Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sunshine and Skin

This winter of 2018 has been a new one for the books.  I have found myself living with a retiree, my dear husband, Bruce.  We have decided to become Florida residents and I'm now in the middle of a cliche!

The idea came to him when he realized that we could avoid paying New York State income tax.  The hitch is that we spend 6 months plus one day in Florida.  Now, this was never on my bucket list.  I love the winters down here but I think myself much too young to be down in the land of old folks.

I may be in denial of my age as I am having a big birthday in 3 short months.  The denial is genetic.  My mom, Margo, never wanted to grow old and ended up dying at a relatively young age to avoid that.  However, she loved the sun, cigarettes and her wine.  All have a detrimental effect on both the body and the skin around it.  She Nivea-ed and oiled and took vitamins that advertised a "youthful complexion" but, alas, nature had its way with her.

A week after coming down to Florida, I found a dermatologist.  There were some bumps and lumps that weren't there before.  Of course, the doctor gave me the line "I see you got a lot of sun as a kid"; one that I've heard often.  She scared me to the point that the sun is no longer my friend.  I cover up with lotion and make sure my face is pasty white with some zinc concoction when I open the door in the morning.

This doesn't seem like a great way to spend 4-5 months in this tropical climate.  I am a golfer and love to walk in the fresh air.  There has to be a happy medium so I don't end up with a face that looks like an alligators grandmother.

I can still enjoy my sports and swim in the Gulf but the sunblock must be reapplied several times a day, not just in the morning.  This is a small price to pay to save my life from skin cancer.  I got plenty of sun as a kid, anyway.  Baby oil and iodine all over my lily white, sensitive Irish skin, making it sizzle like bacon.  Ouch!  Although I can't rewind the clock, I can prevent one or two wrinkles.  You've done enough damage, Mr. Sun!

Sunday, October 29, 2017


My father, George F. Sheehan, Sr., passed from this life on September 17, 2017.  He gently slipped away in his sleep, alone.  I don't really know about the "gently" or "alone" parts because I wasn't there.  He was in his little room at the Assisted Living place he's been in since April.  His aide, Val, had heard him talking in his sleep, as she did often.  When she went in to check on him, he was gone.

I had been working on a reunion for my Seminary, One Spirit, for the last year.  It came the same weekend in upstate New York.   I was woken up early that morning with a sweet voice that told me "Your Dad passed".  It was Val.  She later told me she sat with him for about two hours until my brother came to see Dad.  Then Doug stayed with him for another two hours until the doctor pronounced him.

It was surreal to me.  I prayed for his easy death; we all did. I saw how he suffered daily over the last five months. he made it to 95 plus 38 days!  It's been a tough month since and he is sorely missed by me and so many family and friends.

So, what now?  I think of him when I go to the grocery and see some tea or cookies he might like.  I smell his coats which will be donated to help the homeless this winter.  Each thank you note I write makes me grateful about all the people who showed up and still show up for us. But my heart is broken.  I feel like a huge part of it has been lopped off.  My father is no longer here to talk to about the World Series, about current events, about family drama, golf and friends.  I miss him when I think of old stories and want someone to affirm them.  I guess I'm the keeper of the stories now, along with my siblings.

I've been writing a monthly column for a local magazine for the last 14 years.  It's focus is on my reflections about growing up along the South Shore of Long island and the happenings of the past and present.  I would always write about my father--so many columns are written about him and focused on his influence in my life.  He would always say "Don't write about me until after I'm dead, Bob."  I'd laugh and keep writing about my favorite subject. I know the words will keep him alive in my heart and will let others know what kind of a guy he was.  So, Dad, now that I have your permission, there are so many more stories to come.  Life is Eternal and Love never dies.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Father's Day 2017

Long time, no blog.  Been working on a book, a new website, journaling and trying to keep up with the weddings, funerals and blessings I've been asked to do.

This new year has been one of change.  An aging Father who is entering his last months of life.  His heart is like an old car engine.  It isn't performing as well as the chassis looks from the outside. If you see him, he's frail, smaller and can hardly hear a word.  But his beautiful bright blue eyes can flash with love at me and my heart melts. He's with a bunch of oldies in an assisted living place that is like the Taj Mahal!  It was the only place we could have him live comfortably. He has good, old friends who live there and tries to socialize as best he could.   I know he's waiting for August 3, 2017 when he'll turn 95.  He's told me that he can die on August 4th!

It's tough to say that this may be his last year.  I've known him for a long time!  We've gone through our ups and downs.  The last 23 years since Mom died, we have become closer and he depends on me more and more.  It doesn't matter what time of day or night, I can get his call and I'm there!  It's what I owe him.  He did a wonderful job giving me the guidelines for a full, fruitful, courageous life.  He taught me well how to give to others, how to extend yourself even though you don't always want to.  He was the leader of our gang and we did follow where he led, even though we didn't know it at the time. 

When Dad goes, I'll be sad.  I'll cry as I am doing now.  But I know--I KNOW--he doesn't want to be here in this physical body that is crumbling minute by minute.  He said to me recently:  "You live too long".  When that day comes, I won't agree with him.  I'll want to see those blue eyes flashing at me one more time, hear his voice say to me "Love you, baby". Love you, Dad.  Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Losses and beginnings

I just heard today that a beautiful friend of mine has passed.  She suffered from a brain tumor and survived 35 months!  Patti was a holistic follower long before it became fashionable. She taught yoga and helped others get healthy through her work as a graduate of the IIN  (Institute of Integral Nutrition).
Those that knew her are sad at the loss of such a brave, loving woman.  But her pain was unbearable. She wasn't the vital, tall stunning blond, strutting down the fairway anymore.  She was sick. 
I can say all kinds of beautiful and spiritual platitudes about how she is at peace and out of her pain.  Maybe she is.  Maybe she has transcended this earth.  Maybe she is at one with the Divine, who knew her struggles.  Maybe she can watch her husband, children and granddaughter go on without her and shower them with her grace.  Maybe.
We all grieve differently.  I grieve like this--expressing my love for her on paper.  I know--for certain--that she is out of her human pain.  We all may have to go through this at one time or another.  I know she can love us from where she is now.  Her Spirit is much too strong to go this early.  I tell families that at wakes and gravesites.  I ask them to watch for their loved ones, listen for their whispers or their nudges.  I am certain that my beautiful friend will be watching over her family and her friends for the next few days.  I see her gorgeous smile and laughing eyes, her resounding voice that tells us she is all right and we will be all right, too. Bon Voyage, Patti.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Holy Heat Batman!

"Well the temperature's rising, it isn't suprising, we certainly can can-can"
I have no great desire to dance during our recent heat wave. It almost hit 100 degrees here in New York last week.  I even curtailed some of my outdoor activities--not at all like me!

I performed three weddings last week.  One was super-windy and the Unity Candle ceremony was a bust.  The couple had already been legally married the night before in a church and I was the "friend wedding" officiant.  They even forgot the rings!  How did that happen, when they were already married?

Next day was way out on Long Island at a beautiful venue.  The bride was super-anxious about the heat and I reassured her earlier in the week that I would make it super quick.  I didn't want to short change her but she was very nervous.  The groom was cool and calm!  They had been together since high school so I guess it wasn't a big deal to him!  It WAS hot--water was available thanks to the venue and nobody melted.  I took off to regroup and marry the last twosome.

The last couple were two women who wanted to get married at the beach.  I opened up our family beach house to them.  They were also Interfaith-Jewish and Christian-so we had a reading about the Temple and how one has to die to find their true soulmate who was always waiting for them.  So beautiful.  Two lightbulbs crushed and a "Mazel Tov"!!  They were having their big bash in Cancun this week and I wish them much love and joy on this next journey.

You can't beat the heat.  I love what I do for couples and have to say it's definitely a ministry.  I said last summer that I wouldn't have weddings every weekend again.  August is my anniversary month and want to spend some quality weekends with my hubby.  He sometimes is my chauffeur and then we go out to a nice dinner somewhere on the way home.  He supports my ministry and loves telling people I'm a minister.  He had been in a Catholic Seminary after high school for 6 years and he should have been the Reverend Brownyard.  Instead, the female Brownyard in the partnership holds that title! 

Blogging in the AC--remind me of this in January!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Whats Going On?

Blogging on a Saturday morning when it's cool and sun isn't powerful.  It's been a scorcher here in NY. But the way the country has been going crazy, I think the heat is only part of the problem.

Killings this week across the South.  I hate to watch the news or even look at my Facebook or Twitter. I know that there is a Higher Power in charge but wonder if He/She isn't someplace cooler on vacation.

I'm not a fan of guns, and have never even held one in my hand.  Wouldn't let my kids have toy guns, either. The thought of pointing a lethal weapon at another human being scares the you-know-what out of me.  It's senseless--is it anger and fear that is precipitating all this violence?.  "I don't know you, therefore I'm going to shoot you dead".  It is so impersonal to pick up a piece of metal and pull a trigger.  Then so many families and neighborhoods are devastated forever.

Perhaps, no, not just perhaps, but certainly we must know each other.  We must look our fellow humans in the eye and ask them who they are.  What do you believe in?  What makes you happy/sad/mad.  Dialogue:  Talk:  Open up:  Get human:  Put down your fears:  What are we waiting for?

I am saddened-so much pain and fear.  I choose love today.  I will walk in mindfulness for those who are affected by the madness in the South and all over our world.  Who will walk with me?

Saturday, May 7, 2016


A new chapter has opened up in our lives.  Our home has been sold and we are "right-sizing" to a beautiful condo.  I'll be sad to leave this place, our home for the longest time in our marriage. We've had new grand-children brought home from the hospital to live with us, our son and his wife planned their destination wedding from these rooms and we have been blessed to have lots of great friends and family gatherings here.

The greatest joy was to have my couples meet me in my home office.  I created a beautiful, peaceful sanctuary in one of our rooms.  I think I enjoy meeting the couples when they are in their jeans, relaxed.  They open up about their engagement, how they met and what they love about each other.  We have one or two meetings, depending on the time we have to plan. I give them ideas for readings from my files after I get the "flavor" of their ceremony. I have pictures of weddings I've done around the room, some beautiful sacred items and a cozy couch for them to sit on. 

When its impossible for them to come to me, I meet couples at places that are convenient to them:  Starbucks, Paneras, diners or even a park bench will do.  I've been into the City to have dinner with some of my brides and grooms, grooms and grooms and brides and brides!  It's a joy!

I'll remember the wedding we had in our backyard, another in the dining room and a pronouncement in the living room of our home.  We asked a friend to come with us from the diner to witness a late night wedding last year.  Wherever you gather, I'm available and ready to watch you elope to a new marital status!