Best Wishes to All this Holiday Season 2008
First the good news: Sr. Mary Benedicta, Aunt Eleanor, who suffered a stroke Sept. 21, was released Dec. 15 from the skilled nursing facility where she’d been staying and returned home to the Mercy convent in Chicago. Sr. Mary Acquinice, Aunt Rita, says Sr. B will still need speech therapy, but can walk with the aid of a walker or a small electric scooter. A prayer of thanks is certainly in order.
Sr. Aquinice says Sr. B noticed the get well cards many of you sent to her during her recovery. Going through the many of them, Sr. B remarked, "Somebody must have said something."
The year started out in a difficult way with Mary Pat and Michael Groth’s son Jared dying Feb. 15 at the age of 23. Again, we offer our condolences to Mary, Mike and Jared’s brother Jeremy. A small visitation was held Feb. 17. At the party for Sr. Benedicta’s 90th birthday, Mary Pat handed out glossy prints of a painting Jared made some years ago of a flower arrangement. A framed copy of it hangs on a wall in my home.
Sideline at the Toilet Bowl, 2008. Photo: Joe Mullins
Also this year, Jim Jonas was drawn again by the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd to take to the stage in the Elm Grove, Wis.-based Sunset Playhouse performance of “The Cemetery Club.” He had performed in “The Odd Couple” there last year. His sister Sarah continues to enjoy success with her Lulu Café bar/restaurant in Bay View and on Dec. 11 opened a second restaurant in Wauwatosa called Juniper61.
Some of the cousins made a visit to Lulu Café to see brother Paul Jonas’s band 5 Card Studs perform after spending the day May 25 at Sr. B’s birthday party. A mass was said and then lunch was served inside Robert’s, a bar/restaurant in Milwaukee where my brother Joe works. It was a great opportunity for all to catch up with cousins, aunts and uncles after many years. Tricia, Bill and I came from California; Pat Werth also came from California and sister Wendy Smail from Colorado. (BTW, Wendy, SpellCheck wanted me to change that to Sister Wendy Smail, as though you were a nun, too!) Other Schields, Mullinses and Jonases came from within Wisconsin.
The only family not represented at the Milwaukee reunion was the McCorrys who were in Quincy, Ill., honoring their mother, Aunt Mary Ann McCorry, who turned 85 that same week. The McCorry clan gathered in Virginia in July for the wedding of Dan and Robin McCorry’s son Gavin. He and his bride Laura had a beautiful wedding and reception, Aunt Mary Ann tells us. Although confined to a wheelchair, she took a turn on the dance floor. Her children, Brian, Colleen and Maureen were also there with their families. Mary Ann also sent us photos of the flooding along the Mississippi River at Quincy in June. She urges those of you who are mailing Christmas cards this year to send an additional card to a U.S. soldier recovering from injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan. Here’s the address:
A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20307-5001
Sad news from Ireland, too, with the passing over the last year of Annie Bruton (center, in photo below), a cousin to Aunt Eleanor, Betty, Rita, Teresa, etc. on their father's side, and Kathleen Fagan, a cousin on their mother's side. We met Annie when we traveled to Ireland in 2003. We pulled up to her house in Newry only to find she wasn't home. As we walked back to our car, a neighbor called out, "Are you looking for Annie Bruton?" When we replied yes, he said, "Well she's gone downtown shopping and she'll be back on the 1:10 bus." The neighbor invited us into his home and served us tea while we waited. When we returned to her door, she opened it and said, "Are you the Yanks I've been hearing about?"
My sister Kathy Gesley, who has juggled multiple part time jobs over the years, now has just one full time job, as Adult Cystic Fibrosis Coordinator for a clinic made up of four transplant doctors at Stanford University Hospital. Her youngest, Maureen, graduates this month from UW-Madison, but will return in January to take a statistics class. In July 2009, Maureen plans to travel to Honduras for a volunteer teaching assignment with a group called BECA: Bilingual Education for Central America. Brendan is studying at UC-Davis and Sam works at a Peet’s coffee shop. Kathy is taking Brendan and Maureen with her to Washington, D.C., to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama as president.
Bill ends his contract job as a technical writer at Fox Studios in L.A. and joins me on unemployment, although he's also building a Web site for a magazine. I was laid off in August from a technology publication and have been writing freelance articles and blog posts in the interim. My best wishes to any of you who’ve lost jobs, hours or pay during this difficult economic time. Joe and our nephew Casey came to San Francisco in July. After a cookout at Tricia’s house, Casey went to a summer camp with his cousin Erin Freer and we grownups went to a San Francisco Giants-Milwaukee Brewers game at AT&T Park (Brewers won).
The Four Moon Men (l-r, Joe, Robert, Casey and Bill)
From Pat Werth (Schield) comes word that her parents are still enjoying the Florida sunshine. Uncle Carroll turned 91 last month and Aunt Betty turns 89 this coming February. Pat and her husband Jay have become the first of our generation of McCorrys to become eligible for Medicare! Thank you LBJ! Son Justin, daughter Megan and her husband, Nadim, plan to open a French bistro early next year. Nadim and Megan’s daughter Juliana is now 3.
Dan Schield still practices dentistry in Neillsville, but visits Boulder about once a month to treat patients with TMJ. He stays with Wendy while there. Dan and Bobbi’s daughter, Miranda, works at an ad agency in Milwaukee; son Michael graduates this month with a degree in golf course management; and daughter Emily is in her sophomore year pursuing an accounting degree at UW-Madison.
Wendy’s daughter, Brittany, moved to San Francisco this fall where she manages a restaurant and takes classes at UC-SF. Son Joey Smail lives with his father in Seattle and plays in a band.
Jim Schield has been promoted to Assistant to the Deputy Director of the International Division for the U.S. Marshall’s Service. The job involves a lot of travel abroad “and a lot of ‘Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ stuff,” jokes his brother David. Jim, David and I were all fans of that TV spy show when we were kids.
David’s and Rebecca’s daughter Jessica manages a small Italian restaurant in Denver, a job that included a 10-day visit to Italian vineyards. Son Jeffrey, a senior at Western Illinois University, plays on a soccer team that visited Croatia last spring for some competition. Daughter Grace earned her driver’s license this year.
Joe and Mary Alice still live near Pat and Jay in the Wine Country of Northern California.
Pat tells us that she was glad to be able to make it to the party for Sr. Benedicta to see relatives she hasn’t seen in years. She wrote: “How fortunate we are to have so many aunts and uncles to show us how to live out our lives with grace.”
Very true. May you all have a wonderful Christmas and a promising New Year in 2009.