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Published: August 12th 2017
"One father is worth more than a hundred schoolmasters".
The above quote pretty well sums up my Dad to a T. He was worth more than a hundred schoolmasters to his family and friends.
Unfortunately Dad died three days after we rushed home from Mexico. He was surrounded by love those few days he was in the hospital. When my time comes, I'd be honored to be surrounded by my family - the perfect ending of a book. 'The End'. And I hope I leave this world before my kids too. I love the The Winnie the Pooh quote. "If you live to be 100, I want to live to be 100 minus one day, so I never have to live without you."
Dad was given a beautiful send-off - folks were lined out the door of the funeral home. Everyone who passed through actually had a story, or lovely comment to make about Dad. How he lent his time to build something for them, gave them a ride, stopped in for a visit, shared his insight and humor or regaled them with stories and song. The same sentiment was shared by almost everyone- they wanted us to
know what a solid good man he was. What a hard-working principled man he was. He touched so many people's lives.
The eulogies given by our daughters had us tearing up. And my two nieces did a fabulous job too of making us laugh and cry at the same time. And thanks to the wonderful and handsome pallbearers (who all meant the world to Dad) for seeing him to his final resting place. He'd have been so honored. (Especially for the Irish toast on Foran Road!).
NO REST FOR THE WICKED
Within a few days of Dad's passing, the push was on to get our parent's house packed up and Mom moved as they sold their house one day before Dad died. Divine intervention. Talk about a lot of change in a short amount of time, including saying goodbye to our childhood home. Talk about being tested. So thank you life, but we've had enough change, so take your game plan (crap) somewhere else, please & thank you.
Mom is moving to the big city to live with my sister mere minutes from me, and if things had to be this way, I am grateful to
have Mom so close to me. So we can spoil her, spend time with her and see her begin a new chapter of her life. She's been a pillar of strength through this. I've spent every day with her since her move, had her over for lunch and dinners and it's been a really nice way to share some of this dramatic change.
I can't thank my friends enough who came to the new house to clean it inside and out. Wow. Mom & Cindy moved into a sparkling clean home. Thank you Martha, Maureen, Manon (John & Alyssa), Linda, & Susan. And thanks to the Wongs for the homemade food that sustained Mom for a few days! Whether summer light or winter dark, you've been there the through the years, under both umbrellas and beaming skies.
A gal couldn't ask for better friends. Speaking of which Marth, thanks for holding our fort & helping us in so many ways. You're simply the best (according to Tina Turner 😉
Thanks to Audrey, Joey, Donald, Casey and the family for moving Mom. Many hands made light work. You're all the cat's pajamas. Thanks to anyone reading this blog for
the flowers, calls, cards, and thoughts sent to me in whatever form. (Thanks to Keith Kelley for providing me with some sound accounting advice re funeral/death benefits xo). Thanks to the travel blog community for your warm thoughts too.
It's been a draining experience, but exhaustion is good as it keeps the mind from recognizing the huge hole Dad has left in our lives. Mom & Dad were forged together like an orange and its navel. They were like bacon and eggs, peas and carrots, frosting and a cupcake. They were a dynamic duo for a lifetime. If Mom can move forward, so can we. Dad is at peace, so we will continue to tell ourselves that. Totally different scenario when my brother Bill died. Sorrow occupied my heart like a vulture.
I can honestly say I never thought of Dad as getting old... Even though the last few months in particular when ill health was a worthy opponent, he was still vibrant, sharp, witty, proud, always the guy who could remember all things. Dates, who lived where, who did what, how things were 50-60 years ago. His pride in his heritage and roots were indelibly stamped in
his brain. He held the keys to the past to be handed down to us. I think it was my cousin Sandra who said to me that she never thought Clem (Dad) would ever die...Neither did we. It's a blessing for any of us to have our parents long enough to see our kids born. But when they leave us, it's a nasty SOB of a reality check. It's a confusing world after the loss of a parent.
Given the stress and exhaustion of the past few weeks, and encouragement from Mom, we jumped on the offer from my wonderful employer (and top notch boss & friend!) to resume my trip back to Playa del Carmen Mexico, so yep, we are on our way. This time we are bringing two of of our 3 girls so they can meet up with their grandparents (Al's parents), on the sunny shores of the Caribbean. It hasn't been easy for them to lose their poppa. So the timing couldn't be better. We too are looking forward to hanging with Ray & Pat and getting caught up on life. (Of course our last minute booking of flights didn't go as planned
- there's always a 'story' as Al likes to say. But things finally fell into place.
Upon check-in at the airport at home, I mentioned I was resuming my trip, and in a roundabout way said how much the airline offered to help me out the 'next time' we travel. (Hint hint). Well the agent was quite friendly and took my innuendo and ran with it. We got moved from the back of the plane from Newark to Cancun to near the front of the plane with extra space etc. (And the plane was packed). High 5! Score! I'm a hero for a few minutes to my family! Beats being at the back of the plane doing the dosey-doe with the bathroom goers.
We connected thru Newark Airport and boy is this ever quite the airport. I would liken it more to a mall than an airport. I think it houses something like 55 restaurants and bars or something crazy like that. Very futuristic. iPads are on every table to scan your boarding pass which will keep track of your flight (delays, boarding, etc) while you dine and/or drink in a bar. You order your drinks and food
via your iPad. (I'm not so big on that. How can I tell the iPad I like only a bit of ice in my Caesar? 😉
Some of the restaurants there are pretty high-end. They have wood burning ovens for pizza, sushi bars and Mediterranean bistros. Ooh lala. They have a 'farm to table' concept too with a daily changing menu. (We can't even afford to glance at the menu.) There's a French brasserie that grills your food in front of you. Also craft beer bars (Al is drooling), wine bars (now I'm drooling) and lots of spots for shopping. I suppose the idea is you have a few drinks at these spiffy bars and then let loose with your credit card. Then you faint when you get home once you see the damage you did to your credit card, and for the life of you can't remember what the heck when on at that airport.
We stopped at this restaurant/bar with big over-sized couches and grabbed a corner and before long the girls fell asleep with their blankets. This spot is called CBGB Bar - named after the famous New York bar - aka the birth of
punk. Lots of famous acts performed there like the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Misfits, Television, Patti Smith Group, The Dead Boys, The Dictators, The Cramps, and Joan Jett etc. Next to the bar is a vinyl record shop. Al is drooling further (he's a music nut and he particularly loves vinyl). Pretty cool concept though. Al was eyeing Jimi Hendrix's vinyl Cry Baby Wah
for $123US. Al got yanked out of there pretty swiftly...This airport will be our undoing!
Apparently you can order from your iPad items like a magazine or sunglasses and they will be delivered right to your location. That's what I'm going to do when Oprah Winfrey finally gets around to adopting me...Use her credit card, order all kinds of things delivered right to my high-back chair as I sit back and sip the finest Champagne in the hoity-toity French Brasserie. For now, I have to be content with sitting at the food court and enjoying the 30 mins. free internet with a bunch of whining kids (not mine).and the cold ham and cheese croissant I made at 2:30 this morning. Blech. (I refuse to pay $12US for a pre-packaged deli sandwich.)
What I thought
was cool is they offer a breakfast buffet that is self-serve in the food court, and it goes by weight, so the girls had French toast, with hash browns, and sausages. You can take as little or as much as you want. (Clearly my homemade croissants with ham & cheese did not cut it...ahem.) The buffet bar enjoys a salad bar and a granola/yogurt bar and then switches to lunch items later on. I chatted up the manager about it and took some photos for a future work blog for Playa Beach Getaways! Always gotta be working the angles. I liked the buffet idea. It's a decent & fresh option for weary travelers. This place is quite interesting as airports go.
Returning to our stomping grounds will be so welcomed. A chance to rejuvenate before school starts especially with our oldest starting university. It'll be so nice to feel the warm Caribbean breeze, to hear the amazing music floating in the air. To be soothed by the sounds of the waves lapping at the shore at night. And to hear the melodic birds singing in the morning... Nature and the ocean is better than any therapy than money can
buy right about now. Most of all it will be great to spend time with family after all of this - the best kind of healing.
On the first anniversary of my brother Bill's passing when I was in Playa, I bought 2 margaritas to sit on the beach and toast Bill. One for Bill, and one for me. (Well OK I guess in the end they were both for me). Bill would hate me wasting it. 😉 Next year on the first anniversary of Dad's passing, I will have to order 3. I think I'll need some help with that. I know some family and friends who could easily partake in a toast and the emptying of a marg glass!
So here's to new beginnings whatever they may be. Here's to Mom enjoying a full rich life, with exciting new adventures to come. I plan on being part of those adventures ma, so get rested up for me when I get home 😊 😊 xoxoxox
We will all die. The goal isn't to live forever. The goal is to create something that will live forever. You did that indeed Dad, and more. You
left a legacy of love that will be forever carved in our hearts and minds...
Signing off for now. (Feel free to leave a comment below. It's always nice to hear from you all.)
"Sally Ann" (as my Dad named me...)
*The choir of family & friends sang this song at Dad's mass. Fine as Fine Can Be. Click here to have a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogvlKYBLuKg
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