Tag Archives: Aunt Pat

June 14, 2015 – oh to get out of this heat!!!!

Harsh words don’t break bones but they can break hearts

Had a conversation yesterday about how things parents say to children in anger or thinking they are funny can have a life long effect on the relationship between that child and the parent.  My Dad was the king of saying harsh things not thinking about what would result from his words.   Once at college during exam time I called home and was worried that I had not heard from my mom since she always wrote every single week.  His response to me was “if you want something to read try a book”  I hung up on him and for the next week did no work at all because I just decided I did not care any more.

One of my brothers wrote home regularly when he was away for 6 months.  He had trouble writing but it was always fun getting his letters and hearing about what he was doing.  Then one night he called home or we called him and my dear old dad had to criticize his writing and his grammar.  Well, that was the end of the regular fun letters.  What dumb things to do!

But when you are little and don’t understand as well those same kinds of words really can have terrible effects putting distance between the trust of the child and the parent as well as the loss of respect.  I don’t even remember what my dad said to me when I was around 6 or 7 but I remember making a decision that I did not want to be close to him again. I was really hurt by his words.  I don’t think my dad ever hit me physically but he certainly, in retrospect, reflected on us the pains of his own childhood.  I know now that his childhood was not a bed of roses by any means but he had no idea the damage he was doing to us as kids with his words  Really sad when one thinks about it and you hope parents of young children think before they speak, the old adage of “count to 10 before you open your mouth” really does work. And can ave a lot of pain on both sides in the long run .

We had a nice day, farmers market, lunch on the porch, playing games, visit with the kids Mor-Mor, and all was well except mom sprained her ankle on her morning run and had to go up to the hospital to have it checked out. She is on crutches until the pain subsides and the foot is wrapped and being iced.  Kids were great at bath and bed time. I got to read some chapters of a Fancy Nancy book which I really like.  All packed and ready to drive home tomorrow.

Each of the letters to Pat show more and more that she is not telling them what is going on. They were really in the dark and it fits right in with what I remember my mother telling me about that time.  What a brave soul she was going through all of this alone, especially coming from such a close family. Her brother was a pediatrician and this was his New Years letter to her.

Dec 29
Fergus J O’Connor Jr.

Dear Pat,

Just a wee note. Mary tells me your cough bothers considerably and that sucking aspirin helped some so I’ve asked Powell and Vrooman to send you down some acrthesin(?) tablets. Connie and I swear by them. Suck one every 2-4 hours and see if it doesn’t help.

We had a wonderful Christmas.. Mother and Dad dropped in for about 20 minutes and others wise we just stayed home and enjoyed every minute of it. Really grand and that royal bird the turkey was the best we’ve every had. Santa Claus and everyone was simply wonderful.

Now we are looking forward to New Years. Mother, Dad and James are coming over for a lovely Roasted Goose. I bought it today and it’s a lovely looking goose and should be just right by 4 pm Saturday. Dad’s favorite meat so we just had to have it.

Mary was thrilled by the meals you people get and I hope you are eating plenty or taking all the vitamins required by yours truly. We are looking forward to your trip up here next month. Michael Paul and Fergus are all anxious to see you.
Fergus went to Mass with us Christmas and got up on the seat and in a very solemn voice said (Quite loudly) “twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse was stirring amen”
And so amen till another time. Try the acuthism(?).

Love Ferg
Happy New Year


May 28, 2015 – Jameson and me…… a well deserved treat

As a young lassie I use to drink Vodka and 7-Up with lemon.. But as time went on and wine became the drink of choice for so many I went from the hard stuff to red wine and then to white ones.  But as some of you know during our wonderful months in Ireland I kept seeing these ads and coasters in pubs for Jameson, Ginger and Lime.. I have never drank Whiskey in my life and one evening I decided to order one much to the shock of husband….  Well, it turns out that it is quite a nice drink. Pleasant taste with the ginger ale and the lime gives it a little spark. So tonight to celebrate my day of furniture moving I am treating myself to a drink of Jameson, Ginger and Lime. There must be some lovely Irish song I could have playing as I write and have a sip.

Cleaning and moving was what today was about.  The furniture in this place did not do well over the long time we were away – there was a film of mold on some pieces of furniture which is very distasteful but easily removed but takes some time and energy.  So for the last two days I have been washing furniture and floors.  Today I don’t know what came over me but I decided to move the furniture around.  I was sick and tired of the chaos in here.  By 6 pm I had moved the kitchen island into a different position just to try it out. The living room furniture is all switched around.  The new dresser for hubby is in the bedroom and the computer table is in the living room. And I was given permission to junk some furniture we were storing here for cousins.  So I think this place will be back to its former sparse look. Or not so cluttered.  There are two boxes of books ready to go to the library as donations.  I have read three so far this week myself.  Denis only reads on his kindle and I love a book in my hand and will use the library once I go through the 30 or so books waiting to be read.

The best news is that I am finally relaxed.  It takes some time once I get here to really get rid of the stress.  No TV helps, no newspaper to be read every morning, and no phone calls or meetings.  Even the emails are fewer so far. I have figured out my schedule – wake up early, don’t get up, at 9 am put the Roundtable on the computer from WAMC until 10 and listen to it while I eat breakfast.  Then decide at 10 what I will do for the day.  My kind of true retirement.  It is similar to what I do at home but here I have eliminated all the extra stuff around so it makes life easier.

Once all this setting up is done then I can go to work on the book.  Pat’s letters either as they are or as a story.  Still have not made the final decision about it. The story is fun to write because I find I really have figured her out and can get into her character.  I love what she is like.  She was a woman who knew what she wanted and what the consequences were to wanting it.  When she talks about the war her main focus is making sure she is up where the action and not taking care to make sure she is safe.  That is never a topic.  She loved adventure and in her few short years before her death she certainly was able to accomplish that.

Here is one of her last letters home before returning to Canada

12 July 45, Thursday

Hi dears:

And how are you all? It’s three weeks since I have had mail from home so I trust no news is good news. The weather should be lovely now so I hope you are making the most of it after the dreadful spring you had.

It’s rather nice here in Eng these days but can get very cold. The countryside is gorgeous.

The ward I work on is not very busy and its perfect working with pts who are quite well – at least the majority are. Sheila and I are both going on “nite-duty” Sat. I don’t mind because nite or day is the same to me now and in a way I prefer being on nites. We work 8 to 8 which isn’t bad and one nite off a week.

Was up to London last week for two days. Stayed at the Savoy and it was heavenly. Saw a movie for a change and went to dinner and danced in the main dining room of the hotel. Wonderful change.

It’s perfect having Sheila. My roommate moved out and let her move in so we are quite happy to be together. I am glad I am here because so far she doesn’t like it and being alone in a new place as big as this isn’t much fun. I am more used to it.

Well, I do hope Mother is better and that everything is fine and dandy at home. How is Susan, would like to hear about her, and how all the children are enjoying the summer.
Love Pat
Sheila had a letter from Steve (?) and he said both Mother and Dad looked fine.

Here is a youtube of music from 1945  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gen36EepU9k

April 28, 2015 – X is for Xenophobia

“Xenophobia is the unreasoned fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange.[1][2] Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity.[3] Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an “uncritical exaltation of another culture” in which a culture is ascribed “an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality”.[3] Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action urges all governments to take immediate measures and to develop strong policies to prevent and combat all forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia or related intolerance, where necessary by enactment of appropriate legislation including penal measure” definition complements of Wikipedia.

This is probably a greater quote:  “Getting a job as a greeter with the United Nations is probably not the best career option for someone who suffers from xenophobia, a fear of foreigners or strangers.”  Vocabulary.com

I know you are wondering what does this have to do with family?  You hear it all the time today when people talk about not being prejudiced and being color blind etc.  Over time I have thought a lot about that.  I walk into a room and I notice all kinds of things about the people in the room, if I were the only white person I would see that, if I were the only woman or older person I would also be aware of that.  When I walk down a dark street I want to know who is coming towards me, what they look like, do they look safe? Am I the only white person there? Do I know anyone here? What does that mean?

I don’t believe for a moment that anyone is color blind in society today.  A young Black man walking into a room is going to check out who is there. Are these going to be accepting individuals? Are they going to judge me by my skin color? Do I know anyone here? After all these folks don’t know this young man and he may have reason to be apprehensive.

Growing up our parents were pretty adamant that we were not to judge people by their color, race, language etc. Just because we did not know someone we were not to judge them.   But what had they heard at home growing up that was underneath all those messages.  I really think on my Dad’s side that his father was very socialist and religious and believed in openness to everyone.  My mom grew up in a small city and from the things we have seen and heard over the years I believe there was not quite as much training in not saying things about folks of other colors, races and people of other countries.

My Aunt Mary was a great example of xenophobia.  She had some pretty harsh attitudes about people from the middle east.  Not recent post 911 but going way back to her days of traveling around the world with her government.  She was not nice when she talked about the countries she visited and not too happy when members of the family became involved with non-white anglo saxon types.  She judged everyone from those nations under one category and did not seem open to judging them as individuals.

In Aunt Pat’s letters which I will get back to in May, she refers to black persons she meets in not great terms although that was the 1940’s.  She did not have trouble using those terms in letters. I was a bit shocked to read them but then remember some comments my grandfather made from time to time.  I would like to think it was the lack of exposure to minorities in their small city.  Having friends of various racial and ethnic groups helps one to see people all as people and not as separate groups. I think about that when I hear about the police problems this nation is having and why community policing is such a good thing. The cop on the beat gets to know everyone who lives in an area and they get to know him/her.  Then when there are problems those community police officers know who are the bad apples and who are the good people who are just getting by and need to be treated well and not all put in one grouping.

My Dad’s side was different. He would not tolerate any disparaging comments about minorities or ethnic groups.  In the 1940’s he and my mom lost friends after he got to be buddies with one of the young interns or residents at a Buffalo hospital. They invited the young man and his wife to our house for a party.  The fellow asked if it would be a problem and Dad said not for him. If people could not accept his friendship with this young black doctor then he did not want them for friends.  That was a strong message to give us kids. And they did lose friends over that friendship but my mom said she was proud that Dad stood up for what was right.

And then in the 1960’s my dad really did something that made me very proud to be his daughter. And for those of you who know me you know my relationship with my dad was usually pretty contentious.  The plague of being just like your dad.  We knocked heads on everything and I growing up was pretty mad at him most of the time. He worked in pharmaceutical sales for Burroughs Wellcome Inc. and in the 60’s he was stationed in NY.  NY City area being so diverse he decided the time was right and he hired the first woman, the first hispanic and the first black sales persons in the company.  It was a pretty out there thing for him to do but he did it and stood up to some obstructionists, including wives of salesmen who did not want their  husbands supervising young women.  That was the funny one. One wife insisted on driving around in the back seat while her husband was supervising this young woman.  Dad asked her how would she feel when her husband no longer has a job because of her. She stopped.

So today when I see reps in doctors offices and they come in every variety of human beings I think proudly back on my dad who taught us that xenophobia was not to be accepted in our family.

But then do I still have some fear of the unknown persons?  I have to admit yes.  Am I color blind? No.  Do I think twice when I see a stranger walking down my little isolated street? Yes.  Do I prefer to take vacations in places I know with people I know? Yes.  Am I adventuresome? Not really.  But I think I am in a better place that some and probably not as open as some others.  I have come to the conclusion long ago that we are better off if we live in diverse communities where children are exposed to all kinds of people and not just “their” kind of people.  My grandchildren have friends of all varieties of ethnic and racial backgrounds.  Their neighbors are the same variety. My hope would be that as they grow they do not segregate themselves from people different than themselves.

Go into a school one of these days and look at who sits with whom in the cafeteria. I was always shocked when we did event by how the kids split themselves up.  Makes you wonder why?

March 31, 2015 –

Well, what to do with this tired body now? probably should go for a long walk.  I can just feel sleep coming on and I have not even had lunch yet.  D went and ran 5 miles this morning before I had finished reading the newspaper.  Have to wonder what the problem is here.  My check up is coming in a month and I plan to have a long chat with my doc about this and maybe head for the alternative doctor and spend $800 on a delayed allergy reaction blood test.  Or maybe I need Carters Little Liver Pills. Remember those ads. I don’t think anything can give me more energy but you never know.

I shut down my computer and started it up again and now have to find the thumb drive with Pats letters on them again.  I am transferring everything from two computers onto thumb drives so I have all my files before I shut down those two computers.  Drives me crazy.  It was so much easier when we did everything on paper. We had tons of paper but at least it was saved for the future. I figure all the pictures will just be deleted one day. I haven’t even had the time to order any pictures from our four months in Ireland. Of course when I do order them and they arrive I will probably get all depressed again.  I really miss something about being over there still.  Maybe in the winter I would have felt just like this over there but then again I wonder.   What was so special? What made being there made me happy?  And the big question is Why am I so unhappy being here in my own home? Or is it even that?  So much to contemplate.

I have been going back and forth about this A-Z challenge.  Doing ancesters is a pretty neat idea. I know something about all of them and they say don’t make the blog entries too long.  So I will start with something about a relative every day and then go back to WWII letters. I have all of Aunt Sheila’s letters as well and some fun ones from family members.  That should keep me out of trouble for a bit don’t you think?

Now I have to go and find the thumb drive with Pats letters on them and have some lunch. Will finish this after that.

15 Sept 1944

Dear Mother and Dad,

I received one of my boxes yesterday. The one with the peanut butter and honey in it and I was so thrilled. There has been no mail for five days so it was nice to get a parcel and the food was perfect.   Lib and I made toast at nite and had the peanut butter and believe me it tasted like something out of this world.

I didn’t get this finished.  Yesterday 16 Sept 44’ pm. Lib and I went into R…. and had more fun seeing the town.   I am sending you some sweet cards (painted ones) that you can save for me.   I have walked under the clock tower in one of them.  The city is old and quaint.   No sidewalks and market places and side walk cafes.   We had some iced sherbet with fresh wild strawberries at one.  “Tres bon.”  We are stared at wherever we go.   People stand in groups and just stare at us and a lot are very friendly.

I was coming out of a shop when I heard someone shouting “Patsy” and it was Ross Pinder ( a friend from Aldershot days.)   He is in Belgium now.  I was riding through when he saw me.   So he drove us home and stayed for dinner.

I bought a few perfumes to bring you home.  I am trying to collect a few things. I got some “Worth” “Tahoe” “Lucien Lalong” “Paquin” all those wonderful names you read about in Vogue and Harpers.   Wish I could afford a boat load.

We are hoping for Belgium at our next move which shouldn’t be too long away.   I shall try to get some lace. Nice eh.

Fr Sweeney had to leave – moved on.   His last nite he and I and Lib and Fr O’Leary went to dinner in a small pub.   Had the most marvelous time.   We started with “aperitifs” then had dinner with dry white wine, then canned pears which Fr S had brought along and had the juice mixed with cognac and it tasted just like cheery brandy.   Perfect mixture!   Then rum liqueurs with coffee.   Fr. S is the best host.   I am dying for you all to meet him .   You will as soon as we get back.  He is coming down for a week-end.

Life is perfect these days. Tomorrow I am going for 48 hrs to our “officers rest club” that will be fun.  I am wearing my “blues” for the first time in France.  What a thrill! will write all about it. Love P
ANd here is a site about the Clock Tower.


city clock architecture france Clock tower historic Normandy rouen

January 26 , 2015 – the big fizzle

I know there is a huge blizzard heading towards New England.  They have been hyping this all day long and how up here we would get 8-12 inches. Just saw on the news that they are down grading things around here. We will still get snow up just not at much.  It is always amusing to watch all this on TV.  They just go on and on.  If the storm goes 50 miles east we might get nothing.   Then all those school that are closed will be kicking themselves.  Will be interesting to see.

Today was the first time in months that I attended my writing group It was great.  I like hearing that they have been working on and reading my own writing to get feedback.  Most of them are published which means they have a lot of experience. Hopefully some of that is rubbing off on me.

I was upstairs this morning printing out more of my short stories about Aunt Pat.  I think I realized that I want to change them into the first person. I want Pat to tell her own story and not use the third person telling.  I reread the beginning of what I wrote last year and believe I need to start editing the recent things I have written into the first person.  So at least that step has been taken.

Leaving on thursday so started packing today. Washed clothes and hung them up to dry.. So I should be set to go and see my little girls. We are going skating on Saturday morning. That should be interesting. I have not skated since I worked at CHP. that ended 15 years ago so not sure this will be very pretty.  But will give it a try.  Then we might go to Color me Mine to paint some pottery. So Saturday will be a busy day. Friday I will be on my own so asked the kids to find a project for me to do and I hope to take a long walk around their town to check out more of the shops.  Should be a fun time..

As you can tell I am not in a story telling mood at the moment.   But I am going to paste one of my stories about Pat into this post just so you can see where I am going with it.

October 16 – revision, more description not first person
Patsy and the record second time around
Patsy comes into the living room after supper and sits herself down on the settee and wraps a blanket around herself. It is January 10th and it is 20 degrees below zero outside. The fire helps to take away the chill in the air. The windows shake when the wind blows and no matter what the family does to take away the cold there are always the drafts which chill one to the core.
As she curls up in the blanket quilt her gr grandmother had made she smells the pipe tobacco as her dad lights his pipe. This warm wonderful smell has always made her feel safety and comfort. Her dad was a little man in stature but with a very big heart and as kind a person as you could meet. He also had a feisty side which Pat thinks has made her a little closer to him that her five sisters. Although as a close knit family with many extra folks coming and going all the time everyone is always busy so this quiet time she treasures. Everyone else after supper seems to have disappeared although she can still hear conversation coming from the kitchen. She has been home just one day and it surprised at how good everyone is being to her and respecting her request for no special treatment.
Her dad is watching her from behind his newspaper. His little girl is so ill and he can do nothing to make her better. All his years in medicine and he is helpless to make a difference. This is the child who has always been so full of life and even as life is leaving her she is able to see goodness and opportunities all around her. He wonders what they could have done differently the first time she was so ill a year ago. Did they not do the correct tests on her? What did they miss? Part of him is filled with such anger and rage that this is happening and part of him feels such guilt that he can do nothing to make it go away.
Patsy had asked dear old Maude the house keeper to bring down a box of her war items to go through. The old dear was a cousin who was living alone on the family farm after the deaths of her father and brothers. Dad had invited Maude to take a job as their housekeeper as a way of maintaining her dignity, and giving her some income. The farm was being sold and that would also give her some funds to take vacations to visit members of her family or whatever she wanted. Dad was always so generous in that way. Many relatives had or were living with us who had no place to go. It was his way, learned from his father and grandfathers.
The box was sitting on the floor next to Pat and as she stared at it she wondered if she would be able to do this. The memories were so vivid in her mind of those three years of her life. It had changed her and in some way fulfilled a need in her to go the extra mile. Picking out the enveloped stuffed with airgrams, that old army blue, she thought she would not throw those away. They were a story to be told and her family loved keeping old letters and someday some of her nieces or nephews might want to read them. A world war would be strange to them she hoped. She never really was able to give details in the letters because of the censors but there was enough there to give them the flavor of war.
The sight of the record took her breath away. Patsy had relived that night so many times in her mind. Charles had been the love of her life and the record was just some kind of confirmation that they had really been together and that it wasn’t a fantasy she had dreamt. As she took the record out of the box she felt herself drifting back in time.

January 26, 2015 – Time for a change

The pure and simple truth

is rarely pure and never simple.

                              Oscar Wilde

I woke up very early this morning and realized why I have been writing about loss and death.  It is not that I have unresolved grief over the deaths in my family at all.   The problem seems to be coming home and back into reality has me grieving the loss of the very lovely and simple life I was leading for four months.  That life style made me realize that I could be doing more things that I enjoy and less of things that I feel through guilt that I have to do.

So, first thing this morning laying in bed I decided that today I would start to turn that around and start planning and rearranging my life to be more what I want it to be rather than what others expect it to be. It was Sunday so I went off to Church and the Farmers Market with Denis.  When I got home I ate my lovely gluten free scone from the Gluten Free Bakery in Chatham NY. I also had purchased their delicious lemon pound cake to take to my woman’s writing group tomorrow, some bread and some croutons.  Denis likes them as well.

Then I rode the bike in the bedroom for 50 minutes. While riding I read the book I am into currently called “Ireland – A Novel” by Frank Delaney.  It is about an Irish story teller who shows up at this farm house and stays and tells stories every night. The first one was about New Grange and how it was built and the second about Conor King of Ulster.  Am waiting to see what story comes next.  But the time flew by on the bike while I read.

Then I went upstairs and started to work on planning to upgrade my writing space.  Cleaning out all the papers that are all over the desk, putting the futon back as a couch so I can sit there and read and packing away sheets and blankets. It may take a couple of weeks to get it the way I want it but then I think I can really start to work on the book.. What book?

Several years ago my Aunt Mary died up in Canada.  She was single and had many of the family treasures in her apartment as well as a garage she rented. Most of the stuff in the garage was thrown away but the paperwork my cousins found when they sorted through her belongings held many treasures for anyone doing family history.  One such envelope contained my Aunt Pats letters from the front in WWII.  You are wondering about a woman being on the front. Well, actually she was just behind the front in a Canadian Army Hospital that triaged the patients as they were brought out of the battle zone.  She experienced bombings and air raids and all kinds of scary things and romance, love, friendship and sadness.  My goal is to take her letters and turn them into a novel. Many historical facts and no made up characters but tell the story she tells. I have not decided to tell it from her point of view – as her telling the story or from the third person.   That part is yet to be determined.  I have started writing short stories of various episodes to help me decide which approach to take.  But in the mean time I am going to get the room ready to start in February when I get back from DC doing the serious work of writing.

So there I have said it out loud so you can hold me too it.  Also thanks to Maureen who was sending me a psychic message today and then an email stating exactly what I was thinking about at 6 am. We were both on the same wave length and that helped me to decide I have to do something about this funk I have been in.

PIctures are of the end of the game last night – the woman lost 4-2, then the Farmers Market stage and some of the vendors.

DSCN4475 DSCN4476 DSCN4477