An ode to Pat: Part 1

I remember yesterday and love at first fight
You, so arrogant and cocky
I hated your stupid face
So much that
If I knew that you were coming
I would take some extra care
Hair and makeup; skirts pulled up just so
All because you aggravated me
Not much has changed
Still, though
Can’t imagine a life you don’t inhabit
Even when you sing falsetto

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When Irish Eyes are Smiling

In the lilt of Irish laughter, you can hear the angels sing.
 
It’s been twenty-two years since I’ve heard your laugh.
 

dadThe big one. The booming outrageous laugh. The one that started deep in your chest and ricocheted off the back of your tongue and seemed to ride every available sound wave, filling a space. That one. I miss it. Every now and then I think I hear it. Faint and lingering. Distant. Haunting.
 
It’s been two hundred and sixty-four months since I’ve heard your laugh.
 
Your silent laugh, when you laughed so hard no sound could escape. You would sit there, shaking and turning colors. Strangers thought you were in distress. Remember when they stopped “Shear Madness” because someone in the cast thought you were having a heart attack? We had to explain – because you couldn’t pull your shit together – that you were just thoroughly enjoying the show and to please continue.
 
It’s been one thousand one hundred and forty-eight weeks since I’ve heard your voice.
 

Why don’t you go sit on the couch, next to Mom

bruinsMy mom has changed very little over the years. Sure she is losing the battle with age. Her hair now sits, white, upon her head. She has trouble walking so spends her time outside the house in a wheelchair. She has survived more than a few brushes with the Reaper. She is a testament to medical science.

Mom’s heyday was the 70s. She was raising five girls and running a home. She babysat for everyone and anyone, she fed and housed any stray that Dad dragged home, and she did it without complaint or reward.

She did it because she has the same big heart that Dad had. She just didn’t publicize it.

Mom had a few vices. She drank hot tea by the gallon and she chain smoked — at first Pall Mall Menthols and later Salem 100s. Back in the 70s, when kids were allowed to buy cigarettes, one of us would be dispatched to F&M to get her more if she were running low. Imagine that happening today!

She loves sports and she is the quintessential homer. Her Red Sox. Her Celtics. Her Bruins. Especially her Bruins.

Back in the day, we had one TV. It sat in the bay window in the living room, with rabbit ears and human remote controls. Arrayed around the room was typical furniture – sofa, loveseat, chair, assorted tables. In the evening, the living room would fill up as we spread out to watch TV. Arguments about seating were legendary and alliances were forged and broken to make sure prime seating was kept by those with the foresight to get to the living room early.

On certain nights, the TV watching dynamic shifted – hard. Everyone scrambled to the floor. Fighting and shoving to get as far away from the furniture as possible. You had to be strategic, to close to the TV and you would be up and down – the official channel changer for the evening, but you needed to be far enough away from the couch to be safe.

The Bruins were on and Mom was going to sit and watch them. Terror stuck the sisters! Mom was not a quiet fan she was not a passive fan. Our mother, the calm that ran our lives, became a raging, crazy lunatic whenever the Bruins played.

We always seemed to have company. Always. On this particular night the Powderly’s were visiting, at least Dan and his daughter, Mary Jo. They lived just over the other side of Sheridan Street. Dad and Danny were childhood friends and Mary Jo was a constant presence in our house since she was best friends with Debbie, my oldest sister.

Dad and Dan settled in, each with a beer. Mom sat at the end of the couch, alone. While all of the sisters, plus Mary Jo, squirmed around on the floor. Mary Jo, puzzled, asked why she couldn’t sit on the furniture.

One of the sisters, not sure which, said “Why don’t you go sit on the couch, next to Mom”.

So off she went. It was fine, at first.

Then the game started in earnest. Her focus firmly on the game, Mom would start by talking to the TV – get him, GET him, GET HIM! Son-of-a-bitch GET HIM!

As the game progressed, so did Mom. She quickly moved from talking to yelling to jumping to flailing. At one point the action was so savage and quick, that Mom literally lept from the couch – scaring poor Mary Jo; who looked at our mother as if she had lost her mind.

That’s when it happened. Mom – sweet, lovable Mom –  worked into a frenzy by her big, bad, Bruins clenched her hands, raised them above her head, and – WHAM – punched, yep PUNCHED, a child. In the leg. Hard.

A child, by the way, that did not belong to her! The woman who wouldn’t harm a fly, who never

laid a finger on any of her children – yeah, that woman – became a crazy lunatic. Because of the Bruins. The Big, Bad Bruins. Baby.

Mary Jo recovered from her leg injury without any lasting physical damage. Although she kept her distance from Mom for a while after that incident.

Mom, she still loves her some Bruins (and all the other home teams) and watches as often as she can. She watches them alone. In her room. Perched on the edge of her bed. No longer chain smoking but still guzzling her tea – now iced. Intent on the action. Having the time of her life.

You don’t have to watch the game to follow the action. You only need to listen to the sounds emanating from the bedroom. Her shouts of joy, frustration, irritation, and incredulity tell a story more compelling – to me, a non-sports fan – than any announcer ever could.

All I know is, if there’s a heaven, God better be a Bruins fan! Or he’s in for one hell of an eternity