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A Wonderful Birthday and Remembering a Dear Friend

“And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies”
“Passionate Shepherd to His Love”
by Christopher Marlowe.

Hubby and I could easily make a bed of roses with our own roses this year. The climbing rose bush on the trellis is covered with deep red blooms. The lighter red rose rosebush next to the climber has bigger blossoms. Between the two, there is a pretty little pink rosebush that has just finished flowering. The two rose bushes still sitting in water in a bucket on our front porch are now in bloom. One is a gorgeous yellow tea rose; the other, a vivid orange tea rose. They look beautiful together although we should get them into the ground very soon.

Over the past few weeks, our family has had several wonderful celebrations. The first was the 80th birthday celebration for Hubby’s sister Peg. It was held on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend at the home of Peg’s son David, his wife Mary, and their daughter Renee, in Whitman. Hubby and I had been in Canton earlier on that beautiful day at the County Mayo Mass. We thought we knew the way from Canton to Whitman but we made a few wrong turns along the way. We arrived a little late but, thank goodness, we made it before the birthday gal came. Peg knew nothing of this party because already we had a small birthday party on March 20, two days after her actual birthday. No one had a home big enough to hold all those who wanted to come to the party so the kids decided to hold a bigger party when the weather was much warmer and we hopefully could have it outside.

We were delighted to see that Peg’s and Hubby’s brother John, his wife Joe Ann, and their two daughters Beth and Gina were already there. John and Joe (who is named for her grandfather) came from Virginia; Beth, from Arizona, and Gina, from South Carolina. Peg’s oldest son Jim and his wife Roberta arrived a few days early from Washington state. Peg’s son Ed came from San Diego, CA, with his buddy Walter. Son Steve, his wife, Judi, their children Steve Jr., and Ashley, with her boyfriend Kurt, and Judi’s Mom Sheila were there from Attleboro; so was Peg’s daughter Terri, also from Attleboro. Peg’s niece Helen and her husband Rhett were present. All of us McDonoughs were there: our son Paul and his wife Alex; our daughter Sue; and our daughter Jeanne, her husband David, and the World’s Greatest Grandchildren, Brendan and Erin.

It was so much fun to chat with the out-of-“state-rs.” (Sorry to say: we don’t see them often enough because they live so far away.) Beth’s and Gina’s kids are now big so these two Moms were able to come to Boston for the celebration and a mini vacation. Ed and Walter were not only here for the party, they wanted to taste the Boston clams at the Clam Box on Wollaston Beach. “You can’t get clams like theirs in San Diego,” said Ed. There were so many of us attending the party that we had to have two big grills going full speed. Host David manned one; Steve, the other. The food was terrific. (The wonderful smell of peppers and onions filled the air.) My cheeseburger was even better with the peppers and onions.

Peg cut the sheet cake, which was plenty big enough for our large group of people. She then opened her gifts. She received some additions to her Pandora bracelet, which thrilled her. Everyone had time to chat. David, since we had last been to his home, had built a fire pit. It was positively beautiful. (What a wonderful craftsman he is!) As the air chilled, more of us gathered around the pit. It was perfect. As it came close to 7 p.m., the mosquitoes came out in full force. Before we all left, we took lots of photos: Peg with her kids; then we added the grandkids; Peg with her brothers John and Hubby; and then we took one of us “older” relatives with Peg. Then we took photos of each individual family. God bless the new digital cameras. They make taking photos so easy. Everybody’s camera was working full time that afternoon.

On Tues., June 25, Hubby and I were in Braintree to see my orthopedic doctor, Dr. McGuirk, on the one-year anniversary of my knee-replacement surgery. Because Hubby was going to be sitting in the waiting room during my appointment, he went next door to a convenience store and bought a copy of that day’s Patriot Ledger to read while waiting. I am so glad that he did get the Ledger because there was an obit in that paper that meant a great deal to us. Dr. John Bowers, a noted pediatrician, had passed away on June 5. Dr. Bowers was the doctor who saved our younger daughter Jeanne, not once, but twice. Jeanne was an “RH” baby, who was very jaundiced when she was born. She had to be taken at seven months via Caesarean section because she was so sick. (I have pure negative blood and Jeanne has positive blood like her Dad’s so my body fought hers.) When Jeanne was born at St. Margaret’s Hospital, Dr. Bowers, with the assistance of an intern, gave her five blood exchanges, plus an additional blood transfusion. During the final procedure, Jeanne’s heart stopped. Luckily, the intern who was monitoring Jeanne’s vital signs, caught the stoppage quickly and Dr. Bowers restarted her heart. During Jeanne’s two-month stay at St. Margaret’s Hospital, her chances for survival were precarious. I left my hospital bed on a lower floor each morning and took the elevator to the preemie nursery to make sure she had survived the night. We were able to take her home when she finally reached five pounds at two months old. Nowadays, an RH mother is given an injection of RhoGAM, which stops the mother from being sensitized by the baby’s RH positive blood.

Jeanne thrived on an iron-rich formula and Dr. Bowers was very pleased at her progress and blood-test results at every check-up. During April school vacation, however, when Jeanne was just 10 months old, she developed a fever and was very irritable. Because this behavior was unlike her, I called Dr. Bowers. I can still remember his words, “I’d like to check her out because she had such a rough birth.” He told Hubby and me to bring her over to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital as quickly as possible and told me where he was working in the hospital. My aunt took the other two kids while we flew out the Pike to St. E’s. It was still cold outside so I had put Jeanne in her snowsuit. The nurses took her from me and began taking off her snowsuit. It was then that Jeanne took a convulsion. She was a very sick baby. A spinal tap proved that she had bacterial meningitis. (Hubby thinks she contracted the meningitis because he caught her biting on a shopping cart handle about a week before.) After several more weeks in the hospital, with IVs in her little legs and head, Jeanne finally came home from the hospital. Thank goodness Dr. Bowers told us to bring her to St. E’s. I am sure that time was of the essence in her starting treatment. Jeanne has some hearing loss, probably from the meningitis. Thank goodness she wasn’t harmed any further. If treatment had been delayed, the outcome from the deadly disease could have been much worse. I hadn’t thought of this traumatic time in our lives in a long time. Dr. Bowers’ obit brought it all back to me. By the way, Jeanne has come along beautifully over the years. I am proud to say that she is the nurse in our family.

Although I didn’t know Mildred Swain very well, I know that she was well thought of in our St. Ann’s neighborhood. I was, therefore, sorry to see that she passed away on May 27. Millie was the administrative assistant to the secretary treasurer at the Boston Building and Construction Trades for 22 years. I send my sympathy to her husband Thomas and to their children: Geanine Sullivan, Barry, and Tommy.
I was also sorry to read of the death of Frank “Gus” Thompson on May 30 at age 85. Frank was the husband of Hubby’s and my classmate from State Teachers’ College in Boston, the late Joan Young. He was also the husband of the late Jean (Donovan). Frank owned Thompson Electric for more than 40 years. He was a member of the McKeon Post and the Old Dorchester Post. We send our sympathy to their twin sons Mark and Paul, their wives and the grandchildren.

Please remember that the “GotBooks” container is located on Rita Road, just outside St. Brendan’s School. You may put used books, CD’s, DVD’s VHS tapes, and audio books in the container. The school is compensated each time the container is filled. We have brought many books to the container and are pleased that we are helping the school.
I noticed, in the Lowe’s ad, that the company will accept used plastic plant pots, trays, and tags. Put them in the return carts at the store and they will recycle them, creating new pots, trays and tags. There is a new Lowe’s store in Quincy, a short drive from our area.
I loved this saying by Thomas Jefferson: “I cannot live without books.”