The End of the Journey


Major Mary Bryce Wilson Nooney. November 7, 1923 – February 17, 2017.

I don’t have much to write at the moment. My mind is numb, my thoughts scattered and unfocused. But, I wanted to share my mom’s obituary with you:

Mary B. Nooney, age 93, passed away peacefully at her home in Aurora, Colorado on February 17, 2017.

She was preceded in death by her father David B. Wilson, her mother Anna W. Sullivan, and her beloved husband of 33 years, John F. Nooney (1924-1980). She is survived by her son, John Francis Nooney II and his husband, Julian S. Flores (both of Aurora, CO). She is also survived by her beloved niece and nephews, Rosella Patenaude (North Kingstown, RI), Michael Conley (Middletown, RI), and William “Billy” Conley (Middletown, RI). She is also survived by numerous cousins.

She was born November 7, 1923, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. She received her BA from Bryant University (Smithfield, RI), and her MA from University of Colorado (Boulder, CO)

Her father died when she was 7 years old. Shortly after his passing, she got her first job at J.P. Coates Thread Company. She operated the machine that wound the thread around the spools. As the Great Depression caused companies to rise and fall, she worked at a variety of factories.

During World War II, Mary joined the Army: The Women’s Army Corp. After the war, she went to work for the phone company as a switchboard operator.

One evening at the end of November, she was invited to a party that some of the women she worked with were going to. It was at that party that Mary met John Nooney, a 23 year old sailor, from Sioux City, Iowa, who was stationed at Quonset Navel Base, located at Quonset Point, RI. A week later, he proposed to her. They had planned to marry in the summer of 1947, but John kept moving up the date. They married January 23, 1947 – seven weeks after they met.

Shorty after they married, my dad decided to leave the Navy and join the Army. During the following 13 years, they lived in Germany, Hawaii, San Antonio, Washington DC. In 1960 they were stationed in Aurora CO, at the now closed Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center. In 1961 they bought the house that Mary would live in until her passing.

Mary was also an Army Reservist, doing her 1 weekend a month/2 weeks per year of service. When she retired, she had earned the rank of Major, something that she was very proud of – she was so proud of it that she wishes to be buried in her Army uniform.

Mary lived a full life: she married her true love; she lived in many places around the world; she had many, many great friends; she was loved by many.

The energy force that animates our body (call it a soul, or a spirit, if you will) has left her body. But she’s still here: alive in the minds and memories of her many friends and family.

“You’re on the other side I know,
But I still hear your voice
Behind the door.

I’ll meet you where the stars and the sun run out of sky.
Where the memories of our lives collide.
Where the time won’t run away.
Where the moment never dies”

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Mary’s name to the Alzheimer’s Foundation.


There’s a story of the last few days, and a story about …well, I’ll save it all until I write the stories.


For now, I’ll leave you with a song, released in 1991, that from the moment I heard it, reminded me of my mom. It’s a song I’ve played many times over the last weeks and months. I’d like to share it with you:


A Quick Mom Update


My poor neglected blog seems a sad, lonely place these days. I’ve not had much time for writing or reading other blogs.  I did manage to make a small Facebook post last week, and only now did I realize I didn’t post it here.  So, here’s the FB post from 1/29:

Earlier this month, my mom started home hospice care. Hospice doesn’t mean that she’s going to die today or tomorrow. It means that she’s started on the final leg of her journey though this life. As the hospice nurse says “This is your mom’s dance, and she’s choreographing how it plays out.” There are no set dates, no exact times. Only estimates based on how she’s declining. Her voice is almost gone. She’s weak enough that it takes two people to transfer her from chair to wheelchair, or to get her in bed. She needs two people to help her in the bathroom. She’s sleeping around 16 hours a day at this point, though that’s expected to increase. There are several parts of her body that are causing a lot of pain, even with the medication she’s on. She’s going to have to start on something stronger, probably this week. She’s coughing a great deal, but there’s not really anything to cough up. She’s eating and drinking very little.

Chances are, within the next week or so, she will be bed-ridden, as it is getting tougher and tougher for her to sit upright – I’ve posted a photo of her leaning to the left, but, the danger is that she can fall asleep and lean forward and fall out of the chair.

We are not born with expiration dates stamped on us. We never know when the end will be. Mom’s heart could give out any time, really. But, at this point, the news is that she’s probably down to her last month – maybe two- of life. Again, the caveat: she’s choreographing this dance, and we just have to follow along. Ultimately it’s up to her to decide when she’s ready to let go.

I don’t pray, and I know some of you don’t either. It’s always tough for us to send best thoughts and wishes and prayers because sometimes the words don’t feel adequate enough. But, at this time, whether it’s thoughts, prayers, karma, peace – whatever you send is greatly appreciated.



Two of my cousins that my mom is especially close to came for a visit this past week (one left Saturday; the other leaves this morning. Mom enjoyed seeing them, visiting, remembering. Even though she enjoyed their visit, she is tired out – she told me this evening that she was looking forward to being able to take a nap in her chair tomorrow. 🙂



Quoth the Raven: Arnaldur Indridason

From Silence of the Grave

She lived in a large detached house in Grafarvogur, still married to a wealthy wholesaler and living in luxury, which was manifested in flamboyant furniture, the expensive jewellery she wore and her condescending attitude towards the detective who was now in her sitting room.

Erlendur did not reply. He thought about children who never knew their parents; never found out who they really were. Entered their life when it was as much as halfway through and did not have a clue about them. Never got to know them except as father and mother and authority and protector. Never discovered their shared and separate secrets, with the result that the parents were just as much strangers as everyone else the children met during the course of their lives. He pondered how parents managed to keep their children at arm’s length until all that remained was acquired, polite behavior, with an artificial sincerity that sprang from common experience rather than real love.

Silence of the Grave




Silence of the Grave
by Arnaldur Indridason

© 2002; English translation: 2005
pp: 293

Goodreads synopsis:

Inspector Erlendur returns in this gripping Icelandic thriller When a skeleton is discovered half-buried in a construction site outside of Reykjavík, Inspector Erlendur finds himself knee-deep in both a crime scene and an archeological dig. Bone by bone, the body is unearthed, and the brutalizing history of a family who lived near the building site comes to light along with it. Was the skeleton a man or a woman, a victim or a killer, and is this a simple case of murder or a long-concealed act of justice? As Erlendur tries to crack this cold case, he must also save his drug-addicted daughter from self destruction and somehow glue his hopelessly fractured family back together.

Goodreads rating: 3.94
Amazon rating: 4.3
My rating: 4.5

Silence of the Grave is Icelandic noir at its best: it is both mystery and novel. The story is told in both past and present. The present story is of the detectives searching for clues to the body’s identity, while in other chapters, the story of the family who lived on the site where the body was buried is told. The story of that family is a dark story of post-World War II Iceland, a marriage and family terrorized by domestic violence (warning: some of the scenes are brutal, though not as graphic as other stories I’ve read – it is still brutal all the same.)

As the story of the family unfolds in both the past and present, the identity of the body is not tough for the reader to identify, though there are a few moments where you think perhaps you’re wrong.

In a sense, the mystery is almost secondary to the novel. The book is almost a meditation on family – there are several family stories that thread throughout the book, from romantic relationships in their early stages, to dark family secrets, to stories of failed marriages and father/daughter relationships tested.

At 293 pages, the story is a good length – there’s no overwrought, overwritten, overthought drama that adds endless pages to slog though (don’t get me wring, I enjoy long books, as long as the story doesn’t bend under its own weight). The story is told in that simple Nordic/Scandanavian noir style – crisp prose, and cold as the darkest days of winter. The story doesn’t bang you over the head to make a point, doesn’t moralize or leave you with any clear cut conclusions. The characters are all smartly rendered, the translation is well done (the translation is more Brit than American English – which is fine with me); and, as with any noir story, the story is more bleak and melancholy. This is not a book that makes you feel warm and fuzzy when you’re finished. It will stick with you for a few days though.

This is (contrary to the Goodreads site) the second book in the Inspector Erlendur series. While I enjoyed the first book in the series (Jar City), I liked this book even more.