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“May St. Patrick, The Lord above bless you

“May St. Patrick,
The Lord above bless you,
And peace and contentment
Forever possess you!”

According to a St. Patrick’s Day card we just received, this blessing is from the statue of St. Patrick, in County Mayo, where my grandmother, Mary Murphy, was born. Hubby had two green dress shirts out for the St. Patrick’s Day week. He also had his bulky Kelly-green sweater ready, guaranteed to keep him warm in the freezing weather. I had my Kelly-green sweater and my heavy, dark green blouse with swirls of lighter green running through it, ready to go for several St. Patrick celebrations.

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Outside in our yard, we have four yellow and six purple crocuses flowering near our cellar window, on the sunny side of the house. The carpet of snow over the grass in our back yard is almost gone. The rose bushes are turning green. Our outdoor cat Louie is very bright. He finds the warmest spot on our porch to sun himself. He has even gone into one of our big flowerpots to curl up and sleep. He still has not yet gone into the big flower basket on the top of our garden shelves to catch some rays.

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Several weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Kathy Cheney, telling me to keep Sat., March 8, free for her Dad’s 90th birthday celebration. I called Eileen Burke and invited her to come to the party with Hubby and me. We had never heard of the Adams Heights Men’s Club on Bower Road in Quincy, so we figured we had better check it out before the party. Hubby located it first on his Quincy map and then drove right to it. (It is on a tiny street, near the Roche Bros. store, and is a beautiful place to have a function.)

On that Saturday afternoon, we picked up Eileen and arrived there a little early. There were quite a few people there already, setting up for the event. In came Tom and his wife Barbara. For many years, the Cheneys lived on the corner of Tolman Street and Morrissey Boulevard before moving to the Houghs Neck section of Quincy, with their home right across from the ocean. (Their home is beautiful, thanks to Tom’s carpentry expertise.) Tom was so surprised to see Eileen and the two of us at his party. Hubby then got up from our table and began taking photos of the people already there.

All seven of the Cheney kids were at this very special celebration. The oldest, Joe, and his wife Ann came up from Florida for his Dad’s birthday. Mike was there, as were Mary and her husband Danny. Maureen and her husband Rob, and Kathy were there, along with Barbara and her husband Scott, and Diane and her husband Stephen. They told stories, such as one in which Tom took the whole family across country on only $700.

Tom received all types of accolades from officials of the City of Quincy, including Mayor Tom Koch and City Council President Joe Finn. They mentioned that Tom had worked in public transportation, including the MBTA, SEPTA (South Eastern Penn. Transit Authority) and the NYTA (New York Transit Authority) for 42 years. His actual birthday, March 11, would be Thomas Francis Cheney Day, thanks to a Massachusetts House citation. Even around the kitchen table, Tom would use a type of parliamentary procedure when the kids were younger. Son Joe said that he would sometimes “challenge the chair.” Members of the family also told us that Tom, even at 90 and legally blind, continues to be an altar boy at his church. “Of course, sometimes some of the water from the priest’s washing of his hands ends up on the priest’s shoes,” said one of the kids.

We all wondered why Tom always wore a red tie. “Red is for love” was his reply. Even some of the grandchildren had on red ties. Even some of the decorations had red ties. I must speak about the decorations. I knew when I saw them that the Ginger Betty Bakery in Quincy had done them. They were magnificent. Tom, who was depicted as a gentle bear, had a body that was a huge ginger cookie, with the rest of Tom’s “body” decorated from there. Even the huge cake had bear decorations. The decorations were adorable. Bravo to Ginger Betty’s! There will be more about Tom’s party next week.

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When daughter Sue phoned me to tell me that George Donaldson had died suddenly, of a heart attack, on March 12, I was saddened. In case you don’t know who George is, he is the oldest member of the Celtic Thunder group. (He was the bald member of the group.) He was a self-taught musician and was proficient in both the guitar and flute. He joined the group in 2007. His father Bernard inspired his passion for Celtic music. He performed for his father and 65,000 others in Celtic Park in Glasgow in 2000. George was 46 years old when he passed away. He lived in Glasgow with his wife Carolyn and 13-year-old daughter Sarah. Many people, including my pal Eileen and me, think that he had the best voice in the entire group. We join with his many other fans in sending their sympathy to his wife and daughter.
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I was sorry to read of the death of Edythe (McEntee) O’Donnell. Edythe was the wife of the late Philip O’Donnell and the mother of Philip Jr., Elizabeth “Beth” Labbe, Judith Casale, Joseph, Marylou Rundlett, and Susan Ryan. She is survived by 15 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. My sympathy is sent to the entire O’Donnell family. I was also sorry to read of the death of Joseph Fitzpatrick Jr. on Mar. 12. Joe at one time lived on Neponset Avenue in the Pope’s Hill area. Joe was a graduate of Providence College and the University of Rhode Island. Joe was a librarian in the Boston Public Library until his retirement in 1999. My sympathy is sent to his best friend, Rosalind (Kicia) Fitzpatrick.

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This is a shortened column because we were at so many Irish functions during the last week. I’ll will write about some of them next week.