East Side Sunset Recollections

It has been a little over a year since my mother, Evelyn Healy, passed away after a brief illness. I’d like to share again my reflections from one of her last nights of clarity where we sat together as the light faded.

Mom and I looked to the west at this glorious sunset from her room at Bridgeport Hospital last week. Looking south, you could also see the South End where she began her married life as a Healy at 268 Park Place. As a newlywed, she became a second mother to a few of the younger members of my Dad’s family of 13 children while Grandma Healy worked at the restaurant. The beautiful Slovak girls in her family were strangely attracted to Irish guys with names like Fay, McGinnis and Curry…and Healy. My sister and I were born into that multi- generational household and loved every minute of it.

From this high perch on the 8th floor, we could also see a bit to the east, just across the tracks to where she was born on Hollister Avenue in the East Side neighborhood of Slovaks, Italians, Germans and Poles who were building better lives for themselves and their neighbors in the free world.

A few degrees further east and across the thru-way, you could almost see her “Floral Park” neighborhood in Stratford where I now live. There she spent her teenage years and formed lifelong friendships with the women in“the Club”. A few miles north, she lived for 60 years in the home she and Dad built in Huntington, where my sister and I grew up. So much life lived in such a small area. Mom and Dad had roots.

We could feel all of it in that room that night, as if it were all happening at once. The memories of a lifetime compressed into the brief span of a sunset.

I know she has seen a few more sunsets from the idyllic setting overlooking Long Island Sound at CT Hospice in Branford, but I hope this one that illuminated the city of her origins lights up her dreams tonight.

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