Sunday, June 29, 2008

Memories of Mary Joyce--A Grand Lady!!

Mary Joyce
August 21, 1915 -- June 21, 2008

On Friday, Yaya and I flew over to Los Angeles to attend the funeral of our long time family friend, Mary Joyce. My cousin, Marion, from Turlock took the train and the bus to LA to meet us. We all stayed in Long Beach on Friday night. We got in late and went directly to the hotel and joined Dennis and Janet and Jerry and Marilyn and their cousins, Debra and Darrel, in the hotel restaurant. Jerry spoke of how he tried to explain at work the family connection to Mary. Mary is actually his second cousin, but she was truly his "aunt."

I remember attending Mary's 80th birthday celebration put on by her "niece," Cornella 13 years ago. My mom, Teresa, Patrick and I went out to Los Angeles for this event. Mary attended so many of our family functions through the years
. I always enjoyed visiting with her, hearing her laugh, and seeing the sparkle in her eyes.

The Reidys, the Joyces, and the Scotts have been friends since the early days of Arizona statehood in Douglas. The friendship goes all the way back to our grandparents. This strong friendship has lasted for over 90 years making the Reidys and Joyces see
m more like family. They attend all of our family functions and we attend theirs. It is absolutely amazing that this connection has gone on for so many years!! The Scott Family was well represented and our Aunt Teresa was very proud!!

Saturday morning we went to the Funeral Mass which was held in the chapel of the Nazareth House where Mary lived for the last several years. We were joined by our cousins, Jean and Tom, from San Jose. They had left San Jose in the middle of the night and had driven in to Los Angeles Saturday morning.

The priest who said the Mass is the chaplain of the Nazareth House. When he talked about Mary, he talked from his heart and you could tell that he truly knew this wonderful lady. He spoke of Mary's incredible faith, of her wisdom, and of how she made him feel welcome when he moved to Los Angeles from New Orleans.

At the end of the Mass, Dennis went up to eulogize Mary. You could tell how difficult this was for him, but he did a great job!! He told about Mary being born in the 800 block on 14th Street in Douglas, Arizona and of the many wonderful people who came from that block. He told about her attending Loretto School with her buddy, Tom Scott. He told of her being the editor of the Loretto School newspaper that she and Tom named the "Lorimac" which was a combination of Loretto and Immaculate Conception. Before she graduated from Loretto, her family moved to California because of the closing of the copper company in Douglas at that time.

Mary's story is
an amazing journey, especially for those times. After she graduated from high school, Mary attended UCLA majoring in business. She went to work for the Internal Revenue Service and when she retired, she was the chief of office audit for the IRS with over 400 employees working for her.

Dennis spoke of her devotion to her own mother and how she took such great care of her mother in her final days. He then talked about how she became a surrogate mother to Cornella, Jerry, and himself. He talked about her laugh that could fill a room.

He ended with a poem that he had found that he felt suited Mary completely.

You can shed tears that she is gone

Or you can smile because she has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back

Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left

Your heart can be empty because you can't see her

Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday

Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember her and only that she is gone

Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back

Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

There was a reception held for all of us at the Nazareth House. Everyone sang "My Wild Irish Rose" led by the son of Joe Feeney from the Lawrence Welk Show. Mary would have loved this.

After the reception, we all went "around the corner" to Mary's favorite Irish Pub, the Irish Times. Mary loved to go there. Dennis and Jerry ordered old fashions for everyone and we drank a toast to Mary. It was a fitting way to say good-bye to this wonderful Irish Lady!!

I know how much she loved, Cornella, Dennis, and Jerry. They took such loving care of her through the years and returned that love.

Mary will live on in all of our hearts. "Those we love are never really gone, as long as their stories are told." We will continue to tell Mary's story to our children and grandchildren. I know that the world is a better place because of Mary Joyce and I feel fortunate to have had her in my life!! I know that I will "smile, open my eyes, love, and go on!"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Tribute to Paul Huston on his Retirement!

Last night I attended a Governing Board meeting. The Gilbert School Board has proclaimed this week "Paul Huston Week." All of the marquees around the district have this displayed on them. The reason for this proclamation is that Paul is retiring after working in the district since 1972. Paul has been in Human Resources for many years and has been a huge part of creating the kind of workplace that so many people want to be a part of. Paul did not want a lot of "hoopla" for his retirement and I truly can understand this. However, his contribution to the betterment of our district could not go unnoticed. I think that making this week his week is a perfect way to say good-bye to Paul.

His family was in attendance last night. Paul introduced three of his sons, their wives, and his grandchildren. He also spoke of his son and his wife who live in Colorado. His wife, Kay, had already committed to a golf tournament before this meeting was set. He spoke of his love of his family and what they mean to him. He thanked many people through the years and spoke of his pride in being a part of making our district what it is today.

Tom Brokaw says, "It is easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference." I can tell you that Paul has absolutely made a difference in so many ways. I have learned so much from him over the years. I have been a part of situations with employees that weren't always the most positive meetings. I have seen Paul treat each person with dignity and respect no matter what the issue was. His empathy and kindness are two of his finest qualities. Yet, he dealt with things that needed to be dealt with. I have always felt totally supported by him.

Even when I didn't agree with him, which wasn't very often, I have always felt that he was totally fair and did things for the right reasons.

Paul also has a tremendous sense of humor which will be missed because he was able to use that humor is some very serious situations. I believe that humor is so important in life. Nikki told about how she and Paul drove around the district to see the different marquees with "Paul Huston Week" on them. They got to her former school and decided to take a picture of the two of them standing under the marquee. However, no one was at school so they waited in hopes of seeing someone to take the picture. A lady was running by out exercising and Paul called out to her and she took off even faster. They laughed that the lady would probably call the police--well sure enough, she did!!

Paul said last night that change is good. That is true and I know that people can be replaced and things move on. However, what Paul gave to all of us are life lessons that I hope we will all remember as time marches on.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." This quote from Winston Churchill sums up what Paul has given to so many in the Gilbert School district.

I have long admired Paul and consider him a good friend. He will truly be missed. Paul has made a difference in many lives and I thank him for making a difference in mine.

Of course, I have to conclude this post with an Irish Blessing for Paul. It is in both Gaelic and English!!

Go maire sibh bhur saol nua.
"May you enjoy your new life."

You will be missed by many, Paul. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

"The 2008 Father's Day Hair "Razing"

For Father's Day, we were all invited to Monica's and Derik's house for dinner. All of the family came for steaks. Phil was there and in good spirits. His son, Matt, from Denver is still here and was able to be there.

All of the kids went swimming or played on the great swing set that they have. The adults either sat in the house or outside visiting. Dinner was great.

Derik had recently gotten a buzz cut and Austin had cut his hair. It wasn't in a buzz, but it was quit
e short compared to the way he usually wears it.

For some reason, Matt R decided to have Derik and Jay buzz cut
his hair. All of a sudden, it became a "dare." So all of the guys trooped out to the carport with scissors and an electric razor. Ryan and Cameron decided to be a part of this, too. Cameron's hair isn't very long, but Ryan's had been. So Matt H gave him the first part of the haircut, which was quite funny. I think Ryan may have been a bit nervous. Derik and Jay finished it off and he looks great. He actually looks quite a bit older. He was anxious for his dad to get back from flying so he could see it.

Not all of the guys "participated" in this event as they didn't want to lose their curl
s (at least I am assuming that!) It was a fun way to end the evening.

I was trying to figure out how to write about this, but
couldn't quite come up with anything very catchy or funny. This evening, Kerri said that she had gotten an email from our cousin, Shawna, in Ohio and she wanted me to put this on the blog. So I am putting it on along with some great pictures of the "2008 Father's Day Hair Razing!" Hope you like the music that goes along with this post!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Politics--Then and Now

For some reason, the passing of Tim Russert yesterday has really struck me. Through the years, I watched his show on MSNBC regularly. I loved the way he spoke of his family, his Irish Catholic roots, and the way he talked to people. There was something inherently kind about the way he approached people.

I was home yesterday when Kerri came and told me that she saw on the news that he had died suddenly. So I watched MSNBC and saw the emotions of so many of the journalists who worked with him.

I am not always a fan of the media, but I always felt there was something different about Tim Russert. In my position as a principal, I have experienced the media first hand. I have seen how a story can be twisted to make it look enticing. I have had reporters ask me questions that were meant to get a certain angle to a story. That is why I don't always believe what I hear and see on television news or in the newspapers.

This morning I was watching a special on his life on MSNBC. Because of the proximity of our ages, there are so many parallels in our lives. They talked about his Irish Catholic upbringing and how his 7th grade nun had such an impact on his life. I still remember Sister Georgina Marie at Loretto School in Douglas. She was also my 7th grade teacher. We had a candy store at school to make money for different things. I remember Sister Georgina put me in charge of the candy store that year. I learned so much from that experience.

The special also talked about how Tim's
dad took his family to see President Kennedy in a motorcade in Buffalo in 1962. They showed a piece where Tim talked about what President Kennedy's election meant to his working class family. I remember to this day watching the debates between Kennedy and Nixon. I remember the day that the Arizona Republic had a negative editorial about Kennedy and what could happen if he was elected president. I remember coming home from church that Sunday and my mom calling the Republic collect. They actually accepted the charges. She terminated our subscription to the Republic in that conversation and it was not allowed in our house until many years later! I remember election night and how four very close families came to our house to watch the election results. I remember how excited and proud we were when Kennedy won.

In November of 1961, Senator Carl Hayden was celebrating 50 years in Congress. My Uncle Tom worked for Senator Hayden and was coming to Phoenix for this event. My Aunt Teresa was given a ticket to the $100 a plate dinner at the Westward Ho Hotel. We came up to Phoenix for the weekend. Tom and his wife, Mary, were staying at the hotel. We went to visit them and heard that there was going to be a press conference. So my cousins, Teresa and Marion, Judy, and I ventured out into the hotel. We walked up some steps and talked to some men. I believe that they were probably secret service agents. After they talked to us, they let us continue up to the floor. We got to the area where the press conference was being held. I told the people at the door that I was a reporter for a Douglas school newspaper. For some reason, they allowed us into the press conference. We called my uncle's room and he couldn't believe that we had gotten into the press conference. So my mom and my Uncle Matt went looking for us. They were not able to get past the secret service!!

So here we were in the first row right next to the cake in the shape of the Capitol. In comes President Kennedy, Vice President Johnson, Senator Hayden and many other prominent politicians. I remember President Kennedy looking over at us and winking. We were the only young children in the room. Vice President Johnson talked to us for quite some time because everyone was making a fuss over Senator Hayden and President Kennedy. I remember him putting his arm around my shoulder and how very nice he was.

The next morning, there was the picture from the press conference in the newspaper. You could see my profile and Teresa Ann's. (I'm the one kneeling right by LBJ with my hand on the table.) There was proof that we were there!! I still have that picture. It is hanging on the wall in our house.

My Uncle Tom got me an autograph some time later from President Kennedy. It says "To Sheila Shannon with every good wish! John F. Kennedy." I also have that on my wall along with my mom's invitation to Kennedy's Inauguration.

I think those experiences are the reason that I have always been interested in politics and why I have always voted in every election.

When my mom ran for City Council for the first time, I took a few days off of school and took my kids to Douglas. I wanted them to be a part of this experience. On election day, we helped by picking up older people and taking them to the polls to vote and making phone calls. There was a victory party that night because my mom had beat the incumbent something like four to one.

Four years ago when John Kerry came to the valley, we took Cameron to that event. I feel that it is so important for children to be exposed to the political process of this great country. Everyone has a voice no matter who you are. Voting is a civic duty and we are fortunate that we live in a country where we are able to have a voice!!

The passing of Tim Russert brought all of these incredible memories back to me. I feel fortunate to have learned so many lessons about the importance of voting and participating in our democracy from my mom! She is my "Big Russ!"

Monday, June 9, 2008

Dinner and Reminiscing with Our Generation!!

Sunday afternoon I was invited to dinner at the home of Yaya's very good friends, John and Barbara. Their house is in the far northwest valley. Cecilia and Jay and Pat and Phil were all invited. We were hoping that Phil would be feeling good enough for us to get together and compare stories and talk. I mentioned in a previous post how we try to do this every now and then without the kids and grandkids--just our generation. Pat and Phil came and Phil looks great. It is hard to imagine that he is as sick as he is.

We sat in the backyard and visited and laughed about many things. Dinner was delicious and we sat around the table and talked. I told stories of some of the funny thing that have happened at school. Of course, we talked about Yaya's experience at the airport when we went to Sacramento.

After dinner, we all sat around the table and continued to talk. Phil was in incredible spirits and talked a lot about so many things. Much of what he talked about where memories of his and Pat's courtship, marriage, and our family. It was so great to hear some of the things that he had to say. Through the laughter that we shared, it was so incredible to hear his insights into so many things.

I think the one thing that struck me is how amazing my cousin Pat is. I have always known this, but seeing her courage in this very difficult time is unbelievable. She is truly a remarkable, strong woman!!!

Of course, Phil had some very funny stories to share. He told us about the hospice nurse asking him if he needed any medication. Once a person goes on hospice, all of the medication is taken care of by hospice. Well, Phil told her that he did need some new medication. He asked her to please have some Viagra brought to him. I am sure that his nurse was definitely not expecting this response!!

Cecilia told about the hospice nurse asking him what he had for breakfast and he responded with spaghetti . She then what he had for lunch and he said that h
ad cheese and ketchup. The nurse said she was amazed that his stomach could tolerate any of this. We also talked about how Pat had asked the hospice nurse when he first went on hospice about morphine and wasn't it "addictive?"

I have always felt that humor is much needed in the hard times of life. Bill Cosby says, "Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it."

To say that my cousins are like my sisters is an understatement. You don't chose the family that you are born into, but you can chose who you want to be around and have as friends. I am so thankful that I have all of my "Phoenix Cousins" in my life. I truly feel that I am so fortunate!!

As for Pat and Phil, I don't even know how to begin to express my feelings here. I was so touched by this day all the way on my drive back to Gilbert. This post doesn't even begin to say how much I love and admire both of them.

Thank you, Barbara, John, and Yaya, for this get together. It truly means the world to me!!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Marion and Ron--40 Wonderful Years!

I just received a phone call from my cousin, Teresa Ann, in Turlock, California. They are celebrating the 40th wedding anniversary of her sister, Marion and her husband, Ron. Marion is my Uncle Matt's daughter, and I have mentioned in previous posts that all of the Scott sisters from Phoenix are like my sisters. Marion wants to be on my blog. What is really interesting about this is that I almost wrote about her on April 8 when it was her birthday. That is when I was first starting to blog and wasn't sure about putting pictures and stories on this blog.

Marion and Ron were married 1968 in Phoenix. I remember this so well because it was when Bobby Kennedy was killed in Los Angeles. I loved Bobby Kennedy and everything he stood for. I was working at the smelter in Douglas as I had just finished my first year at ASU when this happened.

I remember visiting Marion and Ron in their apartment in California in the next few years. Marion was still a stewardess for United Airlines.

Ron went to work for Foster Farms in Turlock, California. That is where they lived and raised four wonderful children. Marty, Scott, Nate and Maggie all grew up in Turlock. One of my favorite memories of Marion's family was at our Family Reunion in 1992 in Douglas. Cecilia's three youngest children were involved in clogging and traveled around the state doing competition. They did a clogging presentation for the family. I remember Maggie, who was only about 9 at the time. She wanted to show what she
was good at and she did some cartwheels. It was so precious!!

Scott played football at the University of San Diego and we would all go to one game a year. It was so much fun for all of us to travel from the Phoenix area to San Diego to cheer on Scott and his team. My mom, Teresa, and my kids, along with all of our Phoenix relatives, would make the trip. I especially remember the year that they played Butler University from Indiana. Most o
f our cheers can't be published on this "family" site. Just use your imagination!!!

Marion is probably one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. I am not saying that because she is my cousin. She is genuinely a great lady. I admire her so much. She is a breast cancer survivor. I feel so fortunate to have her in my life. Ron is one of the nice guys of the world. I congratulate them on 40 great years together!!!!!!!! I only wish that we had known about this party tonight. I can guarantee that I would have been there to celebrate Marion and Ron and their wonderful family. Teresa stayed out in California to be a part of this celebration!

Maggie has emailed me some pictures from tonight. I am putting them on the blog, along with some "older"pictures that I think are awesome.

In this day and age where it is easier to leave a marriage than to make it work, Ron and Marion are a testimony to what a marriage and a family should


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Swimming in Memories

This has been a very quiet week--thank goodness. Many of our classrooms at school are getting new carpeting after 17 years. So the teachers absolutely had to be out of their classrooms by Tuesday. In addition, because of a bond election, everyone will be getting new updated computers. The office was quiet which is such a change from the hustle and bustle and craziness that happens on a regular basis during the school year.

I have been able to come home at a descent hour and relax. Since we had the swimming pool built last spring, one of my favorite ways to relax is to get in the pool in the evenings. The pool is heated and it feels so great to get in and relax. There are some jets where you can sit and relax. Because the spring was so hectic, I haven't gone in as much as I did last spring and fall.

I have always loved to swim. I remember going everyday to the 15th Street Pool in Douglas and spending the afternoon. This was usually with cousins who spent the summer in Douglas. We could walk to the pool with none of the fears that are part of our society today. No one that I can remember in Douglas had a "real" pool at their house. Two friends had above ground pools and I remember loving to go their houses to swim.

One day when I was about eleven or twelve, we went to the house of a family who were friends, but not ones that we spent a lot of time with. They had a small pool built in their backyard. It was about two feet below ground and two feet above ground. I remember Judy and I telling our uncle Johnny about it and how great it
would be to have something like that. Johnny was my mom's oldest brother. He lived with us and worked shift work at the Phelps Dodge Smelter. He had come back to Douglas because of divorce and a drinking problem. He became very active in A.A. and I never saw him take a drink. I remember all of the calls that he would get during the holidays from other A.A. members who needed his support. I admired him very much for his involvement in this organization and his will power.

One of the things that he did when he wasn't working was to keep busy fixing things around the house, building things, etc. He could fix anything! Whenever he went on vacation to visit family, they always had jobs for him so that he would stay around for awhile and visit.
I think this was his way of staying away from the temptation of drinking. And it worked for him!!

So Johnny went up and saw the pool. He came home and drew it up. He had a man from Agua Prieta who always helped him with large projects. This was way before anyone was worried about green cards, illegal immigrants, work visas, and such.

So Johnny and Francisco (I can't remember his name) went to work digging, putting in a drain to the sewer system, and laying blocks. They covered the blocks with cement and had the floor at an angle so that the water could drain out. He painted it with a blue swimming pool paint. He even made a small ladder to get in and out of the pool. It was a labor of love as he would do anything for Judy and I!!

Even though I was older, I still loved having friends over and getting wet in the pool. Judy was at a great age and enjoyed it immensely through the years. We had to fill it with the hose and every few days, depending on the use, drain it. To clean it, we used laundry detergent and a broom and hose and then refilled it. We always added a couple of cups of Clorox.
When my kids were little, we could put as much or as little water in that pool so that they could have fun. When they were babies, we could just put enough water for them to have fun. As they got older, we filled the pool. At its deepest, it was probably little more than three feet deep. They had fun every single day we were in Douglas for the summer with that pool!!

It was a great way to cool off and it was also a place for friends to come to swim. Like I said, most people in Douglas during my childhood and my kids' childhood didn't have pools. But we did!! Johnny would have been thrilled to know that the pool he built has been used for the past many years--I am thinking it is getting close to 50 years. It is still ready in the backyard of 858 for any kids who might come to Douglas. I know Cameron enjoyed it when he was so much younger and smaller. He still likes to get in it when we go to Douglas.

I know Johnny would be so happy and so proud of my house and the pool we had put in.
He would have loved to have been a part of helping me with all of the remodeling. I know I
have said in previous posts how fortunate I was to have had three mothers. My uncle Johnny had a significant impact in my life in many ways. I am very grateful to have had his unconditional love and his incredible support. He was so thrilled and proud when I went to ASU. He even bought me a car because he didn't want me driving back and forth to Douglas with just anyone. He died at the start of my junior year in August of 1969. I thank him for being such a wonderful influence in my life!!! I have missed him these many years and know that he is still out there looking out for all of us!!!!! Every time I get into our pool, I think of my Uncle Johnny.