For the twentieth year running, I’ve had the chance to spend a bit of time in New York. I spent two summers in Huntington (1997 and 1998) and, since then, in Rockville Centre Parish. It’s pure routine now and sometimes I wonder why I don’t do something different. The answer lies in the fact I feel welcome here and have the chance to meet with friends from home and others that I’ve made through the years here. Also I get a chance to “minister” in another setting and in a Church that matters to me. During the time here this year I’ve had the chance to celebrate Mass, attend a man approaching his final hour and offer him the Sacraments, to hear confessions and to baptize a number of children. Alongside this, I have shared food and time with priests from the parish, a priest from India (here like myself on a temporary placement) and to get a wider view of life. I will also celebrate the Funeral Mass of the mother of my cousin’s wife – whose daughters I have married here in recent years. All in all then, it’s a lovely place to be for a while and I always feel welcome.
During the time here I had the chance to meet with friends – as I say, some from home and some that I’ve met here over the years. I visited the McEnerney Family in Crestwood. Noelle, a neighbour from home, is married to Tom and I baptized their children – the younger of whom is now starting college. Years pass so quickly. Spent a little time in Grand Central Station when waiting for the train and took in some of its atmosphere.
I spent a bit of time at the first birthday party of a cousin’s daughter at the weekend. I married her parents here a few years ago and it’s lovely to have that link. Always feel welcome and happy to meet these people.
On Monday I walked the Brooklyn Bridge with friends from Kiltimagh. It’s something I’d wanted to do for a while and am glad to have been able to. Thanks to Elizabeth and Lorraine who met and walked with me. Thanks also to Joe who met us later and treated me to a fine meal! That never goes astray (more of that later!!) I was to meet an old friend from Maynooth days that evening but plans changed and it didn’t happen. I am grateful to him nonetheless for his willingness to meet and constant welcome. It was the afternoon of the Solar Eclipse and though my walking companions claimed to see it and there were signs telling people to turn on their lights during the eclipse, to me and for me nothing happened!! I don’t advocate Graffiti but since there was a lot there already and a pen was at hand, I decided to make my case for “Sligo”!! (@sligogaa)
I stayed that night in New Jersey and had a wonderful evening with an “all Irish” house! Met some people I’d not met before and we had a good few laughs. I also walked another of the New York Bridges “The George Washington” and that was a good experience as well. For all the walking I’ve done, there’s not been much payback in weight loss. Again, more of that later!
I visited my aunt Mary Margaret in Richmond. I had planned on a shorter bus trip to Fairfax County, near Washington DC but plans changed and I took a Greyhound Bus from New York to Richmond. I hadn’t told my aunt as I decided I’d surprise her. The bus ride took seven and a half hours!! Ouch! That said, the time passed and it was fine. A long time on a bus however. (Geraghtys and Michael Roddy take note!!)
She was happy to see me! If not, she didn’t let on:) Later her friend and neighbour Lisa called in and we chatted for a while. Mary Margaret’s cousin Pat called too and we went for dinner – the three of us – and that too was good.
I spent the night in Richmond. Mary Margaret is always good company and I am glad we had the chance to meet. That said, she did deal me a killer blow! Remember me mentioning the food and that I’d come back to it later. Well now IS later!! I was standing in her kitchen, getting a glass of water and she put her hand on my shirt and pointing to my stomach said “Is that all you?” I was (literally) gutted!! It’s like something my mother would have said:) Sadly, I had to admit that yes, it was all me!!
Next day I went to Fairfax County and met my friends Jeanie and Corky Korves. Our friendship goes back twenty years to my first visit to Huntington. I attended Jeanie’s mother who was approaching her final hour and discovered that she was a native of Lisacul. I attended her funeral and Jeanie and her family have become friends of mine ever since that time and I am thankful for that. We had a lovely evening and later were joined by their son, his wife and three children (who stayed with me in Kilmovee about two weeks ago) and YES, more food. “Is that all you?”
On my way back to Rockville Centre I went to a Broadway Show “Beautiful The Carole King Musical” – it was amazing. Wonderful songs that I’d heard many times but not realised she’d written/composed. Strange how we so easily forget the author of a song. Was glad to be there.
So a lot of the time here is centred around meeting people. That’s the reason I enjoy being here so much – the chance to meet and spend a bit of time with friends and extended family. That’s also the reason I look forward to home and that the time comes when I know it’s time …..
I’m lucky to have so many good people around me. I hope you know I’m thankful.