Archive for the ‘Catholic Lite’ Category

So hard to believe it is already November. Time is flying.

I am sharing an old posting of mine. Wrote it back in January of 2014.

I had to print things out for Dad because he wasn’t on the “machine.” So he read this posting. I remember when he did. We were sitting on his back porch. Dad laughed and he teared up. When he was finished reading it he told me that I was a very good writer and that I truly captured it.

Dad died in March of 2015. When it was time for me to clear out his things I found the folded up copy of the blog posting in his top drawer.

The odd thing is I recently posted about an old place in East Providence where I grew up. It was called Tiano’s Five Acres. The name changed many, many years ago. But this was where Dad and his friend John last saw each other. My father never went back to that place. Didn’t have it in him.

All Saints’ Day

All Saints’ Day is November 1st. Not sure why I am writing about it today but sometimes I’m prompted and I just need to get things down on paper. And out of my head.

So All Saints’ Day it is.

I fondly remember my young years at a Catholic school where we could dress up on this day. As a saint. Little boys with ropy belts tied around their baggy robes and little girls with scarves on their heads.

Most of us remember the date. You had Halloween and then All Saints’ Day. Two dress up days in a row.

But it’s not the only reason I remember November 1st.

My father had a friend named John McG.

They worked together but were unlikely a pair as you would ever see. Dad grew up in Ireland. John grew up in a hardscrabble section of Providence. At the time, my dad was the father of teenagers. John had three little boys. My dad was twenty-two years older than John. He could have been his father. But he wasn’t. Dad had known John’s own father. Probably before he even knew John. We were closer in age to John than my Dad was to him.

My dad was sort of a no-nonsense kind of guy at the time. Maybe a bit of stoicism in there. John was all emotion. Loud, irreverent, funny and lovable. When John was around my Dad changed. He was lighter and laughed a lot.

Because when John was around everyone changed. Felt lighter. And laughed a lot. He was devilish and quick-witted. Dad said he would tease the women in the office or wherever he went and they loved it. Even my mom laughed like a woman years younger when John was in our house.She got such a kick out of the things that came out of his mouth.

Because everyone was just a little bit in love with John McG. Girls and guys.

He was attractive. Maybe not drop dead gorgeous but something that brought you closer. I think his personality made him really, really good-looking.

Dad started bringing him around on Saturday mornings. They were Teamsters so it was usually after a meeting. Or maybe a blood drive.

It would be early and I would still be in bed. But I knew the moment John entered the kitchen. Our house was tiny but I would have known even if I lived in a mansion. The house almost shook. You could hear the talking and booming laughter. And there was a unique energy in the house. Like Springsteen sang, “I check my look in the mirror” and make my way downstairs toward the light. Not begrudging interrupted Saturday morning sleep but begrudging the fact that I didn’t have advance notice.

Maybe in some way Dad and his kids felt John was a conduit for the generation gap that existed between us. John could say anything to my Dad and get away with it. He would tease him about his teenagers.”What are your kids doing tonight, Pat? Dating? Smoking pot?” Who would say those things to my DAD? And get away with it? John would and could. Absolutely irreverent. You had to know my dad. He didn’t swear or discuss anything untoward. And John had no boundaries with my Dad. Like we did.

You would think that maybe my brothers and I might have been jealous of this guy my father loved so much. And maybe if John were a different person we would have been. But we loved him, too.  So there was no room for jealousy.

He was half Irish American and half Italian American. I think his mom died when he was younger.

When he was scheming my dad would tease him and say,”That’s not the Irish in you.”

And John would tease Dad right back.

I remember when he wanted Dad to come visit him at his home. To see the house he built. It was a real log cabin in the woods of Rhode Island. That sounded pretty neat. So Dad, Mom and I took a drive one weekend. I was also curious to meet John’s family. To see what kind of girl had captured John. To meet his sons.

She was lovely and sweet. Italian-American. Pretty with a nice figure. I still remember the jeans she had on more than thirty years ago. Because they had zippers at the bottoms. Near the ankles.

And then the three little boys. Very young and adorable. And the light of their father’s eyes. You could see it. One of them had gotten into a spot of trouble that day. Something to do with an errant ball and a neighbor’s window. John gave the little fella a stern talking to in front of us. But once the kid was out of sight John was grinning impishly. There was no question of his love, pride and tenderness for the family.

I asked him the names of his two dogs. He said, “Oh, that one is Toothless and the other one is Useless.”He was just so funny.

Seemed John had it all and that he deserved every single bit of it. No one would ever be covetous. Or begrudge him anything.

Time passes. It’s 1986. I will marry on November 15th. It’s going to be a very small party. Thrown together fairly quickly. There really wasn’t room for all the extraneous folks that usually attend bigger weddings. So, it was a list of mostly family and very close family friends. An invitation was mailed to John and his wife.

Then came November 1st, 1986. All Saints’ Day.

And everything changed.

A light went out.

John died in a car accident on his way home early that morning.

My dad had been with him in the evening. They had a drink and then my dad went home. After telling John to do the same. Probably left with a “See you soon!” or “See you Monday!” My dad came home, most likely finished up with the nightly news and then went to bed. He got up early to go golfing. Not knowing that he and John were no longer sharing the same world.

John was thirty-three years old.

It feels odd to write that number since I am now forty-nine years old and Dad will soon be eighty-three. A lot of years have passed.

When we came home that day Dad was sitting in the living room chair. He had returned from the golf course and had gotten the news. My mother went to him as he was reaching out for her arm. And he sobbed. And sobbed.

I had never, ever seen my father cry. I had only ever seen his eyes tear up and that was once. When his mother died and I caught him just staring out the living room window into nothingness. I assumed my father did his deep grieving in private. But this was something entirely different.

My heart hurt so badly when I heard about John and it literally broke when I saw my father that day.

You see, he loved John McG.

I still think of John every now and again. His name still comes up.

When we had a surprise 80th birthday party for my dad a couple of years ago, one of my brothers said, “John McG would have been here today. God rest his soul.”

John was no saint. That’s a tough status. He was human. And he made mistakes. Just like anyone of us.

Just wish it didn’t have to end the way it did. Especially to someone who was so very alive.

We always read about people who walk into a room and absolutely nothing happens. And then there are the others. Not a lot of them out there. But when they walk into a room something happens.

That was John.

I heard that his wife never remarried. Not sure why. She had three young boys and she was a young and beautiful woman. I wondered sometimes if it was because there was just no one out there that could have filled his shoes. Or filled his space. Or loved those boys like he did.

Dad retired, was blessed with grandchildren and softened with the years. I see him cry now. He has a hard time saying good-bye to me and/or my daughters when we leave him. But it’s good. He enjoys his life and his family.

I will always remember John McGinn on All Saints’ Day. It’s not the day the music died. It’s the day a light went out.

May he rest in eternal peace.

John P. McGinn

1953-1986

 

 

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When I lived in Southern California I attended Mass in my community. It was always led by Fr. Fred.

Loved his sermons. I would, more often than not, leave with a message that would cause me to reflect for the week.

Fred would also write a little blurb in the weekly bulletin.

I just moved to India and was unpacking some things in our new home. A purple piece of paper fluttered in the drawer. It was one of Fr. Fred’s reflections that I had cut out of the church bulletin about seven years ago.

It is as relevant today as it was then. Nature wreaking havoc (always) and the “blamers” coming out of the woodwork (always) to tag these disasters as God’s dissatisfaction with us.

“God is punishing us because…..!”

“God is punishing them because…..!

Ummm, no.

blame

It sort of struck me as interesting that I should find this-with the U.S. coming off the heels of Harvey and Irma and some folks wanting to place the blame on the sins of the people.

What Fred’s saying is that natural disasters are just that. We sometimes happen to be in the path because of where we live. It’s not a judgement or punishment. It is what it is.

Many folks are faced with personal disasters that have nothing to do with Mother Nature’s force and it’s hard to understand. It might be illness, an accident, death of a loved one, job loss, etc.

We are not being punished although it can feel like we are. It might not be anyone’s fault but still we are rendered feeling helpless. I suppose the only choice, in these instances, is how we try and move forward.

Other times we can get trapped in our very own disasters which are caused by the choices we make. Not anyone else.

This is when we need to be looking within and not blaming outside sources. And really ask ourselves if we are owning our choices.

We are not being punished.

It’s all about choices.

 

 

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When you grow up with an Irish background-even if you weren’t reared in Ireland- you grow up with a bunch of phrases your non Irish friends would never hear or would probably never even understand. We don’t even understand them so how could they?

My Nana laughingly called the little boys and/or the male dogs in my house, “McGuffin.” As in, “How’s McGuffin?” Or “McGuffin was over today.” Or “McGuffin barked all night.” You always knew who or what she was talking about and responded accordingly without missing a beat.

I had a boyfriend, S., and he liked my grandmother. All of my friends did. We went to an Irish festival one weekend and he bought something for her. She loved it. It was a coffee mug with the name “Mc Govern” on it. Nana’s mom was Maggie Mc Govern.

I asked him, “How did you know that??? That it was a family name?”

He said, “Well, I bought it for her because she’s always calling everyone McGovern.”

I laughed out loud. All this time he thought she was saying McGovern when she was actually saying McGuffin.

So you sort of had to grow up with it to really get it.

“Mother Machree!!!” was another one spewed out on a regular basis. My mom said it when she was exasperated. I suppose it’s better than swearing. Machree means “of my heart.” When I was young I just thought there once was some old lady who went by the name.

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” frequented our home. The exclamation not the trio. Most everyone I knew in my neighborhood was Catholic but they weren’t Irish. Never, ever heard any of my friend’s parents utter this. Just mine.

I remember when I first started working at AT&T and sitting in the break room minding my own business. I heard this gal, Tracy, exclaim, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” Probably over spilled coffee. My head instantly popped up and I thought, “I don’t know you but I know you.” It’s like when little kids notice other little kids in a crowd. You just know.

This one I never really understood when I was little. Just accepted it like all the others. They’d say, “Oh, sitting there like Lipton’s Orphan.” What?? I understood it to mean a woeful being and I was correct. But what?? Where on earth did that phrase originate? Adult research shows the origin of the phrase stemmed from a Lipton Tea marketing campaign. An Irishman, a pig, etc.

Sorry for your trouble. A phrase used for bereavement. Trouble means to agitate spiritually or mentally.  Not just as we commonly think of it when referring to that pesky neighborhood kid. But a bit more than that. One will never be more agitated spiritually or mentally than when a death occurs. So the phrase is not wordy but totally appropriate. And very Irish.

As an American kid I (and my friends) used the word “terrific” for everything. The weekend was terrific! You look terrific! The concert was terrific! My grandmother used the word in its original form. As in terrifying. She would tell me about a terrible storm the night before (she was deathly afraid of storms and would stand on the cellar stairs until it passed) and say, “It was absolutely terrific!” I have to think that was an Irish thing as I never heard anyone else’s parents or grandparents using it in that context.

Plenty more phrases and sayings were thrown around the house. Those were just a few that popped into my mind.

The truth is that I’d give anything to hear a few of those sayings. From the mouths of those who used to say them.

But still very thankful I had the opportunity to hear them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Went to church yesterday. Possibly my first time attending a Sunday service that was not Catholic. Stepped outside the box! No, I’m not going all new-agey but I was happy to give it a try. There are worse places to spend an hour, no?

It was a very pleasant experience. The young guy (curate) talked about giving. About how we give and who we help.

He said, “It’s easy to help folks that look like us.”

Referenced a study (that got a few chuckles during his telling of the story) about Manchester United Football fans.

An actor was set up to stumble and fall. Crying in pain and clutching his ankle. When he was wearing his Manchester United jersey a whopping 92% of the fans go to assist him.

When he was wearing a plain white t-shirt only 30% of the fans went to help the fellow.

When he was wearing the rival team’s shirt (Liverpool) only 30% of the fans aided the man.

I looked up the study (fact checker that I am) to read about it. There’s more on the study here. Quite interesting since it demonstrates that a few minor changes can alter our perceptions and strengthen bonds with other people.

Causes one to really reflect on who we help.

Just those folks that look like us?

Acknowledging that this might be true would be the first step in changing our mindset and a great reminder that we are all on the same team.

I wish you, my teammates, all a wonderful week!

 

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Well, it looks like the new president of the Philippines will be Duterte.

Of course, the U.S. will be cautious. There are concerns about his foreign policy.

I am concerned that he was actually elected in the first place.

Because my first thought was,”If he could be elected then is there also the possibility that Trump could be the next U.S. president?

Duterte is appealing to the people who want and need to see change.

Playing on people’s fears and taking the tough guy stance.

He has promised to dump the corpses of 100,000 gangsters into the Bay. Some talk of vigilante killings.

People seemed to really like this type of talk. Dirty Harry is his nickname.

Nothing like referencing an old American vigilante film to get people’s juices flowing.

He has also called the Pope the son of a whore.

This current Pope. The one most people like!

I sort of chuckled when I read an article saying he was going to the Vatican to apologize.

I thought, “Well, he (Pope) is probably the only person in the world that would forgive him for talking ’bout someone’s Mama.”

Because I certainly wouldn’t.

But the reason I am really concerned about him is that he says anything he wants and the response seems to fuel him. The crazies keep him going and his crazy lets them.

Just like Mr. Trump.

In 1989, Jacqueline Hamill, a thirty-six year old Australian missionary, was working in a Filipino jail.

Ms. Hamill was taken hostage (along with fifteen others) then brutally gang raped by the prisoners. And murdered.

Horrific.

Duterte’s remarks on his campaign trail about this could make anyone shiver.

According to Filthy, I mean, Dirty, his comments were said out of anger and not meant as a joke.

Although if you listen to it on “youtube” the audience’s response was filled with laughs, chuckles and whoo-hees. And he didn’t look angry.

This is what he recounted about the hostage situation when he was the mayor. 

All the women were raped so during the first assault, because they retreated, the bodies they used as a cover, one of them was the corpse of the Australian woman lay minister. Tsk, this is a problem. When the bodies were brought out, they were wrapped. I looked at her face, son of a bitch, she looks like a beautiful American actress. Son of a bitch, what a waste. What came to mind was, they raped her, they lined up. I was angry because she was raped, that’s one thing. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste.

This is their new president. He should have been first.

Here  he is not willing to apologize.

What???????????????????

Then there was this guy back in 2013 vying for a Supreme Court position in Indonesia.

You do not get to joke about rape and victims liking it. NEVER! About a woman being violated in the worst possible, disgusting manner. This is unacceptable.

Maybe makes Donald Trump pale in comparison. 

But. Still.

Mr. Trump has said his fair share of nasty things against women.

Just google “Trump” along with “Sexist Comments” and you’ll get a mother lode of information.

Here’s one link.

Here’s another.

One more….

And the worst. “If I weren’t happily married and she wasn’t my daughter…”

There is absolutely no place for a man like this in the role of a U.S. president.

Sorry.

Not really.

Any woman, daughter, mother, niece, aunt, sister or grandmother will tell you that.

You do not have the right to govern a country filled with women.

And in case you’ve forgotten?

Women do have the right to vote and there is not a sane woman out there that would vote for you.

Because we are not just a sorry piece of A$$ or a sorry piece of S%&T.

No matter what you think.

Sorry.

Not really.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve been known to shout out, “God is good!” on occasion. I suppose a throwback to my teaching religious education to middle and high schoolers.

It might be when I am in the midst of a perfect day, riding a bike with no hands on the wheel and just soaking up the beauty of it all.

People I am with, well trained, might reply back, “All the time!”

What I should be proclaiming is, “God is good to us!”

Not saying I’m not a believer. And I’m not saying God isn’t good.

I’m just wondering about all those who suffer.

Every single day. The abused kids. The ailing. The people in war torn regions. The hungry.

Not worried about offending God. If He’s all that then He can handle my wondering.

 

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Many generous people in our community drop off donated items at my home. Don’t even always know who is doing the dropping. Could be clothes, household decor, toys or linens.

They do this because it helps them clear out their homes. And they also want to help others in the process.

My friends and I will send the donations to the refugee center. Or we will sell the items at our frequent garage sales with the proceeds supporting the refugee center and its programs.

It’s not always junk. Just things people no longer need or want.

Sometimes I receive things and I’m not even sure what they are.

There was the time my friend and I put aside a “camera lens” to see if her friend’s son would be interested in buying it. He was a photography buff.

We handled the lens more than once. I said to her, “It just seems so light.”

She agreed.

I think it was my daughter who finally set us straight. It wasn’t a lens but a coffee cup designed to look like a camera lens. LOL. You can google images.

I’ve had a few chuckles sifting through the boxes over the years. Like the time my friend, Lone, sent over some bags. She was donating a beach towel of mine!

My other friend received bags from two different families and found two shirts of her son’s and one of hers.

We’ve gotten valuable gold jewelry donated by mistake.

The sorting of it all can be overwhelming at times but it’s needed. Definitely needed.

One time I found a hand-written note. The donations were from a friend who was helping out a lady clear out her late husband’s belongings. I can’t remember if it was an expression of gratitude or what but I was glad I could return the note.

Or the photograph of my Australian friend and her daughter, who was a toddler at the time, taken when they lived in India.

Yesterday, a friend dropped off a bunch of bags in preparation for her move back to the U.S.

I sent her a text thanking her.

I also had to add, “And thanks for your son’s wallet loaded with Malaysian money as well as U.S. bills!”

You never know what you will discover.

This is where I veer off topic a bit.

I would later find out that while I came across this wallet my daughter had lost hers at school.

Called me from school to let me know. Was upset. The wallet had been our Christmas gift to her. So that bothered her but it was more about the contents. Which included her grandfather’s funeral card, a note from her Dad and photos of her loved ones.

We are pretty sure it’s been located so that’s good news. Waiting for confirmation.

But isn’t it strange that I found a wallet and my daughter lost hers at the very same time?

Weird.

Back to topic.

If you are donating items don’t forget to check those pockets. The pages. The bags. The everything.

Off topic.

If you do lose something-even if you aren’t Catholic-a prayer to St. Anthony won’t kill you.

When my daughter called to tell me about the wallet I said, “Say the prayer.”

She replied, “I will.”

I asked, “Do you know it? Say it out loud to me now.”

She said, “St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come down. Something has been lost and must be found.”

I then let her off the hook. The telephone that is.

Hope you all find everything you are looking for this week!

JBM

 

 

 

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