Posted in Family & Friends

Lucky Enough

Classic Charlie.

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•`  HAPPY ST. PATTY’S DAY!

“Thinking of wonderful past parties with Jan the piano player, Dad the entertainer, Mom the hostess with the most-ess, and more fun, singing and laughter than oughta be legal! It was a tradition that began way before my time but ended up including generations of O’Connor friends and family. While I’m sad because it’s over, I’m smiling because it happened! Miss you ALL!!”

And I do. I think I can say without question that anyone who was ever involved in any of these get-togethers, from the early 1950’s until the last one in 2005, has happy, joyful memories. My mom always says no one does sing-alongs anymore, and I think she’s right. Not like they did. There was always a piano player, from Ag, Kevin, and John, to Mom, Joe, and finally Jan…wonderful, amazing, talented Jan, a life-long professional entertainer who, in her twilight years, chose to play piano at the O’Connors’ St. Patrick’s Day party rather than anywhere else that would have PAID her to play. She could play anything, and she could follow Dad’s ‘singing’ like they’d been performing together for years.

“Chloe” (“Ya don’t say!”), “Me and My Shadow” (Dad and Carl), and a personal favorite, “Shanty Town,” along with every Irish song we knew. Why, we finally had our own songbooks made up — pages and pages of the words to all the songs one could think of. “Charlie’s Songbook” it was called, and we had loads of them. But even with so many copies, people still had to share. After every song, you’d hear someone shout out, “Number 28!” or “Number 103!”  or just the name of the song they wanted.  And then, “What PAGE?!?”  And Jan would play.

And the harmonizing! We of course had to include some of the musicals, especially Dad’s favorite, The Music ManWe’d split into two groups, and the guys would start “Lida Rose.”  When the time was right –and often when it wasn’t — the girls would join in with Sweet and Low,” each group leaning into themselves to hear if they were following their own song or getting distracted by the louder bunch. While I’ll have to admit some years were better than others, when we’d finally hit that last, sweet harmonized note, with everyone finally reaching the right tone…why, THAT was something else. And the memory of those satisfied smiles on our faces and the cheers all around — either because we were that good or because it was finally over — will be tucked away to bring out and enjoy year after year. (Charlie O: “We should take this on the road!” )

Typing this, the past floods in when, as children on Kingston, we would be lined up at the top of the stairs, legs hanging through the railings, listening to the laughter, the singing, to Dad with his crazy one-liners that we didn’t understand but would cause more laughter. We learned the old songs that way, songs that are slowly dying out for lack of singing them, sharing them. 30 years later, to have been a part of that tradition, hosting those same parties and sharing them with my own kids, was a gift I wasn’t aware of until now, when it’s over.

I was one of the lucky 11. I was lucky enough to be born into a family who cherished and celebrated its Irish heritage. I never knew my mother wasn’t Irish until years later. She embraced Dad’s love o’ the Irish as if she were born into it, and she encouraged it in us all. We see this saying used in many ways, but in what I consider its original form, If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough



Posted in Randomness

A Year in a Life

Rick & Sarah
Rick & Sarah

March 3rd, the one-year anniversary of Rick’s passing. How is that possible?  I wrote then that I could not imagine her without him. He’s been gone a year, and I now I believe that she does not go on without him. He’s with her in the eagle she spies circling overhead or the antler she finds in the woods. She talks to him daily on her walks through the familiar trails where they spent so much time together. His occasional ‘visits’ at night help her get through those days of putting one step in front of another until she finds that yet another 24 hours have gone by.

Her new normal keeps her busy with the house, the dogs, her kids, her friends. She runs marathons and cleans like a demon. I talk with her daily and am constantly amazed at the strength she shows when I know just by her voice that maybe today wasn’t a good day.

She even braved her first solo flight and came to Florida for a visit. It was wonderful. We spent time at the beach, on bike rides, and just talking until her short trip was over. She said it was the first time in more than 7 months that she felt ‘normal.’

She’s started reading again. She’s letting go of unrealistic expectations both of herself and others. She’s getting her ‘moxy’ back. She’s beginning to look forward to what might be, what he prepared her for, never letting go of the memory that makes her strong enough to face a future on her own.

Well, not really on her own.

Posted in Family & Friends, Florida Fun

A Wonderful Visit!

At Hammock Gardens.
At Hammock Gardens.

No one thought she’d make it a month, but make it she did! Mom was here the whole month of February, which gave us plenty of time to get to the beach, go to the IMAX for her first 3D show, experience a great priest at a lovely mission church, eat out, eat in, knit, see the manatees, play bridge both on her laptop and in a large local group, and read, read, read!  I’m not sure how many books she went through, but when she ran out, we visited the library and got her stocked up with more.

Sometimes when I got home from work I’d ask what she did today, and her response was, “Well, I read all day!” She struggled with the guilt of doing just exactly what she wanted when she wanted, and while I tried to convince her that she could anything she wanted and it didn’t matter to us, she said the guilt thing was built into her and she just couldn’t help it. So I said, “Okay,” and left it at that.

We sure did enjoy having her here, and my hope is she had a nice enough time that she wants to come back. Any time!

And check out the photos here.