Archive for the ‘passion’ Category

July 2 was one of my emotional days on the planet except for the day when we lost Dad, Nov 21, 2009. It was our 27th anniversary and that’s always a happy time since life with Rodgers is so good and our love only gets stronger.

I had called the church rectory the day before since I had heard about the death of Father Mickey and that his funeral was to be at the Basilica in downtown Denver on our anniversary. Oh God, I thought can I bear another funeral just now! Father Mickey wasn’t much older than me, and had died within the space of 3 weeks. We had had more hopeful news from Father Jim the previous weekend, until he added that Father Mickey had pneumonia.

Rodgers worked at his art show that day, and I wasn’t needed as it was within driving distance of our home. I had a project with a deadline and all kinds of excuses not to attend Father Mickey’s funeral. Yet, I knew I had to. I liked what he stood for: a late vocation to the priesthood. He was simply so happy being a priest, and didn’t have high aspirations for promotions. He just wanted to be a good priest and that he was.

Late like Father Mickey was for many events, I was late for his funeral. The only place to sit was in the front of the church ironically near some fellow parishioners from Conifer amidst this crowd of some 1000. I was so sad and memories of Dad’s funeral kept returning to me. I eventually found Father Jim, our pastor and Father Mickey’s roommate of several years sitting in the pews not far from me. “Oh that’s right,” I thought, “Father Jim would be a pallbearer, a place of honor and sorrow for him.” Jim had lost his Father earlier this year, so I can only imagine the pain was much deeper for him than for me.

Meanwhile in front of me was my friend’s son. I had never met him and tears were streaming down his face as he was so close to Father Mickey as an altar boy. His parent’s attempts to comfort him just weren’t working.

Meanwhile the Mass was progressing and we got to the great “Amen” after the Consecration. It was then that I realized that the 6 – 8 priests/bishops on the altar had a lot of company; about 50 more priests sat to the left of me and took up the entire front of the church. I had no idea they were all priests, as I had been absorbed in my own world oblivious to the energy of others except for the suffering boy in the pew just in front of me.

I had never felt such support, warmth and love in the resonance of 60 voices saying “Through Him with Him and in Him.” These clergymen were so connected, passionate and supportive of their lost friend, Father Mickey. From then on I was more present outside of myself and absorbed this energy of love, caring and kinship.

After Mass, we congregated outside, and my friend’s son almost leapt into Father Jim’s arms who just held and comforted him while he wept and tried to tell Jim how sad he was about the loss of Mickey. There has been a lot of controversy around the Catholic Church and priests. Anyone witnessing the love and comfort that Father Jim gave this young boy, would be totally moved. Somehow Father Jim, who had to be aching from the loss of his dear friend, was able to find room to support and hold this young boy and just let him be.

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“How true Daddy’s words were when he said: all children must look after their own upbringing. Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”

~Anne Frank~

This week I am visiting my mom and brother. The house still feels vacant without dad. It’s even worse this time as I am sleeping in mom and dad’s king size bed. Mom is too weak to sleep in their bed due to sciatica and we have company. Mom wants them to sleep in bedrooms next to each other. One of those is mine. I never thought I would be sleeping in my parents’ bed, especially this soon after losing dad.

Mom sleeps downstairs since she is too weak to climb upstairs often, especially when she is tired, like one is when climbing up to bed. She sleeps in dad’s hospital bed, and has adjusted to it and appreciates that it affords her the opportunity to sleep downstairs and still live in her home. It was an awful reality that must have hit her when I had that bed brought back up to our living room for her. The last time she was with her husband he was alive in that bed. The first time she saw him in death, he was in that bed where she now sleeps. I also have such a vivid memory of him in that bed up until the end, and then how gently they took him away for the last time.

Their bedroom still feels of dad. There is a pile of his clothes on the floor waiting to be given to someone. These are his favorite sweaters which he wore often. They are baby blue and bright red in color. I can still see him in the last pictures I took on “Duffy Christmas” in his pretty blue sweater, just barely hanging in there, but smiling and enjoying the attention and love especially from my brother. Somehow I can’t sleep on his side of the bed, not only since it’s further away from the bathroom. It’s almost to honor his presence that I just can’t go there. I struggle to breathe much of the time while I’m in my parent’s bed.

On their walls hang mostly religious pictures except for the counted cross stitch I gave them for their 50th wedding anniversary. It brings back memories of love, passion and a happy family gathering. I don’t remember their 60th as well since dad was so weak already by then. June 7 would have been their 63rd anniversary.

I am gradually getting through the milestones of mom and dad’s lives where we celebrated life together. This year as we grieve, they’ll be a little tougher to face, but I am hopeful that the joy they have represented to me will return.

Anne Frank was such a wise child. My father did put me on a number of right paths, and I had his guidance for so many years of my life, yet with his passion and caring temperament, I felt like I could be my own person. Other than telling me to pick up my room or clean up some mess or the other, he let me mold my own life. I did learn a lot by his great example of warmth, love and one who would always listen and give good council.

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Last  Sunday was a tough one to get through as I was thinking about Dad during many parts of Mass. There are at least three places where we recall the dead.  I haven’t gotten through a Mass without tears since he died now almost 5 months ago. One of my Notre Dame classmates tells me that this is part of the healing process. I hope so.

Father Jim had some great comments especially regarding the Gospel reading where Jesus asks Peter 3 times if he loves him and forgives him for denying him 3 times the night before He was crucified.

That is a very extreme example of forgiveness but it is a reminder that we get huge relief and energy from forgiving others, and then we’re in a great position to let God’s love really shine within us and to share it with others.

This is where I thought of my dad. He must have been so forgiving since the love he held for all of us, including total strangers, was so evident in how he spoke, and in his soft, sparkling blue eyes. He said, “Ah… he is a one hell of a nice guy,” with such warmth and passion so often. Even while he was failing and had to be in the hospital and rehab, he was telling every nurse or aid that she or he was his favorite. “You’re the best,” and “I love you,” were common statements from dad. They all wanted to help dad however they could. And he always said “Thank-you,” even for the most trivial things. If there was an excuse to be grateful, he shared it.

Yet aren’t there times in our lives where we just don’t know which way to go? That’s a good time to ask God for some direction, but so often I find myself feeling anxious and hyper, and then I’m not much good to anyone.  Father Jim reminded us that at these times, it’s just good to ask God, “What’s next? I’m waiting for Your word.”

I am a little lost without my dad as he had such a deep influence on who I am. He was there for me ever since I can remember, even up to about 2 days before he died. He was bedridden at this point, an old man hardly in charge of his physical abilities. He wasn’t eating, yet he was still telling us he loved us. I know he was scared, and some of those last mornings he would waver between marveling that he was still with us, almost in disbelief that he was, since he knew he was very sick–even though he lived with the confusion that comes with dementia.

He had frequent choking fits from a combination of dryness and his inability to swallow. We would take turns helping him out, and as much as he suffered, he always thanked us. I wondered how he even had the energy to thank us, but somehow he did. He was a kind man right up to his death.

Yet I now see more glimpses of him as the man who pulled me out of the pool when I won swimming races, and even when I didn’t. This is the man who taught me to believe in myself and that anything was possible with God’s help. He instilled the “can do” attitude that I have on most days!

I had another wonderful gift this week: it was from Mom. I was telling her how I had no regrets about all the traveling I did when I was abroad in college for a year. She told me she had no regrets about the wonderful 62 years she shared with my Dad. She is so grateful for the rich life they shared, how much he loved her and how much they traveled and experienced the world! This message came right at the end of our phone call and I could hear a sense of peace in her tone of voice. This is part of her grieving and I wonder how long she had been waiting to share?

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Evoking Passion

Rodgers and I were probably the last ones in America to see the movie, Julie and Julia. What I really loved about the movie was the reminder of the passion with which Julia Child lived her life. She was openly playful yet so ahead of her time as the only woman in cooking class, getting on TV teaching us her tricks, travails and humor that accompanied her cooking. We had seen Julia Child on TV for many years, so we could be more critical about how Julia was portrayed. And Meryl Streep became Julia Child right in front of us taking in her body motion, her passion, her accent and intonation.  So convincing was Meryl Streep that I forgot I wasn’t watching Julie Child!

People show their passion in so many ways, and in ways that may seem insignificant if you aren’t looking for them. The other day I was in Starbuck’s. I placed my order for a chai soy latte. As it was served up I noticed an attractive young lady sitting in the store having a coffee. She said, “Next time you order chai, try it without water added to it. It’s so much fuller and richer that way. I just love it.” Then she continued eagerly, “You could add the cinnamon flavoring to the latte and that brings out the other spices.” Then she volunteered, “Please come back when I’m on duty at Starbuck’s and I’ll fix you up specially.” I was grateful for this young lady’s warmth and enthusiasm, a breath of sunshine in ordinary life.

Here is another story from Copyblogger from early this week entitled, “The Mr. Rogers Guide to Blogging from the Heart” by Karl Staib who focuses on “working happy.” The title immediately grabbed me since my blog is named, “blogfrommyheart.com,” and I couldn’t imagine that Copyblogger would care enough to publish anything from the “heart.” I was wrong.

Mr. Rogers made kids feel special. Here are a few of his tippers:

Lesson: For your audience to love you, first you have to love them. And they have to know it.
Lesson: Before you can be a leader, first you have to be a neighbor.
Lesson: Create an environment where it’s okay to be imperfect.
Lesson: Keep what works, throw out what doesn’t, but always know what and why.
Lesson: Seize your opportunity

Every day that you communicate from the heart, you have a chance to change the world.

In 1969, Nixon proposed cuts to PBS, leading the Senate to hold a hearing to discuss the pros and cons. Mr. Rogers appeared before them and melted their hearts. Watch this video

It’s Mr. Rogers in a role I had never seen him in. He had been in his career for 15 years putting on his half hour TV show for children. Yet he told his story with such passion speaking from his heart, and transformed some of the toughest, most hardened politicians in the country into raving fans. Public TV was funded accordingly!!!

So what is your burning passion?

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We drove 2 long days covering 1,750 miles to get to the DC metro from Colorado, and were blessed with no snowfall during the entire journey. We have been in Washington, DC for almost 3 weeks and arrived shortly before the two major snowfalls that have hit the area this year.

We had planned to stay here for 3 weeks, but we didn’t expect Rodgers’ art opening reception would be postponed two times due to snow! Rodgers often markets his art at outdoor art shows, and we expect to be at the mercy of the weather then!

I am so inspired by Rodgers, who is now in his third career! He started as a geologist, and then ran the contacts group for a major corporation. By the late 1990s, he was focused on developing his skill as a fine artist. He tried several forms of art, including various forms of print making, linocuts, water color and oil pastels before choosing oil paint as his favored medium a few years ago. He paints almost every day for most of the day, and has an incredible passion for painting. I am so impressed that he had the confidence to try something that was so different from anything he had ever done before—and that he has developed his skill as a successful fine artist who is now represented by galleries!

On Friday, Feb. 19, he will be the featured artist at the opening reception at Susan Calloway Fine Art Gallery at 1643 Wisonsin Avenue, NW, in the Georgetown area of Washington, DC. His art will be displayed on the second floor of the gallery, in the display window and on the stairwell leading upstairs. The reception will be at 6-8 p.m. although wink, wink we’ll be there at 5 p.m. On Saturday, Feb. 20, Rodgers will do an art demo from Noon – 3 p.m. I will be with him at both events.

It’s hard for me not to seek and develop my passion in life since I am so happily married to Rodgers, whose love and energy around his art passion is infectious. As you can see his art resembles Impressionism and he has a great talent for depicting light and shadow in his work.

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This is my second trip home since Dad died. It’s easier than the first trip since I was so overwhelmed by his absence and the first trip was only 4 weeks after his funeral. I still dreamt about him every night. I couldn’t think beyond the last couple of weeks of his life, and how he had steadily declined until he died. The dreams were vivid and I awoke in a heavy sweat. 

My Notre Dame sisters from my class, friends and family have been so supportive through prayers, notes, phone calls, and many shared their experiences about losing their parents. My husband listened to me talk about Dad over many dinners like a broken record: I just couldn’t stop. One classmate had a particularly hard time with Sunday church after she lost her Dad, which she attributed to the healing process. It helped to hear her perspective as I was having a hard time getting through Sunday church too. I was numb and felt sad and disconnected at the same time. I feel less sad now.

On this trip, I knew I had to deal with my Mom, her loneliness and her pain. Her physical pain is bad so we don’t think about Dad as much since we’re preoccupied with keeping her comfortable. God knows we love her, and hate to see her wincing. We help her with daily living and it feels good to give back.

A number of friends have said, “Make sure you grieve fully for your Dad.” “Take time for yourself.” “Be kind to yourself.” It sounds good, but who really has time for this when you still have your Mom to care for who grieves after 62 years of marriage with this man?

I have a business to run, and yet I want to take care of my Mom as best I can and I live 1,750 miles away. When do I have time to grieve? When do I have time for myself? When do I have time to run my business? I don’t even have children…how do my friends with children listen and cope with all these emotions and the realities of life?

After I put my night owl Mom to bed, I come upstairs where it is quiet and peaceful as there is no TV noise. I need quiet to do my work as most of it is cerebral. I need to be creative to execute what I do and yet I am so tired!

I want to write e-books, and know that I write best at the wee hours. But while I visit Mom, I postpone this since I have to catch up on business during this time.

It’s cold here in Virginia and we just dug out from two feet of snow and it is snowing again. Like the weather, I know my feelings are temporary and fleeting. I am an optimist and things always work out. Eventually I will take time for myself and continue the process of grieving for my Dad. This blog helps. In the meantime I am grateful for the love and passion Dad instilled in me.

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