Monday, September 24, 2012

Time Flies Like an Arrow, Fruit Flies Like a Banana

I received a text from my sister on Saturday, the 22nd. It is now 9 years since my mother passed. You hear people say "Not a day goes by that I don't think about her," but in my case it is true, I pray for her each morning, and with each Rosary. And each day I miss her.

I miss her counsel, and the fact that she was willing to listen to my complaints about parenting without laughing in my face (although I wonder if she isn't laughing now, safely ensconced in Heaven). Going through our most recent adventures, I wonder what she would offer to do to help. Or would she give me that look of sympathy and tell me that "it's a phase," and "you'll make it."

I remember when I told her that I was Catholic. I feared her response, feared hurting her, a lifelong Calvinist. Her response? "I'm glad you're going to church." She took joy in the fact that her grandchildren were baptized. She took joy in general from her grandchildren. She took joy in general from most everything. She was in many ways the model of a Christian for me, because her faith was simple and clear. This is not to say that it was simplistic, far from it. She had an able and discerning intellect, but her faith in Our Lord was not wrapped up in theological conventions or elaborate schemes. He is the Son of God, He died to redeem us from the punishments of Hell, and if we trust in Him, He will provide. She was not one for the faith response of "Yes, but..." Were she in the Garden with Our Lord, she would not have been the one to resist the temple guards. If Our Lord said he would die and rise again, then he would die and rise again.

In the past few years, I have come to see the wisdom, and difficulty, of faith like that. Confido in Deum, non erubescam. On the dark days, it is faith like this that carries through. Her simple faith was expressed in her love for the Nativity. I forget the number of nativity scenes that she had when she passed, but the number reached the hundreds. The birth of God in the form of a fragile human child, one who carries the destiny of our salvation, is an event that struck a chord. "For God so loved..." The shepherds showed the simple faith needed, and trusted the words of the angelic chorus. Herod did not, and lashed out in fear and anger, attempting to turn aside the purposes of God.

Again, it is her faith that teaches me not to take council from my despair. Again, thinking of recent events, I have frequently been driven to the idea that I must do something harsh and desperate, not realizing that "desperate" and "despair" both come from the same idea: the loss of hope. I take council from hope, and the realization that God will tend to my child and bring her back, and give me the strength and wisdom to guide her as she needs and be the father that she needs.

My mother passed in the afternoon, after a long night of fighting. She died as she lived, praying and telling us what to do. At one quiet moment, she looked at my sister and asked "How are you?" Helpless, I did nothing but pray my Rosary, grateful to have something to do with my hands. At some point during the "Hail Holy Queen" I felt a sense of calm, and gentleness. Most likely it was wishful thinking on my part, but there are moments that I wonder if it wasn't the Blessed Mother, coming down to bring comfort to my mother, and intercede on her behalf.

It has been nine years. In that time I have changed jobs twice, my family has grown, my children are taller than their mother, and my oldest is beginning to look eye to eye. Now we have a baby girl with the middle name of her great-grandmother, my grandmother, Grace. She is a happy baby. I pray each day that her grandmother comes to her to watch over, and all of us. I still think about her every day, and I can still see her face. I like to think of her and my father together in Heaven, he's tinkering with something that isn't working, saying "Aw, nuts," and my mom is looking at him, saying "Oh, Dave."


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Teenage Daughter Chronicles, Part V

So, my daughter tells me what sort of tattoo she wants. Let's just leave off my general opinion about tattoos in the first place, or the fact that, if you really want to rebel, you should go with clean skin (when middle aged parents are getting their first, it's no longer rebellion). And yes, I have heard the old saw of "expressing your individuality", which everyone is doing in the same exact way:



Anyway, eldest daughter shares with me the tattoo she's planning on when she is out of the house and paying her own freight (knowing that I will take a belt sander to anything before that):

"I want a crown, because I am a princess, and people should treat me that way."

Sigh.

Because it fell on deaf ears, I figure I will preserve it for posterity here, at least until the grid fails and we all descend back into feudal society.

If you want to be treated as a princess, you have to act like one. And a real one, not like the quasi "princesses" who are trumped up white trash clomping through society demanding better treatment than they actually merit. Acting like a princess means acting like true royalty.

It means acting with class.

And what does it mean to act with class?

  • be kind to everyone, especially those who can't do a thing for you except for pray for you and your intentions;
  • be generous, with your time, your talents, your property and your love;
  • control your temper, lest your temper control you;
  • control your tongue; make sure the words you speak are soft and sweet, lest you have to eat them later;
  • be on time, because people are sacrificing time and energy for your benefit, so you should show enough respect to them as human beings;
  • remember that you are not as smart, as pretty, or as talented as you want to believe, and even if you are, these are gifts given you by God, and you are responsible to Him for how you use them;
  • act when dignity, especially when others around you are hell-bent on sacrificing theirs;
  • don't move with the crowd, lead them by example;
  • smile, genuinely and generously;
  • find something good about everyone;
  • treat everyone else as if they were royalty. Who knows? They might respond by acting with class themselves.
This is a work in progress, of course, but I thought I'd put it out there.