LIfe’s Connections

                Times sure have changed since the invention of the personal computer. It took some time to get used to never using a pen, and crossing out and rewriting, but I finally embraced typing onto the computer. I used to write letter after letter and wait for the mailman to come every day to deliver replies to my letters. I wrote to relatives whom I had never met seeking genealogical information. All those replies are in a shoebox, invaluable now because all of those people are gone now. I have made many connections since those letters over the years and found ways to connect people across the world to information I received 25 or 30 years ago in the form of a handwritten letter. Imagine one English woman’s surprise when she had written that her great grandfather had a brother who came to America and nobody knew what happened to him. Since we had common ancestors, I went through my letters because the names were familiar. I found a letter written by a woman whose grandfather was that brother who had left for America. He had settled in Staten Island NY. My letter from the Staten Island connection was written almost 30 years ago. The English woman had sent me an email with all her information. So I sent her copies of what I had. The only reason I ever received a letter from the Staten Island woman was that she had been vacationing in Boothbay, Maine when she read a copy of the Portland Sunday Telegram and found my query about the name Skerritt. Amazing connections we all make in our lives.

                    Connections include our childhood years, our teen years, and work friends, friends of circumstance, military friends and so on. We all have connections. I have many friends from grammar school whom I still contact. It could be once a year but we still seem very close. I know where most people went from my old neighborhood. I guess it is because I genuinely care about the people with whom I have had a common experience. Last night, I called my friend Cathy using the best invention ever, the telephone. I heard the ice cream truck in the background and we joked about the same old songs that truck plays to attract all the kids. “Do your ears hang low?” and “The Entertainer”. Can anyone name any other tunes? I am sure it would be comical to hear the ice cream truck play “Tequila” as it winds up and down the streets of your neighborhood. I would bet there would be more than kids chasing that truck; most likely a few adults as well. Anyway when we talk, we laugh more than talk. It is good for the soul.

                    Speaking about the old neighborhood, an old neighbor passed away a few days ago, Mr. Harry McKenna. I grew up next door to the family as a young kid. The McKenna family had 4 sons who I thought were pretty wild. My parents went to the service which was nice as they saw 2 of the sons. One son named David lives away and I have not seen him since I was a kid. I always had fond memories of them. I was just a kid but I still think about them from time to time. They were part of my childhood. It is funny to think of all those crushes I had when I was young, though not too many knew about it as I was shy. Come to find out, I liked a boy and he liked me but neither of us ever knew it. It is probably a good thing because now we have the memory.  Growing up…so awkward and goofy.

                     Friends of circumstance are interesting as those connections help you to grow as a person. I became very involved in the disabled community because I am a parent. When I was a new parent, I was typical, reading everything about parenting as I watched my child progress. I was fascinated and adored this new addition to our life. I guess I was clueless in many ways also. At age fourI learned my son had a serious illness and I couldn’t function for some time. I never knew I could have such an interesting life and meet so many interesting people. I have aspired to more than I ever thought possible. Most of it is because I am a parent. As a parent, you strive to do right by your child and give them the tools to be independent and to be decent human beings. It is the most important job you will ever have, even more important than the one you get paid for each week. I would say that I am not afraid to help others because of what we have been through as a family. Some of my friends have lost their children and I have been to their funerals. They are the most giving people I know. They still help others when they have had significant loss. I need to stay connected to them because they have helped us on our journey with Mike. Though I wish my son could not have the struggles he has, he is most interesting because of all he has experienced. Tonight, I came home and he told me that one of his friends would not be going to camp this summer. They met several summers ago at camp as Jake was in a car accident and was paralyzed around the age of seven. Mike told me he had called Jake’s house where he lived with his dad as his mom had passed away. The father told Mike that Jake was in a nursing home since March. The reason was that he had pressure sores. Mike called his room but there was no answer. Mike was bothered by it and so was I. I am up several times each night turning him, so this won’t happen. Life is good when you can meet people like Jake.

                    I would say there is one common thread and that is that no matter who my friends are, we laugh often. I relayed a story this evening to a friend whose son passed away two years ago of MD. Imagine going to the Tweeter Center in Foxboro and there is suddenly a need for a handicapped bathroom. I was determined to find one that afforded my son some dignity. It was located where the VIP section is where the band members hang out. Once I found it, I had to remove a 5 foot tall plant away from the toilet while my son maneuvered his wheelchair beside the toilet. The toilet is lower than the chair and this immediately presents a challenge. I mustered up all the strength I never thought I had and picked him up to lower him onto the seat. He was frightened that I would hurt him. The funny part was when he asked how I was going to do this and that. I replied, “Let me think” It was a 45 minute ordeal but is turned out ok, though I felt as if I had ran the Boston Marathon. The call to my friend was full of laughter over that incident, which most likely only she would understand. For the rest of you, this may have been too much information. However after all, this was a story about connections.  

Reprint permission with author’s permission @

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