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Luncheon at the Irish Pastoral Center

“The first day of spring is one thing and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.”
“Fishermen’s Luck” by Henry Van Dyke

I am not sure if it really is spring. Some times the days go into the 60s. Then, overnight, the temperature might go back into the 30s. Early the other morning, I heard the heat on the second floor go on and I think that Hubby has that thermostat set for the very low 60s. Thank goodness the flowers in our yard are all from hardy bulbs. Hubby did some trimming of the rose bushes. The rule of thumb for gardeners is to cut back roses when the Red Sox open for the season in Boston.

On Thurs., Mar. 15, Hubby, our friend Eileen Burke, and I were at the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton for the monthly Irish luncheon of the Irish Pastoral Centre. Our friend Angela greeted us at the door. We were sorry that the IPC’s Senior Coordinator, Cora Flood, was not at the luncheon. She was enjoying a well-deserved week’s vacation. Our pals Peg, Ronnie, Ann, Kathleen, and Margie came in right after us. They were delayed, as we were, in traffic because of construction on Route 128.

Fr. John McCarthy, the Irish chaplain, began Mass, which included the Sacrament of Reconciliation, at noontime. The theme of his homily was unconditional love. He reminded us of the man who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II in May of 1981. He told us that the Pope forgave the man and hugged him as if he were a brother. He told us that God forgives us, just as the Pope had done.

Our pal Angela had made five baskets for the raffle, which benefits the Irish Pastoral Centre. The only one at our table to win one of the lovely baskets was our friend Ann. The music was provided by John Kearney, Tim O’Connell, and the musicians from the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann Music School, who played for much of the afternoon.

It was so good to hear Generosa on WBZ just after 4 a.m. with Steve LeVeille, the program’s host, last Friday (“Friday, Friday!”). She mentioned that she was still thrilled that Steve and Mel Simons had visited her at her rehab facility during Steve’s week’s vacation. She said that the residents and staff were still speaking about it. She also mentioned that Morgan White Jr. had also visited her. What a thrill for her! Generosa, who told the radio audience that she is 94 years old, is just learning how to walk again after breaking her hip in a fall several months ago. I have Generosa’s home address. If you would like to send her a card, call me at work (617-436-1222)and leave a message on my Voice Mail (Ext. 20). I will call you back.

I was delighted to hear from my friend Betty Cikacz that she and her husband Richie welcomed a grandson, Cameron Layden Cikacz, on Mar. 24. Cameron weighed in at eight pounds, one ounce and was 21 and ½ inches long. His very proud parents are Ryan and Caroline Cikacz. The other delighted grandparents are Roger and Barbara Layden of Quincy. Grandma Betty said that the baby is adorable, with a full head of dark hair. My congratulations are sent to all.

Did you happen to see the program on Ch. 2, about the Boston Pops Orchestra’s 125th Anniversary? Hubby and daughter Sue watched it and thought it was spectacular. I was busy getting out the Pope’s Hill letters so Hubby taped it for me. The next time it will be repeated is Sun., May 16, 8 p.m., on Ch. 2. The final time the program will be repeated is Wed., June 23, 8 p.m., on Ch. 2. If you enjoy going to the Pops concerts, I am sure you will enjoy it.

I was asked to mention that, due to major construction work at the Kennedy Library, the annual Parade of Seniors Luncheon has been relocated to Florian Hall. The date is the same: Thurs., May 20; the time is the same: doors open at 11:30 a.m. It is just the location that has changed. All original registration forms will be honored at Florian Hall. We will see you at Florian Hall on Thurs., May 20. By the way, Florian is handicapped-accessible and has free parking.

It is with a heavy heart that I write the next part of this column. Our whole family has been saddened by the passing of our long-time friend, John “Jack” O’Connor, on Apr. 23. Jack was scheduled to have valve-replacement surgery but developed pneumonia and never recovered, During the weeks that he was in the hospital, all his family and friends had hoped and prayed for his recovery but it was not to be. Jack was so active in the Neponset area. Many residents asked him to be their lawyer. I also knew that he was a wonderful accountant.

Jack was also a vital part of many organizations. He was Corresponding Secretary of the Donegal Club. He attended all of the club’s dinners and dances. (He and his wife Carolyn looked like Fred and Ginger on the dance floor.) He served his church well as a member of St. Ann’s Pastoral Council. He belonged to the Castle Island Association and the Irish Social Club. He was a member of the McKeon Post #146 AMVETS. He served, for many years, as the treasurer of St. Ann’s Troop 100, Boy Scouts of America. He was a graduate of Boston College, Class of 1952, and New England School of Law.

I first met Jack when I joined the Pope’s Hill Association about 1970. We struck up a friendship because he, Hubby, and I grew up in the same area of Jamaica Plain. Jack and I then became officers of the Pope’s Hill Association. Jack was treasurer for many years. I was recording secretary, also for many years. I did a great deal of the buying of supplies and postage over those years. Jack was always there to reimburse me quickly. In recent years, we were senior advisors to the PHNA. At the end of the Executive Board meetings, he would say to me, “Don’t call for a ride home. My car is just up the street. I will give you a ride home.” During the rides, we would speak about Irish events and about things going on in our neighborhood. I subscribe to several Irish magazines and would always bring them to Jack’s home when I was finished looking at them. I knew he would enjoy them. He and his wife Carolyn often babysat for their grandchildren, whom they adored.

From the phone calls that have come to my home since Jack passed away, I know that there are many, many residents of Neponset who join our family in mourning the death of our dear friend. I am sure that I join all those people in sending our sympathies to his wonderful wife of 52 years, Carolyn O’Connor. We also send our sympathies to their children: Mary, Carole Kerin, and John. Jack will be sorely missed by so many people. Because of all the good things that he did during his lifetime, I am sure that he is looking down at us from Heaven. God bless him.