Tag Archives: family

Hurry Back, Wizard


You can see where I get my glam thing

So my Mom would’ve been 80 yesterday (I think, if my math is correct…as she well knew, I suck at math) and I miss her like crazy. She had Alz which started about a couple of years or more before she passed, so the grieving process of “losing” her really started long before she died. It was brutal for my family to see her go from a sassy, quick-witted, life-of-the party “everyone’s Mom” to a person we just didn’t know; one fearful of her house and unaware of her surroundings. She would sort of go in and out of the dementia at times though – we had her in assisted living and, during one of my visits to Detroit to see her we were taking her back to her room. She didn’t want to go back in and we were trying to convince her it was ok. She looks at me and goes, “that woman in there (pointing to her room which she occupied alone) – she’s very, very ill…she needs to MACK THAT OUT with her doctor….” I’m like, “Mom did you turn into a pimp all of a sudden? Mack that out???” She goes, “You know, mack that out…” My sister’s boyfriend was standing behind her and I thought he was gonna bust out laughing.

Her personality would just pop in sometimes, seemingly out of nowhere. One of my brothers and sisters had taken her to the emergency room one day because she had fallen and hit her head. They had to wait a really long time to get in to have her examined and I guess she was just out of it and really acting ornery and squirrelly. My brother gets up at one point and says, “I’m going for coffee,” and she says, “oh, hurry back, wizard,” a term she used to always tease him with when he had fucked something up. Then they all just started laughing their asses off, including her. Demented levity.

My Sunday afternoons used to include a 2-hour conversation with Mom – every week we’d have a gab fest and she’d keep me up-to-date with the latest family doings. She’s been gone for 3 years now. It gets a little easier with time I guess, but we mark these dates like birthdays, dates of deaths and other occasions with a little bit of bittersweet melancholy.

And I’m mackin it out.



My mom used to watch The Mike Douglas Show “religiously;” she thought he was “so handsome,” and “you know, I believe he’s also Catholic!!!” “But then he has “SUCH WEIRDOS” on his show, “I DON’T KNOW WHAT HE’S THINKING!!!” “That foul-mouthed Richard Pryor, and who is that freak with the Afro?” “And Zappa? Where is HE from?” “Don’t even get me started about Lennon – we should never have gotten you those Beatles records … you might have turned out normal.”

Thanks, mom, if you hadn’t gotten me those Beatles records, I might have turned out normal.





For a dull dreary rainy Monday morning


The International Silver String Submarine Band. My brother Michael and I used to watch Little Rascals every day for hours on end. His kids watch them (he bought all the dvds), and I hope his kids’ kids will watch them. I always liked the radio guy in the booth getting his hat blown off, and always felt just like that guy when we’d have really noisy bands on in the radio studio who were sorta out of control (Cows, Mother’s Day, Killdozer.) Lots of over-modulation going on.



Mike & Peggy, a Ford couple

My Mom used to razz my Dad mercilessly, “Farty Farty Ford!!!” And my Dad would go, “Ford Motor Company puts bread & butter on this table, and don’t you forget it, Peggy.” My Dad worked at Ford (or “Ford’s,” as they say in Detroit) his entire career – they don’t churn out company men like him anymore. 

ford tough

A product of the Ford family

I miss them madly now that they have both left this mortal coil, and, yeah, I was built Ford tough.

Big Sister


I am about to start my Communications and Public Relations Internship at Big Brothers Big Sisters this week, and it got me to start thinking about my own match with my Little, Denver, who is now age 18.

I’d like to say that we did AMAZING and ADVENTUROUS things together, my Little and me, but we never really did anything on a Grand Scale. Our favorite thing to do was talking. And more talking. And a little more talking. It didn’t really matter where we were.

I met Denver when she was 8 years old. Our first “date” was a trip to the Walker Art Center with Denver’s older sister, Australia, and her new Big Sister (a double date.) I’d say it was awkward, to say the least. I can’t recall what the exhibit was called, but I think the art was sort of pretentious and, well you know, art being subjective and all of that, we didn’t really agree that it was art. One exhibit was a mop and a bucket. Denver cracked up at that one. We had lunch at the Walker and took Australia’s Big (I cannot remember her name) and the kids home. I don’t think Australia and her Big clicked, but Denver and I definitely did, and it began our long journey of Big and Little.

Our favorite Saturday or Sunday would go something like this: I’d pile my two big mutts, Egor and Iggy, into my Isuzu Trooper and swing by Denver’s house to pick her up. I always hung out at her house for a little bit and talked with Denver’s mom, who I really liked a lot. My dogs adored Denver (or Auntie Denver, as she became known to them.) We’d head over to the dog park out by the airport and let the dogs run loose and we’d just follow along, walking the whole length of the park, twice. When we’d go there in spring, the park would be really muddy, and I believe Denver wrecked a couple pairs of nice basketball shoes. Mom wasn’t very happy about that. me & denver

With the dogs then finally exhausted, tired and sometimes muddy, we’d load them up into the Trooper and head up 28th Avenue South to the Nokomis Beach Coffee Shop to get a bite to eat, and then stop by the used book store next door; sometimes finding a treasure to purchase, sometimes not. It was the looking that was fun.

That would be a typical “short” Saturday visit. If I didn’t have anything else going on, the longer version of the Denver-Patti Experience would be all of the above activities, and extend to going back to my house and cooking Italian food and sometimes making carrot bread.

And talking. And more talking.

Here is a memorable, solving-problems-of-the-world conversation we once had:

“Patti, why do white people act so strange and treat our family so bad sometimes?”

“Denver, I can’t answer on behalf of all ‘white people’ any more than you can answer for all African American people. I don’t have the answers, there’s still a lot of racism out there, and unfortunately you and your family sometimes experience it first-hand. But I don’t represent all white people. I don’t know why stupid racist people do what they do. They’re just ignorant.”

“Anyway, Patti, you’re not white, you’re Irish.”

“Oh yeah, that’s right!”

We had had a previous conversation about how the Irish were treated when they first immigrated to America, and that my Dad had experienced being called a “dirty mick” and other slurs on the Irish.

We had lots of other experiences like going to ValleyFair a couple of times, going to basketball games, festivals and other events, and of course BBBS events like picnics, cooking and yoga classes. Denver even came and did radio with me up at KFAI. We also did quite a few bike rides around Lake Harriet.

Denver’s all grown up now – she graduated from high school and is having her own adventures. When she started getting busy with her friends at age 16 and our “dates” started becoming fewer and farther between, she asked me if we were still going to be “sisters,” and I told her “yes, we’ll always be sisters.”

We haven’t talked in a while, but I’ll be catching up with her soon, hopefully.

Just like I do with my blood sisters.

Ok, I Won’t.


Things unfold in the weirdest ways…one window slams and several doors open…or is it doors slamming and windows opening?  I can’t remember the saying at the moment. Ride that roller coaster, Red! Weeeeee! Ain’t it fun? I’m more about busting out windows – or, well, mostly about windexing them because most of the time they’re merely dirty. I just need to stay inside and glance outward. I come from scrappy Irish scrubber women stock — I might wear my heart on my sleeve, but then I roll up those sleeves and get back to work. There’s stuff to do.

The Sonics in Minneapolis this Saturday Night at First Ave.


I am pretty happy about this show – I was invited to go to another show tonight, but had to decline as I wanted to be rested for The Sonics tomorrow. What, like 2 shows in a weekend? Are you kidding me? Whoooaa, Nelly! Whaddya think I’m 22 or something? Yeah, I’m not even playin, I’m goin there, uh huh. It’s my turn.

Synchronized Sleeping

sleepingdogzThese guys, I tell ya. I look over at them and my old hardened heart just melts. They are attached at the hip.
Speaking of hips, Egor (the pointy eared chow chow fella) had hip dysplasia – as bad as it gets – when he was all of 9 months old. That was a quick $3,000 that we didn’t really have – oh man, ouch! We were at a backyard party and several dogs, all puppies, were running and running and all of a sudden there was a painful yelp…oh I can still hear it. We rushed Egor to the emergency vet – of course, it was on a Saturday night. So we had them do a bone scraping sort of operation to make the hip joint fit better – he’s been fine ever since – he runs a little wobbly is all. They told us to always be aware that he might have trouble on the opposite side, and to keep a lookout. Seems ok, so far, and he’s six years old.
Iggy’s the healthiest pet I’ve ever owned. I believe it’s because he is so expressive and lets his emotions out so frequently (not unlike his namesake.) This dog moans and groans like no other dog I’ve ever seen. Didn’t pet him enough? Harumph, I’m walking away now. I didn’t get two cookies? Hmmmm. I’m just gonna sit over here and pout. Did you just pet Egor and not me? Mmmmmm, me no likey.
Of course, I get accused of anthropomorphizing these two all the time. “They’re dogs, Patti.” “Yeah, I know. But they’re my boys, they’re my special boys.” “Sheesh.”
I know. I’m a dog ma lunatic.

Nana & Pop-pop


nana&pop-pop2My Mom’s parents, Alice Murphy Kennedy and Robert Kennedy (yeah, I know) were a very big part of my rearing. We drove to their house in Harrison, New Jersey, every Sunday after mass to have dinner. Dinner, watch Disney, Ed Sullivan, drive back to Midland Park. Every single Sunday.

I adored my Nana Kennedy. She taught third grade in the Kearney School District, and I can remember being pretty little when she brought me into her class and I sat up on her desk like I was “show and tell.” Her kids fawned all over me, and I recall feeling pretty special.

Nana and Pop-pop had a special playroom right off of the kitchen – it was really tiny and I loved it – it had a toy chest and a little desk with crayons and construction paper. My brother Michael and I would spend hours in there while my Mom and Nana, and sometimes their next-door neighbor, Ta Baker, were gabbing in the kitchen, drinking cups of percolated coffee and smoking. Well, Ta didn’t smoke, but Mom smoked Tarringtons (I’d rather fight than switch,) and Nana smoked Salem menthols (Take a puff…it’s springtime.) Sometimes they’d have some coffeecake, or crumb-bums, as Nana used to call them. Mmmm, New Jersey, bakeries, crumb-bums. Heaven.

I think my sister Christine, who was about 9 months old, was crawling around in the playroom sometimes – she probably wasn’t being watched very well. We were busy coloring; I don’t think we were responsible for her…. And in the kitchen there was so much gossip to get caught up on, you know? Christine grew into one of the strongest, most self-reliant, independent women I’ve ever known, so maybe this baby neglect was useful in the long-run.


“Son of a bitch, take the g.d. picture already!” “Bob, the kids….”

Pop-pop was a rather curmudgeonly character with coke-bottle glasses. He was an avid reader of history books, loved to golf, and was constantly puffing on a big, fat stogy. In his youth, he sang in a barbershop quartet. He was a terrible driver and cussed like a sailor. Despite his gruff exterior, he was a total creampuff and oh boy, when Christine was born, was he ever enamored with her! I’m sure he loved all of us, but was very taken with Christine – I think all grandparents have their special grandkids – not all of them show it like Pop-pop did. Like I said, total creampuff.

Fast forward to 1990-something. Nana and Pop-pop long gone. I was visiting my Mom and came across my Nana’s grey curly Llama coat that she wore for years – oh, it was so her. I took it out of the closet and put it on – it smelled like cigars – man, the floodgates opened. My Mom said go ahead and take it. I’ve had some work done on it – it was sort of falling apart. I’ve had it dry-cleaned I don’t know how many times, but I can’t get the cigar smell out. I’m not sure I want to.

I’ve Got the Conch


“I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed anything like it,” my husband said.  “What do you mean?” I replied. “All six of you talk at the same time, you talk all over one another, and yet you seem to also acknowledge what you’re all saying – can it be that you’re actually listening to each other? That you’re really having a conversation?” “Well, yeah! What’s so strange about that?” “Sheesh, doesn’t every family do that?”

That was twenty six or so years ago, when my hubby first went to Detroit with me and met my mom and sibs for the first time – I think it was a Thanksgiving. It had never occurred to me that maybe I wasn’t the best listener in the universe. And I resented having it pointed out to me. But, there you have it. I talk too fast. I talk over people, I fill in their sentences because they’re not talking quickly enough for me, and of course I know what they’re about to say. Guilty, guilty, guilty.

So this is my quest, grasshopper. To slow down; hold my tongue and let people finish what they were going to say. I let them have the conch. I actually bite my tongue – you know, gently – I don’t draw blood or anything. It’s taken me years and years to perfect this method, but I think I’m getting there. Unless I’ve had too much coffee, then all bets are off.