Archive for the ‘Catholic Lite’ Category

In my last posting I mentioned that I would share some “signs” I’ve received. From my father. Looking back I’d have to say the signs have been pretty amazing. Maybe someone thought I needed “spectacular” to be convinced.

June 14th was a lovely day. I took a drive to the cemetery where my father is now resting. Again, it’s me, myself and I. At least as far as my eye can see.

I pulled up near my Dad’s headstone. Did the usual. Greetings and a prayer.

As I wrapped up with a big amen (okay, it was a little silent amen) I turned from the grave and headed toward the car. I said (aloud because no one was near me and I wanted to hear my own voice), “Okay, Patrick, do your stuff. Give me something.”

So, as I am waiting, I take a few steps across the lane to look at other tombstones. Lots of folks from my growing up community reside in this cemetery. I like to read some of the different names or epitaphs. Sometimes pray for those I know. Maybe a parent or grandparent of an old friend or neighbor. I ambled over to one that had the last name “WORK” on it. Never heard that surname.

Dad used to say, “Hard work always pays off.”

But that’s not the sign.

I don’t think.

Anyway, within two minutes of me asking Dad for some magic, I spot something else! It’s about four graves down from the WORK tombstone. I can see that it is partially hidden by the last grave in the row. And it’s moving!

I should be afraid since I am totally alone. Not a person in sight. Could there be someone out of sight? A murderer? Or possibly a street urchin?

There is some type of fanning motion. Back and forth. What on earth? A geisha in the midst of a fan ceremony?

I start toward the grave to investigate. The thing starts to move away from the tombstone! I am hot on its trail. Not a bit afraid.

turkey1turkey2turkey3tureky4turkey5turkey6

Mystery solved.  Tom the turkey just taking things slow on a sunny afternoon.

The turkey spirit animal is a symbol of abundance. It is an encouragement to celebrate your resources that nourish your physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects. The turkey symbolism brings the message of unlocking the richness of your life so that you can appreciate everything.

Thanks, Dad. Miss and love you.

 

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Hello, everyone! I hope everyone is doing just fine!

I am finally sitting down and doing a bit of writing. I CANNOT believe August is nearly gone even though I can see, with my own eyes, the sun setting earlier and earlier every evening.

I have been blessed and have enjoyed the summer months. Had lots of company, entertained, explored the outdoors, rode my bike, walked, read tons, attended plays, spent time with family and sometimes just walked the seashore with the surf creating white noise so I could still my mind.

My only regret is not putting all the thoughts in my head on paper these past few months. Enough to drive a person wacky with the gray matter congestion.

But, hey! No time like the present.

I have to be in the mood to write certain stories so the “Witches Tea” I stumbled upon in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont will have to wait for another day. It’s a good one. So just be patient.

My sister-in-law, Patty, lost her dad in March. So she’s been sharing a lot about being open to signs from those who have passed. She has received signs from both of her parents.

I have many friends who have also gotten signs from loved ones. They say, “Talk to them. Be open.”

I was feeling like, “Everyone else is getting signs from their people. What about me?”

Well, I always felt like I was open to receiving but here’s the thing. I actually received and continue to receive many signs. It didn’t appear that way because it just wasn’t enough for me. I was actually looking for more. I wanted to feel. Viscerally. Not just always look for a double meaning in a rainbow, animal or thunderstorm.

I wanted to feel my father’s presence but I really just wanted my father present. Sadly, the latter is not going to happen.

In a way, I finally realized I am not looking for a sign that my Dad is okay, in heaven and watching over me. Or that he loved me. I know that.

It all boils down to this. I miss him and wish he was still here. Simple as that.

Since my father died the only time I heard his voice was in a dream. It was a few days after he passed.  The last thing I heard before waking up that morning was him sounding very concerned.

He asked me, “Are ya alright? Are ya sick?”

I wasn’t sick. Well, yes, I suppose I was. Heartsick.

It is what it is.

So, I will share one of the many, many signs I’ve received from Patrick, my father. I will write about others in future postings.

I’m wondering if it’s his power or mine.

Here is one.

Every so often I will buzz into the cemetery to pay a quick visit to the ould man.

Last winter, it happened to be on very gray day with white stuff in the forecast. Snowfall was predicted to start in about three hours.

I was the only person in the cemetery. Popped out of the car, checked the headstone and said, “Hi” along with a short prayer.

Then I said, “Okay, Dad, feel free to give me a sign that you hear me. That you see me.”

In that moment, little white flurries appeared out of nowhere. In the spot where I was standing. Not a lot. And not everywhere. Just a few white snowflakes fluttering out of the sky.

Wow.

Then they stopped. As quickly as they started.

Were they even there? Did that even happen?

I went back into my car. Sat a few minutes. Then I got out, stood there and said, “Do it again.”

It happened again. Just a bunch of white flurries. In that same spot.

Sure, snow was in the forecast. Nope, not one witness. No accumulation.

Just a few flakes fluttering on me.

In my spot.

It’s never going to be enough. But it was enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Okay, I am using numbers in my title. Not for “hits” but because that’s how many days are in Lent.

Someone shared an activity to do during Lent. A challenge of sorts.

Now, I am not a good Catholic. Since I moved overseas I have hardly attended Mass. But I still consider myself to be Catholic. There are a few things I still do that might be Catholicky.

I abstain from meat on Fridays when I remember what day it is. 🙂 I try to eat smaller portions of just two meals. I also make a conscious effort to think about others and do something for the less fortunate.

I mean it’s the absolute least I can do.

So this challenge.

Grab a trash bag. Each day take an item of clothing that you don’t use or need out of your closet or drawers. At the end of Lent there will be a bag filled with clothes that can be donated to someone in need.

Wait, I can go into my closet and bang out forty items right now! In a matter of fifteen minutes.

Boom! Bag filled and ready to go.

Better yet, I could just write a check to cover the cost of forty clothing items. And be done with it. Something my husband and I do for certain causes/charities we support.

But that’s very easy.

Too easy.

Don’t get me wrong. We need the checks in this world. And we need a quick fifteen minute decluttering of closets now and again.

But going into a closet every day actually causes me to reflect. Every single day. For forty days. To think about others. What their lives might be like if they don’t have clothes to wear. It makes me feel grateful each day. Appreciating that I have a roof over my head, clothes to wear, food, water, transport, health and more. When so many in the world have none of these.

So, I think this is a fabulous idea. For anyone. At any time.

Thinking about others and making a difference, no matter how small, in someone’s life is really what matters.

Being grateful is the gravy.

 

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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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