Simple Ideas

Her place in the World

Blogging | December 12, 2012

Her place in the World

My Mother, Marie started us all at St. Mary’s, and today we gather at St. Joe’s, Joe being the name of her Father. Her place was was between myself and my Grandparents and so I’d like to talk about what passed through her in this life from the prior generation.

One of my early memories of my Grandfather was an hour long phone call when I was 8. That was a long call for both of us, what with one of us being very rational and stern and the other being whiny and emotional. The purpose of that call was to get me to try out for a football team. As the call wore on, the whiny emotional half of the call refused to give in and finally started crying. I couldn’t take hearing my grandfather cry, so I caved in and let my Aunt Jean take me out the football try outs.

That refusal to give in was there with my Mom also over the past few years as she was in and out of the hospital with one close call after another. She kept fighting. As my daughter Amanda noted “Grandma really is one tough old bird, isn’t she?” She was tough internally, but she wasn’t tough on others.

If she had nothing good to say about a person, she said nothing. But more often than not she did have something good to say. As such she was the hub that kept us updated on what was going on with far flung family members. I don’t know who will take her place there.

Since I mentioned her father, it is only fair that I mention her mother. Her mother may have been the only family member who spoke less than me. My most enduring memory of my grandmother was her Oyster Pie. After she passed. I spent years trying to find anyone on earth who could make an Oyster Pie like Grandma McClain’s. I eventually learned that when people leave there should be something that goes with them, something unique they brought to the world.

With my Mom and I, it was Salmon Cakes. Back when she was ambulatory, she would pop up every time I visited and start making Salmon Cakes. When she knew you liked something, well, you were going to get it. And then some. She was always generous, no matter how little she had.

She often took me out to the old Tremont for a seafood dinner. Looking back, it was Sports and Seafood that that passed through the McClain side of the family to me. Uncle Phil taking me out for Turtle Soup. Him and Uncle Mike teaching me how to catch footballs in the back yard at Leeds Road. These were the things that passed to my through my Mom’s family to me.

Near the end my Brother George and I saw her at the hospital in October, they brought her lunch. It was not Oyster Pie nor Salmon Cakes nor Turtle Soup, but it was Seafood, a Tuna sandwich on wheat. She dug into that with her usual appetite, but was quickly full. The two weeks on the ventilator was hard to bounce back from. She said she wasn’t intentionally not eating, she was just full.

But the weekend before she passed, I heard she was refusing food. That was when I knew that the end was near. I heard the crying on that phone call again, I felt the giving in.

So I’m just about done talking here, partly I’m saying my goodbye to my Mom. But I’m also trying to say goodbye from my Mom to her family. I think what she understood was how to enjoy life and pass that joy to others. I think part of the way she did that sharing her enjoyment of a good meal.

Life is indeed short, the pleasures and pains temporary. The pleasures should be savored when they pass your way. So I’ll end this with a phrase uttered by the songwriter Warren Zevon as he was near the end of his fight.

Enjoy every Sandwich.


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