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The Lilacs, Mother's Day and Montessori

“Have you ever breathed the fragrance
of a lilac bush in bloom?
Then you will not forget the pleasure
Of its dewy, fresh perfume.”
“Lavender Lilacs” by Jeannette Olson

On Mother’s Day, Hubby and I stood on the porch surveying the flowers that were blooming around us. We noticed that our lilac bushes, at the end of our front walkway, were ready to bloom. They will be out with the warm weather predicted for this week. When I was teaching, the children used to bring me in big bunches of lilacs. Because of my asthma, I asked the children to share their lilacs with the other first grade teacher, my good friend Edie. They loved bringing some to her because she was such a nice teacher.

Last Friday, Hubby and I had a chance to attend the Mother’s Day Breakfast at the Notre Dame Montessori School at St. Christopher’s Church. We left home at 8 a.m because we knew how bad traffic is on Morrissey Blvd. at that time of morning on a weekday. We arrived outside the church with five minutes to spare. As we walked downstairs, we could smell food cooking in the kitchen, and when we walked into the hall, we could see how pretty everything was for the mothers, with the tables covered with an assortment of pastel-colored tablecloths. In the middle of each table was a canning jar, filled with a wide variety of wildflowers. The serving dishes were on tables, set up on the stage. Hubby helped the ladies set up three more tables, on which the prizes on chances would be displayed. There were several gift baskets, a doll, and three framed pictures, among other things. One of the photos was of a Swan Boat in the Public Garden. It was purchased from a gift shop from South Boston. Hubby even bought chances on that picture. (He didn’t win.)

Sister Elizabeth, the director of the school, offered us coffee as we waited for more of the mothers to join us. We were fortunate that Siobhan O’Donnell came and sat at our table. She was great to chat with as she watched her children, Ronan, a student at the Montessori School, and Maeve. Siobhan told us that she was from Galway. I told her that half of Hubby’s family was from Galway. I also told her that my people were from Westport, in County Mayo. She knew that area and had visited Westport. I asked Siobhan how many children she and her husband Patrick have. I almost dropped when she said, “Six.” (She didn’t look old enough to have six.) “My oldest is Sean, aged 20 years.” Then she said, “Ciara is 17, Emma, 15, Aine, 6, then Ronan, 5, and Maeve, 16 months on the following day.

Fr. George Carrigg, pastor of St. Christopher’s, came in and said a very appropriate “Grace.” Then it was time for the food. There was a big bowl of fruit. There were scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, juices, milk, sweet rolls, scones, muffins, with lovely hot coffee. Hubby and I held back and let the Moms with the kids go first. We brought up the rear and there was still a great deal of food remaining.

As we were eating, one of the Dads told us that he would play his (silver) trumpet for us. He went all around the hall playing for all of us, but especially the children. The kids were transfixed as they watched his fingers move over the keys. He played songs, such as “Amen,” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” We all laughed when one boy asked him to play “Jingle Bells.” He did play it, although it was a little out of season. I had seen the trumpeter and his wife come in with two little children. He also was carrying two baby car seats, with blankets. I went over to the family. I found out that the Dad was Dr. Daniel Henderson and his wife was Michelle, with the two older children Logan, age 8, who had gone to the Montessori School, and 4-year-old Eva, pronounced just as we Bostonians pronounce the word “ever”, “ev-uh.” Inside the baby car seats were twins Peter and Abigail, aged 3 months. I think Sister Elizabeth said Dan taught at Harvard. He ordinarily would have sung for us but he was having throat problems. With the cold, rainy weather on that day, I can see why. We really enjoyed Dan’s playing.

Our tablemate Siobhan told us that she would see us at the fundraiser for the Notre Dame Montessori School on Sat., June 7, at Florian Hall. Siobhan is on the committee for the event. With her pretty Irish accent, she is perfect because the fundraiser will have an Irish theme, with The Peggy Woods School of Irish Step Dancers and John Connors and the Irish Express Band.

Last Saturday evening, Hubby, daughter Sue, and I were in our car, heading for the Irish Social Club in West Roxbury. We laughed as Sue spotted a gaggle of Canada geese on the State Hospital’s front lawn. We were heading to a fundraiser for children with cancer. “Dance for Lucy” was the name of the evening; the subtitle was odd, “Lucy’s Love Bus.” When we arrived, we realized that we were the first members of the audience, other than the performers. As we read the program, we realized that the fundraiser was to help children, from birth to age 21, cope with their cancer. The service provides funds for acupuncture, massage, therapeutic horseback riding, meditation, tai chi, art, music, and dance. One young girl, later in the evening, spoke about how much she loved horseback riding. It provides a pleasant diversion from things like having chemo.

When we went into the Club, the gal at the front desk took our tickets and stamped our hands with a green butterfly. We found an empty table of 10 and sat down. The round tables along the dance floor were already reserved for people who had bought blocks of tickets. Our friends from Keystone came in about 6:30 p.m.: Eileen Collins, Margaret Leydon, Evie Dunn, Carol Coakley, Linda Sullivan, and Della Melchionda. I was delighted to see my pal Michael McCarron at the event. From 6 to 7 p.m. Colm O’Brien played his guitar as the people poured into the club.

I had heard Matt O’Donnell, who is host of the Irish Hit Parade from 1 to 4 p.m. on WROL radio every Saturday, tell his listening audience that he would be at our event that evening. After Matt introduced the great group Erin’s Guild, I went looking for Matt. I knew him from broadcasting from Gerard’s on St. Patrick’s Day. I found him speaking with people at the other side of the hall. I introduced myself to him and told him that I knew he would be at this fundraiser. Matt and I spoke for a few minutes. I then asked him how old his daughter Jennifer was. Sometimes he uses a little clip of her voice when she was a young girl, “That’s right, Daddy-O.” Matt told me she is now a junior in high school and is already looking at colleges. He said that she was interested in Westfield State. I told him that my granddaughter Erin is at Westfield and loves it. (Dad David is an alum.) Matt was delighted to hear that that Erin was pleased. I wished him well on his long ride home. He must have been tired after working at WROL during the day and emceeing the fundraiser at night.

At 7 p.m. Erin’s Guild played for one hour. Half way though the hour, dinner was served. There were trays of chicken, broccoli, and ziti, which was delicious and cooked to perfection by “Two Chefs Are Better Than One.” There was a huge bowl of salad and a tray of good-sized dinner rolls. The food was great and the coffee toasty warm. At 8:30 p.m., all types of little desserts were put on the serving tables. Every one was scrumptious, especially a tiny lemon cake. I succumbed to that one.

Following dessert, the wonderful Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes marched through the hall, playing three songs. I love to hear bagpipes, most likely because my great-grandfather was Scottish. Following the police were the step dancers from the Harney Academy of Irish Dance. They had various dance costumes that looked positively beautiful on them.

Then there was a Live Auction, with Johnny Costello as auctioneer and bartender. He did a super job getting the people to raise the amounts they were willing to pay for the items. One was an autographed Bruins hockey stick. There was a professional catcher’s mitt. The next auction items were four tickets to the Red Sox/Cleveland game on June 12, at 7 p.m. There were two large paintings by Vincent Crotty. They went for a great deal of money. I was delighted because I know Vincent. His wife KJ worked for our newspapers. The final item was a set of four tickets to a taping of “Wheel of Fortune” in Culver, CA. (All travel expenses are the responsibility of the winner.)

It was a little after 10 p.m. when Erin’s Melody began to play. I am so used to Margaret Dalton’s lovely music that I sing along quietly with her. There were some lovely baskets made for the evening. Hubby and I went in on $20 worth. Hubby put them in the baskets that struck his fancy. He should have known. I am a jinx when it comes to gambling. He didn’t win anything that evening. He checked the raffle boards and his tickets were not on any of them. We left after that. There was still one big prize to call, the Trip to Ireland. None of us had purchased a ticket for that raffle so we were home after 11 p.m.

As I look at our yard, which is growing quickly with the improved weather, I thought this from Mark Twain was very appropriate: “All you need to grow fine, vigorous grass is a crack in your sidewalk.”