Boston with my cousins

If there is an upside to my grandmother’s funeral, it is that I got to spend time with my brother and my cousins.

Facebook reminded me (through “On This Day”) that my cousins and I also did this back in 2007 when our grandfather passed. We all crammed into my brothers car and he drove us around the city. Always a fun time.

 

And we learned that even in our 20’s, we were still mesmerized by the magic of a slinky descending down the stairs.

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Our grandmother died eleven years after our grandfather passed, almost to the day.

The night after the wake, my cousins, my cousin’s best friend who lives outside of Boston, her boyfriend (also local) and I went out for some Boston Chinese at the Peppercorn House in Woburn. (Woburn is ten miles outside of Boston and it is where my family is from). It was amazing and I highly recommend it. The food did not disappoint. My parents went a few nights later and they enjoyed it as well.

And now I have two honorary cousins!

(And my parents graciously watched my daughter at night on this trip so I was able to have a break and spend time with my cousins. Thanks Mom and Dad!)

We toasted.

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We ate. I got over my fear of edamame.

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We read our fortunes and I made everyone say “…in bed” after their fortune.

Because I am that person. And I am not sorry.

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After Chinese food, we went to an Irish bar called Waxy O’Connors. It was loud and there lots of people wearing Patriots shirts. I was right at home.

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I am going to leave this next photo without an explanation.

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The following day, after the funeral and the luncheon were over, my cousins and I were trying to decide where to go that evening.

I suggested that we just go to into the city. We did have the challenge of doing something predominately indoors since it was February and my cousins live in Florida. And we were joking that my cousins husband was delicate because he is a Florida native.

We ultimately decided to go to the Pru and see Eataly and have a few drinks at the Top of the Hub. That way we could walk around and still be inside.

My cousins, my brother and I took two ubers from Woburn to Alewife Station which is the beginning of the Red Line. ($35 on the way in, $25 return if you were curious.)

We got our Dunkins. I bet you can guess which drink this Northern Girl got and which drinks her Florida cousins got.

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We had to change trains at Park Street and my cousin got this picture without us noticing. She is sneaky like that. #ruleofthirds

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We walked around the shops at the Pru. The strap on my purse broke and I looked for one but decided I didn’t want to spend the money. My cousins were able to fix the strap.

We walked around Eataly. It was busy and crowded so we didn’t eat there. I would like to go back at a less busy time.

But I did take this picture of cheese.

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All the restaurants had waits. We decided that we didn’t want to spent an hour of one night in Boston waiting to eat at the Cheesecake Factory but luckily we found a little pizza stand and had pizza for dinner.

We then made our way to the Top of the Hub.

We had actually been here once before in 2012. We were all in town for my grandmother’s 90th birthday.

 

But I had never been there at nighttime. And I remember when I was 18 years old deciding that it was going to be a life goal of mine to go to the Top of the Hub at night.

Life goal accomplished. It just took my 21 years to do it.

 

We decided to head to another bar from our trip in 2012. Another cousin, who couldn’t come out with us, introduced us to The 21st Amendment which is near the Common.

The temperature was in the single digits and my cousins live in Florida and my cousin’s husband is the Florida Native so we knew we didn’t want to be walking outside much. Luckily my brother is a human GPS and he was able to ascertain which subway stop was the closest.

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The trains stop running in Boston at 1 am so we left around midnight.

My brother acting goofy in the Common.

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I am fairly well traveled and Boston is my favorite city.

I can’t wait to be there again.

Maybe as soon as April…

And I hope my cousin doesn’t mind that took some of her pictures off of her Facebook. I love you Cuz!!

Edit: My cousin granted permission to use photos. Love you Cuz! Thank you. #crowleysondunkin

And we forgot to take a Subway Selfie so I am going to put this one from 2012. Also taken from your Facebook…

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A January trip to Maine

I don’t know exactly when I met my friend Andy.  I actually met him because I was friends with his wife.  I met his wife (I am going to call her The Scallop Divers Wife because I try not to use living people’s names in my blog) in 2004 when I joined the woman’s council at St. Joe’s Catholic Church in Ellsworth, Maine.  I only know it was 2004 because I had another friend that I became friends volunteering for a certain political candidate and she noticed that we both went to 11 am Mass.  My political friend and I decided to join the woman council and we both became friends with The Scallop Divers Wife.  I probably met Andy at a church function or maybe I met him at his house.

I used to enjoys visits to Andy’s house.  I could count on funny stories and lively political discussion.  Periodically I would house and dog sit when they went away.

I moved away from Maine in 2009 because Bryon and I had been dating a year and things were serious.  I always wanted Bryon and Andy to meet.  I know they would have gotten along. Also, Bryon had dreams of being on Deadliest Catch and I told him I could get him on a fishing boat on the Maine Coast.

But sadly, the visit never materialized.

Then Andy got sick.  Cancer.  He was given a six months to live.

Like Bryon, Andy fought.  He turned a 6 months life sentence into three years.

Shortly after Bryon passed, Andy’s niece passed in a car accident and he and his family traveled to Vermont for the funeral.  It was about three hours away but I made the trip to see them the day before the funeral.  I knew I had to make this trip because I didn’t know how much longer Andy would be here and I didn’t want to have any regrets.  I knew that this might be the last chance I got to see Andy.  After Bryon died, all the regrets I heard were from people who said they wished they knew him better.  No one said they regretted visiting him.

During that visit, Andy and I didn’t know what to say to each other but it wasn’t awkward.  I remember him being kind to my daughter who was two at the time.  He was too weak to socialize and I spent the afternoon catching up with The Scallop Divers Wife.  She gave me a lesson on cooking lobster and they sent me back to New York with some Maine lobster.

Andy and I had a few conversations on Facebook Messenger.  He said it was hard to read my blog because he knew his wife was going to be going through the same thing.  I admit that it was hard to discuss death with a dying man.  I wondered if Bryon had similar thoughts.  I will never know because Bryon couldn’t speak.

Around Thanksgiving I got the news that Andy’s cancer had spread to his brain.  We had a Facebook Messenger conversation.  He told me he wasn’t ready to die, his sons were so young.  I really didn’t know what to say.  It ended up being our last conversation.

In the beginning of December, I found out that there was nothing more that could be done and Andy would be going to Hospice.  Luckily he was able to go home.  My heart ached for The Scallop Divers Wife.  I remembered the pure agony of waiting for your husband to die.  I only had 24 hours of that agony from the “there’s nothing more we can do” conversation (though for me the words were “your husbands heart is going to stop beating today”)  and my friend’s agony was open ended.

When I found out Andy was going to Hospice, I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to make it to his funeral.  I work in oncology data and I know many patients don’t last long in Hospice.  I was out of personal time at work for the year.  I was beside myself thinking that I wouldn’t be able to go to Maine and be there for the funeral.  I remember who showed up to pay their respects when Bryon died and I wouldn’t get to be one of those supporters for my friend.    I decided that if I was meant to be there, it would all work out.

But I was also nervous that this was up in the air because this would be the first funeral I would attend since Bryon’s.  That is a huge first for any widow.  I have a tendency to obsess about things that potentially give me anxiety.  But there was no doubt that I would work through it to be there for my friend but I was having a hard time channeling this nervous energy.

Andy’s family got one more Christmas with him and he passed on December 28, 2017.

I confirmed with my manager at work at my personal time for 2018 become effective at the New Year and then I made arrangements to go to Maine for the funeral.  Ironically my parents were in Albany so their trip was cut short but they were fine with it because I was bringing my daughter to Maine and they got to spend time with her there.

And my daughter likes playing play-doh with her Grammy.

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Play-doh at Grammy and Pappy’s House

I went to the wake (I guess outside New England they call it a viewing?) to pay my respects and visit with The Scallop Divers Wife.  I didn’t stay long because I didn’t recognize anyone else and I knew The Scallop Divers Wife was busy greeting people.  It’s a long night.

I ended up grabbing dinner with another good friend.

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Finn’s Irish Pub- Ellsworth, ME

I forgot to take a pic of us together, but here is a pic from us last summer at my best friends wedding.  This was also in Maine but it was much, much warmer.

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Williams Pond, ME, July 2017

The following morning I made the 45 minute drive to Bar Harbor for Andy’s funeral.

On the drive I was thinking about how I have been widowed long enough that I am not the newest young widow in my circle of friends.  Time has a way of slapping you in the face like that.

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Trenton, Maine

Andy was a well-liked guy and the church was full.

I tend to think I am invincible when it comes to funerals.  I attribute it to my Boston Irish upbringing.

I will mention something important.  It was during Andy’s funeral that I realized that despite being angry at God that I want a Catholic funeral when I die.  It’s how my grandparents went out.  It’s how my uncles went out.  It’s how Bryon went out.  And while God might be a hateful jerk who took my husband from me, I am not going to let him take something from me that is part of my heritage.  Andy and I had had several conversations where he challenged my current views on God. I tended to get angry at the other 99.9% of the people who did that, Andy got a pass.  It’s hard to stay mad at him and I also wasn’t going to argue with a dying man about God.  But as the realization about my own mortality hit me, I just said to myself, “Well played, Andy.  Well played.”

I was fine until the moment the funeral started.  Seeing The Scallop Divers Wife have to walk down after the coffin.  I had walked in 5 funerals before Bryon (three grandparents and two uncles) and nothing can prepare you for that moment for when it’s your spouse.  My heart ached for The Scallop Divers Wife and three sons.  I felt shaky during the processional and I asked Bryon to be with me (something I don’t tend to do.  I figure he comes and goes when he feels like it) and suddenly I had my Boston Irish composure back.  I don’t doubt for a second that he was there with me.

Though The Scallop Divers Wife wins the award for being the strongest.  She got up and gave a beautiful eulogy.  I wouldn’t have been able to do it.

I had asked The Scallop Divers Wife if she was okay if I wrote this post.  She said she was curious about reading it from my point of view.  I hope I don’t disappoint her because I don’t remember the details.  I was a jumble of emotions that day and my account is likely to come across as self-absorbed.  No widow(er) means to be self absorbs.  We just have lots of emotions to sort out.  And once we get those emotions sorted out, we hit another widow milestone and it brings up a whole new batch of feelings.

The Scallop Divers Wife is my friend and I hope she will be through the rest of our lives We will always be bonded by the fact that we are young widows.  I am far enough into my widowhood journey (17 months and 5 days) to know that the funeral is like a wedding.  Both are important days but while a wedding is just one day of a marriage, the funeral is just one day in the life without a loved one.

And just like our wedding day, we will remember our husbands funeral for the rest of our lives.

Andy’s Obituary

Andy’s appearance on the Steven Colbert Show

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #3

Every week I like to look back on five things that I am thankful for.  Here are this week’s Top 5.

  1.  I am thankful I got to celebrate a birthday of a good friend.  (I have yet to come up with a good blog name for her yet).  She is one of the kindest people I have ever met and I am so lucky to have her in my life.

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    Happy Birthday!
  2. On Monday one of my best friends and I took the day off and went to the Berkshires for the day.  Our first stop was the Lee Outlets where I spent more money than I care to admit and most of it was on my daughter.  We had plans to drive to Central Massachusetts to eat lunch at 1761 Old Mill Restaurant but when we punched it into Google maps, we learned it was closed.  Neither of us thought to check the website to see if it was open.  We both assumed it was open and, well, we all know what happens when you assume.  We didn’t let that ruin the day.  We had lunch at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts and looked at the shops.

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    The Red Lion Inn
  3. We also went to the Norman Rockwell Museum and I am thankful that I live in an area that is so rich in culture.

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    Norman Rockwell Museum 2017
  4. I am thankful for the fact that I live in a time where my phone is a computer and I can play cartoons on demand.  What did our parents do when they needed to keep us preoccupied?  My daughter asks for my phone so she can watch “Girl and Bear” on Netflix.  “Girl and Bear” is actually called “Masha and the Bear.”  I never paid attention and I thought it was cute.  And then I watched it and I personally think the girl is a little monster.  Or a trouble maker at the very least.1950s+source+reddit_281ca6_4813703
  5. I am thankful for one of my college friends.  There was some bee/hornet/wasp thing flying around my house today.  It’s presence immediately puts me out of my comfort zone.  I have a zero tolerance policy for creepy crawly things in my house.  I posted about it on Facebook because I like to #overshare.  It was suggested I leave it alone but that wasn’t going to happen.  If you are a “leave it alone” person, the more power to you.  But I am not.  I was so scared of this bee/hornet/wasp thing and my college friend commented on my Facebook post that I should spray some hairspray from a distance.  When the hairspray dries, it immobilizes their wings.  It worked!  I saw these same bee/hornet/wasp things outside last week so I called the exterminator to set up an appointment to make sure there isn’t a nest near my house.

What are you thankful for this week?

Warm October rain: Sunday Funday at the Dr. Seuss Museum

Last Sunday my daughter and I drove to Springfield, Massachusetts for a very special outing.  My cousin drove out from the Boston area to spend the day with us, along with her two kids (including her 3 month old daughter) and my Uncle.  It was our first time meeting her daughter, who my daughter calls “Baby Cousin”.

First we hit the Dr. Seuss Museum.  At first I thought that admission was a bit expsensive but the admission is good for all five museums and they are located all together.  You can easily hit several museums in one day.  After the Dr. Seuss Museum, we had lunch at the cafe on the premises and then we explored the Science Museum, which was kid friendly.

After the Science Museum, we tried to go to the Fine Art Museum but the kids had too much energy and after they kept trying to touch peices of art that had signs asking “do not touch”, we abandoned the mission.  I love art museums so maybe when they are older.

I am thankful to be building a closer relationship with my cousin.  Even though my family is spread out between Maine, Massachusetts and Florida, I appreciate that members on both sides of my family make an effort to be a part of my daughters life.  It is good to know that my cousin and I can meet in the middle and get the kids together.  I love knowing that my daughter will have cousins to play with.  I appreciate all the time my family makes for her.

Late summer fun: Sunflowers and ice cream

I was supposed to go to Maine the last weekend in August but I needed to take my cat to the vet. I thought something was wrong with him. He wasn’t acting like himself and I was sure something was wrong with him.  After paying my not insignificant vet bill, nothing was physically wrong him.

So now my cat is on prozac.

It’s for the best.

And I missed my trip to Maine and my 20th high school reunion. I thought about trying to swinng it but I was too tired to do 16 hours of driving in a 60 hour period

So I wound up with an unexpected free weekend.  My close friend loves Sunflowers and asked if I would be up for a drive downstate to a sunflower field. I am always ready for an adventure and I love road trips so I happily agreed.

I wish I had a selfie to share but not a single one looked good.  For real.  My daughter wouldn’t look at the camera and I had my hair in my face.

After we looked at the flowers, we went to a farm stand.  It was crowded.  My friend told me that she wasn’t expected it to be crowded because she has seen too many Hallmark movies.  In Hallmark movies there is a ton of space.  Hallmark movies have ruined her.

Though we both agreed that that won’t stop us from watching them this Christmas.

After the farm stand, we decided to drive into New Paltz and get some ice cream.   We went to Hugeunot Creamery.  The ice cream was delicious and the staff was very kind and friendly.  The kids had ice cream cones  with sprinkles. They wound up all over the floor.  Part of me felt bad but part of me figured that it’s bound to happen in an ice cream shoppe.  My friend had a creamsicle float and I had an old fashioned hot fudge sundae.

On the way back, we stopped at a Samuel’s Sweet Shop in Rhinebeck which is owned by Paul Rudd and Jeffrey Morgan.  The kids had lollipops (though my daughter could only handle a few licks after eating ice cream) and I had a pretzel covered in Reese’s Pieces.  My friend got chocolate covered oreos.

It was a great day.  I am so glad my friend asked us to spend the day with her and it was fun to discover places in New York where I had never been.  I can’t wait for some Fall adventures with my friends.

Do you like to go on day trips?  Where do you like to go?

Rude Canadians and the time we almost got kicked off a plane

Today’s blog post was inspired from Rachel’s post about wanting to meet a rude Canadian.

Bryon and I met a rude Canadian once.

Actually it was two rude Canadians.

We were on a cruise in February 2014.  It was the cruise we took when I was nine weeks pregnant (before Zika was a thing).  The cruise was aboard the Carnival Sunshine and we left from New Orleans and visited Montego Bay, Jamaica (never again), Grand Cayman (loved it) and Cozumel, Mexico (fun time).

That cruise could be dubbed a lot of different things:

The time I cruised when pregnant.

The cruise where I threw up Virgin Daquiri’s.  (Sorry).

The cruise where I pretty much just ate potato salad and loved it.

The cruise where Bryon got a bad sunburn and then had to pay $15 for aloe on the ship.  The label called it liquid gold and Bryon said it better be for that price.

The cruise where we hung out in the piano bar most nights.

The cruise where I met an Elvis impersonator.

The cruise where I won a geography trivia contest.

The cruise where the somelier at the steakhouse spilled Bryon’s Chateau Neuf de Pape while she was trying to transfer it from the bottle into the decanter.  I can still feel Bryon’s blood pressure rising over this.

The cruise where Bryon pissed off a Southern lady at the pizza stand.

But this story is about how we met rude Canadians.

On that cruise we made friends with another married couple from Florida.  The dining room was tight (as most dining rooms on cruise ships are) and our tables were next to each other.  We started chatting and remained friendly during the rest of the cruise.  In fact, we still remain Facebook friends.  Maybe I will cruise with them again.  If I can ever bring myself to go on another cruise.  That was Bryon and my thing.

Anyway, we invited this couple to be part of our team in a trivia contest.  This trivia contest was different than most. Instead of just writing your answers on a sheet, each team took a chance to answer a question.  If you got it right, you got the points.  If you got it wrong, the moderator went around the room asking everyone else until someone got it right or until she got back to the original contestant.  

Well this couple came in and joined the fun.  They were there own team and they called themselves  “The Canucks.”  To be honest, I can’t even remember the name of our own team.  

“The Canucks” were before us in the rotation of questions.  So whenever a team got an answer wrong, we would quietly discuss our answer as a team.  Somehow “The Canucks” heard us because they kept stealing our answers.  

Needless to say, we were pissed.  So on the next rounds, we got even quieter and Bryon would semi-loudly say “I think it’s *wrong answer*.  Yeah, I definitely think it is *wrong answer*”.  

“The Canucks” bought our fake answer and -surprise- they got it wrong.  Then it was our turn and we gave our correct answer and they glared at us.  

Now on the Carnival Sunshine as well as a lot of other Carnival ships, there was a cocktail bar called Alchemy.  The bartender on this cruise had actually been our bartender the previous year on the Carnival Glory.  We had become friends (still Facebook friends with her as well) and right before our trip on the Carnival Sunshine, she announced on Facebook that she was going to be on that ship.  So we were so excited to be reunited.  Most nights we would go have a beverage before dinner (non-alcoholic for me) and then we would return after the evening entertainment.  Well we are at the bar and the rude Canadian couple was there.  And they glared at us because we were friendly with the bartender.

They continued to glare at us whenever they saw us.  To be honest, Bryon and I thought it was kind of funny.  Though we were surprised because we had never met rude Canadians before and we usually went to Canada several times a year.

The story concludes with our the first leg of our flight home.  Our flight went from New Orleans to Chicago then to Albany.  We were using airlines miles (I have an airline credit card) and they did not have any coach seats available so we decided to use more miles and fly first class.  I am not going to lie, I loved it.  

We were sitting in the second row and we see the rude Canadians board the airplane.  Bryon, who already had a drink in his hand waves hello to them.  And, you guessed it, they glare at us.  

Oh, about the almost getting kicked off part-

We were started to taxi and the pilot announces that we were going to return to the gate for a security concern.  I look at Bryon.  He points to the seat in front of us and mouths to me that he thinks it’s them.  In the first row was a couple who had been extremely rude to the flight attendant.  

The gate manager comes up to our row and tells us we need to exit the airplane immediately. I just sat there in shock.  

The flight attendant comes up behind the gate manager and says “Row 1!  I said Row 1!”  

The gate man apologizes and then has the couple in the row 1 exit the plane.

I said to Bryon that the rude Canadians probably thought it was us getting kicked off the plane.

Bryon said that they will never know because they we way back in coach.

And then we laughed.  Like we were people who always flew first class.

My one fun night in New York City

 

Bryon spent the last two and a half weeks of his life in New York City.  I had him moved from our regional medical center because he needed better care.  It was two of the most optimistic and the most scariest weeks of my life.   I was optimistic because he had a world class medical team caring for him.  I was scared because he was still very sick and I knew that even if he survived, the road to recovery was going to be complicated.

I don’t usually think about my time in New York.  I mean, it ended with Bryon dying.  

Yesterday I was reading about how one of my blogging friends spent her birthday in NYC.  She spent part of her day in Washington Heights, which was the part of NYC where Bryon’s hospital was located.  

It dawned on me that I can’t ignore New York City forever.  Someday I will  have to return.  I may want to take my daughter to see the Rockettes or take her to the Natural History Museum.  Or the Bronx Zoo.  Or maybe I would go with my Spanish teacher friend to find an Argentinian restaurant.  Or to see The Bangles with Kimmy Gibbler and my Latin Teacher friend the next time they go on tour.  It would be ridiculous to avoid a whole city for the rest of my life because of what happened.  I will probably just avoid Washington Heights.

So I was reading my blogging friends birthday post and then I was on Facebook.  I checked “On This Day” and sure enough, it was a post about the one fun thing I did during those two and a half weeks.

My daughter’s Godmother came down with her (now) fiance and got hotel rooms in the Times Square area.  She was telling me all about the city as we drove downtown.  I am a small town girl from Maine after all.  We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant.  It was my one fun night in New York City.

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Margarita
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Tacos
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Seinfeld restaurant
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View from the hotel room

Though there were other good things about being in the city.

I had a family to stay with.  They didn’t even know me but they knew Bryon.  They welcomed me into their home and they were so kind to me.  They stay ended up being short but had Bryon survived, he might have been in the city for months.  They never once gave me a time limit.  I know they were rooting for the slow recovery.  It would worth a trip to NYC to see them and have them meet my daughter.

Bryon’s friends in NYC got to see him.  That was great.

The team was much more optimistic and Bryon’s spirits were the best they had been through the whole ordeal.  In Albany, Bryon was too depressed to facetime with our daughter, but in NYC, he was happy facetiming her.

Bryon still had his sense of humor.  It took me a week to figure out that I could take the express train to get to the hospital faster.  He shook his head and rolled his eyes at me.

But right now, NYC remains the city where Bryon died.  Maybe someday I will return but it probably won’t be anytime soon.