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Starting the New Year

“See, Winter comes to rule the varied year,
Sullen and Sad.”
by James Thomson (1709-1748)

Winter is indeed sad, or at least makes us sad. The big snowstorm that ended 2010 just floored us. Thanks to the kindnesses of our neighbors, Janie, Jim, and Paul, we were able to survive that storm. Our outdoor cat Louie has been walking around with one of his front paws in the air. He doesn’t like the snow. The storm, which was to arrive yesterday, had us apprehensive.

Over Christmas week, daughter Jeanne, son-in-law David, and the World’s Greatest Grandchildren Brendan and Erin had the opportunity to go to Florida, thanks to a kind invitation from their friends Steve and Joanne. The six, from cold Massachusetts, spent 10 days in Deerfield Beach. They were in the water almost every day, except one day that was in the 50’s. Son Paul and daughter-in-law Alex gave Jeanne and David several DVDs of Christmas movies, complete with scenes of snow and cold, so that they would remember what Christmas is really like while they were basking in the warm sun.

While they were in Florida, Jeanne contacted our friends, the Learys, who live next door in Boca Raton. All the Leary girls and their families were in Florida for Christmas so Mom JoAnn and Dad Bill invited Jeanne, David, and the kids to come to their home for a pizza party with all their family. There was more fun and laughing all evening long as everyone chatted about Boston and growing up in Neponset. One very funny thing happened during the evening. Brendan was looking for water and someone told him that there was a case of water in the garage. While Brendan was getting the water, Mom JoAnn saw the garage door open, shut it, and proceeded to lock it. Brendan was in the dark in the locked garage.
Brendan, thank goodness, had his cell phone and proceeded to call for help from his dad David, who also was carrying his cell phone. For the rest of the evening, Joanne and Brendan were kidding each other about his being locked out of the party. It was great fun. JoAnn e-mailed me some of the photos from the evening and everyone seemed to be having a fun time.

On Dec. 16, Hubby, pal Eileen, and I went to the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton to attend the Irish Pastoral Centre’s monthly luncheon. Our usual pals Ronnie, Lucy, Claire, Celia, and Ann joined us so we had a great time chatting with them. Our new friend Tess came around to us, writing name tags. The meeting room was jammed with almost 200 people, who were there for the Christmas celebration. Because some had not made reservations, a long table had to be set up quickly to provide more seating for the overflow crowd. Fr. John McCarthy, the celebrant of the Mass, referred to the table as the “Table of Disciples.” Just as Fr. John began Mass, his cell phone began ringing. He said, “Of all people to forget to turn off my phone. I am sorry.” We all laughed.

Father’s sermon dealt with forgiveness. “Always forgive!” He also said that we had the 10 days before Christmas to grow into maturity (not really necessary for all us seniors) and to strive for self-discipline. It was a great time of year to try to be a better person. “Close the door of hate. Open the door of love.” The senior coordinator for the Irish Pastoral Center, Cora Flood, kindly passed out a 2011 list of dates for the monthly luncheons. We try not to miss even one of the luncheons so we make doctors’ and dentist’s appointments for a day other than the luncheon days. To help with the large crowd, our pal Ronnie went up to help serve the coffee and tea.

One of the most meaningful gifts that I received over Christmas was from Joan Hill, one of our friends from church. As I opened the wrapping paper, I could see a drawing of the Connolly Branch Library in Jamaica Plain. It was printed on a tote bag and had these words printed: “From the Friends of the Connolly Branch Library.” My first job, at age 16, was at the Connolly Branch. I was fortunate to work in the Children’s Room, with the wonderful Children’s Librarian, Miss Becker. Besides putting away the returned books each day, I used to mend books. I also helped with the puppet shows for the children. My friend Connie also worked at the library. I look back fondly on my two years at the library, my last year of high school and my first year of college. I even remember my first paycheck at the library. I worked for three hours during that pay week so my first paycheck was $1.65; I was paid 55¢ per hour.
I always love to share info about things that could help many of us. I just read this hint that sounds terrific. When a bar of soap has become too thin to use, I open a new bar of the same soap. I then put the sliver on waxed paper and microwave it for 10 to 15 seconds. Carefully press both pieces together. I haven’t tried this yet but it sounds like a wonderful way to put the slivers to further use.

Thanks to a heads-up from pal Eileen Burke, I learned that Henry “Hank” Curtin had passed away on Dec. 31. Hank was one of the Community Service officers at District C-11 for years. (He spent all his 39 years on the force at Area C.) Hank was always a quite, efficient officer. I enjoyed speaking with him at the Police-Community Relations monthly meetings. I also know Hank’s wife Virginia. Ginny worked for years at Carney Hospital and I saw her often at the hospital. I send my sympathy to Ginny and to their children: Mimi, Ginger, Ann, and H. James Jr.

I was also sorry to hear from Mae Allix about the death of her daughter Mildred Haugh in Duxbury on Christmas Eve. (She had previously lived in South Boston.) Millie was 74 and had suffered from COPD for two and one-half years. Our family sends sympathy to Millie’s Mom Mae, and to her children: Marie Do Val, Pattianne Reis, and Frank Haugh. We also send our sympathy to her sisters Marie Allix and Joanne Wolowicz. Millie was also the daughter of the late John F. Allix.

It has, indeed, been a sad week. Thanks to a heads-up from daughter Sue, I learned that Dorothy (McVeigh) Doyle had passed away on Jan. 7. (I loved the photo of Dorothy as a bride in her Boston Globe’s obituary.) Dorothy was the wife of the late Francis Doyle. She was the mother of Dotte O’Brien and Frank Doyle. When I was in the Bostonian Rehab Home this June, recovering from knee replacement surgery, daughter Sue came in to visit. She told me that she had just been speaking with Frank Doyle. She heard a man singing on the first floor of the Bostonian as she came in and recognized the voice as Frank’s. She went in the room where the music was coming from and told Frank that I was on the second floor, the Pope’s Hill floor. After Frank had visited with his Mom, he came upstairs to my room and chatted with Sue and me for quite a few minutes. He told us that his mother always enjoyed listening to his singing. Our family sends our sympathy to Dorothy’s daughter Dotte and to her son Frank and his wife Maura Doyle, and to Dorothy’s grandchildren.

Just after New Year’s Day, Hubby and I made our annual trek to Jamaica Plan to have lunch at Doyle’s. Hubby grew up right near Doyle’s so he always enjoys going back to his old neighborhood. We had a great waitress Colleen at the restaurant. I always like looking at all the political posters on the walls of Doyle’s as we wait for our lunches. I remember Maurice Tobin, who was the Governor of Massachusetts from 1945 to 1947. I think he lived in J.P. at the time because he used to come each year to our Rose Festival at the Blessed Sacrament Church. My father and I would be working at one of the fundraising booths at the festival and it was a big thrill to see Tobin. He died an untimely death in 1953 at age 52. Our waitress Colleen checked with the kitchen and told Hubby that he could have prime rib, which is usually only available in the evening. Hubby broke out into a big grin and said, “That’s perfect. I’d like that.” I had a wonderful cheeseburger. On our way out, we were sure to take a couple of Doyle’s calendars. They have so much information for each day that I often use info from the calendar in my birthday column in this paper. We were sorry that we did not see the restaurant’s Gerry Burke working that day. We always enjoy speaking with him.

I loved this quote from Harriet Beecher Stowe: “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”