Saturday, March 18, 2023

Mom, Part 1

We lost mom 5 months ago, October 14, 2022, at 12:30 pm in my younger brother's arms.  I was back home in NC but was there with mom a couple days before.  She was already in the dying posture, not yet in hospice, but definitely soon to die. It's still hard to believe, I have to say it out loud to hear it and know it to be true.  All my life, I've had a mother, we loved each other, fought, laughed, cried, and celebrated life together.

It was a struggle with my mom at times, growing up she was very strict with what I could wear.  As I became an adult, I did my own thing and was happy as the individual that I am.  BUT I always felt a small twinge guilt for not continuing her preference in my clothes.  She hated denim, I love denim.  She hated my long hair, I prefer my hair long, she hated my crazy hippy skirts, they make me happy.  She hated the blue eyeshadow that I wore as a teenager in high school, that color we can agree on now.

She was a beautiful lady, my mom.  She suffered with arthritis and stomach ulcers as long as I can remember. Her arthritis started early in her life; I don't remember her having straight fingers ever.  She struggled with acid indigestion too.  When I was 15, she was driving me to work one night and said her fingertips were numb. Later, in the early hours of morning, her stomach ruptured and she nearly bled to death.  She was taken by ambulance.  Blood clots were all over the bathroom floor and in the towels.  I did the laundry while she was in hospital and was alarmed by the size of them.  She ended up having her stomach removed.  She broke her pelvis twice and ten days before my wedding, she was admitted to hospital with gallstones. A few years ago, she developed something that she had to have emergency surgery to hook her up to a bag.  She hated that and was angry that no one told her they were going to do that.  Anyway, in her mid 80's she went to three surgeons to reverse it and the third one agreed.  It was a success, and she was back independent again.  These were just the health stuff that I remember well enough to explain. So that she finally succumbed to old age, still astonishes me, she was 90.

Anyway, my son and I were alone for about 7 years.  He and I would go visit mom and sometimes have dinner with her.  She was a bank branch manager and had me bring him to her branch so that she could open an account for him.  She loved him and how he mothered me.  Her favorite memory about him was when I got a new purse.  We went to visit her, and he said to me, "Mom, show Gram your new purse."  She just laughed about that.  Another time was when my son was out riding his bike in the neighborhood, and he saw a lady at her mailbox.  She had a shirt with the bank logo of my mom bank on it, and he noticed that and said, "My Gram works there."  She asked him what her name was.  He said, "Gram." She asked him what her last name was. He said, "Gram".  The lady had a feeling she knew who his Gram was and told mom.  Mom was in hysterics telling me what she said.  We still laughed about mom being Gram Gram.  

When my older brother called me to tell me she was fading and that I needed to come if I wanted to say goodbye.  I went. I called my son to tell him that I was going to say goodbye to Gram.  An hour later, he called and told me his boss had given him 3 days off.  AMAZING!!  My husband couldn't go with me, so I was going to go alone.  It's an 11-hour trip, so now I had my son to go with.  Actually, I felt that it was only fitting that he and I went since it was just him and I for a few years with mom.

To Be Continued...

Friday, March 10, 2023


I don't know.  I just don't know how this whole prayer thing works.  I understand prayer as reaching out to our holy father in faith and the need for relationship.  Yes, I do that and understand what I am doing here, and I understand attending Mass and being one with others in the holy sacrifice of the Mass as a worship and thanksgiving prayer.   I also understand in my own times when I celebrate a goodness in my life reaching up to say thank you, Father.   I totally get that and not wanting to be like the other "nine lepers".   But when it comes to need, I don't know.

The recent years have proven very difficult as our children grew into adulthood, stretched their independent wings and flying away.  One flew into near self-destruction that took my husband and I into near divorce.  There were dark times, scary times, and times of deep depression, the halls of our home were void of love, security, and full of doubt, madness, and strife.  During those times, I'd pray.  With my knuckles white with desperation, tightly gripped together, I'd beg for help.

Ben Shapiro was quoted on Facebook as saying:

I've said this before, I don't believe God is a gumball machine wherein He gives us what we want just because we prayed for it. Prayer is about realigning your life and your thought processes to be in accord with God's will, not the other way around.

Yes, yes that all sounds completely sound, but when you are in the thick of it with a young child, aligning yourself to the will of God just, well there is NO time and surely the will of God would be aligned with your prayer!

My husband told me once that prayer doesn't work the way I want it to work.  God doesn't just give you what you want like a child's Christmas list.  Okay, fine, but why bother praying at the hour of need?  Why pray for what you want if it isn't going to be answered how you want it to be answered?

But what about the moment of desperation?  What about the moment of near destruction?  What about those days that stretch out into weeks and months of darkness and fear? Where is our faith?  Does God give us a nugget of hope?  A moment of enlightenment comes if we listen....if we have faith be it small, weak, and frail. 

God wants only the good for all of us, He loves us more than any parent for their child.  God is love, God is compassion, God is everything we cannot even dream of.  He can make us, break us, end us, or build us up!  I know that what we went through for me and my family.  I look at my husband very differently these days. We have been married 30 years now and still going.  This did not come without doubt and fear during our dark times. Our children are all working hard in their lives, loving our Lord, and making sure their children are at Mass every Sunday.

God is good, prayers are answered.  Patience is a virtue true enough.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Age discrimination and my husband's job search.

The past two years we have had our share of hard moments to swallow.  In January 2019, after 18 years of devoted service, my beloved scientist husband was told by a newly commissioned department chair that his faculty position as the director of their flow lab will come to an end in six months.  Money, funding the lab was the issue and that they wanted a more aggressive approach to the running of the lab.  They downgraded the position to masters/non-faculty and hired a guy from the Netherlands!

My husband has been very loyal to the needs of the researchers that used his faculty.  Many times on the weekends, he would answer calls, go and help a grad students on the weekends, talked one through an issue using the machines.  He created a flow microscopy graduate course and taught it for 10 years, held open houses, seminars, and wrote a grant and was awarded a $300,000 grant for a new sorter machine.  He worked in collaboration for other grants, other research projects, and happily learned new research.  He even was invited and accepted the opportunity to be an NIH grant reviewer for a few years.

Well, now here we are 4 months our from his retirement and he has been looking for a new science position with no avail.  Over the last 2 years he has applied, been screened, called for an interview, prepared for the interview, interviewed, and then rejected.  Time after time, month after month and now year after year.  He's 64 and still wanting to work in science.  He told me one day last year, "I'm not done with science yet."  I know he isn't and my heart just breaks for him.

All this time, I have had no ability to help him, except to pray.  I have prayed novenas, 2 54-day rosaries (which actually extended his position each time, since they couldn't find someone who did what he did for 18 years).  I have offered up Mass, and fasted, but still no new position comes.  He has a good attitude, better than me.

Anyway, just wanted to put it out there.  If anyone wants to add my husband to their prayer list for a new position which would allow him to finish up his research career the right way,  I thank you.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Oh, what a father we have in St. Joseph!

 Oh what a father we have in St Joseph. He has no speaking role in the Bible, but his message is loud and clear.  A strong faith in God and humble obedience spoke loudly from this mild ancient carpenter.  Throughout Jesus' short life, Joseph was in the background keeping his little family fed working in his workshop.  As the years went on, he taught his carpentry skills to his young foster. Ever wonder what the conversations were like that he and Jesus had while they worked together?  

As Jesus and Mary were, I don't think Joseph was without sin, however, he was probably a naturally good and honest man. Considering he, unlike his peers, didn't want Mary put to shame or worse when she was found pregnant.  He listened to the dreams, he obeyed the angel, his humble ways were clearly how he was able to believe what he saw and heard.  Many times, it is the stubbornness that gets in the way of our obedience to what we may not see, or hear, but know.  Many times our humanness gets in the way of the sacred.

In St. Joseph's simple world, it was the sacred that dominated their existence.  God was among their every day lives covered in flesh.  I'm sure there were moments that seemed more human and mundane, but then there were the moments that brought them back to their reality of the God-child in their midst. Oh what a gift God gave them!

St. Joseph is a role model for all, not just fathers, or workers, but all of us.  We could all use to ponder his humble obedience in the bleakest of nights.  He experienced nights when his whole world was on his shoulders, leading a donkey with a very pregnant wife on it, packing up his family quickly in the dead of night to a destination unknown for a time unknown.  He did it, and they survived and were comforted by his leadership.

Oh what a father we  have in St. Joseph.  Strength, leadership, comfort, trust, obedience, truly traits to ponder for the year.

Monday, March 15, 2021

An Unexpected Purpose

It's 6:30 am and the baby is already waking up.  Luckily I am married to a morning person who loves his morning time with his coffee.  He happily gets up and retrieves the little one and goes downstairs, leaving me peacefully in bed.  My turn will come later in the day when he runs errands or just chills for awhile and pursues his interests.

Such is a day in the life of grandparents caring for a  young grandchild.  We don't personally know any other friends in this situation, which makes it awkward to try to get together.  Our daughter works a fulltime job, so we have her little guy when she works and sometimes at night when she works late.  He's a sweet little boy, little blue baby eyes and a smile that lights up the room.

In these days when life issues are at the forefront of the news and political agendas, we are fully aware of how things could have turned out if his mother had decided to terminate her pregnancy.   Her life would be less complicated then, for sure.  Oh and to think of what my husband and I could be doing right now!  We have a brand new camper out back only used 2 times since last summer since we purchased it.  But wait, that is total nonsense, camping can wait until he is older and can happily go with us and enjoy the outdoors.  That is really the way we are thinking.  Yes, yes, it's hard when he cries for everything at this point in his little 9-month old life.  But, when he laughs at something my husband does or at a cat walking by him, they are the golden moments.  

We both are exhausted at the end of the day, but we sleep well knowing that the day was spent loving a little boy that came into our lives unplanned, but loved and accepted.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Part-time Jesus?

 Once, several years ago, our parish priest, during one of his homilies told us that we cannot pick and choose the teachings of Jesus.  If you are going to profess that you are a Christian, then you have to take all of Jesus, not just part of Him.

This stayed with me, as you can  see.   As a professed Christian, actually a Roman Catholic Christian, I have made it my priority to read the bible daily, read the readings of the liturgical year and know the teachings of our Lord. Do I  adhere to all His teachings?  Yes, as humanly possible. 

The Ten Commandments is the place to start:

1.    I am the Lord your God:  You shall not have strange gods before me.

2.    You shall not take the name of the Lord  your God in vain.

3.    Remember to keep the holy the Lord's Day.

4.    Honor your father and mother.

5.    You shall not kill.

6.    You shall not commit adultery.

7.    You shall not steal.

8.    You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

9.    You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.

10.   You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.

After looking over these commandments and seeing where you are good with these, next,

the Beatitudes are the next good place to study.

The text of St. Matthew runs as follows:

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

  • Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.

  • Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.

  • Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.

  • Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

  • Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.

  • Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

  • Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.
Being a Christian is NOT an easy life.  The above guidelines are plain and simple in reading, however following them is not.