Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Can Our Loved Ones See From Beyond the Veil?

The entire family at Mary's graduation dinner.
At this graduation dinner, a recent post, I wrote of how special it is for a mother when all the children are together, when the family is complete, all in one location. Is part of the appeal of the physical presence of everyone tied to the reality of our bodily existence—our soul/body connectedness? Somehow love feels more complete, more fully expressed, when each loved one is physically present. These thoughts led me to another question: Why at this dinner did the presence of material objects that belonged to my father and mother touch my heartstrings so?

Perhaps for the same reason,….or perhaps because I am hopelessly sentimental. But the reality of our persons as both soul and body suggests a significance to the physical world that we may be able to sense without the ability to explain.

My daughter was wearing a blouse that had belonged to my mother, a blouse that I vividly remember my mom wearing. Never mind that Liz also strikingly resembles my mother. And John was wearing my father’s University of Michigan class ring. Could it be 70 years old? John himself is an alumni of Michigan, but it was not his ring that he wore, but my father’s.   As a devoted Michigan fan, my father hoped to one day see a grandchild follow the Michigan tradition. Now there have been two.

Liz, in her grandmother's blouse.

Liz with my grandson Blaise
Liz and John showing Joey his great-grandfather's Michigan class ring.
So there they sat, Liz in her grandmother’s blouse and and John with his grandfather’s ring. These are relics of my parents, not as articles of reverence necessarily, although I do hope and pray they are in heaven, but remnants of who they were, items of significance. Adorning two of my beloved children, they suggested the fullness of the circle of life, our connectedness with those who have gone before.

Jim, John, and Liz
 I confess that I looked around the room and thought: Are they here, just beyond the veil? Are my parents watching and smiling? If such a thing is possible, somehow I think they were, together with their relics worn by grandchildren seated in adjacent chairs. Was it a coincidence Liz and John were seated next to each other?

Someday we will know more about the communion of saints and how it all works. In the meantime, we pray for everyone who has gone before us, hoping they have made it home, and even, on rare occasions, feeling a strong sense of some element of their presence among us.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tulip time in Holland, Michigan

As I continue to blog about recent events that missed posting....Mike and I visited The Tulip Festival in Holland, Michigan this Spring. I remember visiting as a little girl and seeing the rows and rows of magnificent tulips. It is indeed a spectacular event!!

There are quite literally hundreds of thousand of tulips blooming at Tulip time. Here is the mission statement of the festival.

Mission Statement: The Holland Tulip Time Festival invites the world to join the dance as we celebrate our Dutch heritage with a festival showcasing our dynamic community and its spectacular tulips.

You can find information about next year's Tulip Festival HERE.

And here is a taste of what it's like:

I love tulips. And if I hadn't before I certainly would have after visiting the Holland Tulip Festival

It's a wonderful Spring event in Michigan.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Meeting of the Generations

I never knew any great-grandparents myself. They were gone before my birth. And one grandparent, my maternal grandfather, died when I was very young.

My grandson Blaise, however, has four grandparents, and three living great-grandparents! These are special relationships. That's why this past March some of us traveled to Florida for the purpose of allowing great-grandma time to be with her great-grandson Blaise.

Needless to say, Grandma just loved him!

Jim and Grandma

And Blaise even paid his respects to his paternal great-grandpa by visiting his grave. (Although, of course, he did not know that's what he was doing. But I'm sure Great-Grandpa knew and, ever the lover of children, he had to have been smiling.)

Great-grandma hugging Blaise...

 And the priceless generation pictures. Blaise with his mama, his grandpa, and his great-grandma!!

And every trip to Florida must include a trip to the beach.
Jim with his wife Elle, Mike, Blaise, and Anne.

Blaise and his mama, both loving the ocean and the beach.

Jim and Elle!

Blaise and Great-Grandma interacting.

And one more photo of the generations....because you can't have too many!!

I really was on this trip, but as you can see, I'm the photographer.

It was a delightful time. This trip occurred in March but, somehow, I never wrote about it. Life remains very full.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Happy Independence Day! "We hold these truths to be self-evident...."

On this day when we celebrate the founding of the United States of America, it seems particularly fitting to read the Declaration of Independence, the document that declared us an independent nation....
From , here is the beginning of the Declaration of Independence...
Declaration of Independence 
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.  
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, 
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,— That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.— Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world......

And if you continue to read the entire document and the facts "submitted to a candid world" one might wonder how we ever ended up as a nation whose closest ally is Great Britain.

We had some very legitimate complaints. :-)

Read the entire document here.

God bless America today and always.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Finding The Blueberry Hat

My oldest grandson hates wearing hats. He pulls them off immediately. They bother him. Except for the one pictured above-- the blueberry hat, as we call it. (See the little stem on top?) My daughter bought it for him while on a trip to an artsy little town on the West side of Michigan.'s irreplaceable.

Michigan is cold in the winter. And sometimes in the Spring and Fall too. A hat can make a big difference in how warm you feel. For some reason this hat was OK with Blaise. It didn't fit too snug and he seemed to like it.

So, imagine my dismay when, after taking Blaise to an Adoration hour one day, I could not find the hat as we were preparing to leave. I looked everywhere. The chapel was not that large. I went down each of the aisles. So did my friend Mary Ellen with whom I share the assigned hour. We could not find it. Did he wear it in? I was sure he had. Did we drop it in the parking lot? I went out in the pouring rain to retrace my steps. I looked in every nook and cranny of the car. It was nowhere. The chapel was in a school so I talked to the secretary who helped me look in the lost and found and other likely places. Nowhere. I could not believe I had lost the blueberry hat, the only hat my dear little grandson loves. I went home thoroughly dejected and still praying fervently to Saint Anthony, my good friend.

I kept picturing the chapel thinking about the unlikely places it could have ended up. When my younger daughter came home I asked it she could babysit while I went back and looked again. My eyes glanced over to a few chairs that were stacked. I looked more closely, front and back, and saw that there was a little space between each chair, an opening. Then I checked each stacked pair. Sure enough. On about the third one, in the little opening, there was the blueberry hat. Only Saint Anthony could have found that hat. Blaise had toddled around the chapel and must have stuck it in there, as toddlers love to do.

I texted the above photo to my friend Mary Ellen who had also been petitioning Saint Anthony. Blueberry hat found. Yea!

Why was I so consumed with finding that hat? Was it because I didn't want to be the irresponsible grandma? Was it that I didn't want it to be my fault that his little head would get cold with no hat on? Was it pride? 

There was probably some of all of that. But there was another reason: I love the boy who loves the blueberry hat.

Thank you, Saint Anthony. Thank you, Lord, for hearing Saint Anthony's pleas for this grandma.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Our entire family: Mike and me, all of our six children, two daughters-in-law, one son-in-law, and two grandsons. And, yes, this will probably be the Christmas card photo.
What is it, for mothers, about having the family all together? All mothers understand the feeling. When you say, "All my children were there," another mother will respond, "Nice!" with a genuine, contented smile. They know what you mean, even if none of us can articulate it. There's something special about having the family all together. (By the way, I'm talking about the above photo when all of my children were indeed together for dinner after Mary's graduation.)

Before the oldest leaves home, it is the ordinary situation, the norm. Once they start leaving, it changes. And when all the children are adults, the occasion becomes a rarity.

Why does it matter? What difference does it make if they're all together at the same time. It matters because a mother always feels the absence of whoever is not there. When someone is missing there is a hole. It doesn't justify fussing or pleading to get everyone there. It's best for mothers of adult children to simply enjoy whatever time you can get with your offspring. They have commitments. Some have in-laws. They have independent lives and we must respect that.

But when the stars align and the rare event occurs, mothers feel an inexplicable warmth and contentment. They're all here. She will scan the room. There is each one. There are the ducklings, all grown up, but back in the row. And mom can hardly keep from smiling. Constantly. They are reunited. The family unit is as it once was and as it always will be in her heart.
Mary displaying the special graduation menu at Weber's.
Newest grandson Joey with his mom and dad.
Oldest grandson Blaise with his father, the funniest son-in-law in the world.

It seemed that everyone would be at this celebration but Liz, who was on RA duty at Western and did not have a sufficient window of free time to make the trip. But she surprised us. She borrowed a car from a friend and made a whirlwind trip to join us!

Below: Liz and John admire their newest nephew Joey. John is actually showing him his grandfather's (my father's) University of Michigan class ring which he wore for the occasion. And if that were not enough to make me all teary-eyed, Liz is wearing an outfit that belonged to my mother. I had the strange sense that this was a reminder of my parents' presence with us.

My daughters and I...

And since I love the picture so much, here it is again. All thirteen of us. God is good. All the time.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Mary's Graduation!!

 We have another Michigan grad!! Mary joins her mother, brother, aunt, grandfather, and great-grandfather in the ranks of Michigan alumni. My father always hoped that one of his grandchildren would attend U of M but sadly died before it happened. He now has two grandchildren who have graduated. I can feel his pleasure.

International Studies graduation at the historic Michigan Theatre. Mary had a double major in French and International Studies as well as a pre-health concentration. Essentially, she had no electives and studied very hard.

She was determined to graduate the year of the 200th anniversary of the University of Michigan and she pulled it off. Here was the graduation from the Big House. (U of M football stadium, the largest college football stadium in the world, seats over 107,000 people.)

We had a good showing of family members, including Mike, his wife Esther, and our youngest grandson Joey from South Bend, Indiana.

Couldn't be prouder of this girl.

Someone kindly took a photo of all of us! John would join us later and only Liz was not going to be able to make the festivities. (More on that in the next post.)

AND....the icing on the cake! Mary decorated her cap with flowers and the words, 
"Thanks, Mom and Dad."
I get all teary-eyed thinking about it even now. God is good. Go Blue!