samedi, juin 13, 2009


Brother Mark, thanks for the shout-out. I sometimes forget, until I get a note from an irate commenter I've never seen before, how much our words may vibrate, like tuning forks, through the blogosphere. People may agree with us -- even if they do, they have their own spin on the topic we are discussing. They may not agree. They may hate us and most everything they think we stand for. Some will let us know. Others, who are the majority, do not. But it helps to know, when I rant about something, that they too are reading. Maybe I can be a little more careful, if not about my opinions, than at least about my grammar.

vendredi, juin 12, 2009

Between two worlds

So maybe I was a little short with the DQ when she called as Mr C and I were already ten minutes from home, on our way to her graduation. I forgot my robe at your house, she told me. Knowing that I had a flat tire, knowing that I wanted to be early, recalling that I'd told her to remember the robe and the dress, I said "You figure it out" and turned off the phone. Three years of forgotten assigments, wild grade swings, and teacher's conferences -- this moment could mark a transition to more indepedence. Mine.

It was completely appropriate that the DQ leave St. Joseph School the way she came -- her mind on everything but the task at hand. And indeed the whole service had a murky quality to it. Happy as we were to see her graduate, and thankful as we were to her teachers, we were both conscious of not being fully a part of the ceremony. Many, if not most of the other graduates were members of the parish. The DQ wasn't leaving with good friends, except for a braniac who was, at graduation time, on a cruise in Alaska. And, of course, we were not allowed to take communion.

Our experience at the DQ's previous parochial school was very different. The school is smaller, more academically inclined and, because it's served by the Norbertine fathers (one of whom both the ex and I knew), slightly more liberal. But St. Joseph hung in there with the DQ. She had teachers who appreciated her creativity and saw her as a wonderful girl with a bright future -- and for that I will always remember it fondly.

Personally, I feel like she hasn't quite graduated yet -- not until we return the robe she borrowed.

mardi, juin 09, 2009

Storms outside and inside

We've had a few fairly dramatic thunderstorms recently. Tree branches waving, booming, lighting that seemed to want to enter our bedrooms. Mr. C crept into my bed around 6:15, saying that he was scared. The DQ slept right through the drama, coming in as the skies closed (is that right? skies open, then they close?)

It didn't take more than a few moments before we were into our own drama. The topic? The international dateline. It's west, said Mr. C. It's around the globe, said the DQ. It's a sphere, said her more mathematically inclined brother. You're an idiot, replied his older sister.

And I said, as I've said so many times, "why are we arguing over this?" Don't you sometimes wish you had a tape recorder so that in ten years you could hold on to these rivalries for your adult kids -- hoping that they will find them as funny then as you do now?

Then I asked them to explain about the international dateline -- if I knew what it was, I'd long ago forgotten.

lundi, juin 08, 2009

Minor cruelties

This last few days I've reeled from the cruelties we humans seems to like to inflict on each other.

A lunch where a pillar of our little community waited until almost the end of our talk to unleash a revelation that left me gagging on our expensive sushi meal.

A comment on the blog I write for that mocked my writing as offensive patter - particularly the "uncute" headlines.

A cell phone call taken in the midst of another conversation with a new friend -- flashing the news that this friendship was indeed a thing of the past.

Perhaps I do the same thing to others. Maybe I make cutting comments. Maybe I hold back. Perhaps my "fault" is not being sensitive enough to the idea that sometimes what I write offends, even if inadvertantly.

Obviously, I'm having a pity party. Bring on the pickles!

Revenge is a meal best served cold, I've heard. But I'm not interested in revenge, ya know.

I'm learning that, with a public persona, you are often disliked. Sometimes for good, sometimes for not so good reasons.

I wonder if I am cruel, too. Sometimes one doesn't see what's in front of one's nose.

But I believe that God wants us to be kind. There's a difference between honesty in the service of reconciliation and 'candor' that's meant to be the knife between the shoulderblades.

I do wonder at the mind, and heart, that can toss off the sharp comment, aiming to hurt, and move on. It hurts the victim, for sure. But doesn't it do as much to the perpretator?

dimanche, juin 07, 2009

In the arms of the angels

Ok, so I've got a thing for graveyards. I mean, I've got a thing about graveyards.

Whenever I drive by one, I try to remember that the men, women, and kids lying there for six months or several centuries all had unique lives -- complex, joyous, horrible, multifaceted lives. We'll never truly know how it felt to be them, crinolined, top-hatted, flappers, one-room school house teachers. But they weren't any less real then for being dead now.

When I got to church today the birds were chirping among the tall trees that make it possible to forget the huge cell tower near the venerable church. Sun and clouds played across the late spring sky -- a perfect morning for that visit to the churchyard.

Between services, I walked past, and in some cases probably on top of, old stones and people who were mourned and buried centuries ago. The church has the honor of having the grave of the last soldier killed in the Civil War. I wouldn't have know which one, except for the star representing that bloody fight, and the American flag by the side.

There is something both comforting and frightening about a graveyard like this one. So beautiful, and full of life -- but it is life you think that the dead probably don't know of, or don't care about, because they are somewhere better.

When I went back into church for the next service, I saw the stained class window behind me -- though I sat there each Sunday, I hadn't looked carefully. It was given in memory of a child, born on my birthday around 150 years ago, who had only lived a year. And underneath it, on green glass, were the words, "Love, Tracy."

How sorrowful, and how strangely contemporary, for someone to mourn a child like that. "Love, Tracy."

After coffee, I asked the secretary about that window. Oh, that was Jill's daughter, she told me. This was no ancient grief. Tracy and four other girls were killed when their car took a curve too fast and went up a hill. Tracy lived long enough to be airlifted to a hospital in Philadelphia, she told me. "It was a hard time here."

I recalled that crash ten years ago -- it was huge news here. Five 16 or 17 year old girls killed after shopping for prom dresses. Girls a bit older than my child. No dancing. No college. No fiance. No grandchildren -- they would be around 28 years old. When you round the curve, on the right, there are five angels in the ground to memorialize these high school friends -- blink and you've missed them.

And yet Jill goes on. She serves on the vestry. She attends church on Sundays. I've seen her smile. I'm not sure I could -- could you?

After our meeting, I went out to the graveyard again to look at the white dolphins climbing on the black stone. Tracy's name as I recall, is the sole one with a date of birth and of death.

Rest in peace, Jill's beloved daughter.