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This joy I know will soon be under snow

“The chill is in the air
Which the wise know well…
This joy, I know
Will soon be under snow.”
By Edna St. Vincent Millay

Boston has already had a little snow. All traces of it are now gone, thanks to the recent warm weather. Hubby took advantage of the warm day on the Friday after Thanksgiving. He took down the electric turkey from the rose trellis and put up the Christmas star. He also removed the candy corn lights from the porch railing and replaced them with multi-colored mini lights. We were delighted to see the red and green lights on the Rainbow Gas Tank as we drove along Morrissey Blvd. the other evening. The Christmas trees have been delivered to Lambert’s. Gardening expert Paul Parent, a few years ago, mentioned that the average doorway needs about seven yards of Christmas roping for decoration, Since laurel roping is usually sold in 10-foot lengths, the extra three feet can be used in a window box or placed around a light pole. By the way, at least five of Boston FM radio stations are now playing Christmas music continuously. We usually listen to 105.7 FM, WROR in Boston.

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On Thurs., Nov. 17, Hubby and I, along with our friend Eileen Burke, drove to Canton for the Irish Pastoral Centre’s monthly luncheon at the Irish Cultural Centre. We were amazed at how well traffic moved because traffic along Route 128 had been horrendous the first three days of that week. A few of our friends were already there at the center. In came our pals Ronnie and Barbara. In came another couple, Pat and Mary Cassidy. Our longtime friends, Tom and Barbara Cheney, sat at the next table. Pals Eileen Collins, Mary Scarborough, and Norma Conley were on the other side of the large room.

Just before Mass, Fr. John McCarthy, the Irish chaplain, came over to Hubby and asked if he would do him a favor. “Will you come up and hold Candle Number Six during the Mass?” Of course, Hubby agreed to do it. When Fr. John began Mass, he announced that this Mass would be solemn one. Our friend Kathy Sullivan, a retired Boston teacher, was one of the lectors at Mass. Several volunteers had been around the room to take down the names of the deceased that members of the audience had asked to be remembered. The names were announced during the Mass and then placed on the altar.

Fr. John told us that the Month of the Holy Souls was treated with great reverence in his home town in Ireland. When there was a funeral, the town’s people lined the streets and businesses closed for a half hour while the funeral procession went through the streets. He also told us that the wake was usually held in the deceased’s home. Every hour, the rosary was recited around the body of the deceased. At night, the body was then taken to the church.

Fr. John also told us about his cousin who was a priest in Africa. One woman had suffered the loss of a loved one and was complaining to the priest about her unbearable distress. Father told her to go to every home in the village. “Bring me back a twig from a home that has not suffered the loss of a dear one.” When the woman came back from visiting every home, she had no twigs. Every home had suffered the loss of a loved one.

Then Fr. John told us of the meaning of November, during which Masses are said all month for the deceased. He quoted St. Augustine: “Our hearts are restless until we meet You.” He reminded us that Jesus was the first to rise from the dead. He showed us the candelabra that was on the altar. The first candle was lit and placed in the candelabra for those who have died. The second, for those who had given us life (our parents), nurtured us, adopted us, even extending to our grandparents. The third candle was lit for those who enriched our family: brothers, sisters, and cousins. I missed the dedication for the fourth candle, that was held by pal Eileen Collins. The fifth candle, held by our friend Mary Scarborough, was for those who have enriched our lives, our husbands and wives. Hubby held the sixth candle that was for those who have journeyed with us, our friends, neighbors and teachers. The seventh and final candle that was lit and put in the candelabra was held by our friend Angela Durkin. That candle was for those who have died in the military. Angela’s daughter Ciara died while in the service.
Then it was time for the luncheon. Hubby, when we first entered the Irish Cultural Centre, said, “I smell turkey.” How right he was. Cora Flood, the Senior Coordinator for the Irish Pastoral Centre, called up the people at each of the tables to get in line for the luncheon. It was, indeed, turkey, with mashed potatoes, squash, and rolls and butter, a real Thanksgiving dinner. A plate of desserts was put on each table after we had finished the meal. Friend Kathy, who had made carrot cake, from scratch, gave us some of her wonderful cake. We all laughed as we cleaned up our plates after we had eaten. There were no scraps of food left. We had eaten everything because everything was delicious.

When we first came into the Irish Pastoral Centre, our friend Tess had come over to write our name tags. She later returned to our table and showed us two large white seashells. On the inside of one shell she had painted a lighthouse. On the second shell, she had painted an Irish cottage near a small stream. (She had painted the cottage from a photograph.) Both were beautiful. As we left for home later in the afternoon, Tess came over and put something in my hand. It was the seashell with the Irish cottage.“ My friend that I was going to give this to didn’t come today so enjoy this one.” It is lovely. The shell now has a place of honor on my sideboard. The shell is a lovely remembrance of a perfect afternoon.

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On Wed., Nov. 9, Hubby and I drove to the Venezia Restaurant for the 12th annual “Seeds Planted: Harvest Begun” Award Evening, to benefit the Notre Dame Montessori School at St. Christopher Church. Daughter Sue was late coming home from school so she came a little later. Our pal Joan Hill asked us to save a seat for her. As we came in the dining area, we were welcomed by Sr. Elizabeth, the director of the school. Our cousin Diane Horgan was helping the guests store their coats and jackets for the evening. Our friend from the school, Loretta Martin, was seated at the registration desk and looked beautiful, with a pretty tiara in her hair.

We went inside the dining area and chose a table. Daughter Sue came and sat down. Then four nuns came to our table and asked if they could sit with us. We were delighted to have them. They were all Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur: Sr. Eleanor Clancy, Sr. Elizabeth Michaels, Sr. Margaret Lanen, and Sr. Janice Waters. They were a great group of people. Sr. Catherine Panetta and Sr. Monica Madden also joined them for a few minutes. We had so much to talk about that there was very little silent time.

There were others in the room that I knew. Former Attorney General Robert Quinn and his wife Claudina were already there. Bob told me that they had to leave in a few minutes because they had another function to attend. Dr. Penny Haney Beard and Dr. Jennifer Murphy, advisors to the school, were there. So were Mary Courtney O’Sullivan and her daughter Maeve O’Sullivan, a graduate of the Montessori School. Our friend and neighbor Christine Donovan was also there. Our pals from church, Sharon Shepherd-Pace and her son Dennis, Kate Brown, Theresa Chatman, Maureen Senuta, her daughter Maura, and Maura’s boyfriend Ricardo also joined us that evening. Pianist Alex Buliel played lovely music for us during the reception hour. There will be more about the “Seeds Planted“ celebration next week.

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I was so sorry to hear from our friend and neighbor Janie that her brother-in-law Paul Finn, had passed away, unexpectedly, on Nov. 18, at age 64. Paul was just a young boy when we moved to our little street in Neponset. He was the adopted son of our neighbors, John and Helen Finn. Throughout the years, we have kept track of Paul because he married another neighbor, Judy McKinnon, daughter of Fran and Rita McKinnon (Gillespie). Sadly, we last saw Paul at the wake for his wife Judy in early July of this year. We read that Paul was a veteran of the US Navy, Vietnam War. He was the recipient of the National Defense Service Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal. Paul was an electrician (as was his father) and a member of Local 103 for more than 45 years. We send our sympathy to his daughters Kristen Finn and Jessica McNally and to more of his relatives, the Gibbs Family, Rita Gillespie, Fran McKinnon, and Jane Cavaleri. This was, indeed, a sad year for the Finn daughters and their relatives with Paul’s passing within five months of Judy.

This is a terrific saying: “Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.”