Monthly Archives: February 2017

Father Patrick Tonry, a priest of forty years in the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, has served as a pastor, military chaplain, prison chaplain, spiritual director, and editorialist.   I received "The Green Suit" recently which was written by him and have permission to share this St. Patrick's Reminiscence with our Irish brothers & sisters and those who have the Irish spirit.

As a young boy, there was one day I looked forward to with as much anticipation as Christmas.  No, it was not my birthday; the day I eagerly awaited was March 17th.

March 17th held special meaning in the Tonry household.   It was St. Patrick's Day, my parents' wedding anniversary and the day they immigrated to the United States.  My parents were married in 1927, in Ireland on St. Patrick's day.  Immediately after their wedding ceremony, they boarded a ship and sailed to the U.S. to begin their married life in a new country.

If the 17th of March fell dring the wk week, my father would take the day off work.  We kids had the day off, as did all the children who attended Catholic schools in Brooklyn and New York City.  To properly honor both my parent's wedding anniversary and the Feast of St. Patrick, we went to early morning Mass as a family.

My parents, my two older brothers and my little sister would dress in their Sunday best.  As the youngest son, I was given a special honor. I wore the color of the day    I had a beautiful emerald green suit with a matching tie. It was a source of pride for me that i was the only one in the family who had a green suit.  Naturally, I was only permitted to wear this suit on St. Patrick's Day.

After celebrating Mass, we would go back home and eat a big breakfast.  This special breakfast would keep us fueled for what seemed to me the longest journey ever:   the train and bus rides into New York City for the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

The train and buses were filled with families going into the city to watch the parade.  We would line up along Fifth Avenue and wait for the parade to begin.  It was thrilling.  I was awe-struck by the high school marching bands.  The sound of the drum lines would set my heart racing.  It was a beautiful sight to see the Irish dances come down the street, dancing in unison.

Some years, we would shiver because it would be so cold.  Yet, we stayed and watched the parade through the rain, wind, snow and sunshine.  We never left the parade until the flag of my mother's and father's country in Ireland passed.

Right after the parade, our family went to a small restaurant to have dinner.   My parents did not have much money, and they saved a little each month so the entire family could eat out on this day.  In fact, St. Patrick's Day was the only time we would ever eat out.  We always had dinner at home.

....These traditions in a family ceate meaning that makes family occasions more memorable.

The reason St. Patrick was special to my parents was because he gave his life in service to God and the people of Ireland.  His story begins in the early 400's.  Patrick was the son of a Roman official and at the age of 16, he was kidnapped and taken to pagan Ireland.  He lived in slavery for six years working as a shepherd.  During his enslavement. Patrick turned to God for comfort and companionship.  Patrick escaped, returned home and entered the priesthood.  Years later, he returned to Ireland as Bishop, his love of the Irish people drawing him back.  He traveled throughout the island, overcoming opposition from hostile chieftains and pagan Druids and converting most of Ireland to the faith.

...Today everyone can be like St. Patrick. a living reflection of the Gospel.   May the love of St. Patrick be with you and may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Father Patrick Tonry, SM  February 2017

 

 

 

Living in a retirement demographic area, I often hear others lamenting they are losing their memories, or their keys, have problems remembering people's names, etc.  Dementia is jokingly mentioned, but many seniors do worry it can happen.   Our family doctor says  if you put the milk in the cupboard by mistake and then retrieve it - you're OK; but if you think it's OK to be in there, you may want to see your doctor.   He also states that we all have a 50-50 chance of experiencing dementia unrelated to family history or even if you have one parent who had dementia.

Recently I attended two meetings on dementia that were fact-filled.  Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of conditions that affect one's cognitive abilities in ways that affect daily life.  The three subtypes of Dementia are mainly:   1. Alzheimer’s Disease ( Plaques and tangles form inside the brain causing chemical deficiencies).  It is believed that this can start to have an effect on the memory center   2. Vascular Dementia (decreased blood flow the brain and different from Alzheimer’s in that it is caused by damaged blood vessels in the brain, commonly caused by strokes).   Approximately 20% of all dementia cases are vascular, making it the second most common type. Risk factors include a history of heart attacks, strokes – especially multiple strokes, diabetes, or high blood pressure.   3. Dementia with Lewy Bodies - This is the third most common form of dementia and is caused by build-ups of a certain type of protein in the brain. These deposits are called Lewy bodies and they effect a person’s perception, behavior, and thinking. Lewy bodies are often found in Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s patients, making this form of dementia harder to diagnose.

The National Institute for Aging estimates about 7 percent of people over 65 will have some form of dementia.   What can one do, if anything, to protect oneself from risk factors?  You can affect your risk by how social you are, your exercise habits and your heart and diabetes management.

Although 'seniors' store vast information over the years, they sometimes need extra time to remember where they stored that info in their brain.   Like an over-programmed-filled computer that 'searches' for info and takes extra time to find it, so do our brains.  What a relief to remember albeit slower!

Some suggestions on how to reduce your risk factor:

  • Spend at least one day a week with younger people, especially grandkids,  even if it is on Skype video or the telephone.  Stay social with friends and family.
  • Walk, hike or swim (150 minutes of moderate exercise - weekly).
  • Treat depression; talk to your doctor; depression is linked to higher dementia risk.  And sometimes depression can appear to be dementia.
  • Cook and eat heart healthy.  Strive for a diet low in saturated fat, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to go over your medications with you to see if any are at a risk for contributing to dementia or lacking in some vitamins.
  • Take some courses or classes.   It can stimulate your brain and/or socially meet new people.
  • Volunteer your time to a cause or interest you support.

Staying connected to friends and family is key and one of the most important ways to avoid dementia.  The risk of dementia is higher if one is lonely or isolated.  Millions of people 50 and older (about 1 in 5) live alone and are at risk of isolation.  The fastest growing type of household is individuals living alone.  And many of those over 50, have no one to talk to about important matters.

Try to stay socially active; If you are homebound and/or can't get around easily, learn to text on a cell phone or video chat or even social media chat, ie, Facebook. Twitter.   In a busy world, a hello by text, especially to the teens & young adults in our lives, wlll ensure a faster return quicker than a return phone call.   If you are not up-to-date in technology in computers or cell phones, there are FREE courses to learn about them.   And a good brain exercise.

Being socially active, getting regular exercise (physically and mentally) and managing chronic conditions (diabetes, heart disease) are all plusses to reduce your chances of dementia.