A Busy Day of Celtics Basketball and the RMV

There was a particularly busy day for the family. Of all days, it was on Wife’s birthday. The day started like any other day. I dropped off The Oppressed and The Boy at school. From there, I was off to the RMV to get an ID for one of my older children who were going to take a trip. There was one small “problem”: We needed the ID fast and the only branch that would give us an appointment when we needed it was on the other side of the state.

That was fine with me. I love driving. A chance to take a ride with one of my kids makes it even better. We made our way across the fair Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I asked our child how they were doing. They responded, “Great.” I told them I was excited to spend the day taking a drive them. I asked if they were excited. They answered, “Oh, yeah. Totally.”

Mass RMV 🚗 🚙

While we were driving, I told our child about a fun, exciting time I had at an RMV a couple of years ago. I needed to conduct business at a local RMV and saw a quasi-altercation between a customer and a nice lady behind the counter. A policeman had to get involved and said customer was escorted from the premises. For a moment, it looked like they were going to be arrested. They weren’t, and everyone continued with their day.

“Who knows?” I said to my child. “We may see some excitement today. Then again, we’ll be in Western Mass. People there tend to be nicer and more laid back, but there’s always a chance.

A policeman had to get involved and said customer was escorted from the premises. For a moment, it looked like they were going to be arrested.

We made good time getting to the RMV. The Boy and The Oppressed were dropped off late enough in the morning, so we didn’t hit traffic on the Mass Pike. We got to the RMV with time to spare. We sat in the car for a couple of minutes, as it was not time for our appointment yet. I decided we should take a shot and go in. Let’s see if someone cancelled and we can be seen early.

We walk in and check with the nice people at the front desk. They look at our paperwork. Everything looks good. We wait for our number to be called. When it’s called, we go to the assigned window. Paperwork checked and stamped. Photo taken. Alas, there were no altercations to witness. We walked out of the RMV with an ID at the time our appointment was scheduled to begin.

Shopping for Gifts

We pull out of the lot. My child asked if we could do some shopping. There are some things they would like to get for a friend. We find a nearby mall on the GPS. My child isn’t sure what they should get their friend. I ask questions to try to help them get some ideas.

We walk around the mall. They find a store. FYE. We walk in. Child walks around looking for something for their friend. I look around the store for a CD. I think I’ve done a good job parenting today and I’m worth it. They walk out with gifts for their friend. I walk out with a new Doors CD. I listen to the CD on the ride back. My child hears nothing but what’s playing through their earbuds. Their loss.

Boston Celtics Basketball

We get home. I drop off the child with their new ID and continue on to school where I get The Boy and The Oppressed. I tell them about my day and the fun I had driving across the state.

There’s plenty to do. I bring the children home and help them with their homework. We need to make sure things are finished earlier than usual. Remember when I told you it was Wife’s birthday? Well, it just so happens that Wife was able to secure tickets for all of us to see the Celtics.

Slugger just happens to love basketball, so we decide to have an early celebration of Slugger’s birthday on Wife’s birthday. We make sure the children are ready to go. Preparations are made. It’s been quite the day for me. I went into Western Mass during the day, and I’ll be in Boston that night. I don’t remember the last time I was at a Celtics game. Rick Pitino may have been the coach the last time I saw the Celtics. I don’t think he’ll be walking through that door tonight.

It’s a close game. The Celtics trailed but were able to pull it off. 108-102 over the Denver Nuggets. It was an exciting game. I think Slugger and I enjoyed it the most, which is the case when we go to sporting events.

After the game we stop at a restaurant for something to eat but before we exit the TD BankNorth Garden, I notice a mural of the Rolling Stones on the wall. I explain to The Oppressed that one night in 1999, my dad and I travelled to the Garden, then known as the FleetCenter to see the Rolling Stones perform. I don’t know if the picture was from that night, but I had her stand in front of the picture and sent it to Dad

From the restaurant, we drive home. It’s been a long day. I collapse into bed. There was a road trip with one of my children. I went to a Celtics game. We celebrated two birthdays. Jealous? You should be.

A long night, but a good one

Saying Good-bye to my Grandmother

1928-2022

My grandmother passed away recently. This wasn’t shocking news to anyone. She was 94 years old, and her health had been failing, which is often the case when you reach 94. I’ve said it before, and I’ll tell you now: We are born, we die. Enjoy the in-between.

Wife, Mother, Grandmother

No one lives forever. That’s common knowledge, but with some people, you wonder. My grandmother, “Grammy”, who went on to become known as “Great-Grammy G” when the next generation made its appearance, was the stuff you read about and see in movies. Grammy raised 11 children. My dad was the oldest. I think my aunt, the youngest, was in elementary school when Grammy’s husband, “Bud” passed away.

(L-R) Santa Claus, me, Grammy

My house has five, sometimes six kids. I think a basketball team in my house is a hassle. I can just imagine what a football team could have been like. Grammy took care of them all. She took care of them while working full-time. I was grateful for all the aunt and uncles I had, especially when Christmas came along and there were no other children. My brother, sister, and I had a great racket going until said aunts and uncles ruined it by having kids of their own.

A Not-so-Easy Life

Holy Family Church. Where Grammy (and sometimes, me) attended mass. (Photo: facebook.com)

It wasn’t easy for her, but she never complained, and she never quit. She woke up every morning and did her thing. She read. She did puzzles. On Sundays she went to church like all good Irish Catholics. Grammy was there for anyone and everyone through thick and thin. I remember her taking care of my uncle after a car accident. Another uncle, her son-in-law, died in the beginning of 2005. I don’t doubt she was there for my aunt offering whatever support was needed. Another aunt, her daughter, died in 2006. My grandmother was with her at the hospital making her as comfortable as she could. After the memorial service, I mentioned being concerned about Grammy after burying her daughter. My dad said, “Grammy’s a tough old bird.” So, she was.

Celebrations

Grammy, for the most part, stayed in Lynn, Mass, where she raised her family, worked, then retired. I was one of the first people who found out about her retirement. At least I think I was. I was riding my bike one evening in the summer of 1993 when I decided on a whim to visit. We were sitting at the kitchen table drinking Lipton Iced Tea, a drink I always associated with her, when she told me she was retiring. That fall, Grammy, her children and grandchildren got together to celebrate her retirement. As usual, it was a raucous, fun-filled event that was packed to the rafters with relatives, friends and other well-wishers. It was always an exciting time when my family got together.

My confirmation. Fall, 1993. Grammy was my sponsor.

It was exciting with the family or just with her. All of the grandchildren remember the day they became taller than Grammy. That meant lunch at the now-defunct Porthole restaurant. A rite-of-passage that celebrated our literal growing up. Years ago, she took my brother and me to a Christmas party hosted by her boss. I don’t remember if my sister had been born, yet. I forgot her name, but I remember her boss walking around the house with a light-up Santa hat, greeting visitors and talking to guests. The house was small, and the crowd was big. It was hot that night in that house.

The Christmas Pageant. Look closely and you can see my head over the podium.

Love and Prayers

Speaking of Christmas, I had the honor of narrating the Christmas pageant in kindergarten. Thirty-five years later, Grammy still talked about the day I narrated the Christmas pageant. There was a part where shepherds and wise men weren’t where they were supposed to be. They were probably following the wrong star. I was reminding them where they needed to be, totally oblivious to the hot mike in front of me. My grandmother always made sure to mention that part, too. I told people if I wrote a best seller or won a major award, someone, Barbara Walters, Lester Holt, anyone would find her and interview her. She would tell them about the time her grandson narrated the Christmas pageant and directed people to their right place.

Luckily, we had our chance to say our good-byes. People at one time or another visited, said hello, and said good-bye. We thought we were going to lose her during the height of Coronapalooza. She beat that, too. Like I said: No one lives forever, but sometimes you wonder.

So, that’s it. Grammy has left us. She’s left the mortal coil to see “Bud”, Wayne, and Patty. She’ll say hello to Charlie and Janice and scores of other friends and relatives she hasn’t seen in years or decades. Her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren will come together again and again Grammy will be the central reason for us coming together, just like we did on all those Sunday afternoons to celebrate her birthday. Just like we did on those Christmas evenings. I now leave you with the words written by Norma to everyone and anyone who ever saw her or received a card from her at any time in their life:

Love and Prayers, Forever and Always.

Follow me on Twitter @Greg_the_Brave

Smart Technology and Parenting in the time of Uber Eats

The children in our house, all of them, like to remind me from time to time how old I am. Apparently, people over a certain age are called “Boomer” by the future of our country. The traditional “Baby Boomers” no longer have this special term exclusively. If you are out of high school, or college (I’m not quite sure how it works), you are a “Boomer”.

Whatever. These are the people who need to be reminded to take their jacket with them when they leave the house on a cold and frosty morning. These are the same people who “forgot” to close a car door. These Miracles of Christ do amazing things that leave you guessing and wondering. You have children. You understand what I’m saying.

Uber Eats logo
Savior of my children.

These misinformed malcontents tend to delight in the fact that I can’t understand, won’t embrace technological advances. Uber Eats is an example. People can’t leave the house anymore for fast food. People are this lazy. I am jealous of whoever thought of this, and I think about the people who utilize this and wonder how I’m not rich yet.

Math work done on a piece of graph paper.
Old-school schoolwork.

Another example of the generation gap is homework. You, a loyal reader, are aware of “The Homework Wars” that occur at our home. The Oppressed will occasionally ask for help with her math. I will go over the problems with her. We will come to a step, and I will ask her what the answer to this problem is. She will ask our smart technology what the answer is. Meanwhile, I will do the work on paper in the old-fashioned way.

Sometimes the technology will short out, sometimes it won’t hear her. I usually get the answer first in my old, “Boomer” way. Sometimes it will be a tie. It doesn’t matter. My early-adopting children know what they’re doing, and we have the technology. My kids are ready to utilize that technology, and I would be well-advised to adopt it, embrace it, and use it.

I still say people are misinformed. There’s being an early adopter and there’s rushing and getting ahead of one’s self. Recently, I’ve been getting emails from AARP. You and I both know I’m nowhere near eligible for that lobby.

Some people think the email is accurate. It’s spam, of course. Someone is pretending to represent this fine organization hoping to steal personal information. I’m not falling for it. I know how young I am, and I know this is either spam or an actual mistake.

Back to the children. There are constant debates about methods, styles, and different tastes in all kinds of things. Whatever it is I’m reading, watching, listening to, children like to give their unsolicited opinion. Sometimes I will engage and explain to them why they are so misguided, other times I’m just too busy doing what I’m doing to tell them why they’re wrong. Even if I did have the time, I don’t think they would listen, anyway. Which is too bad, because they obviously need the help and guidance.

An email inbox with a message from AARP.
What the…?

Walking to School with the Kids

We had a special day at the school of The Oppressed and The Boy. We had our annual “Walk to School Day”. Allow me to explain to you why walking to school with the kids is a special event in my town. Sidewalks are few and far between. My neighborhood has no sidewalks at all, and we share the road with cars. It’s fun. Once you get out of my neighborhood, there may or may not be a sidewalk on one side that people walking in both directions can share. New York is a walking city. Some say Boston is a walking city. My city? Not so much.

I walked to school every day from the first grade to the eighth. I went to high school in a different town, so walking would have taken a while and proven a little difficult. When my kids started school, I couldn’t understand how kids couldn’t walk to a school they live so close to, but here we are: Unable to walk to school every day.

Houses in a suburban neighborhood with walkways shoveled after getting 30 inches of snow.
The 30 inches of snow we received. Luckily, some was gone before our walk.

That’s alright. “Walk to School Day” gave me a chance to do something with my younger kids. One, like me, wishes we could do it every day. Another is happy to take a car to and from school. I tell both children we can’t walk to school if everyone doesn’t agree to walk. I don’t like taking the car, but it’s what I can do to keep everyone happy.

The Big Day

So, the day we walk to school finally arrived. Police were stationed at various points to make sure there was some type of demarcation between cars and pedestrians. One of my children had band practice. I carried their instrument for them so they wouldn’t be burdened too much. We made it to school. Hearts beating, blood pumping. Luckily, the day wasn’t as cold as it had been and some of the 30+ inches of snow we got had been cleared enough for us to move our legs. Our children were happy to be at school. The Oppressed was very happy because it meant the walk was over and she was promised we could drive home.

Children and parents in front of school in the morning.
Arriving at school. The end
of an arduous march.

That was fine. I was happy to walk home that morning and get a little more exercise. On the way home, I ran into someone who felt the need to bend my ear about something. I honestly don’t remember what, but they had a lot to say. I guess I forgot to remove the sign from my face that says, “Tell me Your Life Story”.

So, that was our morning walk. I went about my business and did what I needed to do after our morning constitutional. That afternoon, I went to pick up the children. As we were walking away from the building, The Oppressed reminds me I said we were driving home. I reminded her I never said what afternoon that was. You ever see hope leave a child’s face? It’s hilarious. I wish I had a camera. It reminded me of another day.

“A Collection of Short Stories” is now available on Apple Books.