Home > Family > My Dad – More Bling than a Dominican Outfielder

My Dad – More Bling than a Dominican Outfielder

I had every intention of posting a recipe today (Shirmp and Pasta Salad)…that is until I went to change purses last night and I came across a letter my father wrote a friend of mine in October 2008. So as we approach his 61st birthday…this seemed more fitting.

And cousins and friends…thank you!

For more than 50 years I have had a mystical relationship with my mailbox, where I would send off box tops and coupons and a few coins and cherished childhood items would appear in 4-6 weeks. Correspondense with summer friends would keep us connected through the intervening three seasons. Four years of military, most of which was overseas, again kept me returning daily to my mailbox for a little something to connect me with my loved ones. Living 500 miles from most of my family that remained in Massachusetts keeps me anxiously anticipating the daily mail. All of thise I tell you to preface your wonderfully thoughtful gift and note that I received from you yesterday.

As 2008 drew on I was feeling more tired with each day and was actually relieved to learn the cause of my illness, I thought I was having a stroke up until the diagnosis of cancer. My surgery took place on the Feast of the Assumption and we celebrated with the Ancient Order of Hibernians a Mass in recognition of Our Lady of Knock on the first Saturday after my release from the hospital. The Mass has been held at Sacred Heart’s mission church, St. Bridget’s of the field in nearby Berryville. The AOH has been very generous in the construction of the church and Mariah and I donated a window in memory of our fathers. Someone subsequently donated a statue of St. Joseph that now stands in front of our window. It is the sunniest and coziest corner in the front of the church for morning and noon Masses.

About twice a week we try to attend Mass at St. Bridget’s. Noontime Mass often fits in with my morning radiation treatments and errand running…. Having received the gift of your holy water from Lourdes to supplement my stash from Knock, I take it as a small sign from Mary as a connection between her Marian Sites. On each of our four trips to Ireland we have visited the Shrine at Knock, never to ask her for any special favors but to thank her for those already given.

For a kid that started out in the projects of South Boston, the sixth member of a three generational family sharing two bedrooms and a pullout couch, it’s close to a miracle that I was born at all. My mother’s father moved in with us when my father went off to the war and upon my father’s return, my brother and I joined my older sister in the second bedroom and mom and dad were relegated to the sleep sofa. Four years later we bought a house in a nicer neighborhood and it has been onward and upward since.

I look back and I count my blessings to have had a good family and a good Catholic upbringing (8 years of parochial school), three smart and healthy children, two good spouses for Doug and Anne and eight beautiful grandchildren who live within 25 minutes of us. From the humble beginnings of the projects, I now wake up in our family home that was built when Washington was president and its most illustrious visitor was Stonewall Jackson.

I thought this battle with cancer would be the loneliest fight of my life but the outpouring of love and caring has been incredible. For two months now my friendly mailbox has been overflowing with get well cards, Mass cards, and now, holy water.  Some have apologized for their tardiness but I am so thankful for their consistency and length.

Thanks to prayer lists and the internet, I am being prayed for on six continents. My brother-in-law lit a candle at St. Patrick’s while in NYC. A friend in Germany while visiting Rome lit a candle in St. Peter’s and friends here in Winchester asked family in Ireland to light a candle when in Rome. Since they don’t allow candles in the Sistine Chapel, they lit one at the church above the Spanish Steps. …

There are over 100 get well cards suspended from the rafters of our family room, Mary’s doing. I have medals of St. Peregrine, St. Rita, Fr. Solanus Casey and the Infant of Prague. When I called my 2nd cousin in Ireland to have her uncle light a candle in Knock, she said her uncle was in Australia but she and her husband were leaving the next day for Prague. they left my name and a donation at the church of the Statue of the Infant and they will light a candle and say Masses.

In the back of my mind, I am slightly concerned about the effects of global warming from all these candles! Once I get all of these medals on a chain I should have more bling than a Dominican outfielder.

Our days are going well, midmorning we make a 25 minuite trip to get my radiation treatment. The treatments are exactly the same length as my morning prayers unless there are x-rays, which take 3 Hail Marys.

(8 days later)

Since I started this note, we have had two sets of cousins visit for a total of 5 days. We have had family visiting every weekend for 5 weeks. They are very welcome and have relieved Mariah of some of her chores. They have taken me to radiation and treated us to lunch or dinner. Seven more days of radiation and I get a three week break.

Ann, I wanted to thank you for your thoughtfulness and caring. Your note and gift of Lourdes water means so much to me but equally, I want to thank you for your friendship with Mary. It was not a hastily made decision to let our baby depart from Siler to the bustle of our nation’s capitol, but she did it with ease and surrounded herself with the best of friends. My “Little Angel Face never ceases to amaze.

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  1. eileen o'brien poole
    September 8, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    i always loved finding a letter in the mailbox from your dad through the years … he was always so gifted w/ his sentiments, and so generous w/ his love for us – gifts he (certainly) passed along to you!

  2. Geri Gagnon
    September 8, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    That letter was so beautiful as is one I have tucked away in my photo album – We loved your Dad so much as we love all of you – Rob is in the Knights of Columbus now and we celebrated a beautiful Mass last week on our Joseph’s birthday in dedication to the Blessed Mother – I thought of your Dad then also – Thanks you for sharing the letter …. Love, Godmother

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