A Sleepy Sermon

Easter Sunday approaches with dew in the air and buds on the trees.  The day brings friends and families together to celebrate the unofficial arrival of Spring.  Candy dishes are full of jelly beans and the chocolate bunnies sit on the counter with a shocked look on their face.  Easter baskets are long gone, as far away as the kids live now.  No need to put them out.  The religious enjoy the spiritual meaning of the holiday.  Us?  Well, we attend Mass and would actually like to eat our jelly beans while listening to a good sermon, but that might be frowned upon.

Every since we got back from vacation, we started to attend Sunday Mass.  I don’t know why, but I thought it was the right thing to do.  Growing up Catholic, we both were religiously educated and received most of the sacraments.  And, as we got more and more involved in life, kids and work, that part of our life slipped away somehow.  Some people do a good job incorporating spirituality and life, but obviously we weren’t one of them.  There always seemed like there was something else we had to do, or a place we had to go instead.  Church didn’t fit into our schedule.

So here we are, a month into re-introducing ourselves to religious ceremony.  Sermons are good, people are nice, but the benches are hard.  We usually arrive early and just relax before the organ signals showtime.  Looking around, we notice a lot of people we know.  Feels kinda’ homey.  We’ve even started to be recognized by the Pastor.  It’s all about who you know, even at church.  The choir starts singing a song that he recognizes, but I don’t.  I know most of the prayers, but the hymns are touch and go.

My eyes start to droop.  We woke up super early to go to the 8am Mass, and it’s just hitting me  now, that this is actually the middle of my night.  Good Lord, 8am!  How can any sane person, or sane Catholic be to church so early?  My head drops and I’m out like a light.  Let the snoring commence.  Right here while Father Anthony gives his weekly sermon.  My companion nudges me awake and I’m incredibly embarrassed.   I’ve made a commitment to my religion, but can’t stay awake for it.  I’m going to burn in Hell.

I ask him if the sermon was nice, as we walk to the car.  He said it was.  We drove to get coffee and had a few laughs.  I really felt bad for sleeping, especially when I was looking forward to a little Catholic wisdom dropped on me.  Now, the only option I have, with my little problem, is a secondhand sermon.  Shorthand.  So why go at all, if I wasn’t going to get anything out of it?

So, I made a decision. If I was to continue to go to church, I wouldn’t go to the 8am Mass anymore.  The odds of falling asleep were just too high.  I can attend the 10:30am Mass and do just fine.  I will stay awake.   I will open the missalette and follow the hymns I don’t know.   I will pretend to know the prayers that I don’t.  I will listen to the sermon and try to be a good Christian.  What more can I do?

Easter is here and it’s Spring!  Whether you are religious or not, enjoy time with your family.
Don’t eat too much candy, and remember to get enough sleep.

What is Coffee? Re-post

A friend asked me to care for her mother, while she brought her daughter to school one day.
A simple favor.

Lil’s bedroom gave no indication that the former sun room was makeshift in any way. The area rug next to her high loft bed and homemade quilts absorbed the rays of light through the blinds. There was little physical mention that the family once gathered here, except for some neatly stacked games and stuffed animals stored along a few walls. It was comfortably furnished, providing Lil with precious dignity and the privacy they wanted to gift her in this tiny house.

I peeked into Lil’s room, silently observing her morning routine. She hiked up her nightgown to her upper thighs, as she sat on the edge of her bed. Holding each sock in front of her, she looked at it for a moment and dressed each foot, one at a time. Then carefully unlacing her sneakers, she repeated the sock routine with each shoe. She slowly tightened and tied them, tucking the extra laces in the side, above the arches. Every part of this ritual was new to her. She stood up and looked at the pants on the rocking chair with a quizzical expression. I thought this was a good time to greet her, and see what I could do to help.

She was diagnosed a few years ago, while she was still actively swimming and in the midst of her husband’s illness. She loved her cats and she loved her family but soon everything would slip away. She cared for her husband as best as she could, but would forget to turn things off, and would often drive to unknown locations. Her daughter once received a call from a gas station manager telling her that her mother was there and confused. He said that he understood because his mother was ill too. It didn’t attack Lil all at once. No, that would be merciful. It just creeped into all their lives, as the family looked for answers to this dreadful disease.

“Hi Lil” I said as I entered the room. She said hi, without any emotion, not knowing who I was. I had met her several times, but didn’t expect any recognition or greeting. My job was to just take care of her for this sliver of time. I suggested we take her shoes off, and get her pants on. I knelt down and undid her laces, as she watched with confusion. She was cooperative, but guarded, so I tried not to create stress for her. I told her who I was, as she gave me a blank stare.

My eyes were burning, as we made our way to the kitchen. I knew there were cats in the house, but I would only be there for a little while. Her breakfast sat on the center island, made by her daughter, Brenda, before she left. I ushered Lil to the table, where there family photos were stacked. I could tell that Brenda had put these here for her to look at. She just sat with her head down, looking like a child who had been punished.

“I have some breakfast for you here”, I said.

She didn’t reply, so I brought the french toast over to her hoping that she would eat.

“Would you like some coffee”, I inquired.
She looked at me with suspicion and slowly said, “What is coffee”?

What is coffee!!!! It was at that moment that I realized that her life had been stripped of not only memory, but the knowledge of basic enjoyment, like a hot cup of coffee. How could someone not know what coffee was I wondered? Then I thought, how can I have a basic conversation with her? I can’t ask her what she likes to do, or how her day was going. She had no idea. This was something I hadn’t really thought through.

So, in a desperate attempt to communicate, I decided to sing. I started to sing a silly song to try to engage her. Lil perked up and told me that when she was a little girl she sang in the church choir. Her enthusiastic description of her memories came flooding back, almost like she was waiting all week to tell me. As we continued to sing, I started to dance, which amused her. Lil got up and started to side step and move her arms. I could tell she was enjoying herself. I had finally gotten through to her. I reached a part of her that was happy and somewhat familiar.

Brenda returned home as we were in mid-chorus, so she joined in. We had a lot of laughs all while my eyes began to itch and swell (damn cats). It was time for me to leave, so I finished my coffee and gathered my things. Brenda thanked me, but I didn’t feel like I deserved it. The pleasure was all mine.

As I drove off, I realized what an incredible gift I had received that day. I had to strip my thinking down to the very basics, like singing a song or tying a shoe. It was like caring for a toddler, but slightly bitter sweet. I had to be gentle and understanding of who Lil is, while knowing who she was. It was a blessing to be asked to care for her.

Lil has been gone for a few years now, but I hope to remember that day, while I drink a nice hot cup of coffee.

Thank you Brenda.

If I Could See

You ask and I tell
How are you?  How was your day?  How is it going?
If I could see what you mean, what you want.
I could answer.

Questions so familiar cloud what’s real.
Do you really want to know?
Do you want to see me?
Do you really want to feel what I feel?

If I could see, it would be easy.
You would be so vulnerable in front of me.
You would ask in a way I could answer.
But no.
You take the easy way out, the familiar.
So superficial

I’m frustrated with a job half done.
I’m discouraged by roadblocks.
I’m sad for those who have less,
and sadder for the pathetic who
have more.

If I could see where you are coming from,
it would be worth sharing.
Do you really care how I am?
It’s easier to turn my face.

If I could see who you are, I would
tell the truth.

Reconnecting

Reconnecting with the world.

The other world, the “Elementary School” world, the
world that existed before today.  The place you forgot about
from long ago.

So many stayed in touch, kept connect to the past and the present.
I couldn’t do that.  It seemed too complicated to have a foot in both
worlds.

It was always a dream that happened a long long time ago.  A place
of playing Chase at dusk and playing until you were too exhausted
to stay outside.  A place of boyfriends and late-night partying with
the people you loved the most.  Needed the most, cherished the
most.  TRUSTED the most.

It was a place before my husband, my lifetime lover, my children, my work,
my nieces and nephews.  A place that became faint and unfamiliar, until…I realized
I needed it…I needed to reconnect.  I needed to reintroduce myself, to myself.

Facebook has connected me with people who knew me when life was simple.
Knew me with bruised knees and old warn out sneakers.  Real Blonde hair with
a simple barret holding it out of my face. Spent time laughing about silly things
and silly people.

They’ve always been there running through my mind, like a whisper in the back
of my head.  It took many years to realize that a piece of my story included my
early life, the life with the first friends that I ever made.

So, I finally reconnected with several elementary school friends, and some high
school friends.  What does this mean?  It means my story finally has a beginning
that I ignored for a long time.  For too long.

To all you who’ve I reconnected with, I THANK YOU, and you know who you are!
I feel as giddy as the first grader with the bruised knees and worn out sneakers.
Ready to play chase, or at least share stories of our children playing chase.

Things are different now, but in a way they are the same.

Wait, What?

FOR THE LOVE OF DOG

 

The love of a dog is nothing like the love of another Human.  Nothing. Wait, what?

 

There is an objective to find the companionship of another being; not a lover, not a friend.  No. Wait, what?

A decision is made by one or two, to find the creature to fill a void, to add to the family.  Family, Yes. FAMILY.

They are not a peripheral entity, no, they are part of the family.  They occupy a piece of the heart, wait, yes. The heart.

I wonder if I take you home, will you want to be here?  Am I a good Mommy?  Scratch, rub, hug, wait, what?
Trust me I do love you.  More scratches?

Eat, scratch, lick, love, hugs, and more hugs.

Adopt the baby puppy…they want to be loved.  They need YOU.

Wait, what?

Your Heart

The eyes see what they want to see.

The heart feels what it can handle.

The hands hold only what it can grasp.

What is the limit?  Is there a limit to your
love, your feelings?

Talk to your heart, ignore the head, if you’d like to sing.
Logic will only bring you black and white, the stark obvious.

Hold yourself, like a lover…arms warm and safe.  Bring
yourself the immense healing of the heart.
The eyes, and hands will follow.

Love thy self.