Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A year to remember

Published December 28, 2005

At the end of every year, J.D. and I look back on the events of the previous year and we marvel at how much has happened in such a short amount of time. Some years are happier than others. Obviously, when we’ve celebrated the birth of our kids, took major trips or had huge family reunions, these were red letter years. This year was no exception, with it’s mixed bag of joys and sorrows.

Every New Year’s Eve, we celebrate the birthday of our son, Conor. Three days later his sister, Birdy (as we affectionately call her) celebrates her birthday. Noni shares her birthday in January with Elvis, and Pop Pop’s birthday is at the end of January. We seemed to sail through these dates and we had a lot of fun in the process. February started an early Lent and we made it to the end of March for a very nice Easter Sunday celebration.

The week after Easter, my oldest, Shannon had surgery on her knee and subsequently became very ill with a septic infection that required a second surgery and an extensive hospitalization and home recovery. While we were in the hospital, we met a very special little baby who was born three months premature, who had a host of medical problems that threatened her life every day. Her name was Maryjane. I wrote a column about her last year. She was a baby who lived, beyond any expectation of the team of physicians working with her. Shannon was discharged from the hospital after two weeks and we kept in touch with her parents. Her mother was especially valiant in caring for her at home and at the hospital over the last 8 months.

Pop had his surgery in November and I’ve been writing about his hospitalization over the last two months. I’m writing this column from the hospital as we continue to monitor his progress towards a complete recovery. This is my wish for 2006. That Pop will walk again. That he will be home at the end of the January, in time for his birthday, celebrating with us the victory he had over death which seemingly loomed over him in November.

Maryjane went to heaven on December 18. We kept vigil with her the night before her death. We sang “Silent Night” and prayed the rosary with her large extended family. Conor held her for 20 minutes after she passed away and when I asked him if he was OK, he said “Mom it’s a privilege to hold a saint”. We were able to have a huge formal burial Mass for her family. Fifteen altar boys processed up the aisle of the church, after Fr. Deprey crowned her little head with a wreath of white flowers. The full schola and choir sang the Mass of the 4th Sunday of Advent, the same Mass which was sung on the morning she died. It was one of the most bittersweet experiences we’ve ever had. Maryjane looked beautiful in her white baptismal gown, like a little queen who was ready to be in heaven for her first birthday which was December 26. Her procession to St. Mary’s cemetery was like unto the highest dignitary. She deserved it. I have made a new friend in her mother, Michelle. I am proud of her and admire her strength and courage.

One thing about the end of a particularly troubling year is that it has to come to an end on December 31. We promised Conor we would take him out to do something fun for his 12th birthday, and then out for steak dinner. There will always be a party somewhere on his birthday as long as he lives. It’s befitting that he was born on New Year’s Eve because he is fun loving and full of life.

I am proud of J.D. and our children. They held down the fort over the last two months when I was taking care of Pop Pop. My daughters picked up the pieces at home, decorating the house and putting up the tree, while I was at the hospital with my Dad. Shannon and Birdy took over the duties I had with cleaning and cooking - running the household like little mothers themselves.

At the end of a particularly trying year, I am thankful for a loving husband, who after eighteen years, is still my very best friend. I am thankful for friends who pray, and help you when you’re out of sorts with life. 2006 is going to be a New Year. Full of optimisim, I can’t wait for it to arrive. On behalf of my family, have a very happy, blessed and safe New Year! I'll be seeing you on the other side.

Tammy Maher is a resident of El Dorado Hills and a bi-weekly columnist for the Mt. Democrat. You can reach her at

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