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Why we celebrate Jack Gibbons Day


17362546_10212190463301494_5119939023522706024_nAnnual Jack Gibbons Day is not something you go to, this is something you just do. So what is it and why do we do it, you ask?

If you knew Jack Gibbons, you know why we celebrate. Jack was one of those people about whom others would light up and say “Oh Jack! I love Jack!,” or “Is Jack going to be there? Great, I’ll be there!” Or “Do you remember when Jack…followed by some tale…hahahahahah, that was so great!” Of course there were the others, particularly politicians from a certain party, who would likely say, “Jack Gibbons? yes I know him. Tell him I’m not here.”

Why June 25? It’s half-way to Christmas. And, it’s the anniversary of Jack’s birth.

Remembered by all who met him even once, Jack could always be counted on for a fake handshake, a pun, a thought-provoking comment, a round of golf, a challenge to someone in “authority,” rallying for someone who should be in office, some bragging about his wife and daughters, a discussion of a play or book, or music, or piece of art. And of course, to do the glasses thing as seen.

Of course, if you are like us, you still miss his presence terribly. Sometime recently, I had a dream that he was at a restaurant at the table behind us, yucking it up in some way. I told Evelyn about it the next day, and he was in her dream too, telling her to wake up. In fact, she would have been late had he not been calling to her.

Jack died November 9, 2013, and some of the light went out of the the world for most of us but you know he would want us to fun it up for him!!!

So on Sunday, Annual Jack Gibbons day, Evelyn, Kate, Bridget, Chris and I invite you to CELEBRATE JACK GIBBONS! Here are some ideas…

  1. Tell someone who didn’t know Jack your favorite Jack story.
  2. Jump in the pool, if there is a swan-shaped inner tube, ride around in it.
  3. Start a new book
  4. Call your senator about the health care act.
  5. Play a round of golf
  6. Spend time with your family
  7. Brag about your kids
  8. Drive your wife to work.
  9. Listen to your kids
  10. Be in a play
  11. Direct a play and say you will never do it again
  12. Direct a play again
  13. Read the New York Times
  14. Buy a piece of art
  15. Bring in a stray
  16. Have lunch with a friend
  17. Stand in the window, and call out to the neighbor across the street, but whatever you do, don’t strain your voice!!!!

Check out some fun Jack pictures here: Facebook pictures

Lucky 13! Lucky me!


13Lucky 13!  What a great day I had. My birthday September 13, this year Friday the 13th. As I was on the treadmill this morning, I decided to come up with 13 things that I feel lucky about.  Of course there are so many more, but here are the 13 things I feel luckiest about.

13.Persistence – I am, if nothing else, persistent. An annoying trait at times perhaps, but it is what has gotten me where I’ve gotten. Somehow, don’t know if it’s inborn, or taught, I pretty much never give up. Well maybe temporarily on tap-dancing and juggling, but I am really just postponing those till after nursing school.  The more I think about it, Faith is probably what drives this.  Instilled at a young age, faith in myself, faith that some power out there wants what’s good for me, and wants to me find the right path.

12. Food, shelter – To have easy access to nutritious food is someone many in our world, unfortunately this town, do not have.

11. Facebook – There, I said it.  While it can be a real time waster sometimes, I love being able to stay connected to people, and to get inspired by what they are doing. Overall, I think it enhances my life. Just this week I read a piece written by Maria Jacketti, someone who was at King’s College when I was. It was about a cat that her family rescued from the ground zero area in the aftermath of 9/11. But it was about so much more, I read it a few times because her writing told so much about so many, herself included. If you didn’t read it, look her up. You’ll be glad you did.

10. Doctors – I’ve been very lucky to have gotten great medical care from diabetes specialists, Dr. Ron Harris and Dr. Herbert Fellerman, and general medical care from Dr. Mike Kovalick. Dr. Drue Paden was another doctor who provided me with great care before his untimely death a couple of years ago. The reason I’m as healthy as I am is because they are the kind of doctors that stay up on things, and then apply it as soon as they see a need. Plus they listen to me, help me understand the hows and whys of things. 

9. Technology in general. I feel very lucky to have grown up in a time where new technological googleadvances have come out so quickly.  So much of it makes a real difference in my life.  Blood sugar testing machines and insulin pumps as an example. But the advances in computers allowed me to have a great career. Technology had a great impact on my family of origin, allowing my dad to work from home before many did, and it brought our family closer together in general. It is an endless source of entertainment with my mother-in-law as she navigates the internet, and of course, Free Cell, her favorite use of the computer.

Today, when I went onto Google, there were birthday cakes where “Google” normally is and when I hovered over it, it said “Shivaun O’Donnell’s” birthday. WOW! That’s pretty cool.  The image above it from that. I couldn’t get the little part that said that to stay when I did a screen shot, but it did say it! Try it yourself if you use Chrome and use your google sign in.

8. Telephones – My mother used to say I was born with a telephone in my hand.  I love phones, and I love them more than I did before. I love talking on the phone, I love texting (not while driving though) and now I don’t have to remember numbers. Every day I just say “Call Mister Wonderful” and it calls my husband!  Plus now I can have my whole life is on my phone, and a couple of games too.  Of course, then when I misplace it, my whole life is gone. That’s when St. Anthony steps in.  He really deserves his own paragraph in this write up.  So does my husband for that matter.

7. Books – I love books.  When I was a kid, I said to my parents, “If I had to choose whether I was going to get locked in a bookstore or a toy store all night, I’d choose a book store.”  Back then, all night seemed such a long stretch. I’d like to be locked in a bookstore for a week! I love that I can now get my textbooks on my Kindle or print off a few pages to read in the doctor’s office, and I love that I have a stack of hardcover books ready to read when this semester is over.

6. The Beatles. Every time I hear a Beatles song, I feel lucky to have grown up with the excitement they brought to the world. My friends kids love them as much as I did, and I feel lucky that they connect generations after being together for such a short time.

7. Music in general. Lucky that my father was so into music, and it was always on, all sorts of things, Jazz, classical, rock, standards, whales. (Yes, whales.) It has enhanced every aspect of my life, helped me make friends, helps me exercise knowing I’ve got a playlist I won’t let myself listen to unless exercising. I always feel grateful that musicians followed their dreams. Chris’s mother plays the piano, and I always feel lucky to be able to experience live music as an everyday thing.

And now….the top 4  all “F”  words…

feet4. Feet, my two working feet.  and the overall very good health of my whole body. But I was watching my feet on the treadmill that made me realize how lucky I am for my health. I have legs that work, and keep me moving from work, to school, up and down three flights of steps several times daily.  A heart that seems to be in good shape. OK, I could use a new pancreas. Lungs that are free of the smoke that filled them for 15 years and a body that need not worry about ravages of alcohol.

3. Freedom – I feel so lucky to have been born into a society where my future wasn’t decided before I was born, or dictated to me by some power, familial or political, but has been limited only by my imagination and abilities. Every day I wake up and realize how lucky I am to be re-inventing myself again, to get the education and training I need to do a job I’ve always wanted to do.

 2. Friends. Besides the 783 on Facebook, I have 16 friends who aren’t. In those 799, there are at least 50 that would “drop everything and run” if I asked them too.  I know because they’ve done it, whether for births, graduations, sickness, operations, weddings, deaths, you are there for me. With Facebook, I’ve picked up new friends from old friends, and it’s great to see everyone’s life unfold. I always feel lucky that, as Sally Fields once said of the Oscar’s crowd “You like me! You like me!”

1. Family. So many words to say and you’ve seen many bragging sessions on Facebook. But this year I am focussed on making sure I am telling them directly, rather than just bragging about how great they are to others.  Since my parents are both no longer alive, I will tell you how lucky I was to have them, although I spent the first half of my life, or more blaming them for everything that went wrong in my life.  I had really impressive grandparents too, not the least of which was a grandfather, who though blind from the age of ten, raised a family of 7 children during the depression, played piano and organ, and earned a living as organist, music teacher and piano tuner.

Without these top 4 things, I would certainly not have the other 9.  How lucky I am, how lucky I am.


Game Show Free Verse



Dad’s letters to mom. Neatly tied in batches by Mom, then clearly labeled, perfectly stacked in a blue striped hat box.

Mom’s social security card, Mom’s Irish Passport

My graduation certificate from Wendy Ward Charm School

Julia Child Cookbook stained with my father’s first attempt at Coq au Vin

Envelope from Evan at 7 years old, sent from his dad’s house,the contents long gone, postage 29cents, addressed in red ink, simply to “Shivaun, 21 West Union Street, Wilkes-Barre,” with light pencil marks to keep his writing writing in line

My brother’s high school year book


Things that I will never use, but I can’t throw away.


No words


No words

There are no words.

 “I miss you,” sounds stupid and empty compared to the devastating loss that I feel.  I feel like a little dog looking for his master around every corner.  I log onto Facebook, I visit your page. It’s like I’m looking for you even though I know you’re not there.  Yet Facebook isn’t Facebook without you. Every status I post, every picture I tag, every event I create, every cause I support, I push down the sadness that you won’t be liking, resharing them or gleefully correcting my spelling and grammar errors.

 And actually my world isn’t my world without you.  Every funny Chris and Shivaun occurrence, every good grade I get, every motivating story I hear, every movie I see, every interaction I have with Annie and Denise I want to tell you about. “Isn’t amazing how everything has come together, when things seemed so hopeless not so long ago.” We often had this discussion in the last six months.  It is amazing how in spite of the destructive sickness you had, you were able to have so much genuine gratitude, and ‘bring it’ every day.

When I was driving today I realized in retrospect that when my mom died you quietly slipped into her role of providing unconditional love and that ‘Hey Shivaun you’re the greatest’ sentiment.  I sometimes wonder if this cloak was slipped on you when you just happened to call moments after they told me in the hospital that things had gone horribly wrong during her operation. I still see myself grabbing for the phone as it rang and the screen displayed “KATHY RAB.” Oh Thank God, I thought.  “Pray, pray, pray” I begged you.  I know you did, and while she did not make it, I believe your prayers are what carried me through the next several hours and probably several months.  I can still see you at McLaughlin’s Funeral home, having taken the bus up from Pittston, to come to the funeral service. How grateful I was to have you there. I hope I told you that.

 Denise came across your notebook where you had written down “McLaughlin’s” and the address. Little did any of know that we would be ushering you off from the same spot six short years later. The memorial service we had for you at McLaughlin’s was beautiful but horrible because I didn’t want it to be happening.  I feel God was mixed up on Friday May 10.  I know you had done everything you needed to do, but I don’t think you had lived everything you wanted to live.

 I know you wanted to be there for Annie’s and Amanda’s engagement, I know you wanted to help Denise get ready for her new adventures in Virginia.  I know you wanted more slumber parties with your sisters. I know you wanted to continue to encourage your dad in his own cancer battle. I know you wanted to go to lunch with me after radiation that day. I know there were a lot of photos and statuses you wanted to like (just enough so Facebook wouldn’t discipline you again). I know you wanted to give me the opportunity to beat you at Scrabble. Oh how close I came recently. I think this last game might have been the one. I will never forget you starting off one game with F**kers.  I did not know that was a word in Scrabble but I guess it is because you got 85 points with it.

I know I’m not the only one visiting Facebook looking for you, just today, there were at least 3 Facebook conversations about you. I ‘liked’ them all.  You would be embarrassed, not thinking you deserve the attention.

 Our last interaction was Scrabble after midnight on May 10.

 Since then I have

No words.

Cooking Travails with the World’s Foremost Authority

Rosemary Chicken

Rosemary Chicken

My brother Sean once had business cards made up for my father: John F. Henahan, World’s Foremost Authority.  He laughed as hard as the rest of us.  It is the Henahan way, I think, to want to learn everything and be an expert.  I recall one of my brothers sitting around on a Saturday afternoon reading the dictionary, just for the heck of it, just to learn.

My dad was a trendsetter, working from home from 1972 or so, before it became cool.  When he began this process, he also began to cook, and became the world’s foremost authority on cooking.  His foray into cooking had a major impact on all of us, I would say.  At the very least, I can pull ahead in a game of trivial pursuit or in a crossword battle by knowing that Craig Claiborne was food editor for the New York Times. We all developed an appreciation for gourmet food, and picked up a few tips along the way.  I have probably been the biggest disappointment, sometimes only being able to apply his tips while frying up the ground beef for the Hamburger Helper, but occasionally I would ask for his help.

As I was looking for a recipe to submit to the St. Mary’s 2013 cookbook, I came across these three recipes — each one of them with truly LOL moments…sometimes not until the last 5 words of the email.  Please read through them let me know how you do….And at the very least, have a laugh at my expense, courtesy of the World’s Foremost Authority.

1/11/99 – “Cooking Travails”

8/17/99 – “Meal”

8/17/99 “A much simpler Alternative Recipe”