Remember when I spoke at Dad's retirement party? I was so happy to be able to share my thoughts about him while he was there, just feet away from me. That's how I feel about this particular blog. I get to share my feelings about you while you're here with me. We'll go to your favorite area restaurant for lunch to celebrate your special day, and we'll also celebrate this magnificent milestone later this month with your sons, several grandchildren and your many San Diego friends. Oh...and tonight the dinner is whatever you choose and we'll indulge in the gorgeous cake that Suzanne delivered yesterday.
You had me and my three younger brothers via C-Section in the days when women were encouraged not to have so many children via that route. But you did. You and (as I recall you saying) Elizabeth Taylor.
Dad was a fireman and each time we heard the sirens from our Newbury Street home you'd gather Gary and I and take us to the fire site. We were actually present when he went in several burning buildings. I don't remember being scared. It's what he did. It's what you did. I remember Dad studying for the various tests as he rose through the ranks. He would eventually become Chief and we no longer chased fires in the days of Brian and Gerry----just too many kids to dress in the middle of the night.
You were a phenomenal softball player. I heard from a lot of people that you were the best ballplayer on Hungry Hill. They'd usually add that you should've gone pro. You were in a bowling league for over 50 years and I always marveled at how you pitched that ball down the alley at those skinny candlestick pins with such accuracy they'd explode in all directions. I'm pretty sure there were several bowling titles in those years. You were an excellent golfer as well. When you drove the ball a few months ago in Atlanta it gave those grandson's a nice memory. They captured that on video and shared it widely. I was not blessed with your gift for playing sports, so when you remarked several years ago that I had a good golf swing, I was pretty pleased with myself. The boys played baseball, soccer and hockey so you were always on the go and stretched every dollar Dad made to pay for all the activities and multiple trips to Canada.
Speaking of stretching a dollar---I was one of the best dressed kids at Our Lady of Hope and later, Cathedral, because you were one super shopper. I never went without the latest trend-wear---mohair sweaters, madras anything---because of your deft use of King's layaway plan, Filene's basement bargains and Mark and Carl's, aka, the "junk shop" finds. I definitely inherited the shopping gene but not quite the knack for the bargains that you had.
You have had many friends during your lifetime. Most of the ones I knew from my childhood days- Kay, Barbara, May, Jean, Peg, Eleanor-are gone now; but you have cultivated new relationships in the last two decades and manage to keep quite busy with your cousins Peggy and Mary and a posse that includes Carol, Kathy and the Patty's and of course the early morning McDonald's crowd where you exchange political views with the likes of Dan and Norm and others.
Next month I turn the age you were when we lost Dad. I can't even begin to imagine being left without Barry at this age. You were so brave, so strong. Over the years you felt the sting of being the one at weddings and parties without a partner. But you didn't wallow in self-pity. You were a young widow. Many people asked if you wanted to marry again. I remember your response-always the same. "Why would I? I had a great man". You have navigated all these years so admirably. I know you'd say something to the effect you didn't have a choice, but that doesn't lessen the fact you chose to live and you have lived well.
Yesterday, when Michael asked what you wanted for your birthday you replied, " to be here for the next one". Music to my ears. Thank you for everything Mom. I love you. Happy Birthday!