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Watching the flowers grow

“Seeing the flowers growing now,
All spread in bright array,
Takes me back to summers
Of a long-forgotten day.”
“Garden Memories”

I think back to the flowers that my family grew when I was a kid: the hollyhocks, the Japanese lanterns, the bleeding hearts, and the balsams, my grandfather’s favorite flower. For quite a few years, when we were first married, Hubby and I grew Grandpa’s balsams and saved the little seeds to plant the following year. I don’t even remember impatiens, which are so plentiful today.

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I must confess. I am addicted to “The Closer” on TNT, Ch. 32 on Boston’s Comcast Cable. The program has been on TV about seven years. I didn’t discover it, however, until about a year ago. The new and final shows of the series are on for the next few weeks, on Mondays at 9 p.m. on Ch. 32. (The series is finally ending.) I try to watch the reruns from 2 to 3 p.m. each day. Hubby has even set up the VCR to tape the program each afternoon for me. I have finally found out the names of each of the major cast members. (There will be a new series called “Major Crimes” beginning later this summer with many of the old cast members.) Of course, the lead actor, Kyra (“Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson”) Sedgwick is leaving, as she requested. I am not sure if her husband “Special FBI Agent Fritz Howard” (Jon Tenney – sigh) will be leaving. Also departing are “Chief Pope” (J.K. Simmons, who does so many TV commercials) and “Sgt. David Gabriel” (Corey Reynolds, who is so good in the series). Those who are going to be in the new series, “Major Crimes,” are terrific, too. I love “Lieut. Tao” (Michael Paul Chan), “Lieut. Andy Flynn” (Tony Denison), who will return to the new series as will “Lt. Provenza” (G. W. Bailey). “Lieut. Sanchez” (Raymond Cruz) will be back as will “Capt. Sharon Raydor” (Mary McDonnell). In case you didn’t know, Mary is the lead female actor in the movie, “Dances with Wolves.” I know that Hubby and I will watch the new series and will continue to watch the reruns of “The Closer.”

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I thank all those who were kind enough to send me cards while I was out with my broken arm (at the wrist area). It was very difficult to type with a splint cast. It became a little easier with a brace but I still hit three typewriter keys instead of one when the brace hit the keyboard.

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On the day before our 52nd wedding anniversary, a fairly tall box appeared on our front porch. I thought it might be flowers from Hubby’s brother John and sister-in-law Joe Ann. (Joe was named for her grandfather.) Hubby brought the box into the house and I saw that it was just for me. I began to open it and discovered that it was heavily insulated. Out came a large plastic jar, filled with frozen chicken soup. There was also a card full of “get-well” wishes from my friend Bob Sheridan. Hubby and I read the contents. The jar contained “Grandma’s Get Well Chicken Soup, the Alternative to Sending Flowers.” Did we laugh! The directions said to let the soup thaw for three days in the fridge and then use it within a few days. I want to thank Bob for the get-well gift. It was such a fun and unique present, and quite the surprise.

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On Sat. afternoon, June 23, Hubby and I attended the Pope’s Hill Association’s Block Party on McKone St. There were not too many people there when we first arrived. My friends Chris and Ralph Whittemore and Judy Burke came in and sat at our table. Judy was carrying a basket, wrapped in yellow cellophane and tied with purple and white ribbons. She set it down before me and said it was for me, from my friends at Pope’s Hill, because of my broken arm. Ordinarily, because I have very little will power, I would tear the cellophane off immediately, but I was trying to be lady-like. I brought the basket home and then opened it. What a treat I was in for! The basket, which had two handles, was a beautifully-woven one with a burlap lining. The largest item was a golden teddy bear sporting a pink sling holding up his left arm. (Judy even had the sling put on the correct arm.) By the way, he is a “Hug Me” bear – and I certainly will do that because he has such nice fur. Also included was one of the “Images of America” paperback books, this one about Jamaica Plain, where both Hubby and I lived as kids. The book was written by Anthony Sammarco. How we will enjoy looking through it. While I am doing that, I will eat one or two of Phillips delicious Sugar-Free Chocolates that were in a one-pound box under the bear. Finally, there was a good-sized bag of hard candy, also from Phillips. I couldn’t help but get better with this lovely get-well basket.

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There are so many businesses to thank for their help in putting on the Block Party. The Neponset Child Care Center at 281A Neponset Ave. donated the music. Rep. Marty Walsh sponsored the pony rides. The Simon Sez Man was given by the Grossman Properties. The ice cream truck was donated by City Councillor Frank Baker. The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Dept. sent their Ident-A-Youth Team, who recorded the children’s fingerprints. Neponset Circle Car Wash, Clear Channel Outdoors, and Boston Wood Floor Supply paid for the Rock-Climbing Wall, which was such a hit with the kids. Other companies to be thanked are Stop & Shop on Morrissey Blvd., Tedeschi’s, the Boston Police Athletic League, Dorchester Great Space, Riva Development, the Neponset Pet Center, Carroll Advertising, and the Bostonian Nursing Care Center. PHNA Pres. Phil Carver also wanted to thank Mayor Tom Menino, Capt. Richard Sexton, and the officers of District C-11, Mike Brohel, and the City of Boston’s Public Works Dept. Phil also wanted to express his gratitude to Mike Juliano, Jim and Denise King, Pam Carver, and Brian Waldman for manning the grills all afternoon, keeping the Block Party functioning so well.

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I was sorry to lose another friend, Norah (O’Malley) Boyle, on June 13. (Norah was from Doughmakeone, Co. Mayo.) I first met Norah through her sister, Mary Norton, at one of the County Mayo Association’s festivities. Mary was the first person to welcome me when I joined the association quite a few years ago. In addition to Norah, I met another sister, Grace Beath, whom Hubby knew from Jamaica Plain. All three sisters were wonderful and Hubby and I always enjoyed sitting with them and their daughters Maureen and Mary at the Mayo Association’s functions. Hubby and I send our sympathy to her husband Edward, to their children Joseph and Maureen, and to her brothers Michael and Joseph.

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On Wed. evening, June 6, Hubby and I attended an Hour of Prayer for Craig Rue at St. Christopher Parish. Craig had been on the list for a kidney and a liver transplant. The transplant surgery could only be performed on Craig if he were in good-enough condition to survive. All the time he was in the hospital, his condition would worsen and then improve. Father George Carrigg invited everyone to participate in this Hour of Prayer. We sang hymns and said prayers for Craig. We ended the hour with Benediction.

Each week, at Mass, Father George would give us an update on Craig’s condition. Most weeks, he was doing a little better. However, on Wed., July 25, Hubby, daughter Sue, and I received a phone call from Sister Elizabeth, from the Notre Dame Montessori School at St. Christopher’s, to tell us that Craig had passed on to God. We had all been rooting for him and were hoping that he would be well enough to qualify for the double transplant.

On Sat. morning, July 28, Hubby, daughter Sue, and I attended Craig’s wake at St. Christopher’s and remained at church for his funeral Mass. (All the funeral arrangements were handled by Joe O’Donnell of the O’Donnell-Mulry Funeral Home on Neponset Ave.) At the Mass, we each received a prayer booklet, with a beautiful photo of Craig on the cover. (We were saddened to read that he was only 53 years old.)

The church was more than half filled when Mass began. During his homily, Father George told us how he met Craig 18 years ago. Carney Hospital had called him to give the last rites to a critically ill patient. It was Craig. The doctors changed his diet and he improved. He came to St. Christopher’s to thank Father George for his blessing. As Craig looked around the church, he said, “The church needs some cleaning.”I can do that!” Right then and there, Craig became the caretaker of St. Christopher’s for the next 18 years. When the church needed to be painted, Craig said, “I can do that!” He painted the inside of the church beige. I was shocked that one person could paint a church and do such a beautiful job. (How he ever was able to get into the very high corners, I will never know.) Craig was also a mainstay at the annual summer barbecue and Father George’s birthday celebration, held every year in August. Just before Craig passed away, he had his wife Margarida take down his suggestions on helping with this year’s celebration, which will be held this Sunday, Aug. 7.

Craig was an amazing man. We parishioners send our heartfelt sympathy to Margarida; his children Nicholas, Julia, and Rodrigo; to his mother Murielle; to his sisters Margot and Michelle; and to his brothers Duane, Brandon, and Chris. We will miss him very much.

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This “A Thought to Remember” made me laugh: “That’s funny; I don’t remember being absent-minded.”