Category Archives: Siblings

Remembering Ellen, Three Years Later

 

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I’m now older by a year than my older sister will ever be.

It’s a reality I’d never considered much. “I’m fourth of eight, two older brothers, one older sister, three younger brothers, and one younger sister—all in twelve years.” That was always my standard refrain when asked about my siblings. I’d oftentimes add in a p.s., which invariably elicited a laugh. “I’m the quintessential bitter middle child.”

Here we are, three years to the day when Ellen Marguerite O’Hara took her last breath—and yet, it oftentimes still does not seem real.

I was chatting with my daughter the other day, and the subject of Ellen came up. Gabriella and Ellen had a close bond; Gabriella really trusted and respected her—and the plan for the future was most definitely not this one.

The plan was growing older—all of us—together. Attending future weddings of our many 20-something nieces and nephews. Meeting their future progeny. Making plans to reconnect with all the “West Coast O’Haras.”

Oh, and of course, spending precious time with the Washington state branch of the O’Hara family tree—the Montano men, we three sisters & the two other cousins, Gabriella and Lillie (who now goes by “Levi”).

In time, when the cousins were older, all of us drinking red, red wine in Ellen’s candlelit living room on Spokane’s South Hill on a relaxing Saturday night, savoring whatever was on the menu for the evening. Soup made from a beef stock that had simmered all afternoon, or spaghetti in a sauce that made your senses sing. Whatever Ellen made, it was always sensational. “I just followed the recipe,” she’d invariably say.

One of her last texts to me, before things went from bad to worse and kept on going, was on Valentine’s Day 2014. “Wicked is coming here in May. We should all go.”

It wasn’t meant to be. A different kind of wicked had taken hold; the cancer would soon take its toll.

Three years ago today, she died. Later this evening, Gabriella and I will raise our respective glasses of red wine and send a toast out into the universe in honor of Ellen Marguerite O’Hara. (Will you join us?)

red wine pouring

breeandlilwater

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Happy 50th, Regan Marie Montano

I remember that moment distinctly—the first time I heard of your impending arrival.

We seven O’Hara siblings were playing after dinner out in front our ramshackle Southern California rambler on an early spring evening in 1966.

Mom and Dad were unwinding over evening drinks. “Kids,” we have some news!” Mom announced excitedly. She invited us to offer up guesses about what the news was.
“A new station wagon!” “A pony!” “Disneyland!” No, no, and no.

She paused, and then smiled and announced happily: “I’m having another baby!” Maybe some were glad. I couldn’t have been more underwhelmed.

Then you were born; a beautiful baby girl after three brothers in quick succession. And then you grew, and so did my love for you.

50 years later, I still count you among my most favorite people—and friends—on the planet, and am eternally grateful to have you in my life.

Happy 50th, Regan Marie Montano!