Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Yellow Sweatshirt

Eight years ago I was visiting my family in California and we decided to go to California Adventure Park which is next door to Disneyland.  We walked around and looked in the interesting stores.  Before eating a late lunch we stopped at one of the kiosks and I purchased t-shirts for my two granddaughters and I bought myself a yellow sweatshirt. When I got home, I wore the yellow sweatshirt when the days seemed a bit cool. One day, my son stopped by and he had on a light jacket. "Is that all you are wearing?" I asked. His reply was "I did not know the day would turn so cold." I looked in my closet and grabbed the yellow sweatshirt. "Here," I said, "it's not much but it might help to keep you warmer than that light jacket." I remember him saying, "Yellow? "That is not my color!"
Though he took the yellow sweatshirt anyway.

The next time I saw the yellow sweatshirt he was wearing it and he told me he was using it at work. I knew I would never get my yellow sweatshirt back. I never saw the yellow sweatshirt again and when I asked him what had happened to it, he said, "Probably when I moved it either went to Goodwill or I lost it."

This weekend, when my granddaughter from Erie, Colorado and my granddaughter from California were staying with me, on top of their backpacks I saw a yellow sweatshirt. I picked it up and it looked so familiar that I told my daughter, "Do you remember me buying a yellow sweatshirt like this when I was in California a few years ago?" She didn't. I continued, "Is this your daughter's sweatshirt?" She told me that she had no idea because now that her daughter was in San Francisco she did not know what clothes she had brought to Colorado. I couldn't help thinking how strange that the yellow sweatshirt stirred a vague recollection in me. Maybe it was a similar one.

Later that day, I picked up the yellow sweatshirt again and asked both granddaughters, "Whose yellow sweatshirt is this?"  What a surprise I got when my Colorado granddaughter said, "It used to be my Dad's and I have it now." Immediately, tears came to my eyes. The yellow sweater had come full circle and I was happy that she had something she could wear that belonged to her father. She did not know the history of the sweater and to think, it was exactly one year since my son had passed away. I also felt better that my mind was not playing tricks on me and that it was the yellow sweatshirt I had purchased!

This past weekend, where ever we went, I felt as if my son was with us every time I saw the yellow sweater.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Sunday Fun

My Sunday began at six in the morning when I got up ready to take my daughter to the airport. She had spent a few days with me and now she was headed home. The drive back from the airport had me looking at lavender-pinkish mountains as the sun rose behind me in a red-orange ball. Since there was no traffic, I enjoyed my drive home.

A visitor showed up at my house bearing gifts. Cookies and a beautiful cross to add to my collection. I decided to go to the ten-thirty mass and allow my two granddaughters to continue their beauty sleep. They had gone to a concert the night before and from what I hear, had a fabulous time dancing to the wild music!

At mass the homily hit home with the need to love one self, God and neighbor; must have all three because one without the other will have something missing. The priest gave an example of when he was in Belize and his experience with monks who were not charitable and a family who was the exact opposite. At the end of his sermon, the congregation applauded. A candle hanging above the tabernacle was for my son's one year anniversary of his passing. I liked that the candle would be there for one week and then someone else would add a candle for their loved one.

The Day of the Dead altars were set up again this year and I looked at the altars, watched children color and make sugar skulls, ate some Mexican bread and saw some friends. I rushed home to see what else was in store for me on the 29th of October.

Thinking that a Corn Maze would be fun we began the drive to where I thought a maze was located somewhere near Brighton. How wrong I was, because it is closer to LaSalle, Colorado and almost to Greeley. The large weedy lot must have had over a hundred cars parked in an orderly fashion, side by side, and I realized this was a popular place! We walked through rough dirt roads to get to the main entrance. I purchased tickets so we could do the maze though there were other things to do. A barrel train, large bouncer for children and adults, a haunted chapel, huge bubbles where kids could get inside the bubble and roll around in the water and, of course, the corn maze. We did Phase One and that was plenty for me. After walking for about an hour through dry corn stalks, I was ready to get out. It seemed as if we kept going around in circles.

 Finally, when we could not find our way out we asked a young man who works there to help us find the way out. We, not only my granddaughters and I, but other people wanting to escape, followed the young man to the exit. My daring granddaughters tackled Phase 2, a more difficult maze. While I waited for them I walked around and saw the many activities for families.

Only in Colorado can the weather change so rapidly. From a sunny warm day to a windy cool day.  Dust swirled around, and jackets came on. We left the maze and ended up at La Hacienda in
Broomfield for dinner. The atmosphere was great but the food was not.

It was a fun Sunday and I thank my visitors for making the day so happy and joyful. To love and to be loved is probably the most important part of living and I felt it this weekend!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

A Special Candle

Over the tabernacle at Spirit of Christ Catholic Community, hangs about five pale turquoise candle holders that I thought were just for decoration. When I found out that the candles represent someone that had died, I got one for my son on his one year anniversary of his death. The candle will burn for one week and then another loved one will take its place. What a wonderful way to remember those that have gone before us. For one week I will see the candle and feel as if he is near me.  It does not seem like a year that he left us and I can only wonder where has the year gone without him. Even with this past year gone by, the pain of missing him does not diminish.

On November 2 I will take a candle to mass, place it in front of the ambo, along with many other candles, and the mass for All Souls will be celebrated. A beautiful ceremony in memoriam of loved ones who have gone to be with Our Holy Father. Today, my family will gather together for lunch and remember my son. 

At one in the afternoon, we met at the Old Spaghetti Factory. His father, his half-brother, his sister, one niece, his two children and I met to spend time together. Seeing my grandson, who reminded me of my son, brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful lunch being together, enjoying delicious food, and taking photos.

Not a day goes by that something happens or I see something that reminds me of my son. Even with all the daily reminders, he is always in my heart. It is strange that he is more present in my mind and heart than when he was alive. Maybe it is because I know I will never see him as he was, talk to him, argue with him, laugh with him, get angry with him, hug him or know that he is around and alive. I have to be satisfied with the memories I have of him.

For now, the candle gives me a sense of satisfaction and someday, when we meet again, we will have so much to tell each other.

"When the young bury
the old, time heals 
the pain and sorrow,
but when the process
is reversed, the
sorrow remains forever."
Joseph P. Kennedy

Too Many Funerals

It seems that the older I get, the more funerals I attend. Today I was at a funeral mass for a friend's sister . Once again I was amazed at the beauty of the church.  Here was another church that to me looked beautiful in its simplicity. I had never been at Mary Magdalene Church and loved the large stone walls behind the altar. Made me feel as if I was present in the times of  when Jesus was alive! I am convinced that no matter what church I attend, each has its own special beauty.

Today, there were five Spirit of Christ Catholic Community friends at the funeral mass. Our friend introduced us to some of her family before mass began and told us that out of seven children, only two are left. This funeral was for their sister who died unexpectedly on  Monday, October 23, 2017, at seventy-eight years old.

A great granddaughter gave the Eulogy and it was a beautiful tribute to her grandmother. Even though I did not know the person that died, she sounded like an exceptional person who taught her off -spring to be strong, brave and proud of their heritage. It was mentioned that everyone was her friend and she was ready to help anyone who needed help. I believe I would have liked knowing this lovely person.

May she rest in peace along with the many relatives who have gone before her. When it was mentioned she had lost a son, I could identify with the agony of losing a child. After all, aren't  parents supposed to go before our children?

I will end this Blog with the Native American Prayer that I found so peaceful as I read it in her Memorial Card.

I give you this one thought to keep,
I am with you still -- I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints of snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not think of me as gone,
I am with you still,
in each new dawn.
Unknown Author

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A Visit to a Shrine

Friday, (October 20, 2017, 78 degrees F) was a perfect day to head west to see some fall colors. Yet, as I saw the Mother Cabrini sign, I decided maybe I would get more out of a visit to the shrine than seeing golden leaves on trees. I knew I had made the right decision as I drove up the winding road to the shrine and saw downtown Denver, trees with golden leaves, and areas to photograph.

The parking lot had about six cars and the area was silent and peaceful. Should I venture the 373 steps to the top to see the giant 22 foot Sacred Heart statue? Looking at the statue far up the hill, I decided not to attempt the many steps because already my heart was beating a bit faster than normal!

Mother Cabrini was canonized in 1946 by Pope Pius XII and is the first American saint. She is known as the Patron Saint of Immigrants because when she arrived in New York it was to help the Italian immigrants living in the area. Throughout her life, she traveled the world and established sixty-seven schools, hospitals and orphanages in the United States, Latin America and Europe.

Information on Mother Cabrini is in the back of the chapel and written in several languages; French, Spanish, English, Vietnamese, Polish, Korean and Italian. "In August 1909, Mother Cabrini and Mother Luigina, the local superior at Queen of Heaven orphanage in Denver, set out in a horse and buggy heading for Golden. On this day, she purchased the first tract of land on Mount Vernon Canyon as a summer camp for girls of the orphanage.  Mother Cabrini explained to Mother Luigina that the property cost so little because of lack of water. (From Cabrini Colorado Missions, by Sr. Ignatius Miceli, MSC, 1996)

The story is that Mother Cabrini found water by tapping a rock with her cane. The water was found in 1912 and continues to flow to this day. Daily, people come to the fountain and take the miraculous water. The first time I visited Mother Cabrini, sometime in the 1960's, there was a small spigot with the water. On Friday, I noticed that there is now a regular sink with four faucets, a museum, meditation gardens, a gift store and many signs for donations.

Mother Cabrini died on December 22, 1917, but her fame lives on. Every time I have visited the shrine there are people wandering the grounds or climbing up the stairs to view the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On Friday, I noticed many candles lit for loved ones, so I lit a candle for my son who passed away on October 29, 2016.

I walked around the peaceful area and gave thanks that I had decided to come and visit the Shrine. Below are some of my other photos of the beautiful area. I like my reflection with Our Lady of Guadalupe looking over my shoulder!

"The world is poisoned with
erroneous theories and needs
to be taught some doctrines,
but it is difficult to straighten
what has become crooked."
Frances Xavier Cabrini

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Look What I Found

Cleaning out some kitchen cabinets I came across items I didn't know were there. Probably I never would have seen them ever again but since I had my kitchen cupboards refaced, I had to empty all the shelves.

The first thing of interest was a little jointed-stick man with a Christmas tag on it. I had made it for my husband and must have tossed it in that top shelf after we went our separate ways. I am sure he never missed it, yet, I found it to be a clever soccer player. I remember finding the little man basketball player and taking the ball from his hand and putting it on his foot. After all, my husband at that time was a soccer player!
On another shelf I found a Little Kiddles Frame-Tray Puzzle that must have belonged to my children. The date on the  puzzle is 1966 made by Mattel, Inc. (Little Kiddles is the registered trademark of Mattel.) That is what is printed in the corner of the puzzle. On another corner I read, Develops Coordination and Motor Skills. I do not remember the puzzle at all or even recall my children playing with it.

A white milk glass chicken candy dish that belonged to my Mother was also tucked away and once I washed it I liked it. It brought memories of seeing the chicken in my Mother's home and it usually had orange slices that she bought at Woolworth's in it. I looked on the Internet and saw identical ones ranging from $3.49 to $43.99. Yet, I would never sell my chicken because now that I have found it I will display it and remember my Mom!

The items were grimy and dusty so I know they had been on that top shelf for many years, maybe since around 1966 (date of puzzle) which would have made my children around three and one year old. Makes me wonder what other things are "hidden" in my house waiting to be discovered!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

My Friend's Mother Celebrated Her 103rd Birthday Today

At the beginning of mass, either a priest or a deacon will announce what is happening within the parish the following week. They also ask if there are any birthdays and the birthday persons receive a candy for their birthday. Today, my friend's mother was celebrating her 103rd birthday and the priest walked over to the beautiful lady in a wheel chair and gave her a coupon for a birthday candy.

I walked across to where my friend was sitting and she began to introduce me to her family. It was a large family, filling three pews with happy faces. When I met her mother, I found it impossible to believe that the beautiful lady with silver hair and not a wrinkle on her face was one hundred and three years old.  It shocked me, in a pleasant way, when one of her sons, who is eighty, said, "Mommy." Not too many eighty year old persons have a living mother!

My thoughts were that this was a very classy lady and she looked so prim and proper. I guess seeing her in nylons surprised me because not too many women I know wear them anymore. I admired that she hung on to the traditions of covering her head, wearing a skirt, having her hair done up and nylons. Aside from how beautiful she looked, she is sharp and when I asked her what her secret of staying young was, she replied with a smile, "Work, work, work." My father who passed away at ninety-six would tell me that work is what had helped him stay young and healthy!

It was impressive to see the children present the gifts for communion. Thirteen brothers and sisters made me wonder if maybe that was the secret to having a long life!


After mass was over, Fr. Greg had the family gather in front of the altar to give the birthday girl a special blessing. It brought tears to my eyes to see the many family members hold out their arms to
bless their beloved relative.

Fr. said he would do the honor of pushing her wheel chair as everyone went out to the gathering space. The sweet lady was greeted by many of the congregation, as they congratulated and wished her a happy birthday. She smiled at all, as they grasped her hand. And then I met the 101 year old cousin. What genes this family must have, I thought. He told me he was from an area in New Mexico that my family originated and we tried to make a connection because my mother would have been around his age. I couldn't help but wonder that these two cousins were mentally sharp, out going and how much they must have seen as they grew up!

 I was able to take a picture of most of the family, but someone told me that others had already left. I did manage to get some of the sisters and brothers.

The large family mingled and chatted as I went around taking pictures. I am happy I was able to be at the mass to take pictures and to meet some of the family!

God Bless This Beautiful Family