A Little Boy, 1983 (CCR)

A current lawsuit names Monsignor O’Brien as perpetrator of sexual crimes against children, against little boys trapped in O’Brien’s mantel of holy man, man of god, stand-in for Jesus. O’Brien started as Father O’Brien later promoted by his superiors for service to the church.

The lawsuit charges that a little boy, a young teen, could no longer live with the pain inflicted by O’Brien. A boy, probably in puberty, a faithful and believing member serving Mass, abused by a man honored by the church. This little boy could no longer tolerate, the pain. He gave his life away rather than live with what a representative of Jesus did to the boy.

This is the weekend during which we remember and honor the victims of 9-11 who died by an act of terrorism committed in the name of a religion.

May I suggest, Gentle Reader, that we honor the victims of a another kind of terrorism–the horror heaped on child victims sexually and physically terrorized by holy men of god.

A Little Boy, 1983


Tick Tock

The year was either 1953 or ’54, early in my Kansas City, Kansas high school years.  Bob was my brother’s friend and they spent hours in the basement workshop.  Time moved and my 14-year-old heart fell in love.  When I sort photos, seeing him through the years, breathing becomes a challenge.

Circumstances changed.  Our lives went in different directions.

In 1958,  while in college, I met a good man and we planned a future together.  Five amazing children who reflect so many of the dad’s best qualities, a trove of beautiful memories, a life filled with many of those ‘for better and for worse’ moments followed.  The sadness of divorce also followed.

Within a short time, circumstances changed again and Bob reentered my life.  First love.  New love.  This time, I wasn’t a teen.  I was a package deal…five children,  an aging mother and a teaching career.   Welcome to this new world.

We lived and loved that new world.  Five beautiful grandchildren were born in our new world.  Each baby gave Bob the magic of complete,  total love and acceptance.

On October 21, Bob left us.  He died.  He went away.  Those memories everyone talks about?  Those memories that are  to bring ease?  Those memories that are  to comfort?  Not yet.  All the memories do is tear at the heart and the gut, wrenching out the huge well of missing him.

A friend  told me that I had always loved too deeply, that I needed to see life with more discretion, that I lost the ability to emotionally self protect.  Imagine that…protecting oneself from all that love has to offer.

In our church, we say a prayer asking forgiveness “for what I have done and what I have failed to do”.   The failure hurts the most, missed opportunities, deliberate decisions to slide by an opportunity, hugs not given, smiles held back, anger over stupid stuff.

Yesterday, my brother said that my Bob was his best friend, his lifetime best friend.  My own lifetime is  overflowing with gifts, the riches of my children and grandchildren,  of family, of friends, of so much more than I deserve.  I keep hearing that time will actually ease this emptiness that stands in Bob’s place. Maybe.  Tick Tock.

Tick Tock.

Who ‘Drived’ Him There?

Sammy is 3 1/2 and was Papa’s Friday joy.  Sam comes to play with us on Friday.  He keeps us on track about life’s greatest gifts, family/children/grandchildren.

In the hospital, Bob awakened from sedation shortly after the removal of the breathing tube .  The nurse said that Bob would be unable to speak because of swollen vocal cords and a raw throat.   His eyes focused on Paul, Sam’s daddy, and Bob said, “Sam”.

“Do you want to see Sam?”   The emphatic nodding was one of the most poignant moments.

How Bob loved his grandchildren; Cain, Molly, Frank, Sam and Henry.

Without Bob, Friday isn’t as gentle, as patterned with habit and expectation but we are  having our Friday together and it is a joy.

Driving here, Sam spoke of his Papa.  “Who drived Papa to heaven?  Did you take him there?   Why did you do that, Nana?  We need to go there so Papa will come back with us.”

Cain’s heart-wrenching voice of sadness and comfort… Molly’s need for time to process… Frank’s prayer and concern about who was taking care of Papa… Sam’s need to drive Papa home again… and Henry?  Henry will know Papa through family fact and lore.  Oh, the stories they will tell!


Dance With Me, Henry

Set my soul on fire.  Aren’t those lyrics from some 1950’s song?

Henry is our youngest grandchild, fifth of the most amazing line of Crystal children.

In Four Ordinary Women, we wrote about our children and my chapter was “In My Father’s House There Are Many Mansions”.  My children are my mansions.

Over the past few difficult days, my children have infused me with their love, concern and wisdom.    And three of my children married partners who added new beauty and wisdom, making ICU days become times of positive belief in healing.  My children and their spouses offered their wisdom, their presence, their support, their time, their homes…their love.

Five crystal grandchildren have blessed us with overwhelming joy.  Cain and Molly are young adults finding their passions and making their personal statements.  I love them so much.

Frank is six, funny, happy, charming, bilingual and learning a third language.  He is determined to be reincarnated as a girl because girls are prettier and have nice hair.   I love this  Crystal boy.

Sam is our joy one day each week.  Sam is bull stubborn when he sets his course,  a train buff who sings while he plays but gently says, “Nana, we are not going to do that today” whenever I try to sing.  I love this Crystal boy.

And Henry?  Henry to dance with me and set my soul on fire?  Henry is one year old, red-haired and darling.  But we don’t know Henry as we know the other grandchildren.  So today I had to make a decision to find all of Henry’s Crystal by getting Bob out of ICU.  Nothing medically supports my decision to will Bob to wellness.  “Plateau’ isn’t a particularly encouraging word.  Doesn’t matter.

I decided that ICU will have a positive outcome because Bob needs to dance with Henry, to do the Grandpa, GP, Papa dance with this tiny Crystal boy.  Nothing else will do.

So I will whisper words of love and healing more than I have been doing, trusting that the sedation won’t cloud my meaning.  I will hurry Papa along, telling him that we cannot miss time with our family, our children and grandchildren.

Bob can have what time it takes to heal. Henry will wait but it really is time to  “Dance With Me, Papa”.    That dance will happen.

Stone Walled (ccr)

Good Morning, Gentle Reader,

It has been a while.

Thoughts of writers-block creep in but it isn’t really a block.  It is a steel walled overload and the steel labors with the weight of national, world, church news and personal events.

On Friday, my oldest grandchild graduated from high school.  He is a wonderful young man of promise, convinced that 18 is the age of total independence.  It will take time for him to realize that inter-dependence  is the better way.

We drove 10 hours, crossing Kansas to reach the mountains and  be with family for the weekend events, giving me time to fill a notebook with blog ideas.  Our return drive filled more pages but these new thoughts turned out to be so very personal–mother/grandmother thoughts of how much I love, respect and admire my Colorado family.

Maybe it is a universal truth that my generation worries about the world we leave to our children and grandchildren.  Maybe we lack a balance and see the heaviness of world events overshadowing the promises of the goodness of  fresh ideas and enthusiasm spotlighted in graduation ceremonies.

No doubt the next few days will be my opportunity to sort, write and resort some of what I see as the heaviness of crisis.

Like the oil spill.   Gushing disaster fills the waters with death in many forms  and no clear hope of containment.  And the spin mindset that greedily seizes the opportunity to  blame President Obama for this horror.  Please take me on that mind journey that concludes with Barack Obama creating this mess or failing to respond.

Like violence on the high seas, attacking, killing and seizing ships and cargo.

Like Israel and Palestine and decades of animosity and conflict.

Like unemployment and foreclosures shattering lives.

Like Pope Benedict XV appointing nine prelates to investigate child abuse in Ireland’s Catholic Institutions.  Again, the church is investigating the church.

OK.  My leaps of connections probably are the cow and moon thing, but the parts do make the whole.  How did we move so far from the awareness that consequences reach  far beyond the moment, that personal actions have public ramifications, that responsibility does not have an off switch?

When Awake Is Better: Night Musings

Insomnia is a plague, a terrible affliction of mind and body but there are times when the mind is so filled with good things that extra hours of thought are a blessing.

Last night’s reasons to be awake….

Yesterday we did the garage sale search looking for those elusive wood and metal toys. After a morning of zero finds, I am convinced that wood and metal toys gather dust in the attics of antique stores or are touted in high dollar green-catalogues.

While driving in a beautiful lake community, we saw our neighbor’s truck and trailer loaded with rock and pipe.  Steve was ankle-deep in mud, bent over a loaded shovel.

Steve is one of those naturally gracious humans ready to smile no matter what the interruption.  Bob’s “How’s it going?” brought a typical Steve answer. “Great.  Just enjoying my life.”

Further conversation explained that he was doing drainage repairs to the house as barter for some equipment the home owner was willing to trade.  Barter.  What a great way to handle parts of the struggling economy.  And what an unusually nice man.

Thursday was Sam day, the highlight of every week.  Sam is close to 3 1/2, tall, thin and filled with wonder.   Taking advantage of a break in the rain, we were playing outside when a pick-up pulled into the driveway.  For over a year, this man has come multiple times wondering if we wanted the driveway sealed for a really good price.   Sam watched and listened as the man sat on a step and began the sales pitch while Bob kept shaking his head.  “Not now.  Maybe later in the summer.  We just don’t have the money now.”

Sam jumped up, ran to the toy room, opened his cash register and counted out eight pennies.  Hurrying back, he handed the man the fist full of money and said, “I will pay for Papa’s driveway.”   What a beautiful little boy.

During the past two months our family has experienced multiple health challenges.  Many things about the health care system are miracles of restoration and comfort.  Some are frustrations of the most maddening sort.   “Too big to fail” was one of the justifications for the financial bail-out.  “Too big to be transparent-to big to admit mistakes” might be applied to health care.   How I hope the evolving situation will prove me wrong.

And now the last chapter of wakefulness.

Why is it that so often it is easier to handle a loved ones physical problems than to handle the mental and emotional problems?  Why do so many of us reach out to alleviate physical pain while dismissing emotional pain as weakness?  How odd we are.

We profess to love but can withhold that love if the beloved needs on-going support for mental, behavioral and emotional sickness.  For some of us, there is no question that we would help a loved one fight cancer with every ounce of determination.  But let a loved one fight depression, and we bail.  We can sit by the physically dying for weeks on end, but we pass on the emotional dying calling those symptoms weakness or craziness.    Wonder why the boot-strap mentality is so difficult to shake.

Seventy-One and Still Not Done

Three year old grandson spent Thursday with us and opted to stay the night.  This kid is a dream combination of his mom and dad, with just enough stubbornness to keep it interesting.   During the night, a little voice would whisper,  “Nana, it is two zero eight.  Is that close to morning?”

Not quite.

About 10:00 this morning, I walked through the ‘Sunday Room’ where he was laying out elaborate train track designs.  Sam has an aversion to battery or electric operated trains.  “Papa, do you know why we have fingers for?  Use your fingers to move the trains.”

Good enough.

Sam looked up and  was about to give me a bazillion dollar smile which stopped at half-mast.   “Wait.  Wait just one minute.”  Dead-run to the counter in the bathroom.   Back in a flash, hair brush in hand.  “Sit down, Nana.  I can help you fix your hair.   I can fit Nelson’s hair really good.”  Nelson is their dog!

The mouths of babes?

Mid-day and we are playing with Sam and his baby brother in their home.  Mom was busy with a phone call so we were having extra fun while she handled some business.  Called ended.  Mom asks Sam if he wants to give us a good-bye hug.  Absolutely NOT.  He did not want us to leave unless he could come  with us.  Usual adult ‘stuff’ about why we had to go and why he needed to stay….a few tears, some extra hugs while his mom and I got involved in a new conversation.  “So you don’t want to play trains, Papa?”  Long pause….  “OK.    So, Guys, you are leaving now, right?  Nana, here’s your coat.  I’ll help you put it on.”

Humility is important, right?