Sunday, July 30, 2006

Anna Marie (McCaffery) Gallagher 1912-1990

Photo taken January 24th, 1981

July 30th, 1990 you left us on a warm summer's evening after a two year courageous battle with Lymphoma. I sat on one side of your bed while Mom sat on the other side.. We both held your hand as you struggled with each and every breath you took. There was one light over your bed and the room was silent as the other family members had just left the room to congregate outside. For two weeks we all kept this daily vigil as we watched you silently slip into unconsciousness.

July 5th, 1990 you celebrated your last birthday with us. That day I came to your apartment and made you tomato soup with crackers but after one spoonful you sat at the table unable to eat. I made you a cup of tea but you were unable to drink it. I then helped you to bed. You were so weak and sick. My heart bled for you. I wished I could have made you more comfortable. After I placed Grandpop's sweater over you (you wore his sweater daily since his death in 1980 because it gave you comfort) I returned to your dining room and noticed your birthday cake sat upon the table. It was decorated in red, white and blue. It was a tradition with Uncle Frank and Aunt Ann. They gave you a cake decorated like this every year because your birthday fell on the day after 4th of July. You loved those cakes.

I will never forget that day in May of 1990 when we went shopping and then out to lunch together. You were feeling a little weak and while we ate our lunch you told me you had "this" cough at night. I asked you if you called your doctor. You told me you did not but you had a CAT scan in March and everything was fine. I suggested you call your doctor and have him look at you. During our lunch, you spoke alot about your past and your family. This was long before I had an interest in researching our family's history but I paid attention to everything you told me and I am glad I did because though I did not know it then the information you provided me was my stepping stone to research.

ONE WEEK LATER, you, me and my mother sat across from the doctor as he told us that your cancer has returned. Immediately, you began another round of Chemo but this time it did not work. I will never forget the private conversation my mother and I had with the doctor after he told us the cancer returned and now was located in the pleural space of your left lung. He said, we had the chance to have those two years with you. But since you were no longer in remission your cancer was no longer curable but treatable. However, Non-Hogkins Lymphoma was a difficult cancer to treat.

You entered the hospital for the last time two weeks before you died. You were so weak the doctor got a wheelchair and pushed you from his office to the hospital next door. Uncle Jack was told to come home because we were told things did not look good. Everyday and everynight, your family came and stayed with you. You were never left alone. My mother slept in the waiting room down the hall afraid to leave you even for a single moment. Then you saw things. Things that could not be explained. Things that were chilling.

One afternoon, you pointed to area above your head and said "Look at that bright light". "The light is so bright". We could not see this light but you, grandmom could see it clearly. Then you said, "Oh Nanna, I see Nanna". Nanna was what we called Aunt Anna, grandpop's sister who died a few years earlier. Aunt Nanna and you, grandmom were good friends. Before long, you called for Daddy. You could see him in the light with Aunt Anna. Daddy was your name for grandpop.

Some said it was the drugs you were given. Some said it was Aunt Anna and Grandpop waiting to take you to heaven. I believe the latter. One week later you died.

You were laid out in the church up at the alter. You looked like an angel. Though you suffered before your death, you were beautiful. I believe the angels even cried that day. You were interred with grandpop that same day, the only man you ever loved.

Remember grandmom, how you would always tell me that you kissed the ground I walked on. Well, little did you know, it was I who kissed the ground you walked on.

A poem I came across the other day.

God said you were getting tired and a cure was not to be; so he put his arms around you and whispered, come to me, With tearful eyes we watched you, and saw you pass away. Although we love you dearly. A golden heart stopped beating, hard-working hands at rest, God broke our hearts to prove to us, He only takes the best.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Thirty years ago no one survived Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer involving the body's lymph system. Today fifty percent of those diagnosed with this cancer survive because of the latest treatments available. Most people who relapse from this disease do so in the first two years.

Friday, July 28, 2006


and yes she really does ride this harley

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Things I Thought I 'd Never Say

My cousin Karin recently wrote a blog entry stating the things she thought she would never say and it made me think about some of the things I thought I would never say so I'm playing copycat and creating my own blog entry with the same title. Thanks for the idea Karin.

When I was younger there were things I heard my mother and grandmother say that I swore I never would say to my kids or just say in general but life has a pretty good sense of humor because one day something comes sliding out of your mouth and you think, Oh my God, I became my mother. Before you know it you find yourself saying things like, "I will kill you if you jump on the bed again and break your neck" or "I have no interest in spending my day at the emergency room so do not try and kill yourself climbing like that". Then I added a few of my own, "If you talk back to me again, I will sew up your lips" or "If you do not stop chewing that gum like that I am going to rip off your lips". Just the other day I used my grandmother's famous saying, "Turn the conditioner on, its suffocating in here".

So is it genetics or environment? I do not know. It is hard to say. But what I do know is we become our mothers in the little things we may do or say and if you have children this is a guarantee. I think it is funny how my sister, my mother and I start all our sentences while conversing with the word "Actually". Then, one day I heard my grandson Shaun begin his sentence with the word "Actually". "Oh my God, I thought. We are passing this genetic/environmental habit onto the male branch of our family and he is only five".

Other famous phrases I heard family members say.

"She/he is a windbag" (referring to someone who talks too much)
"Stop your windbagging" (someone who is complaining)
"What ya ma call it" (whatever or you know what I mean)
"Anyway" (another sentence starter)
"A bite to eat" or "just a little sandwich" (when ordering out)
"A cross to bear" (ongoing problem with someone)

If you grew up in Philadelphia you probably have your very own vocabulary and pronunciation. Philadelphians never seem to say their words correctly. Water tends to sound more like woodter. Picture sounds like pitcher. Believe me, when I say we pronounce things differently as it is evident when I visit another state and the waiter states "you are from Philadelphia, aren't you"? Of course you can also asked my very good friends Linda and Melissa. They have way too much fun when I pronounce a word weird. You would never guess that I did actually have four English classes in college and scored all A's. As they say, you can take a girl out of Philadelphia but you cannot take the Philadelphia out of the girl.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates, You Never Know What You Will Get

Having a new house means getting a new heater. Thank God, I made the previous owners have it checked and serviced as part of my agreement to buy or else the dead as a door knob heater would have given me a grand and expensive surprise come this winter season.

The heater had not been serviced since 1999 and was well over forty years old which caused me to be just a little suspicious about its ability to actually heat a house. Whether or not the previous owners were trying to pull a fast one over me will never be known. Nevertheless, it became their responsibility to replace it as part of settlement and so on Friday this was accomplished. To other fun news.

I saw my surgeon Thursday and he gave the injured shoulder a shot of cortisone. He also put me out of work until I see him again in two weeks. I guess sitting in front of a computer monitor and handwriting Quest Diagnostic and Lab Corp forms for eight straight hours did not agree with the dominate right arm. Who would have known? So much for restricted duty. In all honesty, I believe the only folks happy to see my return to work last Monday was the insurance company. Between Human Resources and Management it had been determined that I should not come within five feet of a patient which in medical terms means no patient care. They felt that if a patient was to faint, I would not be able to catch them. Now, I have been working here twenty years and I do not recall many patients fainting in my presence and if they did I doubt I would have been able to catch anyone anyway even before this shoulder injury. Let this be a lesson; never get into a battle with an old man in CCU. You probably will not win.

What I love about my family is that you never have to worry about what comes out of their mouths because it always will no matter what, which was the case with two particular conversations I had recently.

In the week of my move, I needed a new toilet in the upstairs bathroom and my brother Frankie and my Dad were nice enough to come down to replace. When I asked Frankie what he thought of my new house he said and I quote, "It is a nice house if you want to live in this neighborhood". I call this a back handed compliment.

Then I spent a morning at my old house which I shared with my ex-husband for twenty-one years before we divorced and I moved out of. While, packing up some of my grandmother's dishes, Joe told me that his brother Anthony suggested Joe have a social and invite my sister Marianne because he missed her. Well, in an effort to cover up my shock at this suggestion I asked Joe if Anthony missed his sister-in-law of twenty-four years, you know me? If you guessed this question was answered in silence then you guessed correctly. I am thinking none of his family miss me. So much for being part of it for twenty-six years.

Today we take a break from all things called work and we will celebrate a family milestone. My youngest son Joseph is twenty-three. When I spoke to my five year old grandson Shaun the other day, I asked Shaun what kind of cake should we have for Uncle Joe's birthday. Shaun told me I needed to make a blueberry cake because he (Shaun) loved blueberries. Then I asked Shaun what if Uncle Joe does not like blueberries. This was his answer, "Then make it half blueberry and half chocolate because I like chocolate too MOM MOM". Out of the mouths of babes.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Sum It Up

The end of a long week is how I state it. The week began with the oppressive heat and humidity of over one hundred degrees. After a few days of this god awlful or as my grandmother used to say suffocating heat we had one hell of a storm that blew down everything in sight including the flowers in my garden.

This week was my return to work after I spent six weeks home after shoulder surgery. Things in that department did not go as planned. After two days on restricted duty my shoulder/arm became inflamed so here I am home again until the inflammation and surrounding tendons calm down. Hopefully, I will be back to almost normal next week.

We are still living out of some boxes and probably will be for the near future. Slowly but surely the house is coming together. I am sure if I had total use of my dominate right arm things would move along a little faster but Oh well, what are ya gonna do?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Friday, July 14, 2006

A World Gone Mad

Is anyone out there as nervous as I about the ongoings in the Middle East this week? I generally stay away from the subject of politics but the current happenings that have plagued the news this week have been more than a little frightening. Israel fighting on two fronts with Gaza and now Beirut. Iran threatening Israel. Israel threatening Syria. Not to mention our ongoing war with Iraq and North Korea testing nuclear missiles that are landing in the Sea of Japan. Japan is really not too happy about it either. Hundreds killed in India by local terrorists.

What the hell is going on? The end of the world is coming or what?

It is at times like this I wonder if my grandparents felt this same way when the war broke out in Europe.

It also makes me wonder who's in charge of these decisions being made? "Hey you world leaders out there, this is not a game. We live in a very dangerous nuclear age where bombs can destroy not just a city but an entire world. Are you listening out there? I have two little grandsons growing up in this world. I like to see it be here for them".

Diary Of A Move

Day One

The rain came tumbling down as I made settlement. After signing numerous forms, I was handed the keys and became the owner of a three bedroom, two bathroom, seventy five year old house in Roxborough.

That afternoon, Bill loaded up his pickup truck with boxes, we arrived at the new house. The first thing on our agenda was to clean and clean we did.

Day Two

Mom and Dad arrived to help clean. Mom took over the kitchen while Dad began the task of cleaning the twenty windows in this house. I took down old window curtains and started on the house's woodwork and ceiling fixtures. Bill continued bringing the boxes from my other residence. Before long the cable guy arrived to install the Direct TV Satellite Dish while one of the two furniture stores I expected furniture from this week came with the bedroom and breakfast room sets. Shaun came at noon to install a chandelier in the dining room and a ceiling fan in what is to be a Kids' room for Shaun Patrick and Nikolas. Bill and I met the new neighbors Thomas and Lisa to our right and an elderly gentlemen Win to our left. By evening we met a third neighbor down the block. I think I am going to like living here.

Day Three

Mom and Dad came back to finish the tasks they started. Mom borrowed my sister's "cleaning lady" for the day to help clean the bathrooms and the family room. Soon Shaun arrived with a painter friend to give me an estimate on some rooms I want painted ASAP especially the "very pink" girl's room upstairs that will soon become a "very military" boy's room for Shaun and Nikolas when they come to visit. The second furniture store delivery came and set up the dining room set but had to take the sectional for family room back since the corner piece could not fit through the doorway. By evening my sons Shaun and Joey along with their friend Billy came to load up the truck and carry everything from one house to the other. It was a long night and by its end everyone was exhausted.

Day Four

Mom and Dad are back again but this time Mom and I escape to the store to shop for bathroom curtains and other miscellaneous things. Dad stayed behind with Bill and Joey and finished up the last morsel of things to be moved in the house. But this time we all took a well deserved break and had lunch out on the deck that overlooked the river at the Brewery in Manayunk.

Day Five

Today was a day of rest. I had coffee in bed while I read the Sunday newspaper. Though I did manage to put a few things away and dust a few other things, I mainly took it easy. As a matter of fact I did not even get out of my pajamas. And the best part is I did not even feel guilty about it. By late afternoon, Shaun, Trish and the boys arrived with a surprise, a grill for outback!

It will be weeks before I get settled in and it could be months before I get through each and every box.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Together In Florida

I am not sure what I was saying here but I suspect it was "Do Not Take My Picture".
Move over grandpop, these two boys have taken over your favorite chair.
Do I really need to comment on these three clowns?
Boys just wanna have fun.
Catch me if you can.
A day at the beach.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Florida Vacation June 30th to July 4th, 2006 "Nikolas"

Nikolas Joseph age twenty months.
Nikolas and his new friend gecko. Each morning outside my parents' house, this little creature made his appearance and Nikolas laughed with excitement. Thus a new word was added to his vocabulary, "gecko". A word I heard at least a hundred times over the course of five days.
Too young for the water slide but old enough for the kiddie pool, Nikolas enjoys himself at a friend's picnic outside their house on Tampa Bay.
Day four of our vacation took us on a fun filled trip out on the Gulf of Mexico on Captain Nemo's Pirate Ship.
Nikolas striking a pose at grandmom and grandpop's house in Dunedin, Florida.
Enjoying the sands and waters of Clearwater Beach.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Florida Vacation June 30th to July 4th "Shaun"

Being almost five means you can be a pirate on Captain Nemo's Pirate Ship.
Play video games with a new found friend.
Smile pretty for the camera.
Search for lizards and snakes with the other boys in the bushes and rocks near Tampa Bay.
Spend hours going high speed down the water slide
Make a smooth landing at the bottom.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

While I was away

Mom and Dad celebrated an Anniversary. Here they are in a 1963 Photograph.