Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Life's Curve Balls

Practically from the first, "Mom?" over the phone I can detect whether I'm about to hear good news, sad news, or just the standard chitchat that my older daughters and I enjoy while keeping in touch.  This past month has had more sad news than good.  But even from the sad comes good, as you know from reading my posts about my lovely mother-in-law, Cathy.

Some other good news, though, is that our oldest is safely in Germany and adjusting to life in a new culture and environment.  She is getting the experience of living in college dorms, though softened a bit with her husband by her side.  We don't get to talk on the phone, but rely on both gmail chat and Skype for conversations.

We don't hear much from #2, though with a new production (MacBeth) in the works I'm not surprised.  She was the one who had the unfortunate task of letting us know that, first, the air conditioner on their little VW Bug had died.  Then a call telling us the brakes on my Sonata, that they were borrowing for the summer, needed to be replaced.  To top off the summer of expenses, she had to let us know the compressor for our downstairs air conditioning unit in Houston house needed to be replaced.

Our third daughter is not as ready to call, but when she does it is usually good news.  Sadly, not a few days ago. At first it was a bit of a surprise, but not after Tom and I talked about everything that had gone on before.  Now that time is helping settle things a bit, life is again approaching stability and normalcy.

The news wasn't anything shocking, scary or even truly dismal.  But, after a late night discussion she and her fiancé had decided to call off their engagement, and put the wedding on hold.  That, of course, means money spent that can't be recouped.  As she said, now she knows why the wedding industry makes out like bandits.  The very fact that she and Brian were brave enough to say stop is good!  Money, in the end just represents time, not a lifetime.  I imagine there are plenty of couples who feel extreme pressure to say "I do" when deep inside they don't want to, but feel compelled because of all "the money" spent.

Our daughters and son all know that we love them, no matter how much money they cost us!  Seriously, though, we do hope and trust that they will always trust us to be completely honest, even when it means  serious disruptions in plans and expectations.  After all, it truly is sinful for parents to believe they have the right to guide their children once they are young adults.  Not saying we abdicate our role as parents, but we also realize that there is a point that emerges where we have to step back, let our adult children make their own way in life, and bite hard on that tongue.

The gratifying thing, though, for me is when what I thought was the wise thing turns out to be the foolish one, and their choice is the best.   When our children were young it was simpler, "Which color do you want to wear?  The blue or the green?"  We could limit their choices depending on how mature they were, and how much time we had.  Now that they are testing the waters as adults, we don't have as many limits to place.

The ultimate test will be in the end, and by then there will only be the ultimate choice, "Do you love Me?", spoken at our own intimate end in this world.  All the choices we allowed to our children, and our own parents allowed us, we pray and hope lead us to emphatically shout "YES!" when we are called to account for our earthly life.

So, the wedding is off.  Perhaps completely, perhaps only pushed into the future.  Far better to have to undo our expectations and contracts now, rather than see our daughter go through with something her fiancé felt he wasn't ready to commit to in January.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Highway Travel

What can I say, except sitting for long hours in the car is, well ... not our favorite way to see the sights.  But, sometimes it is the only way to get from here to there in a reasonable amount of time.

Our trip to Colorado was in the dark, for the most part.  But here are some pictures captured as we left Colorado, and along the way.  They were taken with our Sony Handycam, on the still photo setting.  These aren't the highest or best, taken though the window of a moving car, but I promise, I spared you the poor ones!

Stormy weather moved in for the drive home.
First snow fall on the Rockies!
Along the South Platte River
Almost halfway home
Crossing the Mississippi River
Fall colors in Michigan

Words Worth Remembering

You'll notice one of the links to the left on this page is Catholic Thought.  This ranks at the top of my reading list each morning.  Sometimes I follow links on their lead page, and today I opened up a letter written by Archbishop Chaput of Denver to his people.  The entire article is solid, as are all the writings from Archbishop Chaput.  Here is a snippet from this particular letter:

"Holiness isn’t some magic formula available only to the obviously pious. It’s the simple, daily decision to live differently from the habits of the world; to place the needs of others before ourselves.  We can all be holy. That’s our vocation.  That’s why God created us. We only need to turn our good intentions into good actions—one day at a time."

I've been leading a study group for a small group of women here in London.  We are reading and discuss "Letter to Women" written by John Paul II in anticipation of the Beijing Conference in 1995.  We are challenged through out the discussion to understand how we approach holiness, how we approach our particular role as women in our families, communities and society in general.

Words, like Archbishop Chaput wrote, and quoted above, help me remember that my purpose isn't to become famous, wealthy or gather large numbers of people to "follow me."  Rather, my real purpose is to live an authentic life, to be the gentle light drawing others to Christ and ultimately back to union with the Trinity in heaven.  In turn, I am drawn to others, especially when my path veers off, by their own gentle lights.  

The analogy of a gentle light is important to me.  Often I get distracted by much brighter lights.  You might be able to relate.  They can be those glaring lights that loom from the covers of tabloids and magazines as I stand in the checkout line.  It can come from just reading daily news items, being drawn in by the brighter light of celebrity gossip, a tragic accident, the bickering of politicians, even gossip.  Fortunate or not, I haven't made the deeper connections that come from living in the same area my whole life, so most gossip I am in the presence of does not draw me in as tight as what I remember growing up.

But these other bright flames, I need to be very wary of.  When my attention wavers, I can find myself being caught up in failing to live different habits than the world wants us to live.  

May you each be given the grace to follow the gentle light, as well as be a gentle beacon to others.  And may we all be together in heaven ... even those who don't know they have gone astray.  Perhaps most especially we can pray for those who appear to be so far off the road, that they be gifted with lights to pull them away from destruction, and back to sanctity.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Peaceful Death

Cathy passed away last evening surrounded by most of the family.  We received the call while driving in Iowa on our way to Colorado.  Her wake will begin after all the business has been taken care of and extended family and friends receive proper notice.

While I know we all miss her, and that empty sadness will descend on each of us, some far more than others, today is simply one of gathering, reminiscing, and taking care of business.  Right now Meg and Kate are driving north with Meg's fiancé Brian to be with us this weekend.  Since our oldest daughter, Liz and her husband John Paul fly out of Houston early Sunday morning for Germany they'll be Skyped in when the party gets going.

Cathy's wishes were for no funeral, just a party.  So, planning for that is what part of the business involves.  We'll gather with family, tell more stories, celebrate her life and support Ray.  Plus enjoy a feast of foods we all associate with her.  

We take great consolation in the fact that she was visited by a priest, and anointed, prior to her death.  Many of our friends and family have been praying for her, and several masses have been offered for her as well.  Now we simply rest and trust in God's infinite mercy, and justice.  

May His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  And may Lynn Cathleen Rinaldi, nee Kelting rest in eternal peace and may perpetual light be made to shine upon her.