Photo Credit: John E. Clark, Sr.

The Gift of Siblings

This summer I read an article in the online version of Elle Magazine, which read in part:

Sometimes, I can see us living in a smaller, older home somewhere, selling this one, and adjusting to accommodate life with a third child in a home that is definitely anything but a dream, but then I overhear our boys having a blast playing in our big, beautiful, safe backyard, or listen to their laughter billowing out of the colorful playroom space we have created and designed just for them, and I know this was always meant to be our forever home. This is the American dream and we are in it, living it, every day, just the four of us.

With that said, the sacrifice has been made. Because we live in this dream home, we can only afford to have two children. It’s our quiet sacrifice but it’s also our beautiful life, well-earned and fully-lived.

I don’t even know where to start with this.  I mean, I understand that not everyone feels like they can handle a big family.  And believe me, I know that there are financial concerns involved in the raising of children.  But when I think of the families I knew growing up, with nine and ten kids in average-sized houses, two and three kids sharing a room, I wonder which of their siblings they might have liked to give up for the privilege of living in some dream house.

When William was born, we were living in a three-bedroom, 1400 square foot home.  We had to pick up his cradle and move it in order to open our dresser drawers.  We didn’t even have a minivan; we had to wedge poor Jake in the middle of the front seat of my Mercury Sable when the whole family went anywhere. We were a one-car family for long stretches of time.  We moved into what seemed like a dream home to me, but was actually a 120-year old money pit.  Everyone had a bedroom, until Lorelei came along.  She slept in our room, we kept her clothes in William’s room, and her toys were in the den, but she didn’t care.

Little kids DO NOT CARE about dream houses.  They don’t need their own rooms and they don’t need a colorful playroom space.  Those things are nice, but my kids liked playing in the woods behind our house and making mud-holes with the hose and swimming in their plastic pool with their siblings.

Something is wrong with a society that equates the American Dream with having All The Things, especially when it means putting those things before people.  When parents have another child, they aren’t taking something away from their existing kids, they are GIVING them something, something much better and longer-lasting than any material possession.

Someday those boys in the article will grow up, and they won’t play in that backyard or laugh in that playroom any longer.  What they will always have is each other, and what they WON’T have is another sister or brother.

Photo Credit: John E. Clark, Sr.

NaBloPoMo November 2015

After Three It Just Gets Louder

And the Survey Says- After Three It Just Gets Louder

When it comes to kids, three is the magic number… for stress.

Mothers of three children stress more than moms of one or two, while mothers of four or more children actually report lower stress levels

At least that’s what a survey from Today.Com claims, about which more right here.

More recently, you might have read this:

Parents of large families were found to have the most life satisfaction, according to a study by Australia’s Edith Cowan University.

Read all about it right here.

These articles provide welcome validation to those of us with larger families, who are more used to hearing things like this:

Boy, you have your hands full!

Don’t you know what causes that yet?

Better you than me!

 I don’t know how you do it!

Are they all yours?

Do they all have the same father? (yes, someone did actually ask me that once!)

I don’t happen to think that five kids is that many because I grew up knowing many families of nine or ten.  But it’s more than twice that 2.3 kid average, so it’s not the norm for most people.

Do I agree with the studies? Yes, for my own reasons.

For me, the most difficult parenting transition was from one to two kids.  Once you find out that yes, you CAN love two kids, and you CAN split your attention between them, adding the third is not that hard (although waiting more than 12 months to do that might be good, not that I would know).

Going from two to three, the main change is that you are outnumbered.  Once you are outnumbered, it doesn’t really matter how outnumbered you are!  After three, it just gets louder.  Really.

Three little kids was hard, though.  Most of that first year is a blur.  But since most of us don’t have kids in a litter, by the time you have four kids the oldest one can help you, probably quite a lot.  I was on bedrest when William was born.  Emily was ten, and made her own and her little brothers’ lunches every morning before school.  By the time Lorelei was born, we had an in-home babysitter whenever we needed to get away.

Having lots of kids frees you from having to do All The Things, because it’s impossible to do all the things.  Taking care of four or more kids makes you supermom without having to volunteer for everything at school, keep a perfect house, and do Pinterest-worthy crafts in your spare time (spare time–LOL).

Illusions of control are shattered as well.  If you have just one kid, and he’s a brat, you think you are a terrible parent.  Likewise, if your kid is perfect, you think you deserve the credit.  Trust me, with four or more you are going to learn that kids are the way they are and it has a lot less to do with how you parent than you thought it did.  This is immensely freeing.

As for life satisfaction, it’s not like I don’t crave personal fulfillment and viral blog posts, but it’s hard for me to imagine anything that could provide more satisfaction in the long term than helping to create ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS who are all different and interesting and separate from you and who will be around remembering you (fondly, you hope) after you are gone.

 

He's Baaaaack

There is another laundry basket in the hallway.
I have to check the waistbands of all the jeans and boxer shorts for sizes before I put them away.
Another car is jockeying for position in front of the house.
I am cooking more meat than usual.
We needed a second pew on Sunday.
The t.v. has been on during the day.
My grocery list last night included peanut butter, protein powder, Gatorade powder, and three dozen eggs.
Teddy’s home for the summer. 🙂

THEO
Picture taken by a school friend of Teddy’s

Family Resemblances

Almost twenty-three years ago, Emily arrived looking pretty much exactly like John.  He brought his own newborn picture to the hospital and several people assumed it was hers.  Great, I thought, I did all the work and he gets all the credit.  And his black hair and brown eyes would surely prove dominant every time.  I thought I’d never have a child who would look like me.

If you have enough kids, though, you can count on some variety.  Jake does look, if not like me, like my family.  “I know this baby!” my mother exclaimed when she saw him for the first time.  Teddy has blue eyes and fairer skin, but still at this point most people think he closely resembles John.  William was blonde as a small child and his eyes are green, and I’ve found that coloring confuses people when it comes to noticing resemblances, but hold up a picture of him to one of his daddy at the same age, and the similarities are clear.

Then came Lorelei.  Looking at her in the hospital, I said, “I think she looks like Mima.”  It took years before other people started to agree with me.  She has Mima’s nose is a childlike form.   But when people see her with Emily, they often assume they are mother and daughter (to Emily’s chagrin).  Childhood pictures of the two of them are very close.  And if Lorelei looks like Emily, and Emily looks like John, then Lorelei can’t look like me, can she? (And I don’t have Mima’s nose!)

Well, look at these pictures and tell me what you think.

Scan

Lorelei First Pic

An Embarrassment of Riches?

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Most of the time five kids doesn’t seem like a lot to me, it just seems normal.  I can blithely respond to that ubiquitous comment, “I don’t know how you do it!” with “Oh, after three it’s not any harder, just louder,” and mostly mean it.
But there are times when I just want to turn to John and say, “We have too many kids.”  Not that we’d send any of them back . . . (well, only sometimes!).  I don’t know if it will make me feel better or worse to reel off the reasons I am feeling that way right now, but at least I will get some sympathy–right?
1)  John is currently en route to pick up Emily for her Spring Break.  She will be home all this week, and so will William.  However, Lorelei’s break is next week, when William will be back in school.  So no vacation OR staycation for me.
2) Easter is one week away.  That means five baskets full of candy, and bunnies, and maybe some new clothes, and sweet rolls, and lots of church this week, and Easter dinner, and lots and lots of money (and did I mention my car is in the shop and will cost over $1000 to ransom?).
3) On Easter Monday, the ONE DAY when all the kids have off, guess who gets to drive Emily halfway back to Mobile?  I bet you’ll guess it in one.
4) That same week Teddy is going on his first road trip to Florida with his friends.  (Good news–he saved money for this so that at least is taken care of!) During the week he is gone I expect all his college letters to arrive, so it could be a good week, a bad week, or a mixture.
5) TAXES.
6) April 21 is Lorelei’s First Communion. (I’ve got the dress, thank God, but not the veil and the gloves she insists on.  Or a present for her.  And I’ve got to plan some celebration afterwards and make sure people are invited.)
7) April 26 is Prom Night.  Jake and Teddy are both supposedly attending proms (in two different locations).  Tuxedos have to be ordered.  Rides have to be arranged.  And MORE MONEY.
8) April 27 is my birthday.  Somehow I doubt I will get to spend the weekend away alone, which is what I like to do.
9) May 4 Emily graduates from college.  IN ALABAMA.  We need hotel reservations. We need to buy her a present.  We need to figure out the logistics of having John’s mother get there from Baltimore.  We will have to take two cars, and we will be bringing her and all her stuff back to Knoxville for the coming year.  Did I mention we need more money?
10) May 18 Teddy graduates from high school.  Another celebration will need to be planned!
11) At the end of May we are all supposed to go to Washington for John’s 25th college reunion and to Baltimore for a visit.  Granted we would be doing this regardless of the number of children we have but supposing they all go it now requires two cars and three hotel rooms and needless to say MORE MONEY which we therefore somehow have to continue to earn throughout this two month period of craziness because we are self-employed.  And don’t get paid to go on vacations.
Now I realize that except for the taxes these are all joyful celebrations for which I should be grateful, and of course I am.  And a wonderful things about having lots of children is that there are so many more celebrations.
But why can’t they be spread out just a little? 🙂
Five Kids

Hey It's Good to Be Back Home Again . . .

. . . after ten days away! (about which much more later, I hope!)
The last time we went to Baltimore, our house burned down.  So I think we were all a little nervous and were happy to come home to this:

Two of three kitties have yet to put in an appearance, though, so say some prayers that they come home soon. (Yes, we had someone caring for them while we were gone.)
The primary purpose of this trip was to look at colleges for Teddy, a rising senior, and I will write more about that in another post.  This made for a lot of driving and hotel changes and being at places at certain times, which made this a less relaxing trip than last year’s.  It was the kind of vacation you need to recover from.
We started last Saturday and drove straight to Baltimore, arriving too late to do anything more than crash.  We made two changes in our usual vacation protocol this year, two expensive but necessary changes:  we drove two cars and booked three rooms.  For years, John and I have shared a room with the little people while the three big kids stayed together. This time, Emily shared with the kids, Jake and Teddy were together, and John and I were blessedly alone until the last couple of days when we took William off Emily’s hands to give her a much-needed break.
We have a minivan that seats seven, but with the size of our boys, the amount of stuff we needed to bring (and knowing we would be acquiring more before we came home) and the fact that some members of our family are irritable while others are irritating, we had Teddy drive his car as well.  So the big kids followed us and Teddy did a spectacular job of driving in unfamiliar and challenging territory.
So last Sunday we indulged ourselves in our hotel’s outdoor pool for a few hours before heading to John’s mother’s house.  We visited for awhile then went out for crabs.

I’ve loved crabs since my very first crab feast 25 summers ago, and now the kids love them too and are quite expert at picking them. (What exactly some of the stuff is that we are discarding doesn’t bear thinking about.)  Even William, who takes picky to a-whole-nother level, LOVES crabs.  After dinner, we went back to Grandmom’s house for dessert–which means four or five different choices!
Our first college visit was the following morning, just a day trip to Georgetown, our alma mater, only an hour away in D.C.  We followed that with a trip to a monument the kids didn’t even know existed, visiting Theodore Roosevelt Island.


We drove around D.C. for awhile.  Traffic was bad and parking practically impossible.  Jake struck out on his own to see the Lincoln Memorial and the White House, while the rest of us drove to the Tidal Basin (where parking is free) and took a quick look (and a bathroom break) at the Jefferson Memorial.  There’s a nice museum at the lower level that is new since my last visit.  Next time we do D.C. we will remember to leave the car and take the Metro.

The plan was to head back to Baltimore for supper, but we just happened to see an old college favorite, The Dubliner.  After we parked we learned there was an hour wait!  So we went next door to another Irish pub instead.
We departed Baltimore for New Jersey on Tuesday, stopping there just long enough for a college visit at Princeton University before heading to New Haven, Connecticut.  The following morning was our Yale University visit, and then we drove to Warwick, Rhode Island.  We were so tired by this time that John and I and the little kids just chilled at the hotel for the evening–John took them swimming–while the big kids went out exploring and finally to a movie.
The next morning was a real highlight of the trip for me.  An online blogging friend–Laura Rossi–learned I was in her home state, and took the time to come to my hotel to bring me a muffin and have coffee!  We had a great time talking and our visit was much too short.  I still smile when I think about it.
After we checked out we drove into Newport, Rhode Island.  It was frustrating that all our visits had to be so brief this time.  There is so much to do and see in Newport, where I have been before because I have family in the area (who I wish I had had time to visit!).  Right now I am so exhausted that I don’t even want to think about traveling, but I know we need to get back up to some of these places for more leisurely trips in the future.
Anyway, our main purpose for the Newport visit was to try a new beach.  We went to Easton’s Beach, which the locals call First Beach.  I think it might be my favorite beach of all time.  From the parking lot to the water is only a few hundred feet!  I’m used to trudging what seems like miles over hot sand to get to a place to sit.  It’s also a narrow beach, almost like a cove, so even the big boys couldn’t get out of sight.  And yet there are plenty of good waves.  We could have done without the red seaweed that remained in the little kids’ hair until the next day, but we had a lovely few hours there.




After washing off the sand we went for a short drive to see the Newport Mansions from the outside, then parked downtown and found a place to have dinner.  We would have liked to walk around afterwards because there are tons of shops there but we were just too worn out, and we still had to drive to our next stop before bed.
The next stop was kind of a dump in Malden, Massachusetts, just past Boston.  Seriously, we drove through the exciting lit up big city and across a cool bridge with purple lights and then we were all like, what kind of neighborhood are we staying in?  It didn’t look as bad by daylight.  But hotels any closer to Boston are very expensive.
Boston roads are full of those traffic circles and we did have a small amount of trouble finding our way but we made it to our appointment at Harvard University the next morning in time.  When we were finished there we took the T (that’s Boston’s subway) to Beacon Hill to have lunch at Cheers.  It’s a tourist trap, really, but still kind of fun to say we did it.  The sad thing is that the show ruined the pub that inspired it.
After that we had big plans.  I’ve been to Boston before–the only one in my family who has–and I wanted to take them on the Freedom Trail.  We were all really excited about it.  Except this was the first really hot day of the vacation.  And we were full.  And worn out from the rigors of the trip so far.  We started walking through the Public Gardens to Boston Commons and by the time we found a bathroom everyone was so wiped out that those crappy motel rooms were starting to seem very inviting.



So we trudged to the nearest T stop, rode back to Harvard Square, went through an unbelievable ordeal and paid $27 to retrieve our car (we took only one car unless we were traveling between cities), and drove back to the lovely Econo Lodge, where we ordered Indian food for the little kids (the best meal of the trip, per William) and Chinese for the rest of us and vegged in the AC the rest of the night.
That brings us to Saturday, when we drove from Boston all the way back to Baltimore, where we were lucky to find rooms given the storm which had left hundreds of thousands of people without power and looking for refuge from the searing heat in all the local hotels.  We got there in time for an evening swim before going out in search of dinner, and then it was back to the hotel and a late night for me doing laundry as we were all almost out of clothes.
Sunday included swimming and more laundry, and then we met the family at Squire’s, an old favorite of theirs and of almost everyone else in Dundalk as far as I can tell.   Then we went by John’s grandmother’s house (which his mother is working on clearing out and selling) and acquired some new possessions while Jake and Teddy carried several heavy boxes down to the basement.  Finally it was back to Grandmom’s for more dessert and conversation.
John wanted to stay an extra day but he was the only one.  The rest of us were very anxious to get home, and it took us about eleven hours yesterday to accomplish that, counting multiple bathroom stops!
So far today I’ve already driven Jake across town to pick up his girlfriend, gone grocery shopping, done multiple loads of laundry, and written some client letters.  But I’m so happy to be home that it’s all good. 🙂

Chips off the Old Block

More on the topic of when your kids are like you . . .
I really should have taken a picture, even though all you would have seen was the backs of their heads. The other night ALL FIVE of our kids (Emily being home from college for the summer already!) were lounging around the family room watching Star Trek (yes, of course it was the original series. And they were watching “Amok Time,” one of my favorite episodes ever.)
I cannot remember a time I didn’t know about Star Trek. I watched reruns with my father on Sunday afternoons. My cousin chased me around from time to time pretending to be Sulu (don’t know why!). I cried when Spock died (one of the first times I can remember crying over a movie).
So I liked the show, but then I met John and he was a FAN. He had Star Trek novels and technical manuals. He got a calendar every year. He had DOLLS, for heaven’s sake! He’d been to conventions! Yes, he was a Trekker (NOT Trekkie. That’s insulting.).
After we got married, we used to go to Blockbuster every few days and check out two episodes. We watched them all in chronological order. We started collecting them. I gave John some awesome Star Trek gifts from the Franklin Mint–a 3-dimensional chess set, a model of the Enterprise, a phaser. He acquired a tricorder that actually made noises! We collected tons of memoirs and novels and novelizations. We bought more dolls on eBay. We had a vision of the room where one day we would display this magnificent collection.
Well.
We still have the books.
Anyway, let’s cheer up, shall we? On a recent trip to McKay’s (our used book and movie and CD and album store that we LOVE) John acquired the entire original series on DVD. Jake has started watching them almost every night. A few evenings ago William and Lorelei got into the act. John had very definite ideas of what he wanted to watch on t.v. before bed but the little people had waited ALL DAY to watch Star Trek with Daddy and they weren’t taking no for an answer. “If you won’t watch it,” proclaimed William darkly, “There will be CONSEQUENCES.” Guess who won that argument?
All of which led to that golden moment the other night in which without argument all five kids sat entranced in front of the t.v. watching Spock throw plomeek soup at Nurse Chapel while John and I worked in the office and listened, able to visualize the whole thing without even looking at the screen.
(I did go out to watch Spock smile at the end, though. That’s my very favorite Star Trek moment.)

It's Cake Time in Tennessee . . . or at least in the Sholly house

I have an astonishing number of birthdays to deal with at the beginning of every year.  I say *I* have to deal with them because I am the one making the cakes.  Sometimes I feel like all I do is bake cakes for six weeks straight.  Jake’s birthday is January 27, John’s and Emily’s is today, Teddy’s is February 15, and William’s is March 5.
Suzy Homemaker I am not, except when it comes to baking.  No cake boxes or cans of icing will ever come through this door.  All my cakes are made from scratch (which honestly is not that hard and I’m not sure why people think baking cakes from scratch is such a big deal).  To make things easier, I have a few tried and true recipes that people usually pick from for their birthdays.  Not that I wouldn’t make something else if anyone asked. But usually they are plenty happy with one of the old favorites.
Jake said he did not care what kind of cake I made for him, so for his family party I picked the easiest one:  Coca-cola cake.  I’d already made it for Lorelei’s birthday back in November, so we were over the hurdle of finding the recipe, all my cookbooks, including the hand-written one with all my most-used recipes having, of course, burned.

This is actually Lorelei's cake, but it's the same recipe.

Jake had a second party with his friends, and for that one I made Aunt Hattie’s cake.  Apparently there are or were a lot of Aunt Hatties who liked to make cakes, because I could not find the right recipe on the internet.  I thought I remembered it, and I double-checked with my mother to make sure.  It’s a basic yellow cake–it’s really buttermilk pound cake with one extra egg.  I use buttercream frosting.
Last year Emily actually asked me to mail her a cake, which I did–a Milky Way Cake.  This year I think she is more excited about legally drinking than eating cake, so I got off easy with one cake today.  I always tried to make a special celebration for each birthday person on their shared day, so that meant two cakes every February 4th for eighteen years.
John is saving up his partying for his next big birthday, and didn’t even ask for a cake, so I actually decided to try something new.  A friend had given me a recipe for Wet Coconut Cake, which I’d tasted at a church function.  The original recipe was just too darn easy for me, so I had to tinker with it a little bit.  As written, you make a yellow sheet cake from a mix, poke holes in it and saturate it with a mixture of cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk, chill it, and then spread it with Cool Whip and sprinkle it with coconut.  Cool Whip is something I never knowingly let pass my lips.  So what I did instead was make another Aunt Hattie’s cake, gave it the saturation treatment, chilled it, spread it with homemade whipped cream, and flaked an actual coconut onto it (no, that very last thing was a lie).
William has already put me on notice that he expects Red Velvet Cake for his birthday.  That recipe came from my friend Rico’s mother, and it is the best cake ever.  Teddy has not yet expressed his preference, but besides the above choices he might request Old-Fashioned White Birthday Cake or my own variation, Strawberry Cake.
And then I won’t have to make another cake until November!

Bacon Love

I’m supposed to start writing about Diet Rehab today.  Instead I am writing about bacon!  Do you see a problem here?

Actually, that's not bacon, it's hog jowls. We are out of bacon so I can't photograph any. But that's close enough, right?

When I was growing up, there was always a cup of bacon grease in the refrigerator, but the only time I remember my mother using it was when she made green beans.  But I have recently discovered the joys of using bacon grease to cook practically everything!
What happened was that Weigel’s had a buy one get one free sale on bacon!  We go to Weigel’s (that’s a local version of 7-11, which we don’t have here) every day, and if I make a pound of bacon it gets eaten in five minutes by someone–in fact, there are actual fights over bacon.  Bacon is one of the few things William will eat, and Jake and Teddy are always ready for meat.  So while it was on sale I bought it every time I went there.
So then I’d have a big frying pan full of bacon grease just sitting there on the stove looking lonely.  After the fire, we received a gift of a whole lot of steaks.  A WHOLE lot.  Jake and Teddy eat steak almost every day.  I don’t know what they will do when those are gone.  So I discovered that a quick and yummy way to fix the steaks is to pan fry them in the bacon grease!  John doesn’t like his pan fried, so I put a slice of raw bacon on it before I broil it.   William won’t eat steak any more, but he does like boneless chicken, which also responds well to the bacon grease treatment.
Teddy and Jake will eat a plate full of steak and be satisfied, but for some reason John wants a side dish.  How about spaghetti sauteed in the grease that remains after the steaks are done?  (With some garlic and salt and pepper as well!)  Sweet onions sauteed in bacon drippings are pretty delicious too.
What do I do with the actual bacon?  Yesterday I made sandwiches:  avocado, a little leftover tomato sauce, the sauteed onion, bacon, some pepper jack cheese.  When Emily was home I made bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches.  Mostly, though, people just eat slices off the plate the bacon is draining on.
Even the dog benefits from the bacon regime–when I think the grease has had enough, I mix it in his dog food!  He hates plain dog food but he’ll eat that with gusto!
And don’t worry about my rehab–I actually get to consume very little of the bacon myself!

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling . . .

Just look at that smile.
That is what I will always remember about Rick Donovan.  The father of one of my dearest friends, he died at home on July 25, 2011 of esophageal cancer.
I was a frequent visitor at the Donovan home when I was in high school, and I could always count on being greeted with that smile whenever I saw Mr. Donovan.  That was something that never changed.  Once we grew up, and my friend Kris moved away, I saw him only seldom, once every few years perhaps.  And the smile was always the same.  It was a smile of surprised delight, as if I were the one person whom he would be the happiest to see in all the world.  Yet there was a certain familiarity to it, as though he had seen me only yesterday.  It was a welcoming smile, with a kind of calm exuberance about it.  And he smiled that way for everyone.
I’ve mentioned before that I love a good funeral.  Not only that, but I think that planning and/or attending a good funeral is a vital part of the grieving process for family and friends.  Mr. Donovan’s services rank right up there with my favorites of all time.  The Rosary service and the funeral Mass the next day both struck just the right note of mourning our loss and celebrating Mr. Donovan’s life and legacy and his release from suffering and entry into glory.
Father Michael Woods was the celebrant for both services and what could have been more fitting than to have an actual Irishman with his lovely accent offering the prayers for someone who was proud of his Irish heritage?  His rosary service was like nothing I have seen before, as he invited each of the Donovan siblings to lead half a decade, and related each mystery to the life of their family.  He sang “Danny Boy” before the funeral began, and even though he had not known Mr. Donovan for very long (he was called upon to minister to him while another priest was away), he was able to convey that personal feeling that is so often missing from funerals–there was nothing “canned” about his words.
The funeral was a celebration.  The family solved the eulogy problem–Catholic funerals are not supposed to have them–by placing a reflection by child number 9, Patrick, before the Mass began.  Father Woods then spoke of gathering in Patrick’s words and offering them up as part of the Mass.
And what words they were.  It might have been a homily or an essay.  Patrick’s words, while personal, and frequently laced with humor, were not the syrupy platitudes that many offer at such times.  He spoke eloquently of what his father had taught about life. family, and marriage, and made Mr. Donovan’s presence and influence felt through his words.  I was particularly moved by what he said he had learned about marriage from his father, and I may be getting the words a bit wrong, that “love is a conscious decision you make over and over again.”
Other family members were involved as well, doing the readings, bringing up the gifts–a collection of Mr. Donovan’s hats among them.  Youngest daughter Meghan sang.  I had intended to share more about the details of the service, but unfortunately I did not write this immediately afterwards and my copy of the program was lost in our fire.  I could never forget, though, Danny Murphy, a friend of the family, who came up just before the end of the Mass to lead the congregation is “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.”
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace.  Amen.