WPC – Symbol – Irish Worry Stone

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A tribute to my friend Joe whose memory I keep always. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all.

I am not superstitious by nature, but this lovely, simple symbol of my Irish heritage is never far from my side. In fact, I keep it tucked in a small zippered compartment of my purse.  Made from Connemara marble, the Irish Worry Stone so smooth and cool to the touch, is reputed to keep worries at bay and bring a sense of comfort to those who hold it.   My mother loved these worry stones and often brought them back to friends as souvenirs when she visited her homeland of Ireland.  My close friend Joe, who was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 32 years of age was the recipient of one of my mother’s worry stones.  When he died, I visited his apartment where his mother was staying temporarily.   As we comforted each other with memories of her youngest son, she asked if she could show me something. Entering his bedroom she gestured toward his night table.  On the corner closest to his bed, lay the worry stone. I like to think that it brought him comfort.

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Weekly photo challenge “Name”

Gloria

I spotted this abandoned boat yesterday morning, moored on a small creek in Westport, CT.  A name displayed on the bow was carefully written in simple block letters…GLORIA.  Captivating in its stillness with not a soul in sight, it instilled a feeling of both peace and melancholy.   Returning home I researched to discover the boat was owned by a gentleman who lived his entire life in Westport and worked as an oyster fisherman aboard the vessel. The boat was both his work and home, when weather permitted.  “Gloria” was the name of an old girlfriend who clearly left a mark on his heart.  He passed away recently yet the barge remains, a testament to earlier days and a time long gone.  This past Christmas, an unknown angel strung festive lights on the boat in memory of the late fisherman. It must have been a beautiful sight. I wonder if Gloria ever knew she was his muse?img_2682

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WPC – Symbol – Irish Worry Stone

stone1  I am not superstitious by nature, but this lovely, simple symbol of my Irish heritage is never far from my side. In fact, I keep it tucked in a small zippered compartment of my purse.  Made from Connemara marble, the Irish Worry Stone so smooth and cool to the touch, is reputed to keep worries at bay and bring a sense of comfort to those who hold it.   My mother loved these worry stones and often brought them back to friends as souvenirs when she visited her homeland of Ireland.  My close friend Joe, who was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 32 years of age was the recipient of one of my mother’s worry stones.  When he died, I visited his apartment where his mother was staying temporarily.   As we comforted each other with memories of her wonderful son she asked if she could show me something. Entering his bedroom she gestured toward his night table.  On the corner closest to his bed, lay the worry stone. I like to think that it brought him comfort.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/symbol/

In The Company of Women – A Tribute to My Father

Today is the ninth anniversary of my father’s death.  Quite simply, I believe he was the greatest father imaginable.  He left a legacy of love, laughter and life lessons embedded in my heart. In tribute, I have re-blogged a story I wrote in his honor.

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Me (lower left) with my two sisters and father. My youngest sister does not appear as she was born eight years later. This was my father’s passport photo taken back in the day when children appeared in picture with their parents.

“In The Company of Women”

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A photo of me and my sisters along with toy poodle Daisy, female too of course.
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I was one of four daughters, attended all girl catholic schools my entire life, never knew what a jock strap looked like, have no idea how to change a tire and never experienced the bright stadium lights at a night-time football game.   My father did put up a basketball hoop once in our driveway, short-lived when the ball sailed through the glass pane of the garage door. There it stood neglected for years a sad testament to the son my mother never had.

My Scottish reared father never once expressed regret at not having a son. Rather, he reveled in his four daughters and life among them. He loved his girls. Though there were times we tried his patience. A flashback of his screams from the shower after being cut by a worn down razor blade used on too many female teenage legs. Or his aversion to the smell of nail polish remover. He hated the smell of nail polish remover.  He was equally content watching a rugby match as he was a cooking show.

During his daughter’s bridal showers, all four of them, rather than fleeing for the afternoon as most men might, my father would delight in being part of the celebration.  There he would sit center stage, in his recliner, newspaper in hand (a ploy to feign disinterest) among the squeals and chaos of thirty females.  Every now and again as a new gift was unveiled he would lift his head up casually and remark  “Ah what’s this one? Hold it up a little closer Kath…”

My sister Sheila, too experienced this sometimes disadvantage of not having grown up with or been schooled among boys.  When she and my mother visited Lord and Taylor to buy her first boyfriend a birthday gift, the saleswoman paused in puzzlement as she inquired as to where she might find the men’s “blouses.”

In addition to my father there was in fact one other male in our family.  A big, beautiful Irish wolfhound, brought back from a holiday in Ireland.  I recall listening in on a now famous conversation in our family between my mother and the vet. “I need to bring Connell in to be spayed,” The vet’s patient reply:  “You mean neutered Mrs. Dickinson.”  My mother’s reply “Oh, yes that is when they fix his vagina?”  My sister and I stared at each other, and then burst into laughter. We thought that something must have gotten lost in translation as my mother, Irish-born, often had her own interpretation of words. Looking back however, I think she simply believed Connell like the rest of us, female, at least in theory.

I married and ironically, have two sons. My eldest is named William in honor of my father.  My husband has taught them the things his own father taught him; how to throw a ball, using common tools for simple jobs, being kind and respectful.  My sons are equally in touch with their feminine side and have as many female friends as male.  They have five female cousins whom they see frequently further adding to their comfort level with girls, not to mention the added bonus of always have a date for the prom.

But I guess in at least one aspect boys will be boys. Despite my pleas, they still on occasion leave the seat up.  I have one small consolation.  Our family’s toy fox terrier Anabel is female.  My father would have loved that….

My handsome father at the 1964 World's Fair being interviewed. He was general manager of Restaurant Associates at the time.
My handsome father at the 1964 World’s Fair being interviewed. He was general manager of Restaurant Associates at the time.

Amazing Grace

I think it was her laugh. That mirthful, contagious laughter that I miss most. Just over a year ago, life became a shade grayer when I learned the news that my beautiful friend Grace, departed this world unexpectedly, so unexpectedly, at 49 years of age.  Move on, they say. Life goes on. She is gone. Take comfort in the memories.  All logical, all understandable. But what they don’t tell you is how do you find another best friend with whom you click so perfectly?  A friendship that does not even come for some, once in a lifetime?  Yes. I have moved on but I can’t forget her.

Grace glamming it up in the 1980'sShe first entered my world 10 years ago, when our children attended a three’s group at nursery school. And then as the years rolled on, we found ourselves again entwined when both our children, now in their teens, joined a springboard diving team in a neighboring town.  And our friendship which began slowly, progressed from the occasional wave in the market to daily phone calls, often exceeding an hour in length. In an age of computers and texting I loved those phone calls. We delighted in discovering commonalities from our youth; how we both loved teen idol Scott Baio or debating the merits of which was the better beach; The Jersey Shore (her choice being a Jersey girl) vs Jones Beach (mine, growing up on Long Island). I would cradle the phone under my chin as I made the beds, never wanting to hang up as there was always just one more story.

Her tough façade shielded a gentle heart. She once trapped a possum that was ravaging her vegetable garden, in a cage she had purchased at Home Depot.  That was so Grace. Why call a professional when she could do it herself? The next morning as she crept up to check the cage, she was devastated to discover that in trapping the creature, it had perished.  As she dejectedly opened the trap door, the possum sprang out…She laughed and laughed as she told me she had forgotten that possums played dead…

Grace was steadfast and unwavering in her beliefs; a formidable participant in any discussion.  A topic that came up frequently between us was the amount of driving time needed to arrive at a certain locale. We often carpooled together to diving and Grace claimed it took her no more than 20 minutes from her home to the YMCA, wherein I would argue that was impossible, as our house was closer and she could not get to the Y in less than 25 minutes.  There were never any loud arguments just a persistent impasse. “Perhaps you drive faster than me?” I would remark.  And she would confidently smile and say, “No, 20 minutes door to door…” and so it went for years with no declared winner, just a constant volley between us.  It always took 5 minutes less when Grace drove anywhere.

Her two favorite words were “divine” and “fantastic” which she used with abandon. You felt like there was nothing she could not accomplish. She was the definition of a do-er.  She was loyal, funny and protective. She loved Hugh Grant movies and the city of London where she had lived in her single years.

Above all, Grace loved her family. Her husband Craig and two daughters were the light and purpose of her life. She was the best mother imaginable and her spirit is seen in the unique and beautiful personalities of her daughters Maren and Devon.

photo (1)Although I will not see my cherished friend again in this world, I keep close to me the memories of her voice, mannerisms and of course that laughter.  If I am to take anything away from this tremendous loss it is that age-old advice that life is fleeting.  I am not one for hugging but what I would give to hug her one last time and tell her how happy she made my life during our short time together.

And, during those times when I don’t feel her near, I ponder where her spirit may be and then a vision comes to me which goes something like this…

A calm, deep, soothing voice is heard:  “Grace, it is time to leave to greet our new friends.  It will take you 15 minutes to reach the gate and if the clouds are thick, it may take some extra time….” A steady, confident voice replies “It takes only 10 minutes. I have been there twice now and there is no way it takes more than 10 minutes.”  God, begins to object but then reconsiders. She has not been here very long, but he already is aware of her capabilities. That is one of the reasons he chose her for this job.  He responds calmly “Very Good Grace.”  I trust your judgment.  We all did.