Monday, March 31, 2014

7 Quick Takes on Monday...

1. Only 20 days until Easter!
Get hopping already!  


2.  We've had such a cold spring, yesterday it hailed and snowed.  My daughter and I attended a Mother/Graduating Class tea at her school.   It was so cold outside, I drank three cups of hot tea just because it kept me sitting in the warm building touching a hot tea cup, I don't even like tea. My daughter found her friends and so I sat. It gave me some quiet time, time I admit, I've been craving.  It lets me think.  The tendency in grief is to keep so busy you don't think.  I have to work against that natural predisposition.

I even learned how to properly hold a tea cup.    

3.  On Friday, I got my hair done.  I didn't get the stylist I prefer, and so my hair is a monotone.  My youngest said, "Mom, your hair looks weird." and she patted it.   Others said it looked nice, but I look in the mirror, I see weird.  

4. Saturday, there was a job fair.  I went.  Getting back into the swing of things will require looking, so I went mostly to look.  Interviewing at a few schools, I found some administrators were interested.   I still have to get my GRE scores if I can so as to avoid taking a standardized test as part of the re-certification process.  Everyday I'm inching forward, but it is slow progress.  
Not yet.

5.  How's your Lent going?  I'm not sure how mine is going, I love the Lenten resolution to call my sister, I enjoy our talks, I feel closer to her, I'm grateful for it, and at the same time, what the joy of those moments reveal, is how empty the rest of the space in my life is, and how cluttered at the same time.  There are long bouts of silence, long bouts of activity, but much of it is repetitive, routine, and doesn't do anything save get us through the day.  We aren't made to just get through the day. The desert feels 360, with no tracks, and no apparent goal.  Maybe one has to get into the midst of the desert of life in Lent, to feel the sand underneath, like everything is not secure, to recognize one is lost.  Only then would a lost sheep call out, when they recognize, they are alone.  

(Thought this was a cute picture of a lost sheep, please don't read more into the photo than that).  We're supposed to get lost in the desert, and it is supposed to be uncomfortable, and it is supposed to reveal to us what God wants of us, how He wants us to be, and that's never an easy thing, even if it is right, good, true and beautiful.   The hard part is the being willing to wait and to listen.  That's why we need the desert of these 40 days, because if you're anything like me, waiting and listening, they're hard to do if there's any distraction possible whatsoever.  

6.  Bob

Part of my distraction is the nature of my life.  On Friday, my teen son came down the stairs with a twinkle in his eye, he was calling everyone Bob.  Most understood this to be a tease and ignored it, but Paul took the name change seriously and got very angry.  In a three word response, he declared under no uncertain terms, "I'M NOT BOB!"  So I congratulated my older son on getting him to talk using what teachers call an adverse technique.  "Congratulations." I said, "Now, don't do it again."


7.  We are hitting the mid point of Birthday Palosa, with a 12 year old tomorrow. She wants her ears pierced and to see Winter Soldier.  I'm handling the first part of the equation, Dad's handling the later this weekend. She's also taken to doing the dishes each night unasked.  It is a warm freely given gift, very much illustrative of the person she's becoming.   That reminds me to get some brownie mix so I can make a treat for her class tomorrow.   Happy Birthday to my dear Faith!  It's been a fast 12 years.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fellowship, Facebook and the Holy Spirit

The original caustic title was "What is Wrong with You People?" which became "What is Wrong with Us" which became something far less accusatory. But being a Catholic blog junkie and a Catholic writer want-a-be, I've watched several firestorms erupt within the Catholic blogosphere that resemble the fellowship exhibited within the confines of the Senate between political parties.

I am for Simcha!  I am for Greydamus! 

The tenor, which began as a discussion, often became a poor witness of what we say and believe and know we are to be. 

Noah is a stupid film with rock monsters! 
Noah is a serious if imperfect film!
See it! 
Don't See it!
How about, there is no mortal peril to laughing at Noah or to going to see Noah? It's not an occasion of mortal sin except to the extent we forget that ours is not the defining opinion. 

This also happened with The Catholic Stand and a fight over the issue of romanticism and marriage, where advice given freely became fodder for personal attacks because others were protective of their friend who voiced her understanding in a piece, but with more force than experience or doctrine warranted.   Truth in Charity we are called to give, but we often forget one or the other, and the public nature of the internet can make discussion easily turn from instruction to entertainment, to something less noble.  We're supposed to be known by "look at how they love each other" and the witness of fights over Facebook, does not reveal anything but camps, camps of friendship, camps of loyalty, camps of intellectual agreement, but not Catholicism, which is "universal." It bothered me, but I also feared losing friends on both sides. It is my always great fear, losing friends. 

Then I hopped over to Creative Minority Report and saw the continuation of what has been a long discussion over weeks, that doom is upon us, that the end time is near.  These are also friends,  but at least one of the writers is indulging the notion of despair, that the enemy is warming up the Lions, and our long Lent shall continue even when the season ends.   Now I know all the fights he speaks of, lurking, growing, growling on the horizon, they're legion. I see the coming moral storms and ongoing ones we have to navigate.  None of us are under any illusions, much will be demanded of us if we are to call ourselves Catholic, but to quote from a movie I watched last night:

"Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."


There is not an age, not a country, not a person in any of the world who embraced Catholicism, who did not at some point feel the weight of the cross they were called to carry and tremble, wish it were taken away, wish the person chosen were anyone else but them, wish the world were lighter, wish the work were less. Some brave souls do this every day. Folks in these great stories that are told every day, didn't know how it would end. 
Sam: It's like in the great stories Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end because how could the end be happy?

How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?

But in the end it's only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it'll shine out the clearer.

Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too small to understand why.

But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for.

 It is the dark night of the soul, when the only thing one can do, is pray and carry on.

The desert we travel in, is not our time or our nation, but our hearts.   We need to stop looking outward and despairing, that is judgment; we need to look inward and beg for mercy, that is Lent.   Then, we need to put on our best, to wear our hope and trust in God's mercy, and our friendship with his son Jesus on our faces.  Then, we will be lights to others in places where all other lights go out.  Scared? Sure, that's why we need courage, courage for our friends.  We need to ride out and meet them for there is always hope.     "Anyone who wishes to follow me, must pick up their cross,"... "for the yoke is easy, and the burden light."  I love the constant truth of both and that is our faith.

And it is hard, and yet not.

This week, I fretted.  A friend constantly posted things that I found offensive, that I found hurtful, and they were because that friend sincerely believes his political side is on the side of angels.  Admittedly, I understand the blind allegiance, I've been there.  It's easy, it requires no thinking, it justifies one's own opinion and makes one feel righteous in all things.  I worried how to illustrate my disagreement, i.e, how to "turn the other cheek," so I did not agree and did not run away, and did not lose the friend who has been a bright light for me.  How could I approach this delicate topic of believing all children are infinitely valuable, even in their preborn and even pre-implanted state? 

I didn't want to fail to speak.  But I'd written a response earlier to a prior similar post, one where I used reason and logic, and received no answer.  So clearly, stating a position, even defending a position, telling my position wasn't the answer.  This person knew my faith and that wasn't a compelling witness or argument. 

That day, my brother  posted a picture of his unborn child. And I was reminded of the writing adage, "Show, don't tell." 


Then he posted a picture of my dad holding the picture, two days before he died. 



And there was the continuum, right there, on Facebook.  All life is precious and equally infinitely loved, from conception to death.   I couldn't miss it.  It is right there alive in that picture.  And I remembered the words from Luke, 12:11, "When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."

Just in case I was slow on the uptake, and the Holy Spirit knows I need overkill to get the point,  there was this piece on my Facebook feed at Word on Fire!



And the final smack across the heart, a piece by a fellow member of the Catholic writer's guild about his newborn daughter's diagnosis of Down Syndrome, Stage Six: Joy.

 

Which brings us back to how we are to be in the face of everything, joyful, even as we scour our own souls, even as we know there is a tremendous amount of labor to do.  Even the smallest act of kindness is a rebuke of the seemingly endless waves of chaos, pain, suffering and evil, both in the virtual and actual world.  
 
The hardest thing for us to do, is love someone we cannot see, either because we do not know them, we seek not to see them, or we want to pretend they do not exist because to acknowledge such existence would demand something of us. The internet provides us with a constant challenge, to see the person on the other side of the keyboard, regardless of their politics, positions, opinions, power or reach, as people of infinite worth, pearls of great price, people we hope to keep and call friends. 
 
Hold true, hold fast, hold. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Evil Parenting League of Evil*

*Inspired by my brother Danny's facebook post about giving a test the second day back from Spring Break and Simcha Fisher's Eggplant prayer...also on Facebook. 

The Evil Parenting League of Evil is Now Open and Taking Applicants. 

State your evil parent name and testify to the evil parent thing you have done specifically to warrant membership. 

Some antics which warrant automatic membership.  You are not bound by these, and creativity is encouraged.

10)  Serving cauliflower, baked, roasted or boiled to anyone who has already declared it a non edibile.  There is no amount of cheese or butter capable of redeeming this cruciferous vegetable for such people, especially when they're perfectly willing to eat broccoli.   Your audacity alone in light of your offspring's nutritional reasonableness warrants admission.

9) Forbidding television shows even though a child has already seen it somewhere else and doesn't know why we think it's so bad.  If in an attempt to explain the potential moral snares of said show, you garner a "I don't know why you have to go all Catholic on me!" Congratulations! Clearly you know how to abuse your authority as a parent for personal emotional petty satisfaction.

8) Bedtime.  With lights out, and the human equivalent of a growling Rottweiler roaming the halls.  But to make sure they go, add the bonus feature.  Read aloud from some book grownups think kids should read but won't.  Currently inflicting Little House in the Big Woods on the prisoners held in their upstairs rooms. 

7) Cancelling Pizza Night during Lent as a modest form of fasting.

6) Putting on the News, Classical or Catholic radio station when people who care about music are in the car.  Leaving it on when the doors open as they get out and other people might possibly if they were really straining, hear and thus presume such fare is normal.  Ignoring complaints.

5) Watching an old movie, or any show with people in it over the age of 25 who aren't rock stars, reality stars or musicians. 

4)  Making them read books NOT assigned, more than once a month, especially if you turned off the Wii or the television or the computer when you did.

3)  Vetoing clothing choices.  Ditto with hair and hygiene.  Overriding any and all, especially when it's a free dress day, an outing with peers, or mass, equals instant qualification. 

2) Promising to host a turning off lights, making beds and putting clothing in a laundry mat seminar if things don't improve doesn't cut it.  Actually presenting said lecture complete with physical prompts, verbal prompts, hand over hand demonstrations and making attendance compulsory, does. 

1) Saying "I love you so-and-so." to anyone over the age of 12 for the next six years in public.  Bonus points if you do it with startling regularity.

The first meeting of the Evil Parenting League of Evil will be a picnic in the backyard for everyone to bring their whole family.  In addition to picnic fare, some vegetables will be served.  We will also play actual yard games which will reveal our age, general physical conditioning, and cause further embarrassment to those who view all signs of affection, humor, silliness and weakness on the part of parents as something shameful.  The meeting will conclude with a  group photo of all parents kissing or hugging their children, to be posted on the internet as proof we love our kiddos and evidence of our true evilness. 

My entry was approved.  Meaniest Mom Ever is now taken as a Super Villain name.  I'm thinking of getting a red cape.  That's right, I made them do their homework over again when they'd done it wrong. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Small Success Thursday

Come over to Catholicmom.com and share your successes for the week, and last week two if you like.
This week I:

1. Got reading glasses. I've been playing move that book back and forth until you can see for a few months and it needed to stop, so this week, I went to the eye doctor's and took care of things.

2. I visited a school where Paul might attend next year, met the faculty, toured the grounds and it was a really nice place. Choosing a school for Paul is difficult because you don't want him to be at the top or the bottom, you don't want him to lag behind or be unable to reach where he can go, so even though you know his class will be different, you look for someone who seems like Paul.  At the last school, I didn't see anyone.  At this place, I did.  

3.  Date Night Saturday was the Auction /Dinner Dance. It's always a favorite, and this year, I needed to hug my friends and dance and feast and it was perfect.  

Now it's your turn over at Catholic Mom!

What We Didn't Do

We just didn't sign our kids up for Catholic high school and it stings. 

We love Catholic School.  We love it.  I joined parish counsel back in 1997 for a three year commitment because I wanted my first born to be a part of the place that became like extended family in the subsequent 17 years.  Everyone I know who works at a Catholic school does so in part out of sheer love of the place, the vocation of teaching, and dedication to seeding the next generation with an adult understanding of their faith and the intellectual tools to thrive.   I have friends, relatives, people who have become as close as relatives, people I respect, who opt to serve in this capacity and they earn every penny ten times over and more.   So not signing up feels almost like a severing of a limb. 

It isn't because we want more for ourselves but because we will have two in college, and Catholic high school in our area now costs as much as if not more than in state tuition with housing and the premier food plan.  In some instances, it costs more than out-of-state tuition at a private 4 year college with housing, transportation, books and food.

Before anyone thinks this is just sour grapes, we've spent many years working to keep our children enrolled, we know the sacrifice involved and we've willingly made it up to this point even when it's been hard because we believe in trying to steep our children in the faith, in giving them an extended family/community that shows them how faith is not an accessory but an integral part of life, the heart of one's life.  This has been a choice, an important choice to us, one we've willingly made, one which required sacrifice which we also willingly gave. 

But the cuts to the budget ran deeper each year.  At first, you could say they were luxuries and some of them were:  Gym membership, mother's day out, pre-school, then they kept coming, the occasional outside help, pizzas from the expensive place, then we started trimming everything, hot lunches, no after school lessons, we tightened, we cut, we trimmed, we stalled.  The cost kept rising, not just because additional children entered the system, but because the cost itself for each increased.  Only making more money kept us able to attend and I had to wonder, how long before people are able to go at all?

When our oldest started high school, 10K for high school seemed high but not insane. By the time our next oldest entered 9th grade (3 years later), it had crept up to starting around 14, but she had a scholarship so the impact was blunted.  When our third entered high school, two years later, it was 16.  Now, she is a sophomore, and the starting point has changed again, to 20.  Twenty thousand a year for a freshman. That's regardless of the school, I checked.  Schools in the area often tout being less expensive in tuition, but then there are the "fees" which don't factor into tuition, but still kick it up.  I'll say 18.5 to 28 is the range in the area. Given the current rate, if I were to guess, by the time my 3 year old is 14, a single year of high school should run about 35 thousand.  (10K in 7 years, plus an additional 4 for the remaining off years when the increase isn't so much).    I did the research, and my kids could take 18 hours at the local community college for 3 thousand.   How is it that this is not cause for serious concern? 

How many more times can any school keep raising tuition before they price themselves out of existence?  Enrollment goes down in hard economic times, and thus to meet the shortfall, tuition is raised, resulting in fewer people being able to apply.    This is a pattern that's been going on since we first entered Catholic School back in the 90's, so we've had the luxury of sitting through or casually hearing about budget talks, through fat and thin times, and when the best we can do is to hold the line, something is wrong with how we are financing schools, something which keeps them dependent upon perpetually increasing the costs.  We will have a bubble in Catholic Education and then a crash if we do not do something differently.

I studied school budgets in graduate school and know how the hands are tied.  The principals must comply with arch diocesan policy, and every staff member and faculty deserves a just salary. I know that budgets are the bane of every school board, every administrator, everyone who ever has to tighten belts in tough times, or make hard decisions about financial aid.  But the system has stayed the same for years, and so the problem has only compounded.  At some point, raising the cost becomes an injustice to those who want to give their children a Catholic education, and at that point, it will feel intractable.    The schools will eventually die if they cannot maintain enrollment, and they will lose enrollment as the schools become more expensive.

Something is wrong here. Very wrong. 

I say it is close to a crisis.  You can't tell me that the material within that education has changed so much in 7 years --from our oldest to our current freshman, as to merit a ten thousand dollar increase across the board. 

Something important that is still there in all of these places, is in danger of being lost in the process.

 High school shouldn't cost more than college. High school, even the best private Catholic high school, is still high school, dealing with 14-18 year olds in large numbers.     We need to do something as a Church and to a parish or Catholic schools will become the purview of only the very rich and those who qualify for financial aid.  Catholic schools ought to be bursting with enrollment, but reflect the whole population and be available to "here comes everybody."  If children are the future of our faith, and Catholic schools part of that instruction and instillation of Catholic faith, then making it possible for families becomes more vital as a part of the mission as teaching reading or algebra or computer research skills.  

I worry, because I'm a hometown believer in Catholic schools, I want my kids there, and it isn't going to happen.  I worry not because my kids are going to lose the faith, but because I see this ongoing problem, and I don't see anyone talking about it, at least not about what can we do differently to change the structure of Catholic school financing to make them less susceptible to closing when times are tight, or sky rocketing in cost.

This isn't a plea for money on a personal or systemic level, it's a proposal that a discussion begin in Catholic circles about Catholic schools and how to sustain them in feast or famine, and such that they serve the whole of the parish in every parish, and don't become simply a mini-ivy league prep camp for four years accessible only to an elite few. 

Again, I love love love love Catholic schools, all of them, elementary, high school and college, I believe in them and want them to thrive. I just think they might not survive if they keep trying to prove their worth by their price tags.  We already know they're invaluable.  We already know what they hold is our great treasure.  We want to place our greatest living treasures in their trust, and admittedly, I want it to be possible for anybody, for everybody and yes, that would include me.  I want Catholic Education to be synonymous with "Universal."   

Friday, March 14, 2014

I Have a Piece over at Patheos today...

and yes, it's about my dad, and I hope you find it as luminous as I did my father's funeral.
  Please, go read it, as I wrote to someone today, every person that calls, comments, checks in, hugs, sends a little note whether on Facebook, email, or otherwise, allows me to share a bit about my dad and makes carrying this grief about the physical loss of him here, less heavy.  It hurts and there are triggers that feel like bricks to the face, but I do know, he is with us, he loves us, and everything he forgot is now remembered.  That brings great joy, floods of joy.   So thank you for reading, and this blog will resume some of its regular schedule next week.   --Sherry

Thursday, March 6, 2014

In Memory of My Dad

I ask today for your 
prayers.  My father died yesterday and there is a dad shaped hole in 
my heart and brain and life.  Despite being 47, despite having ten 
children of my own and being married 24 years, a whole part of who I 
am is made up not just of his DNA, but his sayings, his mannerisms, 
his coping mechanisms for stress.  I can't say a prayer, cook a meal 
or drive the car without remembering --he taught me that...he 
introduced me to the love of food, he endured my hideous debut behind 
the wheel and as result, taught me how to swear.

No one would know by him that he went to Harvard Law School, for his 
first love always was Notre Dame.  No one would know he studied to 
get a Ph.D in Middle English, translating Sir Gawain and the Green 
Knight, he lived as a humble but brilliant lawyer in Southeast 
Texas.  If you met him, you knew he read, you knew he laughed, and 
you knew he prayed.  You also knew he loved his family beyond all 
measure, especially his wife, my mom.

My dad loved to sing and to feast, and so our home was often full of 
music and great food. He sang to court his bride "The Wild 
Rover."  He sang it to her when she worried as he was on the surgery 
table awaiting a major heart repair. My sister, brother and even the 
surgeons and nurses joined in, all faking an Irish brogue as only 
South East Texans can.  He sang the Notre Dame Fight song to me 
before I walked down the aisle, to calm my shaking, make me laugh and 
let me know, he was right there.  He sang at mass and when I sing, I 
can hear him in the harmonies I can't quite reach.

To have known my Dad is to know generosity and rich laughter. He 
could pun forever, he read everything, and if you were down, he'd 
keep pestering you with jokes until you laughed, not because he 
didn't take your pain seriously, but because he loved you enough to 
keep coming until you didn't hurt as much.  That generosity was also 
lavish in my mom.  Nothing said love more to me than her care for him 
in his last few years when that great brain was slowly erased by the 
cruel skulking thief that is Alzheimer's.  But his face lit up even 
if he couldn't find the words when she would visit him at the hospice 
care home where he stayed his last year. (He broke his hip and needed 
the extra assistance).  She would bring him Crab Gumbo and Bread 
Pudding with Whiskey Sauce.  She would sit with him while he ate, and 
sometimes, she fed him.  It was a luminous marriage, one where even 
when they were out of wine, the best was still served.

Big memories of my Dad include when he put on his waders and pulled a 
john boat through three to four feet of water in a torrent of rain 
with my mom, two brothers (one of who lost a shoe in the getting into 
the boat, my baby sister newly home from the NICU, our dog and me), 
down the street to a two story home owned by a neighbor.  Our home 
had filled with 18 inches of water.  It was the perfect image of my 
dad.  All that he owned, inherited or had earned was being destroyed, 
and he was there just pulling his family down the street.  And he did 
it again the next year when we flooded once more.  This was what mattered.

My dad had three sayings we hated.  "Burning Daylight."  It meant get 
up. It meant Sunday, get dressed, get moving.  It meant the fish were 
biting, no more sleeping.  It meant time to study.  The one thing it 
didn't mean was don't move.

"Now is the Time to Start the Big Push." never failed to get groans 
from the four of us, it meant get to work whether it was raking 
leaves, studying for exams, preparing for an audition, organizing a 
big event, it didn't matter, it meant get to work and whatever work 
you did before now, very nice, keep moving.  You're burning daylight.

"Breathe in.  Breathe out." This one he reserved for when we were 
truly stressed out, sad, or worried.  Though I suspect my having a 
tracheostomy as a child might have been the origin of the saying, 
with the interpretation being actually literal in my case.  Now as I 
look about my house, I see him everywhere. He was always there but 
now it's drawn in sharp relief.  The silver cuff on my arm that I've 
worn forever, the guitar from one Christmas that I still don't know 
how to play other than the refrain from Brown Eyed Girl, the picture 
of him during one of his skinny times (a protein shake diet) holding 
the 40 pound redfish I'd caught in the Texas surf.

The bottom line is I miss him, and I see his eyes in my children's 
faces, I hear his humor in my children's jokes, and my library is 
every room in the house and bulged with books just like his. And I 
can never read enough.  There are a thousand memories I don't have at 
the moment, but I also know as I go through the seasons, I will feel 
the after shocks of his loss and recall the Jasper County Sausage and 
rice at Christmas and the rosary in the car, and I will watch our 
wedding tape and have to wait until Heaven when I hope he comes and 
holds my hand as I tremble, and sings the Notre Dame Victory march to 
me again.

Rest in peace Dad.  3/5/2014

--Sherry Green Antonetti

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Breaking Heart News

Today is Ash Wednesday, and I'll never forget Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, because today my dad passed away.  He'd been suffering from Alzheimer's for a long time, but it doesn't make the loss any easier, he's my Dad, my first love, and it's hard not to feel just broken no matter how old you are, when a parent dies.   I love him, I miss him, and I'm so grateful to have known him all my life.   

Mom and Dad at my brother's wedding in 2012



Hey Beautiful

Originally written back in 2007 for Father's Day.

Dad always answers the phone to me, “Hey Beautiful.” It always makes me smile.

My dad reads German theologians for recreation. He also puns constantly and loves Notre Dame, the Astros, fishing, hunting and 99.9% of all classic English literature. He is Texan. He is Southern. He is Catholic.

When I was a kid and he was mad, even if I wasn’t the person who did anything, I went to my room and cleaned. The thundercloud would roll by and see a virtuous kid doing only right stuff. This was the image I strove to maintain. I had figured out it would keep me out of trouble. It did, and my parents got a clean room out of the bargain, by allowing me to think I was manipulating them.

I remember him teaching me how to do flips off the high board and how to drive. He taught me to rig a lure for fishing and retrains me when I forget. He didn’t yell when I wrecked the car again. He met all my dates. He made me watch Casablanca and The Quiet Man. He bought me a guitar and a silver bracelet. I can gut a fish, train a dog and make Coq au’Vin today because at some point, he taught me. I cannot do algebra. He tried to tutor me. I know something of Latin. He made me take it. I scream like a banshee at Notre Dame Football. He showed me the game and helped me come to obsess over it.

Dad drove me to get ice cream when I lost my wallet at Christmas. Dad took me out to lunch when I worked at his office. Dad asked me to paint some crabs on the fireplace at the beach house and helped reel in the 40+pound Red Fish I had hooked. Dad danced with me at the Debutante ball and I wished, oh how I wished, he was at the table with me, for my date was boring.

Senior year at Saint Mary’s College, he wasn’t coming to Father/Daughter weekend. I tried to be offhand about that, I wished he could be there but knew money was tight. The Sunday before the Father/Daughter weekend, my then boyfriend proposed. That Friday, Dad was on a plane.

As my roommate and I got dressed to go out to dinner with him, Dad was serving as her dad for the night too, I said, “Just watch, the first thing Dad’ll say is “Why do you want to marry my daughter?” Annie laughed and disagreed. “I’ve met your Dad, he won’t say that.”

We picked up Marc, my fiancĂ© at Notre Dame and drove to the restaurant, Dad, Marc, Annie and Me. No sooner were we all seated, then my father said, “Why did you ask my daughter to marry you?” Annie and I looked at each other and bust out laughing. Marc was left with two giggling girls and no help. He rallied. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Dinner was fun.

That summer I worked at his office. I went on walks with him sometimes when we were both dieting. We’d talk about food and how much we missed it. We’d argue over wedding plans, band vs. DJ, morning suits vs. Tuxes, receiving line vs. announcements by the band.

Eventually, My Dad sang the Notre Dame Fight song to me as I walked into the Church to get married. It helped me to stop shaking. I remember Dad’s smile as he walked towards me at my wedding reception to have our dance, but I do not remember the song.

Sometimes he sends me papers by his favorite theologian, Von Balthazar. I dutifully try to read the treatise, “Does Original Sin Exist?” but I want to scribble back a short post-it, “Yes. Next Question.”

Dad has had many heart surgeries, but the one I remember is the one in 2000. I arrived after the surgery had taken place, and sat in the living room with Danny and Joe and Jennifer and my newly crawling son, feeling how empty the house felt with Dad in the hospital. When we went to visit at the hospital, Joe and Danny attempted to move Dad by lifting the recliner he was in, and dropped the chair. I was terrified, but Dad was okay. He showed me the stitches that ranged all over his body. They had cut open his chest, taken out his heart, stopped it, cut away things and put everything back together and stitched him up. I looked at the long line of black threads on his legs and arms and it looked like a large black rosary to me had been carved onto his body. It hurt to look but he was alive and so I looked anyway. It was ugly and beautiful at the same time.

Just before we left, a former partner of Dad’s, dropped by to check on Dad. I had entertained a long-standing dislike of the firm restructured and Dad left. I occasionally called to jam up the 1-800 line at the firm but knowing this was childish, I had stopped. Seeing the man visit my Dad at the hospital, I thought, “Damn, now I’m going to have to forgive them.”

Dad held no grudges so I couldn’t either, much as I might sometimes want to…really. That ugly stuff still doesn’t matter. He still calls me and says, “Hey Beautiful.” because that’s how he sees me and how God sees each of us. “Hey Beautiful.”

And by saying that, over and over, eventually, we come closer to becoming it.

Happy Father's Day Dad!

2013 update:  When I went to see my dad in April, his face lit up. He doesn't speak often these days.  But when I came into his room in April, his face lit up and he said, "Hey beautiful." Yeah. I cried.

The Blog will be obviously quiet for a while.  Thanks for your prayers and thoughts.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Because it's Friday...Saturday...Sunday

1. The Surest Route to Bankruptcy
 
Today, I was in a book store.  Oh I want them all.  I look at the books and know I don't have time to read this much and still, I see each one like a glowing ember, but one I could hold. I want to consume them, so I view Heaven as having the opportunity to read everything delightful, and the will to do so.  Because part of my love for books is a form of gluttony, as I have a stack of stories to read six thick. With books I'm like an Alcoholic, I can't stop at just one.
 
2.  The Shortest Route to Never being Discovered

Is not to keep writing, and so I keep this blog to make sure I keep writing.  I also keep trying to get at Penelope, and life keeps getting in the way.  This is an irony because next week, I'm scheduled to give a talk on making time to write.  Yeah, I can hear God laughing at me.   In the interest of full disclosure, I'm laughing at me too.
 
3. The Coolest Thing I did This Week
 
I went to see the Eagles with my husband on Saturday night.  This was their opening song.
I'll tell you what happened, an Eagles Concert!
 
4. The New Project
 
In addition to Penelope --which yes I'm still writing, stop looking at me like that, I've got another project, a Catholic book, Making the Domestic Church Beautiful.  You've seen some posts that are part of it, and I'm going to outline it and see where it leads. 
 
5. The New Proposal
 
I am looking for a job as a teacher. I'd like to teach literature and writing, but I'll be happy just to find a position, I wouldn't mind being the resource teacher or the Special Educator.  I sent off for transcripts last week.  This week, I'm securing my recommendations and signing up for the certification test.   I may need to cram on the math.  I can hear my children enjoying a moment of Schadenfreud. 
 
6. What other mischief are you getting into? 

I've started a discussion over on Linked In about the need to be able to give the pitch of your story in a single sentence.  It's how you hook a new reader, a potential agent, a publishing company, etc.  By giving them a sampler that whets the appetite for the rest of the story.  It's not easy.  But it's been fun helping others to distill their works. 
 
 
For The Book of Penelope: The Odyssey Home was nothing compared to the trials left behind for Penelope. 
 
I'm still working on it, I'm not quite satisfied.
 
7.   Tomorrow is a projected Snow Day!  Planning to read, sleep in and make soup.  Everyone else will get to shovel.  (I can dream).
 
 
 
 
 

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If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!