Here’s To You, Sister.

It’s been awhile since Meg posted, and she has a good reason. She’s has writer’s block and angst over something she needs to write, but has been unable to do so.

Last month, I lost my beloved sister (in-law) to the big C. C as in CANCER.

A little over 30 years ago, I met Sharon. She was a southern belle from Virginia, and I was a colorful Bostonian. We both were dating brothers, and we found ourselves in the north country of New Hampshire for Memorial Day, aka “opening ceremonies” for summer. It’s the kind of weekend in New Hampshire where you better have a warm jacket, a gallon sized can of RAID, and boots if you are going to party around a campfire in the White Mountains.

Sharon and I became fast friends that weekend, sharing a bedroom, a curling iron and a hankering for Michelob beer. When she and Rene became engaged and married the next year, she did her darndest to throw her wedding bouquet my way. While I didn’t catch it, I did nevertheless walk down the aisle with the other brother a year later, as Sharon looked on with a wink and a smile.

We shared many events over the next 30 years, too many to count. I think the best way to show it is through photos, so indulge me and let me share a little bit of how special she was:

carnival7Winter carnival in Quebec. Did you ever try and attach those glitter flakes in Goldschlager to your teeth? Trust me, we did try it.

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You actually don’t notice frostbite after some drinks.

grill3 The Outer Banks in North Carolina was one of our special places!

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deja_blue4
This was on the steps of our favorite rental house!

three_chicksThe sistahs at Fenway Pahk!

sistahs A little dinnah in the North End of Boston!

rene_sharon Sharon and her husband, Rene.

Sharon always had a courageous outlook on life. When she lost her younger sister many years ago, she, my sister and I made a pact we would always be the three sisters; together, forever. Over the years we shared good times on vacation, consoled each other at the loss of parents, and always, always, we had each others backs.

A little over 2 years ago, Sharon started feeling strange, and through a rather long process, it was discovered she had brain cancer. She may have been scared, I was never really sure, because she was always brave and confident that she would prevail in her battle. If Plan A did not work, Plan B would. If there was negativity, I never saw it, as she showed up for every appointment, willing to undergo whatever needles and shitty toxic drugs that they put into her. Because next week dammit, she was going to the gym and get in shape, get better, and move on with her life.

Sadly, Sharon lost her battle a few weeks ago. It was hard to not root for her to live, but it was also hard not to root for her to be out of pain and at peace. Luckily, I was there when she passed, which makes me think the higher powers align things in ways we just can’t comprehend.

I’ve said to various special people in my life, that when you lose a loved one, there appears a unique star in the sky that always twinkles for that lost loved one. In this case, I think there is an entire constellation with Sharon’s name on it, containing three sparkly sister stars; and they will surely shine bright, strong and clear as I look at the heavens and think of her.

Sisters always and forever.


And Her Journey Ends.

Meg is feeling a little down today; she got news that her aunt passed away early today.

Last year she wrote about Mary, and told you a little of her story.

Actually, I always called her Mare, just like Rhoda Morgenstern called Mary Richards “Mare”. It was a term of endearment, and it was the name that truly fit her best. Mary was not a whole lot older than me, just a mere 12 years. I never prefaced her name with Aunt, she was way too hip and cool for that; we were always Mare and Marg. She was the person that got her long hair ironed on an ironing board, drove a blue Mustang, and took me to my first professional sporting event. After a wild hockey game at the Boston Garden, she let me hang out and meet the players, while she and her boyfriend hung back and drank long neck beers out of brown paper bags.

Mare dry cleaned her jeans, and was the first person I knew that decorated their apartment with hanging ferns and stick on mirrors. She had a stereo stashed in an antique ice chest, and it played “Bette Davis Eyes“. She was the queen of thrift stores and shopping, never missing a bargain or snagging a classic piece of jewelry.

She lived in an apartment where I could swim in the pool with Bryant Gumbel’s best friend, have cocktails on the patio, and end the day with cheeseburgers on the grill.

She was the person that left New England, to live her dream in California. She lived on the beach, rode her bike, traveled and collected treasures to decorate her cute little seaside abode. I was always amazed and astounded that she decamped from Boston to California, being on her own, living the life she always wanted.

Things became sad at one point; we had become estranged; my mom and Mare, and things were not right for a very long time. Years later we got a call from a girl, and that girl turned out to be Mare’s daughter, my cousin. Somehow her discovery and appearance managed to bring people back together. At that point we realized Mare had a illness very similar to ALS, and the progression of her illness took a long and slow turn, where she lost all of her ability to function. But even until these last few weeks, she wanted to wear great perfume, put on a snazzy silver bangle, and read the headlines of PEOPLE magazine.

Because that was Mary, vintage Mare, and she wasn’t going to die if she didn’t look good, or smell good.

And I look around my house and see all the things that influenced me. Cool pieces of wrought iron hanging on a wall, lumber salvaged from someone’s trash to make a quirky sign. A pair of earrings that scream the 1950’s. Shoes that were found at TJ Maxx that say Prada. That was all her doing.

Meg stills practices that slouch from 1972 where she learned the correct way to hide illegal beverages in the Boston Garden lobby when she was 12, and Meg knows she wouldn’t have half the snazz appeal if weren’t for Mare.

So, here’s to you Mare. I toast you with a cold beer in a brown paper bag, and it never looked classier all because of you. Tonight you are a twinkle in the sky, or maybe a neon beer sign in the heavens, and I will never forget you.


Back To The Place I Live

Meg has landed back to the place where her husband got transferred to! Yes, please do note she did not said home, because she is so into this gig being a short term one that she cannot envision this perfect little suburban dome* being her permanent residence. Anyway, the family had a lovely time back in their native land, and it all started like this:

*(note Stephen King reference to “Under the Dome“)

Meg sat on the roof deck of Legal Seafoods and cleverly took a photo of herself and her husband! They enjoyed cocktails and oysters and alternately took gulps of salt air and drinks, and reveled in being by the ocean!

Soon she was reunited with her sister, Ain’t Miss Beehavin’ and another glamourous young girl, Miss Katie!

Miss Katie is marrying Meg’s nephew this coming fall, and Meg and her sister are contemplating taking a CPR class beforehand, because they know someone will need their assistance at the nuptials. Which is to say what a blast this wedding will be, and if there was ever a girl you wanted to be your daughter in law, she’s your number one gal.

The couples took a water taxi over to the North End of Boston, and hit the Improv Asylum for some laughs. Not to let the evening idly end, Meg, her husband and brother in law decided they need snacks at 1:30 am. She was promised not to show any photos, but they involved someone breaking their reading glasses in half and wearing a half of the pair while reading the late night menu. That’s all she can say on that one.

They tooled down to the Cape and met up with Meg’s Mom, and took a little boat ride on the Cape Cod Canal:

The couple also took a day trip over to Nantucket, and explored the quaint streets, browsing in art galleries:


Note: cool screened in porch bar on the right!

The flowers were delightful, as nothing but brown grass can exist in the dry Texas heat:

This vintage car was full of hatboxes of something. Money????

And yes, Meg stared longingly at the lucky boat owners who got to lounge all day long in the sun:

As they left Nantucket around 7:30, they were treated to a purple and pink sky as they sailed past the Brant Point Lighthouse:

On the boat ride back they drank homemade mudslides and listened to a bunch of guys their age drop f-bombs, but the good kind. They talked about having a f**king awesome day and how the sunset looked f**king spectacular. Meg just laughed with joy because she was at last at home with all of her edgy people. It was like being in a Monet painting, but Boston style.

The next stop on their itinerary was Newport Rhode Island. They had breakfast on the rooftop of their favorite place to stay, the Mill Street Inn:

They did more ocean side exploring, and found themselves at the Inn at Castle Hill, where they dined on lobster rolls. What a shock, huh?

Everywhere Meg went, it was like lobster porn:

The sunset hour was cooperative at every turn, combining sun, salt, sand and scrumptious cocktails:

As vacation wound down with one last meal, Meg wished she could just pack up come fresh clams in her bag and bring them home:

Well, she knows she can order seafood online, anyway.

It was sad leaving Boston, but she promises to give her readers Texas adventures if it kills her. She’s heading to Austin next month and suspects she’ll find some good spots to talk about. Don’t be surprised if she starts blogging from a food truck at 2 a.m. and tries to help get the tacos out the door for hungry night owls like herself.


Back Home!

Meg is going back to her homeland this week, and it’s a good thing. She’s had it with dead flower pots, burned out grass, a yard that will never ever have a garden with flowers, and a dog that’s decided to use her upstairs as it’s personal bathroom. Most of all she’s had it with the Texas twang; she desperately needs to hear someone just say “what the f**k“, as only someone from Boston can say it.

Here’s what she expects to see and do when she lands:

She is heading over to the Seaport District and revel in the waterfront view from her hotel room!

Then the couple plans to get an infusion of Italian food, the kind that WILL NOT taste like CARDBOARD.

She heading here for a night of comedy with her sister!

And maybe a little dessert? A cannoli, perhaps?

Then the family is Cape Cod bound, and can likely be found on this beach, where they will rendezvous with Mom and all of her friends.

These two handsome devils will be hanging out with their Auntie Meg!

Meg’s sister Ain’t Miss Beehavin has sent along the 5 day forecast for Boston, which includes, sun, dry weather, and cocktails!

Meg wishes her friends a fine end to summer, and she hopes you are all enjoying the bounties of August, wherever you live! She will catch up with you in a few weeks, where she will segue into her next phase: the Betty (Ford) and Jenny (Craig) programs.


Passages

I’m back from California, and have had major writer’s block for an entire week. Actually, what I needed to do was process and sort out everything that happened over the nine days I was away.

The trip started with Mom coming to visit me in Texas and seeing the house for the first time! She was extremely delighted to see that I do not live on a dry prairie full of tumbleweeds, nor a house surrounded by a corral. No guns racks, either! Mom *was* surprised by the “megachurches” that loom up out of the horizon, with a cattle farm next door and a place that looks like Southfork next to that. What can I say about the zoning laws here? That’s right, there are NONE. Everyone does what they want, including smoke inside public places. (I’m still not over that.)

A few days later we took our journey to California. We landed in Corona del Mar, and the next morning, we got a call my that cousin Sally had passed a few hours earlier. We did not get a chance to say that final goodbye, but we took comfort in knowing *she* knew we were coming.

Late last fall, Sally and her husband took what they thought would be her last trip to Cape Cod. There we had a big Italian dinner overlooking the water, and enjoyed a LOT of laughs and shed a few tears:

We were touched we had one last weekend to spend with her and reminisce about all the vacations we spent in Nantucket. Family and friends would ferry over every Memorial Day and spend a glorious week by the ocean, eating, drinking, sitting on the beach, and telling ghost stories at night.

It’s hard to imagine she is gone. I can still hear her laugh and her signature line “God that is just so cute!” If there was one thing Sally liked to do, it was shop and decorate, and there was NOTHING she didn’t think was cute.


And yes, we even dressed alike in the worst of 80’s fashions. And yes, that is me in stirrup pants.

The other mission we undertook in California was visiting with Mom’s sister, my Aunt Mary. To unfold the entire story of her life would take numerous blog posts, but the short story is she was estranged from our family for many years. Not too long ago, my Mom was contacted by a young girl who said she was Mary’s daughter. We were all blessed to meet her and it was her appearance in our lives that facilitated contact with Mary.

Sadly, Mary is wheelchair bound and in an assisted living facility with a disease similar to Lou Gehrig’s. She was been slowly losing her motor skills, and can no longer dress, feed or bathe herself. Her sense of humor is still intact and she knows EVERYTHING about pop culture. You should have seen her laugh when I mentioned Kim and Kanye’s baby!

What is so sad is that she cannot communicate. She can get some words out, but it’s easier to have a conversation and let her listen
and react. We heroically got her out to lunch in a beautiful restaurant by the Dana Point Harbor, and she heartily enjoyed her lunch. When I left that day I hugged her and told her I loved her, and I suspect we both knew this would be the last time we would each other. I cannot forget feeding her and the joy she took in being out with her family; it made me take stock of life. I wish we could have all the years she was away back again.

A million words of wisdom and sayings came to mind this past week, but the Cherokee proverb expresses it simply. It does no good to dwell on the past, but launch yourself into the day, and live it the best way you can.

But I will still remember Mary as she was:


Mary, me and Mom at my college graduation. And yes, I am really brunette.

Vintage Mary.

And thanks everyone, for listening today.


Where I’m Off and Running. Sort Of.

Meg has been busy with family the past few days; she is heading to California with her Mom to visit several sick relatives.

Sadly, it’s the kind of sick where you say your goodbyes and know you aren’t going to be seeing the person again. It’s been stressful and sad and it’s her duty to make sure things get done the right way.

Anyway, Meg will be back in blog land in a couple of weeks; don’t fret. Please keep Meg and her family in your thoughts as we take that journey that no one really wants to go on.