a six year old. I was absolutely devastated for her and her family. I couldn’t imagine.

These things can happen in an instant. No judgement. Ever.

This is not to even compare the situations. Of what happened or what could have happened.

Just this point. It is what I thought of that day when my brother said he now understood. My Dad wasn’t being mean when he said I couldn’t do things I wanted to do. Or when my brother wanted to run to the pool alone.

He only wanted to protect us. That was his job.

We totally get it, Dad. And we will always love you for it.

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A couple of summers ago I was relaxing on the couch at my parents’ home. My kids were messing around with my Dad while he sat in his chair across the room from me. I wasn’t really listening until I heard one of my kids ask him, “Papa, so what was Mom like as a teenager?”

Uh, oh! Papa on the spot! I instantly perked up and almost had a coronary. Thinking, “Oh my gosh, this is it!” Started the rosary in my head.

But i never should have had a doubt. My father did not have a mean bone in his body.

He laughed (a little too heartily) and said, “Your mother was a tiger. But I loved her anyway.”

That was a really nice way of putting it.

The thing of it is this. My father lived in the moment. Like my mother still does.

They’ve never, ever been ones to hold a grudge, to bring things from the past into the present or to care about it at all.

What’s in the past is in the past. That’s it. Mom always says, “Ah, that’s ancient history.” About anything. Not always referring to my teenaged years. Okay, honestly, I wasn’t the worst teen out there.

The time is now. Live in the moment. It’s the biggest and greatest gift of all.

We just don’t know how many moments we are allotted. Make the absolute best of them. No need to be mean. Better to laugh. Maybe even a little too heartily.

And that is how your loved ones and your world will remember you.

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I suppose I will mostly be writing about my father these days. Because he is on my mind all the time. Bear with me.

Today, I had a good cry and I guess that is good and needed to happen. It’s been a month in the making.

Here’s what prompted it today. Finally.

I was trying to relax and lose myself in one of my favorite hobbies. Genealogy.

But, of course, when my family tree appears on the screen so does a photo of my dad.

And beside his picture it shows Birth:  March 19, 1931 in New York City.

Under that it has Death: and in bold type appears “Living”

I just cannot update the family tree.

I kept staring at his photo and I could feel the tears coming and then I sort of wanted to get angry. Like “Dad, why did you have to go? Why did you have to leave us?” As if he had any choice in the matter.

I knew that my thinking was unfair. He was a good age and his was a life well lived. He knew his kids and his grandkids were all loved, cared for and fine.

People pray for things like that.

It just doesn’t make it hurt any less. At least for me.

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