Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I Remember Patty

Its been a sad several days for the Larkin and Sullivan families. My sister in law Patricia Anne Sullivan (Patty) died in her sleep last Wednesday night. She was born on St. Patricks Day and would have been 68 this past Sunday. The family always gathered on St. Patrick's Day to celebrate Patty's birthday. It was always one of the highlights of the year. This year instead we were at the funeral home for her wake. But after the wake we all came back to our house and had corned beef and all the trimmings, we toasted her with our favorite beverages, and my wife Kathy made a birthday cake, we lit the candles and sang happy birthday to her.

I have always had a special place in my heart for anyone that has to live with handicaps of any kind. And Patty has always had a special place in my heart for the 45 years I have known her. I have two sisters whom I love very much, but I love Patty just as much. She was always my sister as far as I was concerned.  Sometimes we take for granted the every day things we do, like drive a car, get married, have kids, maybe have grandchildren.  Patty couldn't do a lot of those things but she really didn't need much to be happy. In recent years if she got a puzzle and stopped at Dunkin Donuts for an iced coffee, went for a ride and stopped to see her mother,  I think she was pretty content.

In the past few years, when Patty was on a liquid diet, we couldn't go out to eat anymore. My wife Kathy would pick her up at the Group Home, and drive her to Topsfield to visit her mother- Nana, and her sister Beth. I would drive down there ahead, and spend time talking to Nana and wait for Patty and Kathy to arrive. We did these visits a couple of times each month and I always looked forward to those visits. Now there will be a big void in my life.

And in years past when Patty would come to Maine, she and I would ride down to Naples in my truck,  and we would go for a boat ride on the Songo Queen. We would sit up front on one of the benches with a good view and Patty would be sipping a coke. And afterwards we would get an ice cream. And sometimes on the way back to the cottage in Bridgton we would sing songs, maybe Christmas carols or Happy Birthday, even if they weren't in season.

My heart is heavy without Patty here anymore, and my thoughts and prayers go out to her brothers and sisters, and all her friends in the Group Home, and especially to Nana. I can't even comprehend what it is like for a parent to lose a child.

I hope Patty is in that great big blue lake in the sky, riding on that heavenly Songo Queen, sipping a coke, with her Daddy and all her aunts and uncles by her side, looking down and smiling at all of us. May God bless and keep Patricia Anne Sullivan.  Your loving brother in law. FRAN

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Blizzard of 1888

We certainly have had a lot of large snowstorms this winter including the Blizzard last month and the storm today, where some towns had two feet.  And we had superstorm Sandy last fall  and two huge snowstorms the last two Octobers. There have been many articles written about the impact global warming and the increase in ocean temperature and air temperature have had on our weather. Some articles have said that we are going to continue to have large, huge storms and more of them. And that may well be.

But huge storms have always been with us in New England history especially snow storms. The Great Snow of 1717 is still talked about. The snow was 3-4 feet deep and that was the snow, not the drifts. There was no travel for days. And more recently who can forget the Blizzard of 1978 and all those cars stranded on 128 and the state shut down for a week.

But next week is the 125th anniversary of the  grandaddy of them all- the Blizzard of 1888. March 11-14. Spring was in the air. The crocuses were coming out. The weather was unseasonably warm. And then it started to rain. But lurking to the south was a monster storm. The temperatures dropped. The rain turned to snow and before it ended 3 days later, 40 to 50 inches had accumulated. Drifts were 30 to 40 feet! Some drifts covered 3 story houses! The next time you are traveling north of Albany on the Northway, Route 87, and you pass Saratoga Springs, think of them receiving 58 inches of snow on the ground!!!That was the record for the storm.

80 mph wind gusts were reported and the barometer reached 29.00, as low as some hurricanes. The storm stalled near Block Island and just spun like a top, intensifying as it went and throwing foot after foot on New England towns. The mid Atlantic states and New England were paralyzed for days. A drift at Westport, Ct. on the railroad tracks was so huge it took 8 days to clear. More than 400 people died, including over 200 in New York City.

200 ships were wrecked or tossed ashore, leading to the loss of life of 100 sailors. And after the storm there was severe flooding as warm weather returned. After the storm New York city started placing its telegraph and telephone lines underground. And the storm was partially  responsible for the establishment of the Boston and New York underground subway systems.

So large storms have been with us in the past. The question to be answered is will they now be more frequent due to the climate changes. Keep your eye on the Weather Channel and the local stations to find out!