Yet Another Article…

Uncle Paul has officially taken over my blog. :-)   My Uncle Greg just emailed me this article.  I enjoy reading all the nice things people say about Uncle Paul.  They make me smile, laugh and cry.

Councilman Paul MacDonald, a ‘Fighter,’ Dies After Long Illness

Elected Official Performed his Job Even as he Battled Cancer

  Paul J. MacDonald
Paul J. MacDonald Credit Courtesy of the Township of Belleville
Paul J. MacDonald, who was in the midst of his first term on the Belleville Township Council and was affiliated with many Essex County Irish-American organizations, died last night at home after a long battle with cancer. He was 69.

“P.J.” MacDonald, as he was known, was a lifelong township resident who loved his family, politics and especially his ethnic heritage, said officials and others who knew him. He also struggled bravely against his illness, attending council meetings and trying to take part in the activities of Irish-American organizations even as he underwent treatments, many of his council colleagues noted.

“He was a good person. As much as he was in pain, he still did his job …. He was a solider,” said Councilwoman Marie Burke. “This man was really hurting but he put the town first. He’ll really be sorely missed.”

Councilman Kevin Kennedy, a long-serving member of the governing body, was a friend of MacDonald’s for years before MacDonald was elected to the council from the Third Ward in 2008. Kennedy said MacDonald was a gregarious man who had so many friends Kennedy  was “surprised he didn’t get into politics sooner.”

“When he did get on the council, he wanted to do good things so much,” Kennedy said. “When Paul got on, he inspired me. I’m really very sad. This town without question is going to miss Paul MacDonald.”

“There were two rotten things that happened since I’ve been on the council: the death of a police officer and this,” Kennedy said, referring to Officer Kenneth Santucci, who died when his police car crashed in September 2008. Kennedy also said MacDonald was the first sitting council member to pass away since the early 20th century.

Kennedy also said MacDonald, who announced his illness publicly, was trying to live long enough to be honored March 8 by the Brian Boru Association at Mayfair Farms in West Orange. That date had significance for Thomas Murphy, the Belleville township attorney and another friend of MacDonald’s.

“I said to him, March 8th is the 40th anniversary of the [Joe] Frazier-[Muhammad] Ali fight,” said Murphy, whose father also knew MacDonald well. “I said to him ‘You’re a fighter too, Paul. It’s fitting.’ ”

Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin, whose family was also close to MacDonald and whom Durkin knew “my whole life, really,” remembered the councilman as a “presence, a comforting and powerful presence.” Like Kennedy, Durkin also recalled MacDonald’s decision to kick off a political career at a stage when many people have begun their retirement.

“What was interesting was that he decided to run for office so late in life, at age 67,” Durkin said. “It was an amazing campaign … some people didn’t think he was going to make it to election day. He inspired so many people. Just an all-around great guy.”

Another lifelong friend, Tom McEnery, referred to MacDonald as “a father figure, a big brother” who was in McEnery’s “corner during tough times.” McEnery, a Belleville native who now lives in Nutley, said his father used to frequent the tavern MacDonald once owned on Washington Avenue.

McEnery was among many who also said MacDonald, through his example, helped him get in touch with his Irish heritage. McEnery is an officer with the Nutley Irish American Alliance.  

“He wasn’t from Ireland, but he loved everything Irish,” McEnery said. “He wore Irish sneakers, Irish shorts, loved Irish music.” McEnery also said MacDonald, who served as the president of the Belleville Irish American Association, helped rejuvenate that group and advised McEnery on managing the Nutley Irish group.

MacDonald was a longtime member and officer of the Newark St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, was on the Board of Governors of the Giblin Association, and belonged to the Ironbound Irish American Association, the Cryan Association, the McGovern Association, the Belleville Knights of Columbus and the Ancient Order of Hibernians of Montclair.

Along with receiving the Brian Boru award, MacDonald served as the deputy grand marshal of Nutley’s 29th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and was named Essex County Irishman of the Year. In 2010, he received the Kevin G. Kennedy Association Community Service Award.

A veteran of the Vietnam War, MacDonald was a retired sheriff’s officer who worked at the Essex County Jail Annex for several years.

He is survived by his wife, Janet Boyd MacDonald, his daughters Colleen of Belleville, Aileen Millar and her husband Patrick of Kearny, and Sheila Lisi of Belleville. He is also survived by  grandchildren Allison, Gianna, Janet, Michela, John and Katelyn, and a great-grandson, Brandon.  

Funeral services will be held Monday, Jan. 17 at noon at St. Peter’s Church, 155 William St. Relatives and friends are invited to attend the funeral from the O’Boyle Funeral Home, 309 Broad St. in Bloomfield on Monday at 11 a.m. Visitation will be on Saturday and Sunday, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. both days.

Categories: Life

RIP Uncle Paul

Councilman Paul MacDonald, 69, lost his battle to cancer on Wednesday evening around 6 p.m.

Councilman Paul MacDonald

Councilman Paul MacDonald

MacDonald was elected as Belleville‘s Third Ward councilman in 2008, and was diagnosed with cancer six months later, Mayor Ray Kimble said.

MacDonald would have celebrated his 70th birthday Jan. 24, Kimble said.

His family held a large 70th birthday party for him a year earlier though, “because the prognosis wasn’t good for him,” the mayor explained.

“He was coming to council meetings when he probably shouldn’t have come to meetings. He was very eager to serve the people of Belleville and enjoyed his short time as a councilman,” said Kimble. “Paul was really proud to be a councilman; he took it very serious. He will be missed very much.”

MacDonald also served as president of Belleville‘s Irish American Association and was a proud member of numerous Irish cultural associations beyond Belleville, for which he received numerous awards, Kimble said. He also served as a member of Belleville’s Knights of Columbus.

Fellow councilman Steve Rovell lauded MacDonald’s dedication to the people of Belleville.

“He hid his illness really well. He was a trooper; he just kept going,” said Rovell. “His service was really commendable. Service was something he really loved. He had a passion for the town.”

The late councilman leaves behind three daughters and several grandchildren.

“He just loved them. Loved them dearly. It was unbelievable,” Rovell said, citing how it was a “good thing” that MacDonald passed away at home, surrounded by family.

In the middle of the Belleville Library Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, trustees’ cell phones went off repeatedly, each message bearing the news of MacDonald’s passing.

Peter Zangari said he received 18 text messages about MacDonald over the course of the one-hour meeting.

“He was such a great guy,” Zangari said as he scrolled through the messages on his telephone’s screen.

Dr. James Cozzarelli, Jr. subsequently suggested interrupting the trustees’ meeting for a moment of silence, to which newly elected board president Richard Yanuzzi agreed.

Both the mayor and Rovell said they are not sure where MacDonald’s death leaves the council, legally speaking. They have to iron out the details of when and how a replacement is elected with assistance of the township attorney.

“This just isn’t something you ever consider,” Rovell said.

Categories: Life

A Nice Article

I was reading an article on Kyle’s Devils news site and up top, there was a scroll bar with top “North Jersey News.” The title, “Belleville Councilman Gravely Ill.” I had to click on it because I had a strong feeling it was an article about my uncle.  Clicked on it, and there was a picture of Uncle Paul.  I like the article—it really sums up my uncle quite well.

Here’s the article:

Belleville‘s Third Ward Councilman Paul MacDonald is “mortally ill,” Township Attorney Thomas Murphy announced at Tuesday’s Township Council meeting.

Third Ward Councilman Paul MacDonald
Third Ward Councilman Paul MacDonald

“His family is assisting his passage from this life to another,” Murphy said. “…And we feel what his family is feeling because we’re very much his family here.”

During the last several months, MacDonald’s illness had made it difficult for him to get around. But get around, he did.

With the use of his cane, he stood at the intersection of Union Avenue and Holmes Street in 90-degree temperatures this summer to laud Essex County for funding the traffic signal there. He rode through Belleville‘s Veterans Day Parade in the fall, seated in his vehicle with family, smiling and waving to constituents for the entire route of the parade.

And slowly but surely, he climbed the stairs upon which the council’s bench is located during each and every one of its meetings. At times, he’d joke with fellow council members and ask them to get the flag salute done while he was still standing, so he didn’t have to get out of his chair again.

He also made a motion at council meetings to request a “200 percent salary increase” at the conclusion of numerous stress-ridden meetings. He made everyone smile, and he did so while smiling himself.

“He had the courage to fight for his life in a very dignified way,” Murphy added.

Categories: Life

Uncle Paul

I’m making a promise to myself that soon this blog will go back to what it was originally intended for (it’s more fun that way.) Just spoke to Mom and she updated me on Uncle Paul’s condition and I feel I need to talk about it a little before work.  I don’t want to call Kyle at work because there isn’t a need to at the moment.  Mom and Dad spent the past 2 days with Uncle Paul, Aunt Janet, Colleen, Aileen and Sheila (and their kids.) Mom said it was good for them to spend time with my aunt and cousins because it’s been so overwhelming.  Mom said Uncle Paul probably wouldn’t make it through today, but we’ll see.  He was given 3 days and today is Day 4.  She said that Uncle Paul isn’t eating or drinking at all anymore and it’s very difficult for him to take his medicine.  She also said that Aunt Janet and his daugthers have told him to go, that it was okay, but he’s still hanging on.  Apparently he’s waiting for something. 

Even though, he’s still alive, they’ve made arrangements (not date and time yet, obviously), but they have the funeral home all set, picked out a green coffin.  Yes, green.  He’s very proud of his Irish heritage.  The wake will be 2 days because he knows so many people.  Only Uncle Paul would have a 2 day wake. lol. My mom called to make sure that Kyle and I both have green to wear to the funeral (which means I need to exchange the shirt my parents got him for Christmas.) My aunt gave my dad my uncle’s green suit jacket. 

My aunt and cousins have been able to keep positive during this time and continue to laugh.  Because Uncle Paul has been on so much pain medication, he’s been a bit loopy. Apparently yesterday he thought he was driving his car.  His hand was up like he was steering and I guess he has having difficulty controlling it.  My aunt came in and said that she has the brakes.  My cousin, Aileen, walked in front of the bed as my uncle was “driving” and my uncle yelled “holy shit!” He thought he was going to hit her. 

Other “funny” stories that have kept my aunt and cousins going…

My uncle is attached to his cell phone.  He’s been calling people in the middle of the night, like 2am, 3am….well, he called 911 and told them that he is the councilman in Belleville and he is being held hostage.  Cops showed up at their house at 3am…. He really is the councilman of Belleville, just wasn’t exactly being held hostage (unless you call lying in a hospital bed in your house being held hostage.)

Last story…

A couple weeks ago (before he broke his hip, hospital, semi-coma, etc.) he was home, it was around 11pm.  My aunt was upstairs, Uncle Paul was in the room in the back where his hospital bed is. Called the pizzeria.  Ordered EVERY loose slice of pizza.  11pm, it was delievered.  When Aunt Janet told me this story, she was just like “I’m glad I had enough money on me.”

Now I need to get ready for work….the good thing is that my job keeps me very busy and once I get there, I’m in school mode until the moment I leave.  I asked my mom not to call me until after 3:30 if she hears anything.  I do have some errands to run afterschool, but that’ll be okay.

Categories: Life

Can’t sleep…

It’s just about 2:30am and I can’t sleep.  I’m tired, but I can’t bring myself to actually close my eyes and fall asleep.  I don’t want to sleep tonight…I really would like to freeze time…On Thursdayafternoon, my family found out my uncle had approximately 3 days left….tomorrow/today, whatever (Sunday) is day 3.  I’m having a really hard time handling this and I can’t hold it in. I’ve always seen Uncle Paul as the center of the MacDonald family, the person who holds the family together.  For as long as I can remember (and probably even before I was born) we always spent Christmas Eve at Uncle Paul’s house.  Santa (aka Uncle Paul) visited and all of the kids got an early Christmas present.  My uncle has “retired” from Santa and now my dad is the official Santa of the MacDonald family Christmas at Uncle Paul’s house.  A few years ago, it was decided that we’d have our annual family party the Saturday before Christmas.  This year it was cancelled because Uncle Paul was in the hospital and it didn’t look like he’d pull through.  2 days before Christmas, he came out of his semi-coma and a  week later, he came home.  Since New Years Eve (the day he came home), he has been in bed in the back room of his house.  He has to stay in bed because his bones are so weak.  Thank you bone cancer and chemo.  I visited him with Kyle, Patty and my parents last Sunday.  He was tired and I only spoke to him a little.  He’s on so much pain medication because without it, he wouldn’t be able to tolerate the pain.  Anyway, we spent a couple hours with him, my aunt and my cousins.  Uncle Paul loved that Kyle came last weekend.  As I’m writing this, I’m feeling a lot better.  I can’t keep my sadness in.  I’m so afraid to get the dreaded phonecall from my dad…and I know it’s coming sooner rather than later.  Maybe it would have been better if I hadn’t spoken to my mom earlier and not finding out that hospice told the family he had about 3 days.  When my dad called me on Thursday night to tell me that hospice went to Uncle Paul’s and he was bleeding, he only told me that Uncle Paul’s time was limited and it wouldn’t be long.  Although I don’t like the uncertainity of when it’ll happen, I think it’s worse knowing they gave him a timeline of 3 days.  Knowing that tomorrow is the 3rd day is killing me.  I’m not ready to loose my uncle.  His 70th birthday is later this month and he won’t make it until then.  Uncle Paul read at our wedding. I remember the day Kyle and I asked him to be a reader.  We asked him at my family’s Memorial Day BBQ (2009.) Uncle Paul was thrilled.  I remember him standing in the kitchen and suddenly calling everyone’s attention and informing them that he was going to do one of the readings at our wedding.  I can picture him reading at our wedding. 

I realize I’m rambling….whatever thoughts are coming to my head, I’m typing.  Kyle’s asleep….I feel bad waking him up.  There really isn’t much he can do to comfort me.  A hug would be nice, but I really don’t think there is anything that can completely comfort me.  As bad as this sounds, I just wish we could skip ahead a few weeks and have all of this behind us.  I don’t want to loose my uncle, however, there’s no chance of a miracle happening this time.  December of 2009 he was given 6-8 months to live.  It’s now almost 13 months later.  A few weeks ago when he was in the hospital, he wasn’t supposed to make it.  He did.  This time, however, it’s looking even worse.  I don’t believe hospice can do anything.  They are there to make him comfortable.  The day he began to bleed my dad visited him.  My dad said “hello” and Uncle Paul responded “hello,” then fell asleep.

I don’t feel like I can do this.  I’m trying to be really strong, but it’s so hard.  I’ve cried on and off since Thursday night.  I’ve been trying to keep myself occupied and my mind off of the inevitable.  It’s hard, though… It’s 2:45am…it’s all I’m thinking about now.

I think back to June when Aunt Marie (dad’s sister-in-law) passed away…Over the past few years, we didn’t see much of her.  I’m not even sure why.  I visisted her one Sunday in May with Kyle and Patty.  She was in great spirits, cracking jokes.  A month later, she passed away.  I had a tough time at the wake and even more difficult time at the funeral.  I can’t even imagine what I’m going to be like at Uncle Paul’s… Uncle Paul’s won’t be mostly family…. Uncle Paul knows everyone! It is going to be crazy, hundreds of people will come to pay their respects.  Last January, my cousins threw him a 69th birthday party (knowing he probably wouldn’t make it until his 70th)….He had more people there than came to my and Kyle’s wedding. 

I’m not sure what else to say.  Writing this and allowing myself to get this all out (as all over the place it is) has helped.  I cried, I stopped, I cried again, now the tears have stopped.  My cousins (Uncle Paul’s daughters) have written on facebook that they haven’t been able to sleep.  This is the first night since knowing that I’m having trouble sleeping.   I can’t imagine how theyor my aunt feels.  I’m having a very difficult time handling this.  I just don’t know how they are doing this.  They have been dealing with this longer than we all have…

I’m not planning on reading over what I wrote…I know I’ve gone all over the place with what I’ve written.  I need to make myself fall asleep.  I know everything will be okay…I know life will go on…this is just extremely difficult.  Knowing this is the end…I won’t be able to speak with Uncle Paul again (or at least he won’t speak to me again.) I won’t see him alive again…and here come the tears.  I sit here unsure of what to say or think. or do.  I needed to get this out because it’s been bottled up.  I cringe when I hear my phone make any sound, whether it rings or I just get a text message.  I’m nervous, scared…there are so many feelings I’m feeling right now.  I can’t even describe it.  I want to fall asleep and wake up and find out this is all a nightmare.  How can this happen? Why does it happen? Why can’t he just be able to live (and be healthy) for a couple more years? Things like this terrify me.  This past year there has been so much death (aunt, friend’s dad, co-worker, my parent’s cat, Elroy…) 3 out of 5 had cancer (including parent’s cat.) 4 out of 5 were young (aunt was 65…that’s young to die.  Friend’s dad was 59ish, co-worker was 45…Elroy wasn’t even 1.) Good things need to happen….

ugh, either my or Kyle’s phone just beeped…I don’t want to know… it’s 3am……I’m going to check…It was Kyle’s from his website.  I guess his site is down? I didn’t read it.  My heart is beating quickly.  See? I hate when a phone makes any type of noise…I’m just scared….

Over 1200 words and I’ve been writing for 30 minutes….probably should end this for now.  Maybe I’ll need to let everything out again tomorrow…I need to just think of happy things for now.  I have to try to keep my mind off of this otherwise I guarantee it, I’ll go crazy.

Categories: Life

Mini vacation to Connecticut

For Christmas my parents bought me and Kyle tickets to the Third Eye Blind concert at Foxwoods and paid for us to stay overnight (not at Foxwoods, but a hotel only about 20 minutes away.) It was so nice to get away, even if it was only for a night.  When we drove into Connecticut, Kyle noticed the welcome sign mentioned that the state is full of surprises.   About a few minutes later, we saw a car advertising their business, which was paying bail.  If you ever get arrested in Connecticut, you can call them and they’ll bail you out! Weird…

Few hours later, we arrive at the hotel, check-in, then quickly leave to drive over to Foxwoods.  On our way to Foxwoods, we were driving behind a car with a license plate I didn’t recognize.  I saw the word “islands” on the license plate and wanted to know where it was from.  As I was driving I was trying to make it out, but I wasn’t close enough to read it.  I seriously thought it said “Solomon Islands.” Well, we get to a stop sign and the license plate said “Rhode Island.” Just looked up Solomon Islands…very close to Australia.  I don’t know where I got that from.

Anyway, the concert was held at the MGM Theater in Foxwoods, which is beautiful! Third Eye Blind was the only band performing…they played for about an hour and a half, which was a bit shorter than I expected, but they put on a good show.  Afterwards, we got gelato and watched the zamboni clean off the ice from the outdoor rink.  Being that the rink is outdoors, it’s seasonal.  During the warmer months, it’s a terrace.  We wandered around Foxwoods for a bit and I lost $5 within a minute playing a penny Happy Days slot.  Foxwoods is really nice.  There’s a ton to do in addition to gambling.  There’s the theater, ice skating rink, bowling alley, comedy club, arcade, restaurants, clubs,  and stores. 

The next day we had lunch at Mystic Pizza.  We learned there was a movie called Mystic Pizza that was filmed there and in the surrounding areas.  Then we went over to the Mystic Aquarium for a while.  The aquarium was pretty cool—they had a good variety of animals.  Last Christmas I got a camera from Kyle, which takes really good low light shots.  It took great pictures at the aquarium.  Afterwards, we drove back to Foxwoods to go ice skating and wandered around a bit before heading back home.  I’d definitely go back.

Categories: Travel