Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Two Years Later

Two of Grandma Kirk's three leprechauns, above.

My Grandma Kirk passed away two years ago, this Wednesday. In that time period, she has assumed a celestial watch over three great-grandchildren, not just the 4-week old peanut she met shortly before her passing.

Since she's been gone, there is a lot about my grandmother that makes me reflect.

On the deeper side, I have just one major regret. The last time I saw Grandma, she was in her hospital room smiling and laughing with other family members. Even with her health ailing, I couldn't believe that she might not pull through. She always came out on top before. It dawned on me for a second that I might not see her again. But either due to denial or naivete or haste, I neglected to tell her exactly how much I loved and cared for her before I left. Even though I know she knew then and cosmically knows now, my failure to seize the moment still haunts my insides a bit today.

On the lighter side, I can still hear in my head the exact way she said my name. Even though I asked my relatives to stop using my nickname when I was too "old" for it at about 12, I never minded when she continued to call me "Denny." She just pronounced it in her way. Perhaps the thought of hearing her pronouncement of my name induces some type of a Pavlovian response that anticipates imminent spoiling, or grandmotherly love and affection.

There is so much more about which I could write, but I'd rather just post what I wrote back then because it still rings true and reading it makes me feel a bit better. Love you Grandma!

"Ireland's Gift to my Family" - March, 2009

My Grandma Kirk used to call me "pet" when I was a little boy. The memory warms my heart. If something made me cry like my brother breathing on my side of the back seat, she might say, "What is it pet?" in a sweet voice that still hinted of her Dublin roots. Obviously, I wasn't the only pet of her seven grandchildren, but I relish that I was first.

Grandma's wit often escaped me as a child such as when she'd say "You're in the will!" after I did something to amuse her. I always thought it was some kind of Irish saying that meant "Good job!"

Even as a 20 year-old, Grandma's humor flew over my head. We were on a vacation together (known as "Kirkfests") when I was off socializing with some ladies. At some point later, I rejoined our family and Grandma asked innocently "Chasing the birds, Denny?" My literal interpretation of her comment must have been apparent in my facial expression because she politely explained that she wasn't talking about the birds that fly.

Grandma and Grandpa never miss a birthday, a Christmas, or any other important event without at least a card and a gift. Never. Ask Grandma if she's ever attended any of her grandchildren's graduations and she could probably lead the band in "Pomp and Circumstance."

Recently, my aunt relayed a story to me that she and Grandma were at the beauty salon when a conversation arose about whether she had any great grandchildren. If I remember correctly, her lighthearted response was something like "Why do you think I've been holding on?"

A few hours after Greta Jane was born, I called Grandma to tell her that her new title was official: she was a great grandmother. She gleefully exclaimed that our little Gigi would have to call her "G.G." It was a special and private moment for me.

Pauline Cullen Kirk passed away peacefully yesterday in the warm company and thoughts of her loved ones. My grandmother's warmth, wit, thoughtfulness, and generosity are only a few of the indelible impressions she left on me just by being herself. I will miss her dearly. But rather than dwell on the sadness accompanying her departure, I choose instead to focus on the happiness of her presence.

Two weeks ago, we shared our last special moment when I introduced Grandma to her great granddaughter. On any given day, the situation may not have been particularly significant from the perspective of a passerby: an elderly woman holding a newborn child. But in those precious few minutes, I didn't care about anything else in the world. And for that, I am so grateful to G.G. that she waited to see us before she moved on. We love you Grandma. Rest in peace.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Two Reasons to Shop On-Line

Before I get to the typical stuff, I have a brief public service announcement. Two married friends of mine from way back in the day, live in New Hampshire where they are raising two great kids. Their oldest is a beautiful, sweet, smart little lady named Taylor.

Not long ago, she was diagnosed with a lesser known autoimmune disorder known as PANDAS. To raise awareness and help educate those who are unfamiliar with the condition, her dad asked me and his other buddies to forward information about PANDAS. And here we are.

Take a look at http://www.pandasresourcenetwork.org/about-pandas.html. The site is worth a glance by parents and non-parents alike. I never heard about PANDAS until her diagnosis.

And for those wondering about Taylor, she is fighting the fight and making her parents proud every day. Send some good vibes their way - we are proud of you, too, Taylor!

Walking into the supermarket the other day, I spied three or four attractive twenty-year olds sitting at a small table outside the entrance. They were Stonehill students raising money for some kind of charity trip to Central America. They smiled as I approached. A rusty, creaky part of me formerly known as "game" suddenly cranked into gear from a chamber buried deep within my bodily archives, probably next to the boiler room. I smiled and smoothly exclaimed how I love their radio station. Was that a wink I just saw from the cute blond, my kryptonite? Did the pretty brunette just blow me a kiss? Suddenly, my inner Barry White was dusting off like Chester Copperpot's cobwebbed boat sailing out to sea. I smoothly pulled three or four mangled singles out of my pocket (it was a miracle I even had cash) and dropped them casually into the coffee can. You know, like I was wealthy and the money was worthless to me. Just as I was preparing to say "Sorry ladies, I'm married. I couldn't possibly accept your invitation for a pillow fight in our undies back at your sex dungeon," the blondie said "Thank you, sir." The impact of that last word landed like an overwhelming thud. All machinery ground to an immediate, noisy stop and I walked defeated through the automatic doors to pick up milk for the house...

This morning, THE WIFE was expecting some of her GFs for a play date at the Gawaine money pit otherwise know as our house. Like a good team player, I volunteered to help with the frantic effort of making our abode look decent before anyone arrived. She was appreciative and mentioned that she actually needed to go to Target. I told her I'd handle it.

Now, let me interrupt by saying that I think I'm a humble man or at least I intend to be. So I say the following only for purposes of explaining my perspective.

I've managed to survive law school. I've passed a couple bar exams. I've tried a couple cases. I've even taught some college courses in my life. To some, that would be sufficient proof that I'm capable of at least putting my pants on correctly in the morning. But judging by the way THE WIFE explained to me what she needed from the store, you would have thought I was Australopithecus or wrote "tiger blood" on our grocery list. Or maybe I'm just over-sensitve. Anyway, here's a brief re-cap:

Her: (with total shock and/or disdain) "Why are you offering to go to Tar-jhay?"
Me: "Um, because it's two minutes away, you only need baby wipes and milk, and I will get it done much faster than you."
Her: (shrugging with almost zero confidence) "Okay."
Me: (quietly wondering if I was missing something)
Her: (suddenly worried about my anticipated product selection) "Well, make sure you get 2 percent organic. We're done with whole milk now..."
Me: (eyes rolling)
Her: "And double check the date before you buy it. Remember that time when you..."
Me: (annoyed and biting my tongue because I've got a morning free pass coming in one hour)
Her: "Hmmmm, did we need anything else? Make sure you bring your phone in case there's something I forgot."
Me: "Okay."
Her: "So when you walk in, the wipes will be on your right in aisle-"
Me: (scoffing) "Um, Shell, I think I can figure it out, okay? I'm on it."

I arrived there about ten times as fast as it would have taken Old Lady T to drive at ten and two with an inevitable stop at Dunkies. Grocery aisle was well marked with the gigantic "Grocery" sign that was visible from 5,000 feet away.

Selecting the milk wasn't an issue. But then there were like 80 varieties of products to wipe a kid's ass and I started to sweat a bit. Do I get the sensitive Huggies or the extra thick Pampers? Do I get a 3-pack, an 8-pack, or a 47-pack? Damn, I needed clarification! No way I was calling home though. How could there by so many options? Defeat was not an option.

Even with 2 customers at 8 in the morning, of course red shirted, khaki pantsed peeps were nowhere in sight. I went with the 8-pack. Pampers. Conventional. No bells and whistles.

So it's been about twelve hours since I got home. So far, so good. I stashed the wipes in our downstairs bathroom next to the changing station. Anytime I had to change the kids, I did it upstairs so as not to bring any attention to my selection. Hopefully, I can keep it going tomorrow. Duh - winning!