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The Last of September

“Asters, deep purple,
A grasshopper’s call,
Today it is summer,
Tomorrow is fall.”
“September” By Edwina Falls

Asters and mums are on sale at most of the garden centers and even at grocery stores right now. We try not to buy them too early because it can be still have very warm, which kills the flowers. If we get a chance, we should buy some flowering cabbage and kale to brighten up our walkway. Those plants are usually wrapped in colored foil, which makes them look even prettier on a lovely fall day. While we were driving out to Patriots’ Place last Sunday, we saw a few patches of brightly colored leaves along the sides of the roads. The weather on Sunday was cool and invigorating. We made sure that the Patriots were out of town or we probably couldn’t have driven there with Patriots’ traffic.

On Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 22, Hubby and I were on Morrissey Boulevard on our way to UMass Boston’s Ryan Lounge in the Healey Library. We had no idea how to get to the lounge because of the construction in the area so I made a quick call to my UMass pal, Gail Hobin, and asked for help. She called and left directions on our answering machine. Thanks to a kind invitation from Linda O’Brien, we had been invited to the retirement party for our longtime friend,
Carol DeSouza. I couldn’t believe that Carol was retiring. What will UMass Boston be without her!

When we walked into the Ryan Lounge, Carol’s pal Linda asked us to sit at a special table near the podium. We saw a huge (probably life-sized) cutout of President Obama. The university’s ace photographer, Harry Brett, and even Hubby took photos of many of those present standing alongside the presidential image. The lounge filled quickly with Carol’s many friends. Linda even bought a sparkly cowgirl hat to go with Carol’s beautiful, sparkly top. Chancellor J. Keith Motley had a wonderful time at the microphone, kidding his friend Carol on her leave-taking. He was in rare form, even though he was probably tired from the events of the day, including Convocation Day, along with helping at the huge barbecue for the students.

Carol told me about some of the positions that she has held and some of the things she has accomplished since she began working at the former Boston State College as a Harvard intern in 1979. She assisted in the development of Federal Grants (e.g. Title III and TRJO) as well as state programs, including reading clinics in Roxbury and Dorchester. She became a staff member in the Student Support Grant Program.

Since 1982, while at UMass Boston, she has held many positions, with such titles as: Coordinator of Grant Development, Director of Student Support Services, Director of the McNair Program, Director of the Ross Center for Disability Services, Licensure Officer in the Graduate College of Education, and Special Assistant to the Dean, and ADA Compliance Officer. Wow!

Believe me; there is more! While maintaining full-time status at UMass Boston, she was the president and CEO of AHEAD (Association on Higher Education and Disability), an international association of service providers for students from the K to 12 school years through the stages of graduate school and into employment. She has served as an adjunct faculty member in the College of Education. She has served on 38 committees while at UMass. (I think she said she was asked to be on 22 and volunteered to be on the rest.) She continues to serve as a reviewer for the Dept. of Education in Washington, DC, and occasionally serves as a trainer for the DOE in areas of disability. She is a donor to many UMass projects, including the Carol DeSouza Fund and the Veterans’ Support Fund. She even makes time to serve as the chair of the Pastoral Parish Council of Sacred Heart Church in Quincy. Hubby and I met Carol at a holyday Mass at Sacred Heart Church last fall. She introduced us to her pastor at the end of Mass.

In the future, Carol hopes to continue to offer her services as a grant developer in areas such as adaptive equipment in computer labs for the members of the OLLI Program (Lifelong Learning) and the veterans programs as well as the camp programs for the children with disabilities and the Nantucket Field Station. Carol mentioned that she has spent over half her life at UMass and that it will always be a part of her and her future.

Carol, you have done one other thing in your recent years at the university. You and your friend Linda O’Brien have let Hubby and me enjoy going to all the meetings that we have attended at the University over the years. We always look forward to being at the meetings with you both.
It was with the greatest interest that I read the obituary for Max Bygraves, who died Aug. 31 in Australia. Max was a English singer and comedian who appeared often at the London Palladium. A few years ago, Bill Spain, president of the Castle Island Association, introduced Hubby and me to Max’s music while we were on a CIA bus trip. He played Max’s CD. It sounded just like the music of Mitch Miller but I knew it wasn’t. Many of us sang along with the music, which made the trip seem to go that much faster. At the end of the trip, I asked Bill whose CD it was. When we got home, I asked daughter Sue to see if Bygraves’ CDs were available in the US. She ordered three of them for us. The first, “Singalongamax”, contains 65 tunes, including: “Happy Days Are Here Again,” “My Blue Heaven,” “Show Me the Way To Go Home,” “Have You Ever Been Lonely?,” and “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.” When Hubby saw this CD, he said to me, “It contains every song that you have ever sung since you were five!” Sue also purchased two more CDs: “I Wanna Sing You A Song,” with 25 songs ” and a “I Wanna Sing You a Song #2,” with 18 more “oldies, but goodies.” If you like to sing in the car, I recommend any of Bygraves’s sing-a-longs CDs. They are wonderful and are probably much cheaper to buy than Mitch Miller’s CDs.

Every once in a while I have the chance to see a magazine called Ireland of the Welcome. I was so happy that I saw the latest issue. Near the front of the magazine, my eyes landed on a good-sized article: “WESTPORT BEST PLACE TO LIVE IN IRELAND.” The article continues that Westport, in County Mayo, is the best place in which to live, according to The Irish Times newspaper, which had invited the public to nominate the place where they live and to explain its appeal. The short list included Cork City, Ardara in County Donegal, Westport, Killarney in County Kerry, and Rathmines in Dublin.

The judges chose Westport because “it is a community of people working together to make the best of the town’s many advantages.” The town, in which 5,500 people live, has 97 voluntary organizations.
Westport’s John O’Callaghan made the presentation and included these reasons: “Lovely people, lots to do, excellent employment, fantastic amenities, gorgeous scenery, a thriving arts and cultural scene, great sports and leisure facilities, a palpable community spirit, a choice of good restaurants, fine schools, a caring social service center, and active retirement group, and more.” You must wonder why I am so interested in Westport. It is the town in which my family lives. Bravo, Westport!

Almost every month, Hubby and I, along with pal Eileen Burke, attend the monthly luncheon for the Irish Pastoral Centre. The luncheon is held at the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton. We sit with the nicest group of people. Ronnie, Lucy, Ann, and Peg always join us. (If there is no room at our table, Tom and Barbara Cheney usually sit at the next table so we can chat with them. Peg recently had a big celebration for her 80th birthday. Her niece, Irmgard Karl, and her daughter, Patricia Karl, from Bamberg, Germany, came to the US for the celebration, which was held on May 4. The Karls were able to stay in the US for 10 days. In all, 12 people stayed at Peg’s home. She told us that her birthday celebration was terrific. Peg, by the way, is the Director of the South Shore Guild for the Blind Center. Her group meets at the Fore River Clubhouse on Nevada Road in Quincy.

I was sorry to read, in the Boston Herald, that Marie “Mae” Allix had passed away on Sept. 17. Ken and Mary Bruynell and Hubby and I remember Mae fondly when, one day, years ago, after a senior meeting, we had to help her up the stairs of St. Brendan’s Hall when she had a problem with her legs. Mae was well known because she was a member of St. Brendan’s Seniors and the K Club. I send my sympathy to her daughters Joanne and Marie, to her sisters Margaret Landy, Lillian Duffy, and Jeanne Ferro, and to her brother Robert Ferro.

This is a very encouraging statement, attributed to “The Furrow”: “The darkest hour is only 60 minutes long.”