Advent Calendar 2018: Day 11

Advent Calendar – Day 11

SONY WM-F73: FM/AM Stereo Cassette Player (1987)

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Some time ago, circa 1988, I was gifted my first pair of SONY WM (Walkman). This yellow beauty right here in the picture above. I’m pretty sure my Mother picked it up at Boston Sound

which was located on Tremont Street, about ten blocks north of my High School, Don Bosco Tech.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my Mother was quite a savvy shopper. I’d be surprised if she hadn’t got them on sale.

What was particularly interesting about this Christmas Gift, was that it was not something I asked for.

Some of the ladies at my Mother’s work were getting them for their kids, so she went out on a limb and grabbed them for me.

I’m glad she did. I had never had portable music to that point. It was a wonderful gift, which I never knew I wanted, but soon couldn’t be parted from.

When I think of how easy it is to access entertainment content these days by simply downloading it to a device, I wax nostalgic for a chunky device run by non-rechargeable batteries, that you had to insert the magnetic content into directly in order to play music.

There was no cloud, you had to keep a series of “tapes” in your pockets, if you wanted to hear particular albums.

I’m pretty sure I had Genesis, Hall &Oates, Def Leppard, and Phil Collins on rotation.

This was but a sampling of the soundtrack of my life. I plugged in, and walked back and forth from my home on Medford Street, to my corner “gang” on a Pearl Street.

I don’t think I ever told my Mother how much I appreciated that freedom and sensibility.

It was a turbulent time of learning to leave childhood, and forge ahead into youngmandom.

Ya done good, Ma. Ya done good.

Whenever I wear headphones these days, I often think of my first pair of WM. A truly great Christmas Gift, which I never knew I wanted, but I truly loved.I think of that, and of my Mother shuffling back and forth from the admissions office to the Emergency Ward at MGH. While wearing her own headphones and jamming to Lionel Richie’s “Can’t Slow Down”. She’d travel her own turbulent times over those years, but that is for another blog’s consideration.

A happy Christmas memory resides in a song every time I hear it…

“Everybody sing, everybody dance
Lose yourself in wild romance, we going to
Parti’, karamu’, fiesta, forever
Come on and sing along
We’re going to parti’, karamu’, fiesta, forever
Come on and sing along

All night long (all night), all night (all night)
All night long (all night), all night (all night)
All night long (all night), all night (all night)
All night long (all night), ooh yeah (all night)”
If you enjoyed today’s post, please take a look back at Advent Calendar Day 10

Advent Calendar 2018: Day 10

Advent Calendar – Day 10

Tradition…Tradition!

What were you expecting from Advent Calendar Day 10? If you said Christmas Pajamas, well you hit the stripe on the candy cane. Christmas Eve Pajamas is another one of the things on the list of my Mother’s enduring Christmas legacies.

Every year, we were allowed to open one gift and one gift only on Christmas Eve: Christmas Eve PJs.

As you can see above, my sister was scheduled to stay with the Ingalls Family in Minnesota for Christmas. While I was scheduled to go to Starfleet Academy after the Epiphany. Get a load of me with those fuzzy blue and red slippers. I was at the ready to kick the face of any burglars that broke into our apartment and was able to get through my extensive network of jump rope, fishing line, and slinky booby traps (Goonies, and Indiana Jones were revelations for me, I wanted to skillfully evade and set booby traps as my career).

In a somewhat related anecdote, my Sister and I schemed to lay a booby trap for our unsuspecting Father. One time, many years ago, we stretched a land-line telephone cord until it was taut,  across his bedroom door. We then hid in his closet but made a shitload of noise in order to draw him upstairs. After some trying, and several faux cries, he came up over the staircase like a madman, and tripped over our booby trap and fell onto the bed. We laughed like hyenas.  Luckily, we were bastids, but not terrible bastids. After he composed himself, he punished us accordingly. I can’t help but think that despite his anger, that he held some pride for our mischief. You see, Dad was a mischief-maker from way back. I know how hard it is to not laugh at my children’s audacity, as I continually find myself wanting to laugh at the things they do, when the situation requires a more adult response.

If you liked what was behind today’s door…perhaps you’d be interested in what’s behind Day 9’s door. Take a peek here 🙂

“You Learn Something New Every Day”

 “You Learn Something New Every Day”

On July 26, 2014, I learned something new.

I learned that there is a monster called Intracerebral Hemorrhagic Stroke.

It is possible I had hear of it in passing, but until that day, it lurked elsewhere.

It wasn’t when I went to my father’s apartment because he didn’t show up to the planned picnic.

It wasn’t when I was knocking loudly on his door, or after I heard what I thought was loud snoring.

Or once the door was open and the firefighters and I discovered my father on the floor fighting to breath.

It wasn’t on the ambulance ride to Mass General Hospital, or in the waiting area of the emergency room.

It wasn’t among the myriad texts and conversations with others trying to find out information from me while my phone battery was slowly dying.

But, later on in an exhausted moment, that I learned of the horror of Intracerebral Hemorrhagic Stroke from a young physician who drew the short straw and was tasked with explaining to my Sister and I, that our Father‘s life had been irrevocably changed.

However, that wasn’t the only thing I learned.

I learned that despite the irrevocable change to my Father, that there resided small graces and victories within the experience as it unfolded.

I learned of the extraordinary compassion and care that can be delivered by nurses, doctors, and staff.

I learned of the lengths and actions to which family and friends would go to support us, and my Father.

I learned that it is imperative to create a healthcare proxy and designate people to make decisions about your health if you ever end up in position where you are unable to do so for yourself.

I learned that when you suffer and Intracerebral Hemorrhagic Stroke that if you can survive past 30 days, then the chances of a long hard road to recovery could improve.

On August 23, 2014 I learned something new.

I learned that 29 days can seem like a lifetime, and that nothing is promised.

I learned how fast I could get to a hospital from my home. 15 minutes 20 seconds. 

I learned after years of working at a hospital, what it was like to be brought to a family grief room before you could be brought into the room of a dying parent.

I learned that death doesn’t happen like it does in the movies, or in books, that it is actually quite anticlimactic and that sometimes it is unclear when the actual moment of death occurs.

I learned that when an attending physician asks you as a healthcare proxy, what you want to have done for your Father, that all else falls away and you are locked in the eye contact of a moment, and you need to decide hard for the life. 

I learned that I could do what needed to be done for my Father, as he had done for us all his life.

I learned that when the dust settled, and the doctors and nurses cleared the bay to give us our last moments with our Father, that it wasn’t the words I love you, or that it’s okay Dad, but just two words forever: Thank you! Thank you!

I learned that in the staged moment of death, that whatever I brought to the table in the way of preconceived notions, it all succumbed to a need to express my sincerest gratitude to my father for so many things, and a simple thank you was all that was needed.

On June 25 2016 I learned something new.

At my son’s pre-school graduation, I learned that Atticus wanted to be a ninja when he grows up.

On December 7, 2018 I learned something new.

When I was cleaning out Atticus’s first grade folder of the weeks completed work, I found a butterfly craft that had a number of paper folds with a question on one side and the answer on the other. As I went around the butterfly wings I saw a familiar question. What do you want to be when you grow up? And I was certain that it was going to say ninja, but when I turned the flap over, it simply read: A Daddy. I feel nothing but the sincerest gratitude that I learned that today.