Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Big Eight-Oh

Bill's Mum turned 80 yesterday.

Happy Birthday Mumsie!

Getting to the Big 8-0 was not without drama, however. On August 3, eleven days after my dad died, Mumsie felt a terrible searing pain, called 911, and went by ambulance to the local hospital who correctly diagnosed a dissected ascending aorta -- a tear, basically, in the part of her aorta closest to her heart. L&M Hospital called Lifestar and Mumsie got air-lifted by helicopter to Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Mumsie is very dramatic.

Billy, Kelly and I drove down, and Mumsie was in surgery. Six hours later she was out, but "not out of the woods" yet, which are not exactly the comforting words we were looking for. The surgeon was great, though, and the staff was fantastic, and for the next 2 weeks and 2 days -- 12 of which Mumsie spent in Cardio Thoracic Intensive Care -- one or two or three of us made the trip down to Yale every day, and watched Mumsie slowly recover.

Last Thursday -- August 19 -- Mumsie got sprung and checked into a rehab place right here in New London -- where she was also the last 2 weeks in July, rehabbing her brand knew right knee.

Very dramatic, our Mumsie.

But make it to 80 Mumsie did, and we celebrated in high style yesterday, with cake and candles and champagne and presents that Mumsie specifically asked us not to bring.

We're a defiant group.

We unloaded coolers and baked ziti and salads and dishes and silverware and glasses at Beechwood -- Kelly and Sue had decorated earlier.

Charlotte -- Mumsie's great-great-niece, over with her family from England -- was a fabulous helper.

Mumsie felt the best she had, she said, since July 15, the day before her knee replacement surgery.

Aw, Mumsie-pie.

Having the Brits here -- Chloe and Dave . . .

. . . and Sue over there on the left and good ol' Charlotte -- made it especially special for Mumsie. 'Course, she doesn't know what they've done to her house yet . . .

And Kelly, over there on the right? Worked her fingers to the bone for this bash.

Mumsie's peeps were out in full force - - Kris and Kim and Mark and Debbie.

We had lots of laughs . . .

. . . and some silly photography . . .

. . . but mostly we were all just delighted to have the Old Bag (hey, I got that from my Dad, who called his mother-in-law, my Grammy, an Old Bag; it's not my fault) with us. Bill made a heartfelt speech during the champagne toast saying just that.

Plus, I told Mumsie if 2 of our parents had died within 11 days of eachother, I would have killed her.

Happy 80th Birthday Mumsie! We love you.

Now finish getting better.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Wrapping up good old Cee Tee

I don't know how many more stories I'll tell about our time in Connecticut this summer. There was just so much fodder; I've never seen such heartbreak and hilarity, I've never suffered such conflict or pain or appreciation, I've never had such a powerful or relentless current of emotion.

I have all these photos on my camera, photos that beg to be captioned and shared, with stories that seem both minuscule and mellifluous.

So I'm just going to purge the ol' memory stick on you this Monday morning, okay?

We were in CT for three weeks. We had about 45 hours of innocence there, if you mark my terrified call to 9-1-1 on Thursday afternoon as the end of that phenomenon.

Yet the rest of the time was filled with activity, because we're human people who crave normalcy and nourish ourselves with the comforts of friends, beauty, music, and laughter.

Our activities included alot of this:

Sometimes interrupted by a little of this:

adult swim

The kids were such a blessing. They not only rose to the challenges that the circumstances demanded, they soared above my expectations for how they'd manage. They helped me. I think they helped all of us. They brought levity and light when things tended toward darkness.

And they were full of great ideas, like building a human pyramid:

One day, mom and the kids brought me to a highway rest stop, where we waited for a Peter Pan bus charted by New London's own Dutch Tavern to whisk me off to Citi Field.

That outing was a little bit like the opposite of mourning:

Except for when that pesky window popped off the bus on the way home:

We made it out okay, a very svelte Peter Pan Two eventually came along to save the day:

A couple of days later, my boy drove a yacht:

And my girl ate an ice cream roughly the size of her head:

Toward the end of our stay, the kids and I headed up to New London for a visit. Naturally, we headed straight to OB East, where after a gorgeously lovely afternoon at the beach, the kids dragged their Uncle Schlekah over to ride this cunningly named amusement:

Here's my boy going down head first, soon to be scolded about the dangers of that type of maneuver by the guard types:

And here's Mistah Schlekah, about to plow right over my poor unsuspecting girl:

Still, they all made it out okay:

We had busy days, we had some restful nights:

I guess we made it out okay.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Weekend 3-way: featured photos

I’ve been feeling a wee bit whiny uninspired about the weekend 3-ways of late. It’s not that the topics have ceased to inspire, quite the contrary. It’s just been difficult to find the time that these musings deserve, and I’ve felt like I’m phoning it in. I said as much to my lovely co-bloggers this week, and asked if they would try a little experiment with me. Since it was my turn to set up the 3-way, they didn’t really have any choice but to agree.

The instructions were to upload a photo sometime during the week. A photo of anything at all. My task would be to do something or write something to tie the photos together or maybe to talk about the miserable failure of the idea.

I was in the midst of another hilarious facebook chat session with Ellie last night when I clicked over to check on the project, and I saw that a photo had been posted. I immediately asked Ellie if it was hers or Beth’s, and announced that I now knew that I had the perfect shot to add. Ellie’s response was something along the lines of “wait, what? Was I supposed to do something?” leading me to surmise that Beth’s photo had been the first. By the next morning, Ellie had added one. Can you imagine my delight when you see how this came together? I cheated a little. Sorry.
Behold, the weekend 3-way photo project:

Obviously, the first photo posted served as inspiration for the others, as soon as I saw Beth’s I thought of those moon hole pictures that my boy and I were trying to create at the Charger game. But Ellie hadn’t seen or heard of the images I was inspired to add, and then she went and uploaded a moon photo! It’s just so awesomely grand. Weirdly awesome, one might say.

So, what do you think?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The clubhouse

My mom asked my husband if he would check out the space above the garage while we were visiting her last week. She's owned this home for a few years now, but had never ventured up there, and thought it was a job best left to the strong and the brave.

What was up there? Old dusty boxes? cobwebs and wasp's nests? Illegal firearms? Dead bodies?

He ventured up.

It turns out there were plenty of spiders and cobwebs, and a wasp's nest, but not much else.

After a can of wasp spray fixed the wasp dilemma, Tommy had a great idea: this space was perfect for the girls.

Brooms and dustpans were secured and the space was half-ass-ly thoroughly swept.

The issue of the large window through which child or adult alike could easily fall was remedied by another trip to the hardware store.

Although it might not pass the FAA's safety standards, it was a hell of a lot better than nothing.

So now that it was semi safe, the girls needed to decorate. They got their chalk and proceeded to color the rafters, which was great and all, but the space was still, so, well, empty. My husband had another great idea and suggested that they raid my uncle's house for old rugs, and chairs, and other brick a brack.

They returned with all sorts of loot:

four or five small area rugs, a table hand crafted by my other uncle, folding chairs,

A clock to complement the lovely wall decor,

and even a radio!

As the week went on, they continued to add to their new abode. When they received beautiful peacock feathers from farmer Stan, they went right into the clubhouse.

And when they talked my mom's dear friend Fiona into hanging out with them in their clubhouse one night, someone had the bright idea of immortalizing the visit.

First clubhouse visit it reads. The girls are already looking forward to her second and third and later visits.
But probably the very best thing about the girl's new clubhouse is the rope and pulley system. Yes, there is no need to lug lunch up those narrow, steep stairs. Just put it in the bucket,

and they'll pull it on up.

Every kid needs a clubhouse, right?


I have a beautiful family.

Oh, sure, they've got hearts of gold, they're generous, they're thoughtful and empathetic and can sing and are funny. And fun.

But really? Most importantly? They are beautiful . . .

Beautiful in the good old fashioned sense of the word -- they are delightful to look at. Easy on the eyes. Lovely. Stunning. Blah Blah Blah.

Just stinking beautiful.

Look at this crew, for one small example. Jacquie and her family. The afternoon of Dad's wake. Beautiful? Oh, I think so.

(Thankfully Jacquie's girl has her Aunt Ellie to help with all things beauty, hair-wise . . . )

Dad's funeral was absolutely perfectly sadly and excruciatingly awesome. We had just a weekend to plan the celebration of our hero, our man, our Dad, and as Julie Coyne's mom told her, "The Corey Girls nailed it." And after that wonderful ceremony? We had a luncheon.

And as I've mentioned, we're Coreys; we eat.

It was a beautiful day, in a beautiful setting, and the luncheon was lovely.

It was beautiful.

The very best part, though, was even after that. Most everybody had left, but a core crew -- my mom and my sisters and our men and a few key hangers-on special peeps retired to the front patio . . .

. . . where the sun was shining, the booze was flowing, and we had a chance to laugh and smile and decompose decompress.

I kept looking over at this absolute bevy of gorgeous women with black dresses and great legs . . .

. . . and couldn't stop taking photos of them.

Beautiful? Oh, they're beautiful.

My two oldest nieces -- Quito Girl on the left, and Mistah's and my goddaughter on the right -- read the Prayers of the Faithful at the funeral, and they, well, they nailed it. They had to say things like "For Grammy" and "For Jidoo" and "For the Corey Girls" . . .

. . . and they held it together and read those words strong and true, and didn't lose it. Plus, they looked gorgeous up there. Natch.

Just look at my mom surrounded by her favorite niece-slash-goddaughter Patti, her kid sister Kitty, and her daughters Jane and Ann . . .

. . . and by the little ones.

If you're my mom, and you're as heartbroken as she is, wouldn't you want to be surrounded by such gorgeous women?

Of course you would. We made it our business to surround Mom that day. And ever since.

Oh, and we did have a few yuks that day. And I'm proud to say that, clearly, it was Mom who had us cracking up:

Aw, Mom.

They say beauty is skin deep. They do. And that very well may be true. But I got news for you. That's not all it is.

Beauty is also right there in the open. And it has surrounded me, everywhere I look, these last few weeks. And it helps. It helps to be surrounded by beauty. It's like surrounding yourself with beautiful art, or beautiful writing, or beautiful music.

I'm surrounded by beautiful people.