place was home for so many years.My sister and I were baptized here – by my uncle Fr. Don. Weall went to school just through those doors. I was an altar boy here and worked in the rectory after school.My brother and I played the organ for masses from grammar school through our college years. My dad had a special encounter with our Blessed Mother here.
there. I recall that on snowy days we had to be sure
to get up early to shovel – or else Grandma would be
outside with a shovel cleaning the walk herself!
In grammar school I started going to daily mass too
before school… that and I’m sure Grandma’s prayers had
some part in my ending up at Quigley (the now closed college-prep junior seminary for the Chicago Archdiocese).
Grandma lived with us from the time my Grandfather
passed away – when I was 4 years old. She was a part
of our everyday lives. So much so that it was easy to
forget sometimes how much of a rare thing and a
blessing this was. She saw her daughter and
grandchildren grow up and get married – and got to
meet her great grandchildren.
I have had the opportunity to look through the slides
that Grandma and Grandpa took through the years. Since
these were slides they were seldom seen until we had
them scanned into the computer. They include
incredible images of their numerous trips all around
the country, nature’s wonders and family gatherings.
Mountains, redwood forests, lakes and farms. These are
like opening a time capsule to a very different world
50 or 75 years ago. The focus on family and nature’s
beauty give an insight into things Grandma considered
I was able to make a trip to
– where Grandma’s family is from – Uncle Bob who lived there took me on a tour and showed me thehouse where great grandpa grew up… Grandma had heard the stories about the house and the area – but had never seen it. She was thrilled to see the photos.
I recall a powerful image from
days. This was a photo of him on his knees silently
embracing a large cross during Good Friday services…
just as he embraced the crosses in his life and turned
his sufferings into an example and something
redemptive for those he loved.
Grandma too struggled in these last years. Her mind
was still sharp – but like JP – limited by a body that
no longer did what it used to do. Grandma had a large
painting of Jesus agony in the garden in her room for
many years… I noticed only recently that the image is
very similar to that of John Paul embracing the cross.
I recall also when JP2 passed away – I had the feeling
that somehow he had been like the little boy with his
finger in the dike – holding back the flood.
In my life – I believe Grandma was for me like that
little boy – holding back the flood. Through all my
successes, failures, trials, triumphs – and ordinary
days – she was there. She was my spiritual secret
weapon. Her prayers I am sure helped me get where I am
There is a scripture quote – “Eye has not seen, Ear
has not heard .. what God has ready for those who love
Him.” Grandma’s Uncle Jake lived to be 102. Grandma
often said she didn’t want to live to be 100. I think
she understood what Jesus promised.
Until these last weeks Grandma was seldom confused
like some at the rest home. She then began to get up
in the middle of the night to tell the nurse that her
husband was calling saying he needed her. I have to
believe he was – and that they are together again on
another incredible journey
I hope to live a long full life like Grandma and enjoy my children and
their children as much as she did us. And, when my time comes, I look forward
to our reunion. She is a special part of who I am.
And so we only say farewell – and not goodbye. .
See you later Grandma.