Thursday, July 31, 2008

Blog Entry After Alligator Ate Bob

Bob's bicycle was forced off the bike path yesterday at Sea Pines, Hilton Head Island, right into the pond where this hungry 10-foot-long gator lives. The gator promptly ate Bob, and unless there's a way to retrieve him from the gator's stomach (as in the Little Red Riding Hood story), this will be the last blog entry. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Em-Babes!

On July 28th we'll celebrate the 20th birthday of our baby girl, Emily Anne. I'm thinking Em is one of the prettiest Coughlin girls in the history of Coughlin's. Luckily, she looks a lot like her Mom. The baby pictures of Em and of her Mom are uncanny in their similarity.

Em was born in Lexington, Kentucky--Central Baptist Hospital--just like her two sisters. By our third birth, you'd think that everything would be routine and totally relaxed. but that's not the way it was. Because when Em's head was birthed, her umbilical cord was wrapped twice around her neck, and her face was a very pale white. I thought she was dead--my heart was broken. But skilled doctors, the obstetrician and a pediatrician, cool as could be, grabbed that cord with some sort of gigantic tweezers (don't know the technical name of this instrument), and looped it twice over the baby's head--and voila, there she was, alive and breathing. Linda and I were overjoyed and thanked God that our baby was all right.

This baby was in for an adventure because when she was about 3 weeks old, we packed up all our household goods and moved about 400 miles north to Euclid, Ohio--where I grew up, about one mile from my Mom and Dad's house. We moved to Forestview Avenue near Lloyd Road, a house we rented from a shirttail cousin, Trish Dougherty Kennedy. An odd thing is that this house was on my paper-route back around 1961 to 1964. Em and her sisters would make this house our home for about 4 months--right around Christmas we moved less than a half mile away to 27391 Beech Drive, a home that we purchased. So in the first 4 months of Emily's life she had 3 addresses!

Em is definitely a Chardon girl now, but she is also a Salzburger Fraulein; she's been living in Salzburg, Austria for the past 3 weeks and attending classes where only German is spoken! Em is a great student and a great kid--a lover of country music, her Irish and German heritage, her family and friends. We all wish you a wonderful Happy Birthday! Froehlicher Geburtstag, Em!

[Photos shows Emily at Mentor Lagoons and at Lake Chautauqua, New York.]

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New Poem from Carolan

Carolan mailed part of her New Zealand journal and a new poem to us recently. Here's a poem called "Breathed Mountain, Dolly Sods Wilderness, West Virginia."

Pushing, swishing, whirling the grasses in wisps, scooping and
Lifting, flattening, stomping. The wind taunts, the grasses cower,
The breath.

We felt the breath around us, licking at our bodies,
Flickering wind-flames rushing by from every direction.
Heavy smoke exhaled from the knobby peak, pouring
Over the rock-cluttered hilltop meadow.
Breathing down in whispers and then
Whipping, wisping, slipping.

Breathe it, engulf it, gasp for more.
Breathe this mountain, this land, consume this
Hazy dream of a mountain, gulp down the grassy meadows
And rocky ledges with frantic asthmatic drags.

Breathed Mountain
Just a hushed murmur, a sigh,
A wispy wind of a place.

Carolan’s New Zealand Journal Entry for March 15, 2008. I will place it in lines, as if it were poetry. The only things I’ve changed: lines and capitalization.

Saturday, March 15

Camping, tramping, a durn good toe stamping!
This is a girl who likes her some backcountry!
Hello and welcome to my tent home
On the mountainside above Lake Ruby.
Today we hiked about 6 hours over rock and cliff
And stumbly grasses and steep steep steep
Holy moly I might blow off the mountaintop.
It was hard and huffy-puffy
And my smile nearly popped off my face,
As it exceeded normal dimensions.
The view is sing and dance beautiful,
Little cupfuls of blue sparkles splashed over the craggy rocks,
Grass that glimmers red when swaying in the light,
Spiny backbones of the mountains

Rising up and up.

[This posting of Carolan's poem does not constitute publication. She owns the copyright, with all rights reserved to her, Carolan R. Coughlin.]

Monday, July 21, 2008

Julia and Eddy's 1st Anniversary: Part II--Wedding Guests

There were a bezillion guests at Julia and Ed's wedding, including my brothers, shown in the top photo: Jimmy, Kevin, Sean (Denny and Sher's son), Denny ("Little Cogs"), and me.
The bottom photo shows my friends from the University of Notre Dame/Innsbruck Program (1967-68): Tom Heinen ("Spider"), me ("Wilder Mann"), Tim Forward ("Rudi"), Chris Cotter("Wheat"), and Mike Gerrity ("Misha").
We all had a terrific time the weekend of the wedding.

Happy First Anniversary, Julia and Eddy!

Julia and Ed were married a year ago today. This had to be one of most fun weddings ever! Happy Anniversary, Julia and Ed!
Photos: (top) Julia and Ed emerging from St. Mary's in a riot of bubbles. (Middle) Ed and Julia opening up presents the day after the wedding. (Bottom) Julia and her bridesmaids on our Chardon deck.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Carolan!

Photo shows Carolan (right) and her friend Gretchen Wolfe at the Augustiner Brau Bier Garten in Salzburg, Austria: "Prosit! Slainte!"
Today is my daughter Carolan Ruth Sanders Coughlin's 23rd birthday. Sometime around 4 in the morning on July 16, 1985, in Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, Carolan was born into this world--a great day for Carolan and her family, and a great day for the world.

I vividly remember driving the 45 miles from Berea, Kentucky, to Central Baptist Hospital that summer night, north on I-75, over the long and high interstate bridge over the Kentucky River, and into the Bluegrass region of Fayette County. I was focused on driving carefully and getting to the hospital safely; Linda was focused on the contractions and on her Lamaze-type breathing.

It took us just under an hour to get to the hospital; I was worried that our second child would be born on I-75, maybe at the rest stop between Berea and Lexington. if that had happened, her name would have been "Rest-Stop I-75 Sanders Coughlin." But we made it to the hospital.

Once there, they put Linda into a birthing room, where we expected the baby to be born. By the way, we had no inkling if this would be a baby girl or boy, or if it would look like Julia, with her dark brown eyes, dark hair, and olive-colored skin. We had been playing with names, both boys names and girls names. For boys' names I was partial to "John Francis," or in Italian, "Giovanni Francesco," the name of St. Francis of Assisi and of my grandfather, John Francis Fitzpatrick. For girls, I was thinking about "Carmel" or "Carmen." July 16th was the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and I remembered a beautiful Irish singer named Carmel Quinn who used to appear on the Mike Douglas TV show. Linda had her own list of names, and I doubted "Carmel" was on it--"Carmen" maybe, especially if this new baby had the dark eyes, hair, and skin that Julia was born with.

The labor moved along very quickly, but a glitch developed right near the end when, as with Julia, the nurses or doctor detected meconium--a sign that the baby might be in some trouble. That ended the birthing-room plans as hospital personnel immediately wheeled Linda on her bed into an operating room. Their urgency worried us--would we lose this baby?

Linda had not had any anaesthetic at all, and as transition labor proceeded, she went through it without any problem (none that I could see--but then again, I had the easy part at this birth). I stood at Linda's head as our new baby was born, her "labor coach," whose main task (and accomplishment) was not fainting! And then voila! There she was, a beautiful baby girl--who didn't look anything like we expected! She had fair skin and eyes, and flaming red hair! This didn't look like any Carmen, and certainly not any Giovanni Francesco!

Very soon after the birth, we were back in a room at the hospital, Linda holding on to her new baby, and me at their side. Linda was as happy as a human being could be--she was happy, energetic, and bursting with the desire to share our wonderful news with the world. She wanted to immediately call her Mom and Dad, her brothers, her sister, her friend Jan Shepherd. And I said to her, "Sweetie, nobody else in the world is awake! Let's wait a couple hours to call people!" So we waited a while to share our good news with the world.

Linda went home from the hospital the very next day, and I remember getting a phone call from a friend congratulating me on the birth of baby "Carmen." I guess I must have shared my name ideas with some people--and they hadn't heard that plans had changed! We ended up naming this new baby "Carolan Ruth." "Carolan" was in honor of the great Irish harpist and composer Turlough O'Carolan, who lived circa 1700, and whose music is still played and enjoyed today. Her middle name honored her grandmother, Ruth Sanders. And there she was, "Carolan Ruth Sanders Coughlin," our second child (and we thought we would never be blessed with any children! and three years later, another miracle, our third: Emily Anne Sanders Coughlin).

How did this baby turn out? There is a German word for the likes of her: einmalig, "one of a kind." Carolan is a happy kid, a very fun person, very bright, compassionate, loving, a great friend, and very fun. Did I mention she's a lot of fun? Carolan is a great gift from God.

May the Lord bless Carolan and keep her, let God's grace shine upon her! Keep her Lord like the apple of your eye, shelter her under the shadow of your wings!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sullivan Fitzpatrick Coughlin Genealogy

[It might be difficult to follow the genealogical information below in narrative form; at some point I'll link to a genealogical tree or chart so the information can be followed more easily.]

As mentioned in previous blog entries, my mother, Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Coughlin, was the daughter of John Francis Fitzpatrick and Margaret Ann Sullivan. In this entry, I will focus on the Sullivan side of the family.

My mother's mother, Margaret Ann Sullivan, was born in Brownhelm Township in 1885 (she died on March 18, 1940). Brownhelm is flat and fertile farmland in Lorain County, Ohio, about 30 miles west of Cleveland. It is right near the great Amherst stone quarries, where the famous and beautiful Berea Sandstone was mined. Margaret's father was John J. Sullivan, born in 1860 in Montreal, Canada. He died very young, in 1899, in Brownhelm. John J. married Sarah Buckley on November 6, 1882. Sarah had also been born in Montreal in 1860, the daughter of John Buckley, born on June 24, 1834, in Tellamore, County Offaly, and Mary Keenan, also born in Ireland in June of 1832. There were seven Sullivan children: Frank (born 1883), Margaret Ann (1885), Mary Ellen (1887), Sarah (1890), Elizabeth (1892), Florence (24 Oct. 1895), Edward Michael (23 Jan. 1898). I knew Great Uncle Ed Sullivan because he lived with his wife Helen and children Mary Ellen, Sally, Johnny, and Mickey next door to my Coughlin grandparents on Hayes Avenue in Willoughby, Ohio. Note how the name Mary Ellen came down from Great Aunt Mary Ellen Sullivan, to Ed and Helen's daughter Mary Ellen, to my own sister, Mary Ellen Coughlin. And of course Margaret Ann Sullivan Fitzpatrick gave her name to my mother and to Maggie Brock (Margaret Ann Brock). We can go one more generation back with the Buckley's. John Buckley, my great great grandfather, was the son of Michael Buckley, born in 19 November 1800 in Ireland, and Mary Handy, also of Ireland. Michael Buckley (my great great great grandfather!) lived a long life and died on April 24, 1892, in Brownhelm Township. His son John died 30 August 1923, in Elyria, Lorain County, Ohio.