Home / View from Pope's Hill /

Coming out of the Winter

“As I write, snow is falling outside my Maine window, and indoors, all around me, half a hundred catalogues are in bloom.”
By Katherine S. White

I really don’t have 50 seed catalogs so far this year but I must have at least 10. I look at the photos and remember how pretty the flowers in our yard were. We finally can see some grass now that the snow has receded. I looked at the ground along the pathway to our back yard on Valentine’s Day. What did I see but the tips of probably eight daffodils peeping through the ground. I checked the area along the walkway to the front stairs. There are still no signs of our crocuses. Hubby said that the daffodils came up first because they touch the “warm” foundation of our house. Last Friday, when the temp was 61 degrees, I checked the daffodils once again. They had doubled in size from Valentine’s Day, just four days earlier. When we were at a wake at O’Connor’s the other day, Mr. Sullivan, the greeter at the front door, showed pal Eileen and me the crocuses that were coming up along the walkway to the front stairs of the funeral home. Spring is coming. Remember: Sully’s at Castle Island opens this Saturday, Feb. 26. The Icecreamsmith, in Lower Mills, will open on Tues., Mar. 1.

On Sunday, Feb. 13, Hubby, our friend Eileen Burke, and I drove to Carney Hospital to attend a Heart-Health Tea and Fashion Show. The auditorium was quite filled even though we were early. We sat with two residents of the Boston Home, Penny Rhodes and Jack Stabinsky. Nancy Lafoe, who planned and organized the event, came over to greet us. She brought me over to meet her Mom, Carol Coleman.
Carol Murphy was sitting with her friends Janice “Jan” Ahearn and Anne McElaney. (Jan was going to be a model in the fashion show a little later in the afternoon.) Nancy told us of the screenings that were available at the tea. My friends Carol Murphy, Janice Schneiderman, City Councillor Maureen Feeney, Cecelia and Chris Holmes were sitting at nearby tables. My pal, terrific therapist Judi Helman was also there helping. Newly-appointed president of Carney, Bill Walczak, was there, thanks to urging from his wife Linda. There was an array of desserts, accompanying the tea. There was also a wonderful assortment of fresh fruits, which were scrumptious.

Then it was time for the Fashion Show. The first model was Hudson Carmody, who has been a patient at the hospital. Nancy read Hudson’s biography. Hudson suffered his first heart attack on Columbus Day weekend in 2003. When he recovered, he decided that he didn’t need his heart medications and stopped taking them. Four years later, he suffered a major heart attack during the night. His roommate drove him to Carney’s Emergency Room. (He discovered that that was a big mistake. 911 should have been called so that he could receive expert medical care as soon as possible.) The ER’s doctors and nurses were able to stabilize him although he ended up having a quadruple bypass. He now takes the proper medications faithfully and listens attentively to his cardiologist, Dr. Antonelli, and to his primary care doctor, Dr. Suo Yi Lee. He even participates in the Heart Walk each fall as a member of Team Carney.

Another model was Susan McGahan, a 35-year employee of the hospital, who looked spectacular in a red outfit. She and her husband Jack began social dancing nine years ago. Five years ago, they entered the Competitive Dancing world. In January of this year, they placed first in Rhythm and third in Smooth and Standard Dance at the Manhattan Classic Amateur Dance Competition. She and Jack put on a short dancing demonstration for us that received a big round of applause. Their dancing is a really a very strenuous form of exercise.

Ruth Villard, a former employee on Carney’s 4 North, was the next model. Originally from Mattapan, she now lives in Keystone. She is the Choir Manager of the Archdiocese of Boston’s Black Catholic Choir. She works at the Yawkey Center. She is known as the “Volunteer Queen” and performs Community Service for AARP.

Then we were treated to pretty model Martha Robertson, who is 16 years old and the daughter of our longtime friend Anne Barrett. Martha is a sophomore at Boston Latin School. She lives in St. Brendan’s Parish and cantors weekly at the 10:30 A.M. Mass at St. Ann’s. She is interested in music: vocals, piano, and guitar. She will be appearing in the Neighborhood Children’s production of Bye, Bye Birdie and Latin School’s production of The Music Man later this year. She is very health conscious, having been a vegetarian for five years, and enjoys running track, She lives with her Mom Anne, who is a nursing professor at Laboure College, her Dad, a real estate broker, and her 10-year-old brother Harry. (Her Mom had previously been a 10-year nurse at Carney.)

Model Janice “Jan” Ahearn is a retiree from Carney Hospital and is currently working in the President’s Office at UMass/Boston. She is a Dorchester resident and a breast cancer survivor. She is the mother of four children and the grandmother of four, “who light up my life.” She enjoys cooking, reading, and dining with friends. She maintains her hear-healthy lifestyle by walking. (She is a friend of Nancy Lafoe’s Mom Carol.)

Model Claire Hughes lives in Lower Mills and is a Board Member in the Lower Mills Civic Association. She is one of the fundraising organizers of the wonderful Lower Mills Holiday Stroll, and is a very active member of the Dorchester Park Association. She works for the UMass Medical School in the Newborn Screening Program in Jamaica Plain. She loves gardening, running, road biking, and is training for a half marathon. (She ran five half-marathons last year.) She also takes spin classes and yoga at a Milton spa. Her husband Steve is at B.C. High. They have two children: a son, age 30, and a daughter, age 25, who lives in NYC.

The next model I know very well. She is my cousin, Julianna Horgan. Her Mom Diane is a longtime Carney employee, in the Continuing Care Dept. They live in Dorchester with their dog MeiMei and their cat Maxine. She is a 10th grader at Boston Latin School and likes science and languages. She plays the violin and is a member of the Philharmonic Orchestra. She hopes to be a veterinarian or to work in a field with animals. She is on the track team at school and loves to Irish step dance and play tennis. She knows about heart disease first hand since her Dad, my cousin Richard, suffered a heart attack two years ago. She leads a healthy life style, avoiding sodas and fast foods. She also works at Gerard’s Restaurant, busing tables and replenishing coffee. She de-stresses her life through her music. She is even teaching herself to play the guitar and the piano. What a great gal! Our family is so proud of her.
There were several other models at the Heart-Healthy Fashion Show and Tea at Carney. Cardiologist Dr. Paul Boinay also attended and answered many questions from the audience regarding the heart. I will tell you more next week.

I was so sorry to hear, from my friend Ginny, that our mutual friend John Downey had passed away unexpectedly in his sleep on Sunday, Feb. 13. The day before, he had been to the 4 p.m. Mass at St. Ann’s and then had dinner with his friends following the Mass. John served in the Navy during WWII. He was a retired Boston firefighter (District 7) and had moved to Quincy after the death of his lovely wife Florence. He had lived in the Neponset area for many years. I can remember sitting with John and Florence and their pals Al and Pearl Harrington at the monthly Police-Community Relations meetings at District C-11 years ago. We did enjoy each other’s company every month. John was a member of Local #718, A.F.L./C.I.O. He was an active member of the K Club, the Seniors Citizens’ Group of Neponset. Following his retirement, John also worked and volunteered at Carney Hospital. He used to kid Hubby and me when we came into Carney for a doctor’s appointment. We join our friend Ginny in sending our sympathy to his children: Richard, John, Kathleen Keegan, and Terrence. We will miss him.

Thanks to calls from Della and Eileen, I learned that my friend Sarah “Betty” Cook had passed away on Feb. 17. Betty was so proud of her family and would tell me all about them when I saw her. She even knew the birthdays and anniversaries of her large family. She was the wife of the late Charles Cook Sr. I send my sympathy to her children: Charles Jr., John, Gary, Terese Smith, James, and Robert. She was also the mother of the late Thomas Cook. Betty had 16 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. She was a member of the K Club and St. Gregory’s Seniors and the VFW Auxiliary in South Boston. She was a volunteer at Hanscom Air Force Base.

Here is a statement from an unknown author: “A best friend is like a four-leaf clover: hard to find and lucky to have.”