Who would have thought a visit in passing to a newly launched Walgreens store on West Boylston Street would find me draped over the steering wheel crying my eyes out?

Of course the uncontrollable weeping was held at bay until I got into the privacy of my trusty Mazda 3, but I sure would have been a sight if someone had happened upon me in the Seasonal aisle wracked in sobs of grief over my dead mother. I’m telling you, I nearly lost it coming across a box of imported-from-China battery-operated hand-held personal fans.

She loved Walgreens and I hated that store with a passion. I used to get really irritated when one of the old ladies at the nursing home would give her a copy of their weekly advertisement from the Sunday Telegram because it always meant my mom pleading with me to visit Walgreens to pick up some of their sale items which they invariably NEVER had in stock. I can’t even convey the extent of my arguments with my mom over something not being in stock. It usually went something like this:

“But it’s in the paper. They’ve got to have it. It’s on sale!”
“No, ” I would try to reason, “They make up these ads months in advance and just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean they’re going to have it.”
“Maybe it’s in the back?”
“No, it’s not. They don’t have it.”
“I’ll go ask someone.”
“Well, you can go ask someone, but they’re not going to have it.”

It would go on and on like this. She would insist and I would try to reason with her, but in the end my voice would rise in frustration, we would start swearing at each other and eventually she would just get really pissed off at me and storm off into another section of the store.

Our most infamous battle was over the aforementioned battery-operated fan. She wanted it so much because when you hit the Go button, the fan would spin around really fast and make this bright, LED colored light show. It was kind of groovy and psychedelic to just stare at it and I think that’s why she wanted it so much. I, of course, thought it was the biggest waste of her money because she would use it once, get bored with it and then want to give it to me as a gift.

Sometimes I would break down and take her to the only local Walgreens which was on Park Ave in Worcester. I feared for our safety going to that store because of its location and wouldn’t have been surprised if during one of our visits, we were involved in a violent stick up while my Mom was buying a bag of Strawberry Creme Savers.

But every time we went there, she would look for that damned hand-held personal fan. She just kept thinking that they’d get it back in stock. It didn’t matter that it was the middle of Winter, she wanted that fan and was determined to buy it. I just couldn’t get her to understand the retail marketing strategy of the Seasonal aisle. Winter months featured Christmas decorations and Valentine’s Day candy. Spring brought Easter decorations and Jelly Beans…not personal hand-held fans that gave off light shows. That was reserved for our hottest months and there was no guarantee that who ever supplied these cheaply made fans would continue to supply Walgreens with the same design year-after-year.

I remember when I showed her this soon-to-be opening Walgreens on West Boylston Street. I happily said, “See? We can go there anytime you’d like because it’s so close and much safer than the one on Park Ave.” She was excited that I was willing to take her to Walgreens without any fuss and was looking forward to when the store opened.

I forgot all about the new Walgreens after she died this past November. I’d pass it every so often and see it’s construction progress. But I had no interest in visiting Walgreens. After all, in the food chain of discount drug stores, Walgreens gets the lowest position because it’s just a junk store that never has advertised sale items in stock. Here’s my current ranking:

  • CVS Pharmacy
  • Target
  • Brooks Pharmacy
  • Any supermarket drug store section
  • Wal-Mart
  • Walgreens

But tonight on the way home, we decided to stop into the newly opened Walgreens to check it out. To tell the truth, they had advertised a new SKITTLES flavor: Limited Edition Carnival and I just had to hit that. But rest assured, they didn’t have it. And right after being disappointed, I found myself wandering over to the Seasonal aisle and that’s when my hidden grief over losing my mom to cancer back in November hit me like a ton of bricks. That stupid personal fan. There it was tucked up on a shelf–boxes and boxes of them waiting to be advertised and bought by anyone else other than my mother.

I paid for my purchases and got back into the car. I gripped the steering wheel and just let the dam burst. I never would have thought during all those annoying shopping trips we took together that going shopping with my mother to a Walgreens would be one of the things I miss most now that she’s gone.

I would have told you were she still alive and well that I hated taking my mom shopping every Tuesday and Friday for these past eight years because it was always a source of massive frustration. I’d bargain with her over what she could and couldn’t buy in the store like she was my five year old daughter. Sometimes I would buy what she wanted just to shut her up so I could get some peace. Other times I would lie and tell her the store didn’t have something because I knew she really didn’t need to waste what little money she had on yet another $5.99 t-shirt. (She had to have every color Hanes t-shirt made, one color was never enough) Other times I would leave her to sit in the car while I ran into the store to buy her a bag of candy because I didn’t have the patience to deal with her slow lumbering movements with the walker because I knew that I could be in and out of the store 90% faster than if we both went in together.

As her caregiver and her only child, I know that I did my best for her. But coming across that stupid cheap fan really hit home to what I lost when my mom died six months ago.


What A Difference 3 Months Can Make

Most people think life sucks, and then you die. Not me. I beg to differ. I think life sucks, then you get cancer, then your dog dies, your wife leaves you, the cancer goes into remission, you get a new dog, you get remarried, you owe ten million dollars in medical bills but you work hard for thirty five years and you pay it back and then one day you have a massive stroke, your whole right side is paralyzed, you have to limp along the streets and speak out of the left side of your mouth and drool but you go into rehabilitation and regain the power to walk and the power to talk and then one day you step off a curb at Sixty-seventh Street, and BANG you get hit by a city bus and then you die. Maybe. ~Denis Leary

During a pre-op physical for my upcoming foot surgery, I was asking my doctor a few questions about some health concerns-namely that my mom died of cancer and I was advised by her doctor to get a colonoscopy sooner than the recommended age of fifty. She asked me what type of cancer my mom died of and I was simply stunned that I couldn’t remember the name of it!Just a mere four months ago, I lived and breathed the hated phrase ‘Adenocarcinoma’ but all I could think to say was, “I think it began with “endo…” I couldn’t remember what my own mother died of and for the life of me, I couldn’t even recall the simple word “oncologist” when describing my mother’s doctor who told me to get a colonoscopy sooner because of the type of cancer my mother had.

Was it so long ago? No, of course not. But my mother died of cancer and it doesn’t matter what type of cancer it was…it still ravaged her and took her too soon and very violently. Maybe my brain just blocked out the details after her death and it was far easier to say stomach cancer than a very rare form of cancer that develops in cells lining glandular types of organs (namely the colon, stomach, pancreas and cervix) and spills death into her bloodstream destroying her everywhere.

They don’t have a magnetic car ribbon supporting awareness for Adenocarcinoma. There isn’t a walk I can do in her memory alongside other survivors because in most cases there isn’t a survival rate.

I was in a Hallmark store buying a birthday gift last week and saw a little display of bracelets each showing a charm in the shape of a ribbon colored for a particular form of cancer. I thought about getting one, but was torn over stomach cancer and colon cancer. I just didn’t know.

My mom died nearly three months ago and I find myself left with fuzzy details. If I try real hard to think of specifics of the cancer that took her, I remember our shared nightmare which began in late October with stomach pains. Her discomfort turned into an emergency surgery to repair a perforation in her small intestine and while the surgeon was in there rooting around, well, he found a nice little surprise called a malignant tumor that got sent on it’s way to pathology only to return saying, “We’re sorry, but she probably has only a few weeks to live.”

And I wonder about these past three months since my mom died. Does time heal all wounds? I’d like to think that instead time allows other things to settle into your life to distract you from what happened. Time throws in worry about getting your income taxes done and how much weight have I lost on Weight Watchers this week and maybe I’d better check out that movie before it leaves the theatre.

Your life goes on because you’re fortunate enough to be alive when your mother is dead. It’s a simple hard fact. You come to the realization that your life is completely your responsibility now because your mother is gone and there’s no one left to care about it but you. Looking after yourself means asking your doctor the uncomfortable question about when to get a colonoscopy. And I guess it also means forgiving yourself when you don’t remember Adenocarcinoma because after all, what does it really matter? Dead is dead.

Gloria J. Silva

My mother died on Wednesday night around 9:30pm. I was able to be by her bedside holding her hand when it happened. I’ll spare the personal details of my experiences these past few months and share with you some of the things that made me who I am today because of the love and care of my mother:

  • I always remember this one thing that my mom told me: No matter how bad you feel, there is always someone doing much worse.
  • She loved music and listened to records all the time when I was growing up. Her favorite singer was Billy Joel, but she loved so many artists. Here are just a few that I remember: Al Stewart, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac, UB40, Juice Newton, Tina Turner, Chris Isaak, The soundtrack to the Super Fly movie, The Rolling Stones and just so many others I can’t even list. I am a music lover because of my mom.
  • She always told everyone she met what a wonderful daughter I was and how much she loved me. I was her world. She lived for me. She was proud of me.
  • Mom loved babies so much. Her eyes would just light up whenever we were in a store shopping and she saw children. Unfortunately, our attempt at pregnancy failed in March of 2005, but mom would have been a wonderful grandmother. Knowing she won’t see her grandchild breaks me, but I know that she’s with me in spirit.
  • Avon was a big pleasure for her during her six year stay in two nursing homes. She loved to load her hands up with as many rings that her fingers could hold and most times double-stacked her rings because she loved how they looked on her hands. I became an Avon lady this past July so she could have a reliable Avon contact and thanks to her, I’m doing pretty good at it.
  • Mom didn’t have a very good relationship with her family, but I always knew how much she loved her mother despite her difficult childhood. But she loved her mother-in-law Rose Silva dearly and thought of her as her own mother. They fought a lot as two women living in a house are prone to do, but they did love and care for each other very much. She took the death of my grandmother very hard in 1988 when I was just 18 years old.
  • I always used to tease my mother about her tri-fecta of shopping: shoes, bras and underwear. No matter what department store we went to (Wal-Mart especially), she would drive me nuts because she could never quite find the right bra that fit or be happy with having just a few pairs of shoes. Unfortunately, I’m much like my mother. I have certain things that fascinate me and I just can’t get enough of: salad dressings, vacuums, purses and the latest newly packaged foods in the grocery store.
  • Many people say that my mother and I look alike. It used to always irritate me because I wanted to think that my features resembled my father. I didn’t see this before, but now that I look at myself in the mirror, I’m glad that I do actually resemble her.
  • I have never seen someone in my own personal life suffer with so much pain on a daily basis. I’m a wimp when it comes to being sick. At the slight awakening of a headache, I’m popping Tylenol. But she was the master of sucking it up and handling pain. I’m so glad that she never ended up in a wheel chair.
  • I remember all our walks to Lincoln Plaza when I was little. She used to always say how she bought me all this stuff, but never anything for her self. It made me feel guilty. But as I’m older, I realize that buying things for me and taking care of me was the biggest pleasure in her life aside from being with my dad.

I am going to miss my mother something fierce. Both she and my dad died in the month of November. It will always be a month of sadness for me.

But this Christmas I’m going to do my best not to be sad. I’m going to decorate my new tinsel Christmas Tree and remember all the crazy times when I was little when she used to transform the house. Christmas is my favorite holiday and my parents gave me wonderful memories. But I can guarantee you that when I’m hanging the ornaments on the tree this year, I’ll be thinking of how my mother would go through the process of decorating and tearing down the Christmas tree at least four times until she got it perfect. It should come as no surprise that I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I have her to thank for that as well.

I’m not ashamed to say that she did the best she could as a mother with many problems and I was one lucky kid to have a mother so devoted to me.

I am the best thing about my mother’s life.

Joyce "Josephine" (Lucas) Sabulis, 91

One of my closest friends recently passed away and I wanted to share with you all her beautiful obituary recently published in the Worcester T&G. Joyce taught me many things over the years. It’s hard when someone you love so much is no longer living and you have to go on knowing that you can’t share important things with them anymore. I was fortunate that she was with me back in 1990 when I got married. We remained friends throughout the years and she taught me some important things that I’d like to share with you:

  • Always have a goal. Joyce wanted to live to be 90 and she did!
  • Take time at the end of your day to enjoy a few sips of brandy. She claimed it helped the heart. I have fond memories of visiting her for dinner and enjoying a dainty glass of spirits. I was always amazed that such an old lady could handle such a strong drink.
  • Have faith. Although I’m not religious nor spiritual, Joyce taught me that sometimes it helps to put your trust in something you can’t see.
  • There’s nothing you shouldn’t try at least once.
  • Travel any chance you get.
  • Practice patience for you don’t know when you’ll need it most.
  • Love what you do. Joyce never missed a day of work in her life. One of my favorite stories was during a particulary bad snowstorm she rolled down her hill to catch the bus to work.
  • Always look on the bright side. Joyce Sabulis was the most positive person I’ve ever met in my life. She could have given Dale Carnegie a run for his money.

I am so fortunate to have met Joyce while we were working at Lechmere. She taught me so much over the years and I’ll miss her desperately.


WORCESTER— Joyce “Josephine” (Lucas) Sabulis, 91, of Mary Scano Drive, Worcester, and longtime resident of Boylston, died Friday, October 7th in Christopher House surrounded by her family and devoted friends.

Her husband, Alfred J. Sabulis died in 1981. She is survived by a son John A. Sabulis of Portsmouth, R.I., a daughter, Joyce M. Sabulis-Ripley of Attleboro, a sister, Veronica Sakalauskas of Worcester, two grandchildren, nieces and nephews. She was born in Worcester, daughter of the late Matthew and Kazimia (Rackus) Lucas and had lived in Boylston for over 50 years.

Mrs. Sabulis moved to Boylston in 1941, and ran her own alteration business from her home for many years. In the 1960’s, she went to work for the former Cherry & Webb/Touraine Store in Shrewsbury, as Alteration Manager. Later she headed the Alteration Department at the former Jordan Marsh Department Store at the Worcester Center until age 60.

She retired briefly, and then returned to alteration work for the former R.H. White’s at Lincoln Plaza of Worcester until age 70. Still not ready to retire, she worked part-time in sales at the former Lechmere Store at the Greendale Mall until her 80th birthday.

She moved to the Worcester area in 1998. She was a member of Saint Mary of the Hills Church in Boylston. Also a member of the Boylston Lioness Club, the Boylston Grange, the Boylston Garden Club, the AARP of Worcester, and she did volunteer work at the Worcester County Horticultural Society at Tower Hill in Boylston.

Relatives and friends are invited to visit with Joyce’s family on Tuesday, October 11th from 4-7 P.M. in the Britton-Shrewsbury Funeral Home, 648 Main Street, Shrewsbury. Her funeral Mass will be on Wednesday, October 12th at 10 A.M. in Saint Mary’s Church, 640 Main Street, Shrewsbury. Burial will be in the family lot in Pine Grove Cemetery, Boylston. Memorial contributions in Joyce’s memory can be made to the Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief, c/o the American Red Cross of Central Massachusetts, 2000 Century Drive, Worcester, MA 01606-1256. For directions and online memorial guestbook, please visit,

Happy Father’s Day…Dad

It’s late and I really should be drifting off to sleep by now, but tonight’s a tough one for me because tomorrow is Father’s Day. It’s been seven years without him…

I got to thinking tonight about how I’m my father’s daughter. He taught me that the glass is always half full when my mom would lead me to believe otherwise. Thankfully his version of the truth always stuck. I am grateful that I am as good-natured and even tempered as my father. My dad taught me to go with the flow. He liked the phrase, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.”

He drove an 18-wheel tractor trailer until I was 13 years old and made the decision to stop driving when he realized that he missed out on too much of my childhood being on the road. But he was never ashamed that he made his living driving a truck because he never really wanted to do anything else. He fulfilled his life long dream to drive across the country and left driving behind to work as a janitor.

He always wanted to visit Alaska and see the Grand Canyon. He told me that when he got older he wanted to rent an RV and just drive.

I know my dad was proud of me because he would tell me all the time. He was never uncomfortable about it. I think it was especially important to him that I knew how much he loved and was proud of me because his dad never told him anything like that when he was growing up other than negatively comparing him to his older brothers. My dad and I had an affectionate relationship and I miss hugging him.

One of the hardest things to come to terms with after he died was that I couldn’t sit across the kitchen table from him anymore to share crazy work stories or just talk. I was on my own.

My dad loved a good steak. I can remember that he knew where his priorities were when payday hit-visit the downtown butcher for meat and pay the bills last. He was a simple guy and never had any problem doing the things that made him happy.

He cried like a baby the day I gave him the huge framed print of him and I on my wedding day. He said it was the best present he ever received in his life and I knew he meant it.

I bet Father’s Day is tough on the people who don’t have good memories of their dad. I bet they wish the holiday didn’t even exist. As painful as this day is on me every year, the tears I cry are worth it because they remind me of how lucky I was growing up with such an amazing father.

I live every day of my life to honor his memory. I do it by looking after my mom and protecting her when he cannot. I appreciate the beauty in my own life knowing how much he loved beautiful things like flowers and Harley Davidson motorcycles.

And most importantly, I honor my father by experiencing the fresh pain of his loss every June 19th because it was one of his favorite days of the year. He loved being my father.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day. I will always remember…..