Archive for the ‘Guest Blogging From Ann’ Category

Ann has begun a her first blog, entitled  Dwellings. I have thought that she should blog for quite some time; she has a voice. It is also therapeutic. She started it on Blogspot a few days ago, which I found ironic- I just migrated my old postings from Typepad to WordPress. I told her that she should migrate to Worpress because I was familiar with it and could help her with tags, etc.

Long story short, not a good move. She’s happy with the Blogger interface, and WordPress won’t let her duplicate her theme, or even a close approximation. So a simple migration becomes a project. We don’t need more projects around here. I’d rather learn Blogger than have her learn WordPress when we have a night of Elf Work ahead of us, and the lightest week of the year to look forward to to catch our breaths. Why is nothing simple?


Read Full Post »

“You’re a jewel,” he said.  Then, before hanging up, “Love ya.” 

It would be our last phone call. 

As always, talking with Paul made me feel better about everything. Especially about myself.


He had that way about him.

I remember his last visit with my husband Phil & me to stay for a month.  One night he had on one of Phil’s goofy woolen winter hats – a ridiculous black & white head-hugger with little pom-poms that hung from the tip of the conical head, and two long ties that covered the ears and went around the chin.  We were cold in the living room and it would do, wrapping Paul’s face like an overly-needy squid.

The old scratchy 45’s were brought out.  We fired up our dormant yet highly faithful turntable, and music by the Turtles, the Mamas & the Papas, Buffalo Springfield, the Carpenters, and the Association streamed out and plucked our nostalgic heartstrings well until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. I’d see Paul grinning out from under that hat.  Just like one of the guys guffawing at the very end of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”.

He and Phil would pause between singing and do some of their vintage impersonations, like Maxwell Smart or any Warner Brothers cartoon.  We’d slip another record out from its dog-eared sleeve and slap that precious vinyl pancake onto the player.  I sat at the piano because Paul wanted to hear me play earlier, and I watched Paul & Phil go on a roll, just free-associating themselves into ever-widening orbits of silliness. I saw them carry on as if each had borrowed the other’s rib, the other’s funny bones.  They were so in sync, so in tune together.  So close.  We laughed like mad.

It’s the kind of simple joy that Paul would appreciate and keep close in his heart.  He cherished all the little things, like simply spending a little time together listening to oldies.

I think that I am probably the family member or friend who has known him for the least amount of time.  Phil & I were married 4 years ago, and since then brother Paul & I must have spent real time together for only less than half a year combined.  But with Paul, it doesn’t really matter whether you’ve known him a matter of days or for a lifetime.  Being around his quiet dignity, whimsical & mercurial sense of humor, caninely-influenced disposition, and an unalloyed sense of positivity about life & faith despite the highest obstacles, has not only made a deep impression on me, but has changed me. 

And yet, I think there’s even more to it than that.

The deep pain of our losing him cannot simply be from grieving.  I believe it is also because of that rarest of gifts that he so freely gave me and everyone else — the gift of believing in us. Paul made us feel like we could accomplish anything.  You always came away feeling better about yourself even if you weren’t feeling bad to begin with.

There’s a Korean saying that goes, “Beware the smaller chili peppers, as they are often the hottest!”  Paul was the Thurman Munson of his beloved Crew brothers at Cornell, leading them to win the Head of the Charles by beating Harvard for the first time in 20 years, something that only a rarefied few know what it feels like to place first (it’s performance at the Olympic level). As coxswain he was also a warrior like Paul O’Neill, never one to contain his feelings, as fired up about winning that I’m sure only the threat of going overboard and unbalancing the shell kept him restrained in his seat.  His championship medallion sits in an unassuming box as he was never one to show it off, despite the outrageous prestige of owning one. 

Dearest Paul, during your funeral mass the chorister in the balcony sang, “I Will Follow You.”  Unlike those long and beautiful words spoken during mass, this simple hymn broke me up into pieces.  Because you believed in me.  And loved me as your own sister.

Dearest Paul, at last you’ve shuffled off this mortal coil, and no longer have to suffer the slings and arrows (and awful needles) of outrageous fortune.  We’ve lost you and are ourselves lost. But the beautiful hymn plays again in my head, “ I will follow you.” 

Paul, our undying light, you will always guide us… And we will follow you.


Read Full Post »