Thank you Mary Gormley

The Milton Rotary Club honored Mary Gormley this winter for all the work she has done for the school children of the town.

Mary is the superintendent of schools. She is a lifelong resident of the community who has spent her working life in the Milton Public School system. She was a teacher, a principal and now an administrator.

When the Rotary Club gave her commendation, the state senator, Walter Timilty took time to bring her a Senate citation for the work she has done.

Milton Rotary Club is small but influential. Rotarians are responsible for working with many community organizations – from ¡CelebrateMilton! to the Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.

Being a grandmother works

My youngest grandson is now six years old.

Of course he’s not the only one. Finnegan lives a little more than two hours from my home. I’m able to see him as often as I am willing to drive to New Hampshire.

He is willing to spend time with me, playing and teaching me new skills. I’m learning to understand the sorts of computer games young boys enjoy. Truthfully I’d rather watch him battle the waves on a sunny San Juan beach than strut through the maps of Mindcraft.

My other two grandchildren are actually adults now, so I understand how precious and fleeting time happens to be. The other two have interests of their own, which is what all parents and grandparents wish for. It just isn’t as much fun for those of us who are on the sidelines.

Being six, Finn has developed his own set of best friends and plans. He has a cat, named Nicholas Cage, who is willing to let him share a bed. The cat is a cuddly, marmalade piece of fur that often sits on the window sill watching the forest near their home.

I tell Finn he is my best friend, because he is. He grins and goes on typing as he moves through computer worlds.

This winter, which seems to be lasting into the alleged springtime, Finn and I spent a week in Puerto Rico. It was there he began swimming without a life jacket or floats. He’s good at the dog paddle and actually taught himself how to stay afloat.

He continues to learn new skills and impress his old grandmother.

Time passes too quickly but I enjoy grandmotherhood and all its special minutes.

Clearing clutter


My office is filled with piles of information.

Plaques and family photos fill the walls along with a framed front cover of The Woman’s Journal. The newspaper existed briefly in 1985. It died for lack of an audience.

It was a time when I believed there were people who would support local writers concentrating on the small details of family life in the suburbs of Boston. My friends told me it was an idea floating in a sea of confusion.


It seems the time has come to declutter the space.


Wondering how the years passed

It seems like yesterday when I was young.

But I haven’t been young for a very long time.

My first grandchild was born nearly 21 years ago. She was a beautiful baby and fun to be around. People told me I talked about her too much. Well how could I help it. I was in awe. I never expected it would be a magical relationship.

But it has been. Hayley and I have been in and out of each other’s lives for all these 21 years. Sometimes I had no idea what she was doing or thinking as she grew up. Now that she’s an adult, it does seem easier to keep in touch.

This summer Hayley’s staying in Massachusetts. I’m thrilled. Having her around helps fill the space that was created when my youngest grandchild moved to California. He was an amazing baby and he’s become an amazing boy – filled with energy and light.

I remember being a mother. I felt needed back then. I was always rushing to and from work, always worried about being the person my children needed me to be.

Being a grandmother is more fun.

We are marching in the light of God

The Woman’s Movement came back to life this week.

This week, in the aftermath of the Trump inauguration, we marched. Old women, young women, children, boys and men. We marched for civil rights and kindness. Wearing silly pink hats and carrying handmade signs, we gathered, listened to politicians and we slowly  inched along.

We planned to march but there were too many of us to run a normal march.

I took the T to Park Street to join so many others on Boston Common. The land was full of very polite protestors who smiled because they could see they are not alone in this struggle.

Friends of mine were marching in Washington, DC. My Facebook page filled with people I know who gathered in other cities to mark the beginning of what is sure to be a difficult journey.

I remember the 1970s very well. In 1972 I served as the state coordinator for the National Organization for Women in Massachusetts. It was a title that was phased out a year or two later.

For me the path to feminism began because of a history professor at Stonehill who insisted I read Eleanor Flexnor’s book “Century of Struggle.” The was back in the 60s in days when I thought I wanted to marry, have children and become a housewife. My college professor opened my eyes.

And while I eventually became a mother, I thought I had a right to juggle a career as long as my two children were safe. But I gave up political action in the years I was a young mother. After all, it seemed the political struggle had been won.

And there were so many other priorities. At least it seemed there were.

Kindness was missing from that long ago movement. Those of us working on strategies were angry about a world where men and women were not treated as equals.

When I boarded the train to Boston – a train that was standing room only before reaching my stop – a woman in her thirties offered me her seat. I smiled and turned it down but the thought of her kindness brightened my day.

Despite the crowds on Boston Common, people didn’t push to get ahead. The placard I liked best was ultimately creative. It said, “Love trumps hate.”

The Boston Women’s March, and so many other marches, gathered for the same reason. We want to make the world a better, kinder, place filled with justice and love.

An Episcopal priest taught me a simple hymn that sums it all up. We are marching in the light of God. Actually I understand it is a Zulu hymn that has been reworked with a Christian theme. It gathers up all the hope and determination of a righteous movement.




The election from hell

Until today, election day 2016, I resisted writing about the presidential battle.

Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and the two also ran candidates for president were not something I wanted to think about – let alone concentrate on.

But I had to realize as I voted today that what was bothering me was that I thought the world had moved away from sexism and racism. The words in the mouths of what they now call “surrogates” and one candidate in particular made me realize that some people still do not realize that all people are equal.

My first job as a journalist began 50 years ago at a daily newspaper. I was still in college, very naive, quite unaware of what a reporter should do.

Back then I accepted the fact that I was treated as incompetent – because I was. But I learned from the editors and older reporters on staff. I learned and I made sure I said yes to every story offered to me – whether it was working late on a Friday night or interviewing victims of tragedy. I was shy and didn’t want to talk to parents who had just lost a child. I agonized over how to begin as I’d ring a doorbell or make a phone call. After a few calls, I learned the victims of tragedy usually want to talk about it with someone who would just listen.

I learned not to wear a skirt to work because you could never tell where you might be sent. I covered the story when Stanley Bond blew himself up at Walpole State prison wearing a short skirt. Hundreds of men were able to see my underwear that afternoon when I walked up a narrow staircase to the bomb site. I was safe since the press contingent was being escorted by guards but I learned my lesson.

The first time my editor left me alone on a Friday night to cover the city of Quincy I called him at home to let him know there was a five-alarm blaze. He told me to get right over there and call him back when I returned to the office.

I ws a little excited. I went to the fire and watched the water stream over a multi-unit building. When I called my boss back, I said, “It’s all right, it’s out now,” and I hung up.

He called me right back and helped me go over the details I needed to make the story work.

Yes I was an inexperienced reporter who never had a class in journalism. I got my chance because the men didn’t want to work Friday night. And I learned from patient and generous people who already knew how to get to the bottom of a news story.

After I had become good at my job, I was one of a generation of women who insisted they should be able to rise to the top of their field without giving up the right to motherhood.

I remember when that newspaper allowed a woman to move up to the role of city editor. It was a hard fight because 50 years ago the people at the top thought women should write features, social news and obituaries. The men in our company union backed those of us who were not men in this lengthy management argument.

It was sometimes contentious back then. After I wrote a memo to the head of the classified department explaining why group the jobs available section into Men and Women was not helpful and that grouping the jobs by categories such as Professional, Sales, etc. would better serve our readers, I was invited to talk with the editor-in-chief who questioned my radical leanings.

I loved my job. Writing makes me feel whole.

It did make me nervous to argue against a system that didn’t seem to realize political reporting was not a something only understood by men.

About five years ago, I ran into a remnant of the past. I was at a party and introduced to a bank president who had just open a Milton branch. His bank advertised in my newspaper but I dealt with a much lower level employee there.

“So do you know Pat Desmond,” the bank president said after we were introduced.

“I am Pat Desmond,” I replied, thinking he hadn’t heard my name correctly.

“No I mean the man, are you related to him,” he asked again.

The guy was spending quite a bit of money with me. I was careful not to embarrass him but I was embarrassed by the conversation. We never became close. I hear he eventually rode a motorcycle cross-country after his bank merged with another.

It’s painful to think people still treat women differently, have different expectations for them. But is a great sadness that so many people in this country fail to understand everyone needs a chance to succeed.



Creating new markets

My staff and I have begun to promote a new app – it’s called Milton Insider.
It can be found in both the Apple app store and Google Play.
Why would anyone over 70 be interested in an app, someone asked me.
Hmm, maybe for the local residential phone book feature.
The phonebook itself opens slowly on the app, but the developer who partnered with me says that will change later in the fall when his servers are expanded. Right now opening the full phonebook takes one full minute.
But the key to looking up a number is to put the last name in the search bar – the search takes seconds. And of course it is possible to click through and dial the number from a smartphone.
The real answer to why I worked on this app is I’m still alive. I still have ideas. I still want to make a difference.

Time to live



The ladies of AWH class of 1964.

So much has been changing in my world since I last worked on my blog.
My own health is just fine… I turned 70 earlier this year and am beginning to create an exit strategy to be sure my business survives me.
It’s something I care about.
But I also care about having a life worth living in the winter of my life.
This summer there were weeks when I only read the Milton Times after it was printed. I’ve divided my time between playing with my three-year-old grandson and helping in the creation of a new APP we call the Milton Insider. The APP is a fun creation.
Freud believed that a full life comes from work and love.
I agree with the part about love. Friends and family can bring purpose to my life.
I’m not as sure how work fits into the mix. I know it’s time for me to create a retirement plan. It’s time to celebrate life. Time to look at work in a way that leaves me more time for family and friends.


Mindfully healing

it’s been five years since I was diagnosed with cancer.

Five years …. It’ a magic number – it means I am truly a cancer survivor.

My oncologist had me on every six-month visits these past five years. But last summer he let me know that I could stop taking my estrogen blocker when my prescription ran out in February. My next appointment at Dana Farber happens in midsummer.

My cancer is still part of my life. It left me with a feeling that life is certainly too brief. And that what is important is love, family and friendships.

When I first coped with the thought that cancer was growing in my body, I felt frightened and worried, thinking my life was heading in the wrong direction. But I spent time talking with other women who had already faced breast cancer and that’s when I began to realize there is life after this disease.

For me treatment was a double mastectomy followed by years of little white pills. My life changed. I became someone who read labels and choose organic anything over chemically altered substances. I tried to exercise, following the physical therapy prescribed as a part of aftercare.

i still pay attention to my diet. I sleep more and have found ways to avoid worry.

It feels really good to know I’ve survived. It feels as if life sent me a blessing  – a chance to continue living.

i’ve come to see that my cancer diagnosis was a gift.

Life moves quickly

I remember being a young woman – it seems as if I were young yesterday.

Since my last post, my nonagenarian mother died, after a lengthy illness that affected her body and mind. I think she died of cancer but it may have been the drugs they gave her for the pain that ended her days.

She lived in Milton MA her entire life. My sister Kathy was her prime caregiver in her last days. Of course we all did what we could but Kathy, who has been retired for more than 10 years, was the source of my mother’s strength in her last months.

But much more has happened. My daughter-in-law, a woman of incredible kindness, wisdom and generosity is living with cancer. Her cancer is being bombarded by doses of chemotherapy and other treatments coordinated by a medical team from Dana Farber. Annie, my son’s wife of five years, should be enjoying the best years of her life.

Before her diagnosis, Annie was a fulltime mother whose precocious two-year-old had never gone to bed for the night without his mother.  Two operations later my grandson, Finnegan, is still advanced beyond his years. I’ve tried to fill in for his mother. He loves me and everyone else in the world. I just don’t cut it as a 37-year-old these days.

Being a young mother was a joy. I only had two years off work during my days of intense motherhood. I didn’t appreciate them enough when I lived through it.

But I finally realize today is the only day I have.  Finnegan already knows that. I think that’s why he loves everyone.