Winter Stars

10298900_10152461131596349_2506598118229131661_nWhen I got home last night, the kids were already in bed. It was about 8:30pm and Val told me that she thought Connor was still awake so I headed upstairs to check and hopefully be able to say good night.

I walked into his darkened room quietly so as to not wake him if he were in fact asleep.

“Hi Daddy.”

“Hi Buddy. Why are you still awake?”

“Sometimes when you aren’t home I have a hard time falling asleep.”

“Well I’m here now so it’s time to hit the sack my little friend.”

He protested mildly with “But it’s so hot in here.”

It was pretty warm outside so his room was a sweatbox. He’s the type of kid who’s always hot even if it’s 62 degrees in his room.

“Why don’t we open the windows for a few minutes and look at the stars?” I offered.

He jumped out of bed and knelt on the floor next to me. We opened the window and rested our crossed arms on the windowsill with our heads poking out into the night sky.

It was very quiet.

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“Look at all those stars Daddy. How many are there?

“A lot. But see that one there? The really bright one? Notice how it doesn’t twinkle? That’s because it’s a planet!! “

“Wow! Really? So I just saw a planet?”

“Yup, you did.”

There was a long pause as we both stared up at the stars from the window of his second story bedroom window. He eventually rested his head against my shoulder.

“Look at that star Daddy!! It’s blinking blue!”

“That’s an airplane Connor.”

He laughed heartily.

“I wish I had a flashlight right now so I could shine it up to the sky. A flashlight that had wings and could fly up to the stars! That would be so cool.”

“That would be cool. When I was a kid, I always had a flashlight next to my bed just like you do, although it didn’t have wings. But when you wake up in the morning you’ll be 6 years old! Maybe you’ll get a new flashlight as a present.

“Grandpa Bob is getting me a wheel barrow.”

“Oh, ok.”

We sat in silence for several minutes staring at the winter sky and Connor’s head resting against my shoulder now with his arm entwined with mine.

“I love you Daddy.”

“I love you too buddy. Happy almost birthday.”


“Tickle Fight!!” he exclaimed.

“Tomorrow buddy. Tomorrow when you’re 6.”

“Is tomorrow a Dude Day?” He asked excitedly.

“No, tomorrow is a school day but it’s also your birthday!!”

“Ok, good night Daddy.”

“Good night Connor. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Why Did I Run the Falmouth Road Race?

I am not a runner.

In fact, there was a distinct possibility that I would finish last in the “race” and would require reflective gear for when the sun set and I would be crossing that finish line.  But with a little encouragementFalmouth Road Race - 2014, some oxygen, and with the knowledge that the funds that I helped to raise just might – or WILL – save someone’s life is all I need.


I dare say we all live pretty good lives.  And we all take life for granted to some degree.  Lives can change in an instant and sometimes, sometimes, people are given a new chance at life as a result of organ donation.  And other times that chance never comes because there just aren’t enough to go around.

I am not a runner.  But I ran my heart out trying to do my part because if that was my kid who needed a transplant, I need to know I did everything I could to keep that hope alive.

Maybe it’s our turn to give back.

And thanks for offering to pick me up off the ground at about mile 6 and reminding me of this message.

It wasn’t pretty but I did it.  I did it!

Thanks to you all who supported me.  It means the world to me and to all those waiting for transplant.

A Modern-Day Love Story

Recently, I sadly lost my grandmother.  Of course losing someone you love is difficult and tragic but the strongest emotions I felt were not of sadness and loss but rather of appreciation and gratitude.  In fact, it was rather a time to to celebrate her life and the family she created with my grandfather.  She was an amazing woman and, well, her story is a modern-day love story to be shouted from the rooftops near and far as we all could learn a thing or two.

I was asked to write and share a eulogy at her funeral.  The priest later asked for a copy so that he could share it with newly engaged couples as to him, it represented the epitome of how to love and the importance of being a ‘family.’

So for what it’s worth, I wanted to share it with you as well and hope that it reminds you, in some tangible way, to always remember that family is everything – including that crazy aunt of yours.

Whenever we lose someone who has had such a significant impact on our lives, we of course, grieve and mourn that irreplaceable loss.  But when I think of Nana, I can’t help but realize just how amazing this story is – the story of her life.

She was born in Nova Scotia but grew up in Everett.  Eventually she settled here in Melrose where she has lived since 1951.  She met my grandfather shortly after high school and they have been together ever since – for more than 71 years.

I don’t know what it takes to make a relationship like that work so incredibly well and for so many years, but I do know that the love they shared was real, it was tangible, it was infectious, and it was the epitome of the modern day love story.

Nana loved to swim at the Y, bowl, and spend time with her two best friends – her sisters Clara and Anita.  I never had the chance to bowl with her but I heard she was a force with which to be reckoned.  In particular, she loved to go on long walks exploring the nooks and crannies of Boston with her sister Clara.

She loved her friends and her family but most of all, she cherished her one true love, my grandfather.

They raised 11 amazing children: Pam, Paul, Charlie, Peter, Tommy, Pat, Chris, Maryellen, Peggy, Jimmy, and Johnny.  Some of them left us far too soon, boldly reminding us of the fragility of life and the importance of living for today.

I often think about what that must have been like growing up with that many siblings and who got the shower first, or who shared a room with whom.  I myself have 3 young children at home and can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to have lived in a house with 11 of the short people.  But somehow, I’ve been told, Nana was able to keep the peace – relatively speaking I’m sure.

I have vivid memories of the house up on the hill with the 862 steps from the street.  At least, as a kid, it seemed like that many.  And I always seemed to be the one that had to run down to the car to get something!  But I didn’t care.  It was in that house on the hill on East Wyoming where all the holidays took place and where many of our precious collective memories were born.

All the kids were there.  All the cousins were there.  Beevo was there.  Grampa was there.  And Nana was there concocting those delectable aromas from the kitchen – the gravy, the meatballs, the desserts.  I can almost smell them now.

When the kids were older and moved out on their own, Nana & Grampa moved to a smaller house on Orris Street.  And then some of the kids moved back in but that’s a story for another time.  They made it their new home, their new castle, and again, the de-facto meeting place for all holidays and family events.

Nana and Grampa would often sit together, always together, perched up on the back porch, a king with his queen, and proudly watch the relentless stream of kids below running through the yard, rolling in the grass, splashing in the pool, and occasionally stepping on a flower much to the chagrin of my grandfather.  But Nana always just smiled and basked in the joy of what she held so close to her heart: her family.

She would greet us with that smile and wrap her arm around our chests with that quiet but assertive demeanor that made you feel safe and always feel welcome.

And she offered us food because that’s what grandmothers do.

Nana dedicated her life to her family.  All of us.  Every birthday, Christmas, Easter, anniversary, and Thanksgiving we gathered because family was everything to her.  She understood that, and taught us the same.  It’s now up to us to keep that spirit alive.

This is her love story and she has shown us how to live exceptionally:

To have fallen in love with the love of your life and have lived that dream together for over 71 years.

To have 11 amazing children who stood by your side and never forgot the importance of being a family.

To have been blessed with 21 grandchildren and to have loved them the exceptional way you did.

To leave behind a legacy of 17 great-grandchildren who will no doubt treasure the stories and lessons of your life as they begin their own.

And most importantly, to amass the most impressive collection of those short Hilltop martini glasses this side of Melrose.

We are the lucky ones; the ones with which you shared your friendship, compassion, acceptance, and love.  And we are forever grateful for having you in our lives.

Of course, we will miss you.

But today, we celebrate all that is you.

Well done, Nana.

Well done.

True heroes even in the eyes of a 5 year old

bostonfire.jpgYesterday, I watched from my office window in Cambridge the horror that was taking place just across the river with that sinking feeling that what I was witnessing was going to end horribly. I heard the voices on the scanner, saw the MAYDAY tweets, and watched the flames and smoke violently swirl around that building as the emergency vehicles ascended and ladders extended as they tried so desperately to get it under control.

It was hard to watch knowing what was probably happening inside that building.

When I got home, I turned on the news. My three young kids were sitting there and knew something was wrong. We all sat there for a few moments transfixed on that fire and the words of the strangers describing to us what was happening. Fire, explosion, MAYDAY, firefighters trapped, no radio response, smoke, Engine 33.

“What happened Daddy?” my daughter asked me.

“There was a fire and some firemen got hurt” I told her.

Her face turned concerned; her eyes opened wide.

“Are there people in there?”

“Not any more” I assured her.

My 5 year old son looked at me and said, “Why did the firemen go in there?”

“To make sure all the people got out safely.”

“Is that how the firemen got hurt?”


“Did they die?” he asked with a slight hesitation.

“Yes, they did.”

And with that, my son locked eyes with me and said confidently, “He was a really very brave man.”

Yes they were Connor. Yes they were…

Don’t take anything for granted. Hug your kids. You just never know what the next 10 minutes may bring.

Thank you firefighters Michael R. Kennedy and Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh for your bravery and heroism. Our hearts and gratitude are with you forever.

10 1/2 bands your kids need to know

It would be hard to find someone that doesn’t love music or say that it has not influenced their life in some way. We all are certainly no different. And as parents, it was inevitable that the musical influences with which we grew up would be shared with our children as well.

For many of us, music has had an enormous impact and influence on our lives. There were the songs that got us through that first break-up and the loss we felt the first time someone close to us died. There were the songs that made us dance and sing in our bedrooms with the door closed (think Kodachrome) and those that had guitar solos that made our chests and arms tingle with an explosion of simultaneous awe and joy. There were songs that made us cry, cringe, and laugh.

It is a true constant in my life and one that I feel strongly that I need to share with my children.


We all have our own “greatest bands of all time” lists with which we grew up. We love those bands both for their lyrical genius and for the raw musicality and emotion they conjure. In short, these are the bands that inspired us and changed how we thought about the world. We were given the gift of music and it is that powerful influence I hope to share with my children.

If I were to name 10 bands I wanted my kids to know about, they would include the following:

1. Nirvana
2. Eric Clapton
3. The Cure
4. U2
5. Simon & Garfunkel
6. Van Morrison
7. Patti Smith / Lenny Kravitz (tie)
8. Led Zeppelin
9. John Coltrane
10. Bruce Springsteen

I’m not talking the Laurie Berkner type (although my kids love Laurie just the same!) but rather the music that we grew up on and taught us about life, love, hardship, fortitude, family, politics, and what it’s like to feel alive.

Of course this list may change depending on the generation you grew up in, but whoever you would include in a top 10, I would encourage you to share that music with your children. I guess us parents just need to keep an open mind as far as their top 10 lists no matter how hard that might seem!

What bands shaped you and your generation? Which ones were so influential on your life that you feel obligated to share with your children as well? And see if you can keep it to only the top 10 (or 10 1/2)!!

Trust me, that was hard.

Bill Shakespeare once wrote, “If music be the food of love, play on.”

So let’s do that. Play on, and pass it on.