Conversation

Each time I attempt to add a blog, to get back to something that was vital to my days, a communication with appreciated readers, I give up knowing that the line between maudlin and honest emotion can be thin.

Time does not heal. Time drags, weighing on the soul. Time questions the belief in the future, a future able to hold a measure of peace, let along any measure of joy.

I want my Bob back in my life. I want to talk to him no matter that our conversations were mostly me talking and Bob looking at me either smiling or frowning. Economy of words, yes, but a heart that loved me without reservation. Who possibly deserves such a gift? Not me.

I yearn–absolutely yearn–for one more conversation. He needs to know that Mark and Chris take care of me. He needs to know that Mark and Chris really take care me. He would love them more if I could tell him about their phone calls, their advice, their support, their strength. He would laugh and frown at our fantasy of a little hotel in a particular United States possession, walking the beach, sharing the work so we could get to the play part. Guess who gets to clean the rooms? Guess who doesn’t care?

Bob needs to know that Dan and Paul absolutely stay with me in every way that is possible for them, attentive, caring, checking. Each has welcomed me into their lives in new and caring ways.

Bob needs to know that I ache with sorrow over not appreciating him as I should have done. He simply went about the business of living in his quiet, dogged way, mending, repairing, building, handling what was to be handled.

Bob handled living and he handled the process of dying with the same quiet, dogged and Bob-like way. I want to go back and appreciate how he did that. I want to cook his favorite food and bake a big batch of cookies that he liked.

I want one more chance to say, “I love you.” I want one more touch, one more time to reach over and touch his warmth. I want to see the way he looked at me in response to that touch. I want one more chance to say, “I love you.”

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The Cough Drop

Finding this new blog rhythm has been difficult. It wasn’t always so. Months to years I wrote most days, often trivial, sometimes touching a heart. Early morning hours prior to this “After Bob” passage were good for finding voice. Much of the voice died with him.

Don’t.
Don’t was a scribbled list started as I walked to the car for an early appointment. Don’t Cry Today. Don’t Think Sad Thoughts. Don’t BE Sad. Don’t Remember. Don’t Make Any Mistakes. Don’t Notice The Empty Spot At Your Side.
Don’t. I can be so impossibly annoying….so add that to the Don’t List. Don’t Be Annoying. A blog was forming.

A blog was forming, a blog destined to be felled by a cough drop, an exquisite cough drop shared by a friend via email.

Don is a talented friend, a man who trusts his emotions and cherishes his family both in the present and in collected memory.

Some years ago, Don visited his Aunt Ljubica . A survivor of a Fascist Concentration Camp, Ljubica was living in France. Don remembers her as a gentle soul with the soft edges honed in a life of kindness despite hardship.

As was the custom, the Ljubica’s family lined up to present gifts, shared an embrace and experience leave-taking. Ljubica, slowed by age and the injuries of the camp, had no gift. Her face, beautiful in its capture of time and experience suddenly remembered that she did have a gift. Painfully, slowly she struggled up the stairs, hobbled into her room and descended with the precious gift clutched in her hand.

With joy, with a flourish, Aunt Ljubica handed her love to Don, a box of her favorite cough drops. The power and the simplicity of love is astounding.

In The Shadow Of The Steeple (ccr)

“If you had been born and raised Catholic, you would not write the things you do.  You would understand.”  Words from a person recently joining Gentle Readers and bridling at certain blogs perceived as anti-Catholic.

In The Shadow Of The Steeple appeared in January, 2008.  It is a rerun in the interest of disclosure.  I intend to follow this with reruns of other blogs that are Catholic Church Related.

There is a huge chasm between being anti-something and being pro-reform.

In The Shadow of the Steeple

Shadow is a twin, a shaded place of respite and comfort as well as a shroud eclipsing what needs to be seen. The steeple of St. Peter’s represents an amazing heritage of doctrine and tradition, giving shelter and shadow to religion, family and community.

Most specific memories get boxed and stored because emotions are always stronger than detail.  I would have said that I did not have specific memories of grade school, but snippets are there.

After dinner to dark kick-the can in the alley, digging a foxhole in the backyard, reading on Mert’s screened porch, baby sitting for 25 cents an hour, Sunday night radio on the living room floor, seven for dinner almost every night of the week, chocolate pudding for dessert, bacon on Sunday, Dad’s famous cracker soup when the budget required….Snippets of a wonderful childhood.

Long sleeved blue serge uniforms, suffocating in the spring and early autumn…
Esterbrook pens, Script ink, coupons for Grapette pop after helping the teacher clean the classroom…Absolute silence as the class lined the hall waiting for a scheduled turn in the restroom…
The privilege of giving up recess to sell candy in Sister Mary Lawrence’s fourth grade classroom…
Suffocating green corduroy slacks and weskit designed to protect modesty while playing basketball…
Getting caught wearing pink Tangee lipstick to a basketball game…
The excitement of a school year spent in a small basement space when numbers overcame the available classrooms…
Crying over the story of a young saint martyred for refusing to surrender a host to his tormentors…
Tiny paper desk mangers waiting for a ‘good deed’ piece of straw as part of Christmas preparation…
Believing–totally believing–in being Catholic…
Praying as if an answer would come…
Confessing to ease the original guilt I never understood…
The sound of snow when Susan and I did the winter walk to 6:00 Mass each morning…
Longing to play basketball without embarrassing myself as Mary Jo finessed every part of the game…
Daring the first peek at my report card, needing grades somewhere close to the standard set by Jack…
Overwhelmed by the importance of responsibility when walking with Bobby to school or to the store. “Take care of him”, was Mom’s standard.
The anticipation of recess on the girls’ side of the playground…a space with few trees and pocked asphalt. Our jump ropes and a handful of jacks the only equipment…
Rare occasions of newspaper wrapped lunch carried to school…
Terror in the stomach when Msgr. McKenna looked at me for the spelling of ‘transubstantiation’…
Awe remembering Sister Mary Regis handling 51 eighth graders with few discipline issues…
Thursday night devotions perfumed by incense and followed by a cherry coke at the Confectionary…
Wondering why a young priest rarely called on a girl for the answer to questions from the catechism…
The deliberate disobedience of stashing our winter slacks under bushes on the way to school…
Retrieving them stiff with cold on the way home…
Shame when I did not always defend the three ‘special needs’ kids in our class…
The choir nun telling me to stand on the back row and move my lips…
Having Mom and Dad discover that I charged candy bars for my friends at McCarty’s mom and pop…
Hating the hand-me-down blue winter coat worn my seventh grade winter…
Loving the off-white coat that Mom sewed the next winter…
Wondering if I actually fit into any group and praying that I did…
Embarrassment at making cheer leader only because few others bothered to try out…
Consuming pride when a teacher wrote a positive comment on my paper…
Guilt at my lack of humility and failure to thank God for the work that earned the comment…
Absolutely loving school…

Snippets that, from this distance of over 60 years, have the richness of warm chocolate swirled with cream.

I am intensely grateful for my education at St. Peter’s Parish and the Catholic community surrounding every part of those years. And that comforting vapor called time has given me the gift of acceptance for the chasm between some of the teaching and the reality of my life experience.

Two Blog Night

At least that is my intention.  There is much to write.  There are words of appreciation to family and friends, the condolences of gentle workers in the post office and the bank, the medical doctor who phoned in sadness over Bob’ death.

My siblings and spouses brought food and comfort.  My friend, Karol, spent hours at the hospital waiting just in case something was needed.  Karol and Bob came with heartfelt loss and nourishment of body and spirit.

When a woman has a husband who loves her, she is blessed.  If she has that husband as step parent to her five adult children, three loving daughters-in-law and five overwhelmingly beautiful grandchildren that woman has the kingdom.

I no longer have the physical comfort of Bob  but I have his memory and my kingdom.

My fear of the future is palatable.  I can taste the loss and uncertainty now that Bob is no longer my partner.  My children have shown me that there is the constant love and caring…that each of them is ready to be supportive in any and every way.

This is a lame blog.  I wanted so much from myself and it isn’t coming.  It will, though.  The words will come and they will know.

Adding Faithful To Gentle

That would be you, Gentle and Faithful Reader.  Thank you for persistence and support.  By week’s end, life will move away from the current block.  Admittedly, that stiff upper lip of my English and German ancestors has quivered a bit.

Like A Man I Know reminds me often, “It is all good”.    Let’s talk later today.

Extraordinary Gratitude

There are moments.  Perhaps all to few, but there are those moments.  And for the gift of being able to participate…Wow!

Last evening, three of the Four Ordinary Women became part of an extraordinary group of men and women visiting the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Library.  We were there to share our process and our product, the writing and publication of our book, Four Ordinary Women.

The important part of  sharing is that participation from the group, the presence, the faces, the words of interaction.  I learn so much.

If you stop by often, Gentle Reader, you know that I tend to ramble about  topics that are difficult, same-sex marriage, abuse of children by clergy, consequence of the economic situation–my Quixote tilts.  Of course, there are occasional stories about my completely amazing family, but I do try to keep that pride swell to a minimum.

This morning I want to thank you.  I want to thank you, Gentle Reader, for being here, for taking moments of your time to check-in with this blog and for your emails and comments.

I want to thank the Plaza Branch representatives, Joel, Margaret, the sound expert and the gentle giant security guard for their kindness and professional expertise.   I want to thank old friends and faithful supporters who continue to encourage and validate.  I want to thank every person who listened, asked questions or made comments thereby enriching the evening for everyone.  It feels important to thank you individually by name but that isn’t possible so please accept these words of extraordinary appreciation of this ordinary women.

We Have Not Walked Alone

In June, 2009, Patti and I experienced a new sort of elation with the publication of Four Ordinary Women.   Those of you who read and respond to our blog know that the publisher closed the doors in August, 2009, leaving us without marketing, publicity, support.

There is a beautiful song, “When you walk through a storm, keep your head up high and don’t be afraid….You’ll never walk alone.”

Patti and I have not walked alone.  You, Gentle Readers, have matched our steps.  You, and other family and friends, have stayed with support that has not wavered.  Some of you are known to us by your given name, others by email name and some as simply Gentle Reader.

To each of you…Please know how much we appreciate your hand-holding in this journey.  You have kept these fingers typing when discouragement tugged at the delete button.   By reading the blog, you helped keep book hopes alive.  You believe in our dream.   How wonderful is that!   Thank you.