Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Am Back, Sad and Weary

I'm back. I watched my brother and his wife bury their only child. Whatever problems he had been through, he was putting himself back together, and he was excited about enlisting in the Marines. He was to go to the recruiting office the day he died. Despite being fatally injured, he somehow managed to get out of the car and search for help while reassuring the other young man with him all the way to ER, "Hang on, it'll be okay. My dad's coming." He was so beloved by the priest that there were times I wasn't sure he was going to make it through the service. My nephew was very close to him, and had never hesitated to confide in Fr. K., had never held back the bad or the good. Fr. K. said that A. had demons, but that even in the worst of times he continued to express a desire to be a priest, and that A. had always wanted only to be closer to God. It was so hard to watch my brother and SIL go through this and to see this young man with the whole future before him lying in a coffin.

I would like to share something A. wrote two days before his death:

This Is the Best Day

God has brought be such joy
over the past few months.
Through prayer and sacrifice
many of my dreams have come true.
My faith even in the times of trouble
has saved me and redeemed me.
Thank you God for all the gifts and
bounties you have given me.

The funeral mass was beautiful, painful as it was. I'm not Catholic, so it was unfamiliar territory to some extent. Even though I couldn't participate in communion, I found the ritual lovely and powerful. There were two women cantors with the voices of angels. I'm not familiar with many Catholic hymns, and there was one they sang that moved me deeply, called Be Not Afraid. I found a version of it on YouTube, which I will leave you with:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Death in the Family

Yesterday my 20-year-old nephew, A., died from injuries he sustained in an automobile accident. I am waiting to hear when the funeral will be held. Dear Husband and the girls are headed for LA. I will be headed for Philly, either by car with my other brothers or by plane. A. was my fourth brother's only child. He survived childhood leukemia--a real miracle child for them. I last saw him when my mother died, 7 years ago. He was a devout child and wanted to be a priest. He was sweet and smart. He was very troubled in recent years and I gather his behavior became erratic and there were many problems. I don't know the whole story and probably never will. I know it caused my brother a lot of pain. And now this.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

DramaQueen Performs

DramaQueen's drama class put on a performance yesterday. It was very low-key--mostly family in the audience, I imagine. She recited a poem and participated in 4 skits. Several were taken from Adventures in Odyssey and were based on the parables. Of course I was proud as could be. She did a great job in the skits. She looked a bit nervous during her solo piece, but she did choose a long poem. All the girls looked like they were having a great time. Dear Husband did something sweet aferwards--he asked all the performers for their autographs. There are times he just melts my heart.

We went out for a celebratory dinner after, and then to the mall. I'm not good with malls. I'm not even good with mall parking lots. Not to mention there are all these free-standing stores and strip malls scattered all over. If anyone could get lost in all those byways it would be me. The malls themselves are so noisy and hyperactive. And nowadays that have kiosks with salespeople accosting you as you walk by. I'm not friendly to people who do that. I'm a very polite and nice person, but not to them. For one thing, politely declining only prolongs the interaction, which is exactly what they want. Ugh. Anyway, I always feel as if something has crawled into my brain.

And now both of them are complaining of sore throats and coughs, here on the cusp of out Thanksgiving trip to LA. We'll spend the afternoon at a local clinic, where they'll no doubt tell us it's a cold, but which in the next few days will develop into something requiring antibiotics, and I'll have to take off work to go yet again. Dear Husband and I have amazing predictive abilities, yet we can't convince the doctors of our foreknowledge.

Oh, and Girl Scouts was on Thursday. Firecracker complained of being shy. I still don't have her Daisy book or her uniform. I really like the troop mom because she works full-time and is being pretty relaxed about the whole thing. The Brownie leader could run IBM. There was a mom in charge of collecting forms from the delinquent moms (such as myself). The table was set out like a production line for the girls to package gift boxes, and the Calendar Mom informed me that DramaQueen will be selling 10 calendars, minimum. It didn't sound like a request. The Brownie Mom also had the sash and accoutrements (jeepers, how much stuff do you need? troop numbers, ribbons, pins for the ribbons, flags) all nealy packaged together. There are particular places to iron on all this stuff and I haven't a clue. Some badges can only go on the back, and then there are these triangular ones that I know didn't exist when I was a kid. Brownie Mom's child's vest must weigh 20 pounds from all the paraphernalia. The girls will be wrapping gifts at B&N. Or, as the leader told me, mostly the grownups will be doind the wrapping. I guess the girls will stand around looking cute.

So that's where we are at the moment. Our budget has been Dave Ramseyed, so I have to see if Christmas presents can be done for $50. Well, not really, but we are talking frugal. Particularly since the septic tank outlay. Ah, well.

And then there are a class of items called Swaps. There are many web pages devoted to creating these little giveaway pins. Girls Scouts must be keeping Michaels in business.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I just got through with a cold, the kind that made me croak like a frog and drink disgusting night-time swill. Then we found out that there were roots growing into our drainage pipes and that some idiot planted a tree on top of the septic tank. In fact, the septic tank was not where the survey said it was. And since no previous owner seems to have discovered that the tank was under a tree, which made pumping it something of a challenge, I assume that it hasn't been serviced since, oh, 1988. So, $2000 later, there is still a rather mysterious methane smell that comes and goes. It's no longer under the bathroom sink. Now I can't discover a point of origin.

This weekend DramaQueen gets to perform. I'm beginning to recall how very annoying I found theater people in college. They made me want to hide in a dark closet so that I could soothe my nerves and hear myself think again. They created a lot of vocal clutter. I'm thinking about this now because DramaQueen just coming down off drama class, and my head is spinning.

This Thursday is Girl Scouts. I thought this would be great for the girls, but I am completely at sea. I have no idea what is going on. It's a world in which moms actually save pringles cans and have them ready to bring in for the next craft project. I guess they live in houses with lots of room for bottle caps, toilet paper rolls, fabric scraps, and old wrapping paper. I am paralyzed in the face of so much efficiency. The Brownies were scoping for a cookie mom, which I resolutely refuse to do. I am not an organizer or a treasurer and God knows I've never been one to hop in with that can-do attitude. Just let me bring the snacks.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Where Have I Been?

That retreat was great. First, it was in a beautiful setting. Second, there were all sorts of interesting women with amazing stories. The theme was finding our true identity in Christ, and part of our "curriculum" involved a temperament test. I love personality tests. Most people seem to. I'm not sure why we want a third party eval of ourselves, but we do. I turned out to be a Phlegmatic, which was hardly surprising. Observers rather than particpators, avoids conflict, indecisive, calm and balanced, mediators, introverts. I can pick them out. We are the ones who sit quietly at a party, smiling and laughing now and then, perferring not to be the center of attention.

The girls went to a friend's house for a Halloween sleepover. I walked around with them while they went trick-or-treating. Our friends live in an affluent neighborhood, which really makes a difference in the quality of candy you receive. They collected mostly chocolate, which is almost unheard of. And no raisins. I don't know why people bother handing out raisins. Blech.

Last night we went to a Girl Scout party, because I'm testing the waters to see if the girls want to get involved. There were a number of games, including one in which you eat a donut hanging off a string with your hands behind your back. Firecracker showed an amazing amount of persistence in this game. I think we were there for 20 minutes. It paid off, too, because she got most of it.

All for now, as I have to get ready for church.