View from Pope's Hill: It has been a while...

Barbara and the late Vinnie McDonough

I was so pleased to be asked by Bill Forry to come out of retirement to write a column for the Dorchester Day edition of the Dorchester Reporter. I have one great change to my column writing process, though. Because I now have macular degeneration, Daughter Sue has agreed to type for me.

I’m sad to say that all has not been good. The worst thing to have happened was the death of my husband Vinnie in September. We had just celebrated our 59th anniversary in July. I was fortunate to have been in the same rehab center as Hubby; he was on the third floor, and I was on the second. I could check on him every day. By the time I had reached my room after having spent some time with him on that day in September, Sue was on the phone telling me that Dad had passed away.

Hubby’s wake and funeral were beautiful – very Irish, his proud heritage. There were our kids, grandkids, so many relatives, neighbors, and even our postman Mike (of nearly 40 years). I returned home about a week later.

Louie, my 20-year-old deaf cat, was beautifully cared for by neighbors Donna and Alfred while I was in the hospital and rehab after a fall. Together with their nephews Alex and Peter, they cleaned and organized my house so that I would be able to maneuver my walker through rooms and doorways. Donna and Alfred continue to check up on me and help with tasks around my house. I am especially grateful that they change the cat litter weekly. It’s not an easy task.

I had one restriction: I was not to go to the second floor of my house without accompaniment. Sue had purchased a new bed for me and had it set up in the living room. Since Sue’s home is directly across the street, I feel very safe.

She did some research and was able to initiate some elder services. Each weekday, I have an aide who comes to help me bathe and to do some light chores around my house, like vacuuming and laundry. She has acted as a second set of eyes by helping me read small print. I also have Meals on Wheels delivered to me daily by Pedro.

In the evening, Sue comes across the street to cook supper for me. She is getting quite proficient, to an epicurean level. I also ask her to come to my doctors’ appointments with me. Sue also does the food shopping for both of us. It’s a lot of work.

Now for the fun time! Thank goodness Sue and I like similar movies and TV shows. I really like “Murder She Wrote.” Before each episode, Sue checks to see which actors and actresses are appearing. One night, much to my delight, I recognized the name of a favorite TV actor of my “youth” – Kevin Sorbo, who played “Hercules.”

He righted wrongs and made the world beautiful again. I stayed up past 11 p.m. to figure out which character he was playing in that MSW episode. Much to my dismay, his character was shot and killed within the first 20 minutes of the show. You’ll be happy to know, though, that my small Hercules figurine, with its mighty spear, still sits on my kitchen curio shelf.

When we were urged to remain indoors because of the virus, Sue checked both the cable and Prime Video listings for something for us to watch. One was for a video collection called “The Very Best of Victor Borge,” whom we both enjoyed. I have been a fan of his since my college friend Elaine, my Aunt Ethel, and I went to see him perform in Boston as part of the Show of the Month Club. The three of us laughed the entire evening. There is nothing funnier than seeing him fall off his piano bench as his guest singer begins his/her song. Victor continues by opening the piano bench, pulling out a seatbelt, and buckling himself in for the remainder of the song. Sue and I enjoyed these TV episodes just as much. I think we went through two boxes of tissues that week, wiping away tears of laughter. He is a great entertainer. See if you can find his performances.

Sue and I have caught up on some movies – some we had seen years ago and some that we hadn’t seen yet. We loved “The Shawshank Redemption” … “Patriot Games” … “The Miracle Worker”… “Hidden Figures.” I must confess that I also watched “The Birdcage” twice, because it makes me laugh. We have come to watching more and more TV movies on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel.s Sue and I agree that the Hallmark actors are very handsome!

Watching more TV means watching more commercials. There are two current Geico commercials that I enjoy watching. Seeing the gecko start to giggle while he is being filmed always makes me laugh. Also, I enjoy seeing the family clog dancing to what sounds almost like Irish music.

I haven’t been out of my home in several weeks, except for Friday nights on my porch. We, along with our Houghton Street neighbors, go outside at 7 p.m. to bang our pots, pans, and noisemakers in honor of those who are caring for those who are sick with COVID-19. I am so proud of my granddaughter Erin, who was featured in an article in The Boston Globe two weeks ago about the isolation hotel in Revere. Erin, a nurse, and a medical assistant were shown putting on their personal protective equipment before making their rounds.

I want to thank my family (especially Sue), my close neighbors, my telephone pals, and those who send me such great greeting cards for remembering me.

“Happy Birthday, Dorchester!”

Barbara McDonough wrote a weekly neighborhood column for the Reporter for some 30 years, beginning in 1983.