Posts Tagged ‘Rhode Island’

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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There are all sorts of illnesses and diseases out there. Some worse than others.

Many folks lose their memory but have good physical health for years.

Others have a keen mind and yet are trapped in a body that fails them.

I really don’t know which one is worse.

This past summer my husband joined me in the U.S. He doesn’t get to Rhode Island too often. Sometimes years pass.

But he tries to connect with friends from “back in the day” when he has the chance.

Petie worked at a local college (Providence College) in the IT Department. My husband sold computers to the school. They met there and became friends. An unlikely pair. A skinny Jewish kid with long hair and an earring and a well-groomed Arab salesman in a suit. But whatever. It worked.

He would come over to the house. I remember him bringing my daughter a huge stuffed bunny when she was little. It was bigger than her at the time.

Back then Petie (that’s what my husband always called him) was a slender and very fit young man.

Visited us in Texas after we moved there in 1994.

But as is wont to happen people lose touch. Especially pre-Facebook.

Happens to all of us. Get busy. Move far away. Don’t take the time to touch base.

He received a message from Petie during this visit but when it popped up it was dated November of 2014. Like eighteen months ago. Not sure how that happens?

It read, “Hey, stranger… how you doing? It’s been too damn long!! ¬†Would love to catch up! Here’s my number.”

Petie didn’t pick up the phone and he wouldn’t be receiving any return texts from my husband.

Because he was dead from a horrific disease at the age of 50.

Petie was in great physical shape. A runner who put in miles each day.

Then came ALS. A disease that can target the most fit among us.

You don’t lose your mind. Just your body.

It’s ravaged.

Petie was diagnosed at the end of 2013. Gone by March of this year.

And there’s nothing he could have done differently.

Read Pete’s story¬†here.

It will help put a face to the “ice bucket challenge” that you’ve all heard about in the past couple of years.

In the end my husband could only make a donation to ALS in his old friend’s name. With the hope that some day soon, with more research, there will be no need for any more “ice bucket challenges.”

RIP Peter Weiblen

Celebration of Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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tower

This tower has been around for as long as I can remember. At Route 1 and 138 in South Kingstown.

My friend Sean drove me to the beach town a couple of weeks ago to check out some homes for sale. As we were stopped at the intersection’s traffic light I looked around for it. Because that’s what everyone does. I couldn’t see it from where we were positioned. The area looked a bit overgrown with trees and bushes.

I asked Sean if that was the location of the tower. And if it was still there.

Wasn’t sure. He’s a native New Yorker so he wouldn’t have driven by the landmark every summer and automatically look for it.

Later in the day I did a bit of googling. Didn’t take me long to get results. I sent a photo to Sean and he totally remembered the tower.

It’s sort of a unique thing on the side of a road. And not something you forget.

The tower is still there.

Here’s the interesting part.

There’s a story behind it.

It’s called Hannah Robinson’s Tower.

Hannah was the beautiful and beloved daughter of a very wealthy man named Rowland Robinson.

He sent his daughter to school in Newport. She soon fell in love with her French tutor. His name was Peter Simon.

Rowland did not think the teacher was a suitable match for his daughter and she was not allowed to see him.

The couple continued to meet secretly. With the help of someone in the family they eloped and moved to Providence.

Her father was furious and even put up some money as a reward to find out who helped them escape.

Hannah would have nine children. They lived in extreme poverty.

Her husband, realizing that he would never get his hands on a penny of the Robinson fortune, had affairs and eventually abandoned his wife and children.

The poor woman became sickly due to her living conditions.

Hannah’s¬†father was still angry. Wanted to know who helped her leave and would only let her back in the family if he was told. Rowland¬†headed toward Providence to see Hannah.

But his heart melted when he saw his child near death. He packed her up and brought her back home to Narragansett.

She asked her father to pull over at James Mc Sparran’s farm so that she could sit and look over her homeland. With a view of Narragansett Bay.

This is the spot where the tower now stands.

Hannah Robinson died at the age of twenty seven on October 30, 1773.

Seems there’s always a story.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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It’s September 11th and it is hard for so many not to remember that day. I remember as if it were yesterday.

We were emotional. Like every other aching American. We also had other worries. Whether there would be repercussions because of my husband’s first name. Because his mother, who was visiting us at the time, wore a hijab. We were afraid to take her to the milk store. Maybe he wouldn’t get a new job. And on and on.

Anyway, that’s not why I am writing. I could write pages and pages about that time. I prefer not to go on about it now. But I do want to share one memory.

I remember a telephone conversation with my mother. About two days after the tragedy. When I was staring at empty skies from my backyard patio.

She told me that my beloved grandmother in Rhode Island had taken a turn for the worse. That she might not make it.

I cried. Because I loved my grandmother so much. And also because I was afraid to get on a plane. The thought absolutely terrified me. I confessed this fear to my mother. She replied, “Oh honey, I totally understand. And Nana would understand.”

I cried even harder.

That’s the thing I love about my family. They dole out the guilt in small doses. Like any family. But not when it comes to the big stuff. They pick you up.

My husband saw me crying. I told him why.

He looked at me and immediately said, “I will drive you to Rhode Island.”

It was 1,800 miles away.

There are moments that I really love him. Like my heart is full. And then there are moments that I really love him. Like my heart will burst. That was one of those moments.

One sentence.

Not because he said those words. But because he meant them. Because he knew how much it would mean to me. Not him. Me.

Nana rallied and we did not need to make that trip. But when she died in November I was able to attend the wake and funeral. Because my husband felt that we needed to be with my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas that year. He had made the reservations.

So, I didn’t ever need that ride to Rhode Island. But I won’t ever forget that I had a ride if I needed it.

For our twenty-fifth anniversary he wanted to get me a new ring. A piece of jewelry. I told him no. I wouldn’t appreciate it. I didn’t need another piece of jewelry.

We are coming up on our twenty-seventh anniversary and he’ll be starting again. And I will tell him no.

What I want is what I already have. A heart that sometimes feels like it will burst. Because of those very moments.That is what I appreciate.

And maybe one day he will realize that, as faulty as my memory can be, there are just some things that I will never, ever forget.

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My old friend, Renee, shipped some nice chunky bars of soap to me while I was staying with my folks in Rhode Island the week before we moved.

Her company, Abundantly Aromatic, sells natural soaps, sprays, scrubs and candles at the Dallas and Coppell Farmers Markets in Texas. Luckily for those that don’t live in the Dallas area her products are also available on line.

I was very touched by her thoughtful going away present. I carefully packed them in the suitcase and took them with me to Malaysia.

Once I arrived here I started using the soap and LOVED it. All natural with a heavenly smell. I am all about the aromatherapy!

That part was fab. But the bonus was that it reminded me of the importance of old friends. Near and far.

I am always a little perplexed when I get an email or a Facebook message from an old friend that states, “Not sure if you remember me or not.” Okay, folks, I will soon be 48 years old. Not 88 years old. Of course, I remember you! Who forgets friends?

Anyway, old friends never really leave you. They are captured in memories that won’t fade like an old Polaroid photograph. Well, at least until you do. And it didn’t take a block of soap for me to know that but it was a nice gentle reminder.

So, if you need a reminder now and again, go see Renee. Tell her you know me. I promise it won’t work against you.

You will be supporting local business, natural products, and women’s business. And friendships.

http://www.abundantlyaromatic.com

 

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