Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Adventures in Motherhood

While in Louisville several weeks ago, we met up with my daughter Bridget and her boyfriend Scott at Cracker Barrel.

While waiting for a table, we browsed through the cornucopia of stuff they have on display.I immediately found Big Bird, new, yellow and oh so fresh! I hid him behind my back and waited till Bridget was in close proximity. I pulled him out and danced him towards her. She screamed, (like I knew she would) and grabbed him saying " My Big Bird" and began to hug him.

We both said at the same time, "Do you remember Dennis and Big Bird". And we both started laughing.

Long ago and far away in another world, while living in Louisville I was dating a guy named Dennis. Bridget was approximately three years old. She had a stuffed Big Bird that she carried around with her at all times. It was never out of her sight for very long. She had a habit of carrying him by his long neck which elongated it even more.

Dennis comes from a big Catholic family. Their main source of entertainment while growing up was teasing each other relentlessly until tears (or fists...he had many brothers). Dennis never grew out of it.

While he was visiting one day, Bridget was carrying Big Bird around and without much thought left Big Bird within Dennis' reach. In a flap of Big Birds wing span, Dennis had grabbed the disfigured Big Bird and proceeded to stick his head in the door jam and close the door repeatedly back and forth on poor defenseless Big Bird. You would have thought someone was killing Bridget with the blood curdling screams that came out of her mouth.

I was falling down laughing at the time, but Bridget was traumatized. Ever since then it has been known as the Big Bird incident.

I have seen Dennis off and on over the years. When ever I see him he always asks about Bridget. I relay this to her.  No matter how  much older she becomes, the time growing long since it happened, she still squints her eyes and mutters, "Big Bird Killer."

We laughed in Cracker Barrel and said in unison, "Big Bird Killer".

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Flipped Switch

It must be the weather.  Or is it the thought that I will be taking a long awaited and much desired trip.  It could be the flowers I planted in the front yard are finally responding to the warmer weather and showing their pretty heads. Maybe I have gotten over the UK loss on Sunday.  Whatever it is I feel a renewed passion for everything in life. 

I am tearing it up at work after months of slow business and cold days of driving to my accounts.  I am on the South Beach Diet and though I don't think I have lost any weight as of yet, I feel wonderful.  My joints have stopped aching!  Especially my right hand, which I have a tendency to ball up in a fist and tuck under my chin while I sleep.  The past six months it has really hurt in the morning.  I think that the elimination of starches and sugars in my diet has really improved the joints.

I will be participating in the Rhodes 10K in Louisville on Saturday morning.  I have not practiced in weeks!  So I think I will walk/run it.  I am excited about it anyway. 

There is a Beatlemania exhibit at the J-town library branch ( one of the small townships that make up the whole of Louisville) and I really look forward to that.

I have been spending the nights at my parents house just in case.  I get up early and fix my Mom's breakfast and leave it waiting for her.  One of my other siblings arrives around 8am and takes over from there.  We are tag teaming through the recovery period. 

Things are good.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Destination The Emerald Island

The passport papers have been sent in.  The tickets are purchased.  The anticipation begins.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

I Bleed Blue


UK lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament.  UAB beat them.  Who?

Being a life long UK fan I have suffered through many losses.  In a final four game in 1984, (I think that was the year) they did not score a point for over nine minutes in the second half. They lost the final game in 1966 in the final minutes with two steals.(Soon to be a major motion picutre, I kid you not). I know all the names of the kids on the team that year, Pat Riley, Louie Dampier, Thad Jarrad (sp?), Larry Conley and Tommy Kron.  They lost to Michigan in a final four game in 1993 when they had one of the best players in the country, Mashburn...and how can anyone forget the shot that beat us in 1992 in the Regional final game of the NCAA when Duke hit that mid-court shot to move on.  That year we had a team that included walk-ons.  We call them the Unforgettables. I remember all their names too.

I love UK basketball and I bleed blue when our beloved Big Blue loses in the tournament.  Every year I think they can win it all.  And Alas, they have only come through seven times!

How to Kiss the Blarney Stone

My Nana was fond of saying, "He kissed the Balrney Stone".  At an early age I just assumed I knew what it meant, that the person had the gift of gab.  As a child, I loved to go through my mothers photographs of her youth.  They are tear you up funny.  I vividly remember the one of her kissing the Blarney Stone, laying on her back, leaned over a ledge, smacking the lips against a wall of limestone, in a dress no less! This was in the late 40's, every lady wore a dress.

The legend is this......The stone originally belonged to the Scottish and was considered half the Stone of Scone.  Scottish Kings were crowned over the stone.

The stone was a gift to the Lord of Blarney, who set the stone in a tower of the castle in 1446.  Queen Elizabeth was making demand on the Irish to occupy their lands under her!  Lord Blarney "handled every royal request with  subtle diplomacy without giving in".  Elizabeth conined the phrase "a lot of Blarney".

Then the legend is embellished with the casting of a spell of an old woman who told the King that if he kissed the stone while under the spell he would be able to speak sweetly and convincingly.

So those of us who believe, when we kiss the Blarney stone gain the ability to speak with eloquence, cleverly, and persuavise flattery.

Quite a bargain.


Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Kissing the Blarney Stone

May the road Rise up to                                                                                           

Meet you, may the winds be

Always at your back, may the sun

Shine warm upon your face, the

Rains fall soft upon your fields and

Until we meet again may God hold you

In the palm of his hand.

                                                An Irish blessing.

                    HAPPY ST. PADDY DAY EVERYONE

Monday, March 15, 2004

You're at home with a Guinness

I am 90% certain that Joe and I will be going to Ireland the end of May/beginning of June for about a week.  My sister K. is going with her family (two small children) husband, his mother and sister, and another couple!  What difference will another couple make?

She mentioned it during this ordeal and I just overlooked the suggestion.  Thought, no way.  But when Mom was on the road to recovery, I thought, "Why not?" what is holding me back?

I went and started the pass port process today.  I am about half believing it really is going to happen.  Both my parents are first generation Irish. I have a zillion relatives still there. Especially  on my Mom's side of the family.  Omega and K. have been over there numerous times.

I can't believe this is happening. Pinch me.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Interview with the Omega

I have spent a lot of time with my sisters in the last week.  We had some great talks   Sometimes you just talk and talk and talk but if you listen you might hear a good story or two. 

  A few years ago I was in one of my favorite places, the Book Cellar in the public library where they sell books at incredibly low prices with an eclectic selection. One afternoon  I was shown a first edition of Anne Rice's' The Vampire Lestat.  I purchased it.  It was in wonderful condition, only a little wear and tear on the dust jacket.  At one time I was a huge Anne Rice fan.  Read everything she wrote and stood in line several times to have her sign books. My sister "Omega" is a fan too.  I was telling her about "Lestat" and she told me that I was so lucky, that Lestat was her favorite Anne Rice book. 

That Christmas I gave the book to her.  It was so rewarding.  One of the best gifts I have ever given due to her astonishment.  I totally caught her off guard. I could not believe I was giving away a first edition Anne Rice...but, that's love.

 Last year we had a huge ice storm in Kentucky that knocked out the electricity in several neighborhoods.  Omega was moving into a brand new house.  For some reason their basement flooded.  Her husband Karl had placed the boxes of books in the basement and the worst happened.....the book was ruined.  It took Omega months to be able to tell me, and when she did, she cried. She was so angry with Karl, angry with herself, angry with Mother Nature.  The book meant a lot to her, and it was destroyed. 

This Christmas morning she received the most wonderful Christmas present from the most wonderful guy.  Karl had found another first edition on E-Bay ("don't even ask me how much he had to pay for it!!!!!!") and gave it to her, surprised her with it. Told her how much he loved her with it.  

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Too Much Time on My Hands

Actually I am sick.  I have some type of respiratory infection and so I am taking a breather.  I should be in bed, but I have not been on the computer for such a long time that I am just going nuts!

Omega is giving a party tonight for her husbands brother.  They are expecting a child and are huge Rolling Stone fans, especially Keith Richards.

These are the invitations...aren't they clever and hilarious.

Thoughts on Family

A collective sigh of relief comes from my entire family.  Mom will be coming home on Monday.  She has been making excellent progress and the healing journey will continue at home with friends joining in with family to ensure a speedy and uncomplicated recovery. 

As everything in life, the goodness in the flip side of the situation is the amount of time I have been able to spend with my siblings and their spouses.  Especially my sisters.  Each one of us has our own families, extended families, commitments, and obligations.  We get together at least once a month to celebrate a birthday, a graduation, christening and all the other occasions that weave the tapestry of family life. 

The monthly gatherings are usually noisy, boisterous, rollicking good fun.  That is the scene when you gather 25 people together.  People talking all at once, kids running everywhere, food preparing, men gathering around the beer cooler and firing up the grill.  It is great to be engulfed in the pleasure of belonging, but to have honest heart to heart communication is practically impossible. 

There was a lot of engaging dialogue this week. 

I love my family and this is the second time a tragic event has brought us together in the past six months.  This one struck us in the very heart of our being.  The Queen Bee was ill. 

 The out pouring of love and concern for my Mother from the people she has touched humbles me.  She is one of a generation that survived the Great Depression, she was an immigrant kid, she is one of the mothers of the Baby Boom generation.  There will never be another generation like hers and my Dads.  Once they are gone ....It's gone.   

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Good News

Mom was in surgery for over five hours yesterday afternoon.  The hospital sent us progress reports through out the operation.  Around 8pm they sent a nurse who requested us to wait in a conference room for the doctor.  All afternoon the doctors had been entering the waiting room and speaking with the families.  Or leading them into the conference room.

It was an intense five minutes waiting for him.  I was on the verge of tears and could not articulate my fears to my brother and sister-in-law. 

He came in and told us she was in recovery and had done marvelous.  They fixed her leaky valve and did a quad by-pass.  The breathing tube was to came out around 5am. Now we wait for evidence of stoke.

Thank you everyone for your concern and prayers. 

Saturday, March 6, 2004

Unbelievable Development

 I must have just posted the entry about my mother yesterday when my cell phone rang and it was "Omega" telling me my Mom was on her way to the hospital and had suffered a heart attack. 

It was a mild one, but on Tuesday she will have triple by-pass surgery.  She has a valve that is leaking and they will determine how to fix it once they are in. She has a 95% blockage, an 80% blockage, and the last at around 90%. 

 "How did that happen?" she asked in amazement.  "Cookies" my other sister, the middle one, retorted. 

We are very concerned about my Dad, as he suffers from dementia.  He is handling it all very well.  He asked first thing this morning, "How is Theresa?" 

We were able to take him to see her this afternoon.  He walked in with his walker, sat in a seat across from her (they had her up sitting in a large chair) and said "You had a heart attack?" in this totally concerned, incredulous voice. "Can you believe it!" she replied. 

I have faith she is going to be fine.  Her guardian angels were looking out for her. Literally.  Her friends at the Stamp Club she has for the grammar school kids knew something was wrong with her.  When she slipped away, they tracked her down and found her almost passed out in a bathroom.  They literally are her guardian angels God sent to watch over her yesterday

Friday, March 5, 2004

The woman who gave me life (and the man...c.1975)

Yesterday was the big day...my birthday.  So it was no surprise that my Mom called me to wish me a happy birthday and to remind me she was in labor for 33 hours etc.etc.  Then she told me the latest news regarding her health.

 That afternoon, right after lunch she was sending Pop upstairs for his afternoon nap while she had plans to attend a memorial service and ....she could not get up.  The pain was excruciating across her right thigh. 

The Lord above has a way of looking out for my Mom. She was able to reach friends (retired Nuns...?) who came to her assistance and took her to the Doctor.  Diagnosis?  More than likely bursitis or tendentious.  A shot of cortisone was given and some new miracle drugs and she is much, much better. 

A while back my youngest sister (15 years my junior, the alpha and the omega) and I were having a discussion about my Mom and the noticeable changes in her (as she is in her 70's). I began to realize that my sister did not venerate my Mom like I do.  She even went so far as to say that she felt somehow cheated ......because Mom had so many interests, obligations and hobbies outside our family.  P. went so far as to say Mom was not a great role model for her.

 I was flabbergasted!  When I came of age in the 1970's and women's lib was a big thing, it was already accepted in my family.  Mom  had a career outside her family.  She has a Masters Degree in Library Science and was running the county library and the Catholic School library. She was involved in everything that was important.  Civil Rights, Children's rights, Catholic issues, poverty just to name a few.

She is my hero.  I need to thank her more than just on my Birthday.  The biggest gift she gave me after life, was the knowledge that you can do anything.  If a first generation Irish kid like herself could realize her dreams, I need  to understand she paved the way for me. And all women who came after her.

I wish my sister could see it that way. 

Monday, March 1, 2004

Galavanting in the Knobs

Sunday we took a road trip to the Markers Mark Distillery.  The ride down there was beautiful even though the dogwood and daffodils have not yet begun to bloom.  The sun shining and the warm weather was proof enough that it will be soon. 

Markers Mark is located in a small community nestled in the "knobs" called Loretto Kentucky.  Which incidentally is also the home of the Trappist monastery, Gethsemani where Thomas Merton resided for five years.  

 Bourbon and Monks?  Ironic in a sense.

 The Internet claimed the distillery was open every Sunday with the exception of Easter.  They lied!  It was not open to the public and we realized it as we drove into the parking lot. Only a few pickup trucks were parked at what appeared to be a receiving area.  The weekend keepers of the corn mash. 

A security guard affirmed our realization....and we must have look pretty disappointed because he decided to give us his own personal mini tour of the Fermenting house. The smell alone could blow a legal intoxication.   The cypress vats were 12 feel deep and bubbling with sour mash.

 The memory of a childhood trip came to me with great clarity.  I was about five years old and we were on a tour of the Old Crow Distillery in Frankfort.  I was leaning over the side of one of the vats and began to fall in!! My Aunt Pat grabbed the back of my dress and pulled me out.  

The security guard was named Robbie and he was so accommodating and would not take the money I offered him.  Two car loads arrived as we were leaving.  He firmly told them Markers Mark was closed. I cannot wait to go back and get the full tour. 

This area of Kentucky is full of history that will take more than one sunny afternoon to explore.  The monastery, a civil war museum, the birth place of Abe Lincoln, and several other Distilleries. There are people who travel around the country visiting all the Major League Baseball Fields.  Joe and I have decided that we will visit all the bourbon distilleries in Kentucky