Tuesday, December 29, 2015


I want to write about a Visitation   in the Bucket yesterday.

I had been reading about recent discoveries about the Irish and  ancient  Celtic DNA.  Some  of it just showed up on my doorstep yesterday. MICKEY COLEMAN --He sent me an email and then a phone call saying that he was  coming to Providence from NY  and wondered if I would meet him on such short notice.  He had heard of me in Ardboe --the site of an ancient HIGH CROSS planted by Saint Colmain and the original home of my mother's parents, Joseph Coleman and Jane Conlon. It seems that  his great grandfather John Coleman was the brother  who did not leave Ireland in the  first part of the 20th century when Joe Coleman and his brother Big George  left Ardboe and sailed from Derry to  Boston.  I  agreed to meet and he showed up yesterday with his wife Erin and their 11 month old son Micheal,  He is a musician and he  gave me his CD which has a song that he wrote and sings about  my grand father's trip from Ardboe  it is called THE PATH TO PROVIDENCE.
We talked for a couple of hours and  I  felt so  happy to have  a new  and younger connection to  that half of my heritage.  He is only 30 so he never met  Margaret and Uncle Joe when  they re-discovered their family in trips that I took with them to  County Tyrone in the 1970s.  But he knew  about me and then he saw a picture that my mother sent to the Lough Shore News that showed her father Joe and George and their  friend Peter Coyle n Cumberland.
He is a person who takes an interest in his ancestors and  is moved by all they  suffered and endured to try to find a better life.
So it was very moving to me.  I had met so many of the old timers in  my visits in the 70s that he never met because they were  no longer alive.  I mentioned names  that I could recall and he filled in their details and was so glad that I  met them and could tell him how they had  seemed in their last years.  He is a writer of his own music and he  left some  copies of the CD with me. He has a website  www.  MICKEYCOLEMAN  
I do feel grateful that  he sought me out and I saw so much of  Margaret Coleman and Johnny Devlin's curiosity and ferocious intelligence and spirit in him.  
This seems  like a fine New Year's harbinger. Especially when they handed me the  baby boy--it felt like he  represented the  light that all babies bring into  the world and the special light of the Christ Child.  Also he seemed in his baby strength and energy to be a  signal of the possibilities of the NEW YEAR 2016.  After all the  New Year  is often shown as a baby in diapers chasing out the old year.
It reminded me of that lovely image from the poem of Sir Patrick Spence
Yestreen, I saw the  new moon
With the old moon in her arms.
So the young  usher us out --if we are lucky. 

 I also  got a call from my best friend  in Ireland Christine Hobson--so the  Gaelic  ghosts and  connections are gathering for the NEW YEAR,

Strangely  about three weeks ago I wrote a poem for the online Wisconsin poetry workshop  that surprised me 


Fingers of ground fog
pushed through the window
seeped into my dream

like the miasma
of the bog
where I once
stood to dig peat
with my cousin Gerard,
who chortled as he showed
the visiting Yank
how to cut and stack the ancient fuel.

That wet wind cracks the code
of sucking mud, mold, compost,

waves of earthy decay

wash away the lingering undertone
of last night's
passing skunk.
Eyes wide open now
I inhale the scent of sod
that covers my dead.

It seems  this  writing and  recalling and honoring  our ancestors is in our DNA 

We know that the Coleman's are descendants of Saint Colmain of  Ardboe and  were a sept of the O'Neill clan. They were the  advisers to the Chieftain and also the bards who celebrated the victories and lamented the death s and defeats of the clan.  So we  know this  urge  even duty to write has  persisted for centuries we see it in John Coleman of Mullinahoe  a poet in the late 19th century, in Margaret Coleman,, in me, -we share a bardic hereditary tradition.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wonderland to LaSalette

Last Friday I drove with my husband and my two cousins Louise and Frank  through the Winter Wonderland  at Slater Park.  They are older but much more nimble than I am.  One small limitation they have is that they do not like to drive at night.  I am not yet bothered by the  night driving and I wanted to share the  display of lights and family devotion that is WINTER WONDERLAND in SLATER PARK.  We drove through and even in the slight drizzle the air was warm and we enjoyed seeing  the  hundreds of  decorated trees.  
Since my cousins are both long time Pawtucket residents, they  recognized many of the family names that are memorialized with the placard and  the pictures that some  families attach to the trees.

What a magnificent testimony that display is to not only  the real meaning of  Christmas which is to remember and   pray for all those who have made our lives possible and  love-filled--beginning  with the infant and his Holy Mother and leading up to our own mothers and fathers and all those  ancestors in between who  showed us the way  to eternity.  Christ famously said that in His Father's house there are many mansions.  And I think that he meant that there would be  a place prepared for all of us and that  is why the Xmas trees--so many and so differently decorated --reflect that spirit of inclusion.  There is an old Universalist Saying  GOD DID NOT MAKE SOULS TO LOSE THEM.  The mansions of   heaven will be myriad and they will be different but they will be there for each and every one of us--waiting for us. God must love difference because  He made each of us with our unique DNA and He wants  us to bring those diverse talents  tot he table of life.

After the joy of seeing Winter Wonderland I got a bit ambitious and decided to ask my cousins if they could also spare the time to   take a drive to the  shrine at LaSalette.  They agreed and with Frank's excellent directions we  followed back roads that were  new to me and we were there  in a short time.  We drove  into a dark parking lot and there were no lights. We could see  buses  lined up and some people were leaving their cars. I drove closer to one little family and  rolled down the window --
What happened to the lights?  I shouted  to them--they  come on at 5pm, they answered,
I looked at  my clock in the car and it read 4-48.  We counted down the two minutes and  suddenly the  old shrine was ablaze of light. And we  were struck with the beauty and drove around many times to see all the  nooks and crannies of that site.
It struck me  as an enactment of that night over 2000 years ago. It was dark and the  world was shrouded in longing  for its Creator and then it was a blaze of Light.  My Aunt Grace  displayed in her living room  that  famous painting of Christ as THE LIGHT  OF THE WORLD and here in our humble way  in Attleboro  we  saw it happen and  we were de-LIGHTED .

All the way home we talked about  the old days and the places on Main Street Pawtucket that we  remembered and  described.  How my Aunt Anna and her friend  Rita would go bowling and then stop at the  Windsor Diner.  Or Frank recalled Majestic Novelties -- a store  that he had  run. And I thought about  Thursday night Xmas shopping at Prescoe's and Shartenbergs and so many other details of our lives  filled with no cars-- just  bus rides and long walks--ALL IS CALM  ALL IS BRIGHT.

Monday, December 7, 2015


I guess it is no secret that I have been feeling a bit discouraged lately. As advent began I felt mostly grief and very little joy.What kind of  Xmas day could I plan? This time last year I was in the hospital and then rehab.  The two Christmas holidays before that I had spent having the  Xmas  meal--an excellent one--as it was prepared and served at the Linn Health Center  in East Providence with my Aunt Anna who was  a resident there. But now she was gone, and my neighbor and friend  Doris was approaching the first anniversary of the death of her dear daughter, Donna,  and my best friend,  Maureen was trying to imagine a Xmas without her  husband, Mitch,  I felt the weight of these losses and was weeping  way too easily when  I thought of them. I was feeling sorry for myself.

  That all changed a few days ago when I was making my daily drive through Slater Park with my husband. He loves to watch the geese especially when they take it into their collective mind to cross the street from the pond to the picnic area. This day as I entered the park I saw a new sign that said  No Thru traffic.  I drove  as far as I could and saw hundreds of people standing in line and cars parked everywhere. People were  moving as quickly as they could carrying huge  bags of what looked like  Xmas ornaments. The day was brisk and damp,  but they looked joyous--their  eyes were shining and their movements were full of purpose.  I went as far  as I could and turned around in the parking lot across from the Daggett House.  I could see a line of  young and old people that snaked a long distance and I could feel the charge of their excitement and delight.
What is going on--I wondered--and instantly my heart supplied the answer--. And I knew that in some way they were honoring their dead.  I stopped and asked a Park employee what was happening. And he said they were getting ready for WINTER WONDERLAND--  people lining up to get their placard with their family member's name and some  words about the person and then they can pick out the tree and then they can decorate it.  Their joy was immense and I caught some of that delight to see them and hoped I would soon have  the energy and health to  remember ANNA  with a tree   decorated for her at  Xmas.

It is one of the things that really  made Xmas and Advent real to me again, and it is one of the things that makes Pawtucket a good place to live. THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT IS ALIVE AND WELL AND BACK IN THE BUCKET!!.