Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #6

Okay, I know I skipped last week.  I was too grumpy and that is all I can say about that.

1.  Veterans Day–  This could have been it’s own post but I was grumpy and depressed and didn’t write it.  Grief is horrible like that.  But I didn’t want to neglect saying that I am thankful for all those who have fought for our country and for the freedoms we have.  I appreciate the veterans in my family.  My father is a Vietnam veteran and both of my grandfather’s were WWII veterans.  Many of my friends are veterans as well.

My father and my grandfathers.

2.  Birthdays– Two weeks ago my daughter and I had two very important birthday parties.  The first was the first birthday of the son of Bryon’s best friend.  The second birthday party was for my daughter’s godfather, who was also Bryon’s law partner.

Days like this are bittersweet.  Bryon was always much better at  me at prioritizing social engagements than I was.  He had no problem saying no whereas I would over commit and spread myself thin.  He use to tell me that I was trying to “put 10 pounds of sh*t into a 5 pound bag.”  But as I traveled between these two birthday parties, I knew Bryon wouldn’t have missed either of them.  I couldn’t help but feel his absence.

I feel grateful that so many people still include my daughter and I in their lives.

3. I am grateful for my cousin.  Yesterday was her birthday.  I am thankful we only live two hours apart and that our kids can grow up together.  She is amazing.

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Her profession even shows how amazing she is.  She is a hospice nurse.  While Bryon didn’t make it to hospice and died in the hospital, I can attest that end of life care is very important.  Not only to the dying patient but their loved ones.

4.  My friends.  Seriously, nothing would get done around myself without them.  I have a core group that will drop everything to help me.  And I am lucky because I am an overwhelmed widowed mother who works full-time.

5.  My childhood friend.  One of my best friends from childhood sent me a message yesterday.  I haven’t responded because I was busy with work and wanted to write a well-thought out message and I failed.  She and I had been friends since we were little and we were particularly close in middle school.  It was a time when we all had spiral perms and wore Hard Rock Cafe T-shirts and the Baby-Sitters Club were everything.  I will say that her spiral perms were always better than mine because her mother was a hairdresser and my perms came from a box.

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I don’t think any pictures exist of us.  I wish they did so I could post it here.

I moved away after 8th grade in 1993 and while we wrote the occasional letter, we pretty much fell out of touch.  We later found each other on Facebook.  We got married around the same time and we both had daughters one month apart.

So to my old friend, if you are reading this-  I am grateful you are still in my life and I owe you a response to your message.  I really need to see you when I am in the Boston area next.

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Felix natalis amici mei

Felix natalis amici mei.  

That is Happy Birthday my friend in Latin.  At least that is what Google Translate tells me.  My friend is a Latin teacher and I am sure she can tell if it is the correct Latin grammar or not.

Today is her birthday.  But we celebrated her birthday the other night.

My friend is very special to me.  She was in my wedding.  This is her favorite picture from our wedding day.  (She is the one pinching Bryon’s cheek.)  

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My friend was the one that got me to run a half marathon.  And even though she was dealing with some pretty rough stuff in her own life during those months while Bryon was in the hospital, she still came by almost every day.  She brought me fluffy literature to pass the time and she brought pizza to sustain me.  She was with me during Bryon’s two worst days and she made it down to NYC before he died.  I don’t know what I would have done without her friendship.

We met at an Italian Restaurant called Il Faro. I am conflicted writing about it because it was so good and we didn’t want the whole world to know our secret.  But the food was so good that it was only fair to mention it.  It is only a matter of time before it gets discovered and will be crowded.  I am not Italian, but several of the people at our table have Italian heritage and they were impressed.

We had drinks at the bar and chatted.  A lot of baseball talk. The group consisted of four couples and me.  I was the ninth wheel.  It’s times like these that I miss Bryon. Granted, he wouldn’t have been by my side all night as he would have taken this as an opportunity to catch up with his friends.  He would have been making fun of his best friends beer selection. But these are my closest friends- my Albany family- and we still talk about Bryon as if he is still alive, which makes me feel better about being the third, or fifth or seventh or ninth wheel.  

I believe everyone was impressed with their meals.  I had the eggplant parmesan with a side of meatballs and linguine and it was amazing. I had enough eggplant leftover that it was dinner the next night for me and my daughter and the meatballs and linguine were lunch the next day.  And even in leftover form, it did not disappoint.  

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We got a group picture

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And then we got a picture of the girls.

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Then the guys got jealous and had to have their picture taken.

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In the bathroom.  Something to think about.

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My friend and I got into my car and right when I turned the key in the ignition, Hall & Oates started to play.  It was my friend’s favorite Hall & Oates song.  

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We took it as a sign that Bryon wouldn’t let us celebrate her birthday without him.  We cried.

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Half of us went back to my friend’s house where her boyfriend had a cake.  It was an orange creamsicle cake.  I don’t particularly care for orange creamsicle ,but I thought it was good.

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Then we did presents!  Which I didn’t get any pictures of my friend opening up.

I never thought birthdays were a big deal.  They are mostly for kids.  As adults, once you celebrate your 21st, you only celebrate those birthdays that end in zero.  But after losing Bryon at such a young age, I know realize that birthdays are meant to be celebrated.  We are lucky to have them.  And I am lucky to have friends to celebrate these special days with and I look forward to celebrating more.

Amicus meus est natalis beati. te amo.  (Don’t fail me Google translate!)

Happy Birthday Grandma

I remember one summer day in the mid 1980s when I was in my grandmother’s backyard.  I was about 7 (and therefore my grandmother was about 73) and I was excited because my birthday was coming up.  I asked my grandmother what was her most favorite thing about birthdays and she responds “when it’s over.”  I couldn’t understand why someone would want their birthday to be over.

Catherine Ann Donahue Sullivan was born May 3, 1914 in Woburn, MA. She was the 6th child and 2nd daughter of two Irish Immigrants, Peter Donahue and Mary Duran. She attended Woburn Public Schools (she told me that Catholic School cost 50 cents per child, per week and my great-grandparents were too poor to send 9 children to parochial school). She went to nursing school during the Depression (total cost of nursing education in 1930’s including cap=$75. Total cost of Kerry’s Psychology book, spring semester 2001=$130. The look on my grandmother’s face when I told her that=priceless).  She married my grandfather in 1946 and went on to have 5 sons.

Even though I grew up two towns away from my grandmother, I didn’t start to become close to her until my grandfather died when I was in 6th grade. After that, every Saturday was spent at her house while my father and uncles took care of tasks around the house and I would play with my younger cousins. Though I was shy in general, I was very outspoken around my family and my grandmother used to like to egg me on. It was funny. I, um, developed a lot sooner than most girls and I hated it. I was kind of a tomboy and, let’s just say, “they” got in the way. I would complain about them to my grandmother and she would just tell me that, “Someday you’re doing to be thankful…” The jury is still out on that, Grandma.  Though Bryon definitely seemed to appreciate them.

My grandmother had 5 sons and one grandson before I was born. I ended up being the first of four granddaughters. My grandmother always told me she wished she had had a daughter but I made her thankful she didn’t.

My grandmother would always give me $20 whenever I visited. It was for ice cream. Of course ice cream at the local ice cream place, Breakers, only cost about $3. She would always make sure to tell me that “When I was a kid, we were too poor to buy ice cream. And there was no one around to give us ice cream money.”  When I was in college, Grandma was always giving me $20 for gas money (that was back when you could fill your gas tank for $20.)

My grandmother taught me that you can still be a lady and use profanity. My other grandmother taught me that a lady never uses profanity. Luckily, it all seems to balance out.

My grandmother taught me that it is okay to tell guys who give you unwanted attention to “piss off.” One time, when she was in her 80’s, she slipped on the ice and fell. Another old guy stopped and tried to help her and she told him to “piss off.” I asked her why. She told me it was because he had two girlfriends.

My grandmother also taught me that I can not go wrong dating Irish-Catholic guys. She did warn me to stay away from French men. In the 1930’s, when she was in her mid-20’s, she dated a French guy. He had the nerve to ask her to move to New Jersey but didn’t want to get married. She told him to piss off. Then, at the age of 29, she met my full-blooded Irish-American grandfather and married him when she was 31.

My grandmother spent her years as a nurse and her later years in politics.  My cousin takes after her as a nurse and is a hospice nurse which I think is one of the most noble jobs there is.  I seemed to inherit the political gene although I am on an indefinite sabbatical from politics. Like my grandmother, my mouth sometimes gets me into trouble.  She passed before she could see me run for Maine State House or see me run the Maine Federation of Young Republicans.  Though it drove her Boston Irish Democrat sensibilities nuts that I was a Republican.

It always made me sad that she didn’t live long enough to meet Bryon.  They would have understood each other and appreciate each other’s sense of humor.  I think Grandma would have approved even though Bryon was only one-eighth Irish.

I remember one time during Mass back home our priest was commenting that the generations of a family are like a chain and each one of us is a link in that chain linking the generations.  I remember when my grandmother died and my father mentioned that he was the only one that remembered his grandmother (my great-grandmother) as my living uncles were either too young to remember her or weren’t born yet.  My father is the only living member of our family that is linked to my great-grandmother and he provides that link to us and especially my daughter.  One person who links five generations.  As long as my father is here, that link exists but someday that link won’t exist.  Luckily, my father has stated that he plans on sticking around until he is 120 so that link should be around for awhile.

Bryon went into the ICU when my daughter was 18 months old and passed away a month before her second birthday.  My daughter won’t remember him and it is as if there are no links in that chain.  It’s like that direct chain has been cut clean but in a way, Bryon’s friends and I will serve the link between my daughter and Bryon.

So Bryon, Grandma, and also Grandpa, Papa, Uncle Peter and Uncle Brian, as long as I am alive, you will live on.  I will make sure my daughter knows you.  And if I am privileged enough to live long enough to meet my grandchildren and maybe even my great-grandchildren, they will know you too.  You will live on for generations.

And Grandma, I am still going to wish you a Happy Birthday in Heaven.  Even if you wish your birthday were over.

Grandma’s Obituary

So much weekend

I started this blog as an outlet for my feelings and I have decided that I have been writing about too much depressing stuff lately.  My life isn’t all depressing so I decided to share some of my fun moments.  I mean, my life won’t always be this depressing, right?  My daughter and I had a busy weekend so I thought I would share that.

On Friday evening I had plans to meet some good friends for Mexican food at El Loco.  I had gotten a baby sitter for my daughter and I braved the drive to downtown Albany and even found a parking spot.  It was great to catch up with my friends.

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I was supposed to run the Fly Creek Cider Run 10k this weekend but I dropped a metal trashcan on my toe on Easter.  That doesn’t sound like a big deal but my big toenail is blue and I had to wear flip flops all week because it hurt too much to wear regular shoes.  By Friday I could wearing shoes was bearable but I decided that it wasn’t the best idea to run the 10k or 5k.  I was disappointed because I really was looking forward to this race.  I was signed up to run it last year but missed it due to Bryon’s illness.  Maybe the third time will be the charm.

There was a rugby tournament at Albany Law School so my daughter and I went for a little bit.  My daughter wasn’t that interested but we did walk around the track and even did a little running.

Saturday afternoon was the birthday party of the son of Bryon’s best friend.  He is turning 3.  They did an amazing job with the Mickey and the Roadster Racers theme.  There was also a bounce house and wagon rides.

Reminders that life continues on.  It feels good that that we are making happy memories that my daughter and my friends children will grow up with.  But, like everything else, it is bittersweet because Bryon isn’t here for those memories.

Sunday was the monthly brunch with my girls.  This is turning into my most favorite day of the month.  We alternate houses and we each bring something.  We had an amazing brunch with Blueberry and Strawberry French Toast Casserole, Goat Cheese and Sundried Tomato Quiche, Vanilla Bread, Sausage, Fruit, cookies, Mimosas and great conversation.   

 I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend or better company.