Posts Tagged ‘Pope Francis’

I went to two wakes this week, one for my father’s cousin E and one for one of my father’s best friends, P.  The second wake was larger and had a winding line, like a gruesome ride at Disney culminating in a coffin and the grieving family.

While waiting in line, my father discovered he knew a woman next to us, and they started a conversation.  They both had known P (and his wife, who suffers from debilitating medical conditions herself) for a long time.

At one point, my father said to the woman:  One thing about P’s wife- no matter what, she never complains.  A virtue.  A dying breed of person.  A different generation.  Something.  And it’s true.  She doesn’t complain, though she’s had plenty to complain about.   She’s as strong and as brave as they come.

Later I was talking to another of my father’s friends.   He and his wife were asking about Jonah, and I started to cry a little – I had already been crying – and then I just stopped myself and smiled.  I related the story of the conversation my father’d just had about the widow – she never complains – and I told him, “Man, they’re never going to say that about me.  All I do is complain!”

“Yeah, at your wake they’re gonna say: one thing about her, she complained all the time,” he answered, and we laughed.

com·plain (from dictionary.com)

verb (used without object)

1. to express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment, or grief; find fault: He complained constantly about the noise in the corridor.
2. to tell of one’s pains, ailments, etc.: to complain of a backache.

3. to make a formal accusation: If you think you’ve been swindled, complain to the police.

I complain a lot.  I become bitter.  And I get jealous.  Especially at this exact time of year, what with all the “holiday joy” of families and their regular kids.  I thank God for everything I have, and yet I can’t help the lump in my throat when I go on Facebook and see all the Christmas cookie recipes, the children participating in traditional activities with Advent calendars, lighting menorahs, captured in happy color-coordinated moments for Christmas cards, decorating, sitting on Santa’s lap, etc. etc. etc.  I know a lot of it is illusion, and there is suffering all over the place.  I know – or I think I know.

If I had no kids at all it would be different.  If I had other children it would be different.  Different-better? Different-worse?  I don’t want any more glimpses into all the awesome little family Christmases.  God forgive me but I don’t.  I should probably just stop looking at all the Facebook posts for a while.  Better yet, I should get over myself and focus on being happy for others.

Because of my circumstances and not really from some religious fervor, I focus more on Joseph and Mary – her laboring and giving birth to Jesus, and laying him in a manger.  I love the idea of a miracle-star in the sky, and the little drummer boy, and three wise men.  (Surely there was at least one wise woman?)  All the animals.  Shepherds. Everything about it.  A Lord born poor.  As poor as poor gets.  It’s amazing if you really think about it, whatever your beliefs.

Of course I love that there will be presents for Jonah-Boo, and I hope he enjoys them.  Andy will bring him up to my mom’s, just like on Thanksgiving.  We can hope for a calm Christmas, but it’s always the spin of a roulette wheel.  Place your bets.

I wonder if Mary complained.  The Bible doesn’t tell us nearly enough about Mary, if you ask me.

Yesterday I took this snippet of video to try to perhaps capture a little more of how Jonah acts and what he understands.  We give him black soda and other treats on Saturdays she says defensively.

Boo was pretty good, doling out his kisses and hugs with giggling smiles and lots of requests for car ride.  But he did have his bath and we squeezed in some Train on TV and some Oompa Oompa.

Then I came home and there were the Facebook posts of happy children hanging ornaments and helping bake gingerbread men, and the jealousy rises like bile.  I see it, I know it’s there, I know it’s dumb, I hate it.

I choke on it.

So this morning Father N sent me an e-mail from El Salvador, where he is working for CFCA.  (It’s the only charity of its kind where you can sponsor an elderly person if you want).  Father has his stipend check sent directly to Friends of Fontaine in Haiti.   I have a feeling he is very inspired by Pope Francis.  What a wonderful thing.

Anyway, here is the short video he attached…he met this particular woman during his stay and danced with her at one of the senior events.

I don’t much feel like complaining anymore.

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Andy drove Jonah up to the glaucoma doc this morning and I met them there.  The good part of that is I got to sleep an extra half hour and I got to see my Boo.  The bad part was the damned operation they’ve scheduled to take the Reticert implant out of Jonah’s eye on the off chance that it’s still emitting steroids, in which case we need that to stop.  Jonah, as usual, was very good through all the exams and procedures, the eye drops and pressure gauge.  But his left eye is 20/400 (20/200 is legally blind).  And so May 14th he’ll have his 5th? 6th? eye operation.

After today’s appointment Andy brought Jonah outside and I stayed behind to talk to the doc and do the paperwork.

“Is there anything we can do to treat that eye…to improve the vision?”  I ask doc S.

“Well, if he were a normal boy…”  he starts.

That’s all I hear.  Yeah.  If he were a ‘normal’ boy he could wear glasses that he wouldn’t throw and smash, and he could have the permanent operation to redirect the drainage in his eye, but he can’t…he’d rub his eyes and crush the whole mechanism before it healed. 

Why can’t this doctor just answer the question?

He gives me a brochure about glaucoma.  It’s the brochure I read months (a year?) ago – the one that says glaucoma is an eye disease that gradually steals your vision and glaucoma usually occurs in both eyes, but extra fluid pressure often starts to build up in one eye first.

I tell him I have read the brochure.  I ask him about that first sentence – the steals your vision part.  He smiles at me, answers “if left untreated,” and is already out of the room before I can respond.

If left untreated. 

Well you just told me we can’t treat it, I want to yell after his retreating figure.

I realize I’m painting an unfairly poor picture of Dr. S. here, but what I want is the bedside manner of that rare, wonderful doctor who will sit, listen, and speak to you as though you are an intelligent human being (instead of aiming medical terms over your head then ushering you out the door).  But people rave about this guy.  He has “Best Doctor” awards all over his office.  (Today I noticed he’d re-arranged them). I’m sure he is a fantastic glaucoma specialist who’s great with the demographic of the majority of his patients:  an aging, docile population of ‘normal’ people.   He is kind to Jonah in an off-hand way but never learns that Boo does not converse and is never going to answer his questions about whether or not Santa came or what kind of Easter he had.  It isn’t like Jonah hadn’t been there 10 times or so before.

Grandma?  Jonah answers when the doc asks him one of these questions – and where can the doctor go from there?  I smirk, turn my head.  Way to shut him down, Boo.

And so after the doc appointment Andy brought Jonah to see grandma.  They all drove to the train in grey car and my mom told me later that Boo was good; they saw a very long train which pleased him very much.

Easter was kind of a blur.  Andy drove Jonah up and I met them at grandma’s.

Easter Boo
                        Easter Boo

My mom made delicious food but now it is always pre-packaged up, one for Andy, one for M and me.   There is no pretense of sitting down to eat and there hasn’t been for some time.  It’s better this way.  I love my mom for making the delicious food anyway and for getting Boo a beautiful Easter basket anyway, but I also fight to stay grateful – especially, for some reason, on Easter.  I see little kids all dressed up and going to church after their Easter Egg hunts…I am jealous of that whole piece.

I didn’t even go to church on Easter myself.  My favorite priest is retired and gone, and I wanted his Easter homily only.  I am a one-priest-Catholic, I guess. And now, I love Pope Francis.  His humility and simplicity – his gentle ways, his appeal for peace, for the poor, for the helpless.  It’s not as if I am a good Catholic – or a good anything, for that matter.  But this pope makes me want to identify myself with Catholicism more than any pope before him that I can remember.  I like to keep abreast of what he’s doing and I’m so happy that, whether people are Catholic or not, what he says and does will be a big influence on the world.  We could all use a leader with a little humility, if you ask me.

Anyway.  I don’t really like holidays anymore.  My favorite holiday is sleep.

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