Monday, January 28, 2013

Memoir Monday: Sentimental Journey

Friday, January 25, a few days ago, the day that my younger son and I went to D.C. to protest the legal holocaust, was a beautifully and  perfectly pro-life day:   it was Mom's anniversary.


 Four years since she entered Eternal Life.

 Four years of missing her, of a hole... an emptiness.

 Four years still, still of almost-picking-up-the-phone-to-call-her-to-tell-that-joke-or-what-one-of-the-boys-just-said-or-just-to-see-what-she's-doing-and-shoot-the-breeze.

She was  proud on Friday. I know she was. She was proud that we went to the nation's capital to defend the defenseless. The most helpless of all.  My reflection on the March is here.

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves"
Proverbs 31:8

That is quintessentially fitting. 

The perfect scripture verse with which to remember my Mom. And to remember all those  of our brothers and sisters who were unapologetically and needlessly killed due to the availability of abortion on demand since 1973. My Mom was the most fervently loving, child centered and pro life individual I have ever known. As the Mom of five, grandma of nine and great grandma of 2  ( now 4!) there
 was always room for more. And always with open arms. Mom and Dad married in October 1943 and "lived happily ever after" for 49 years until Dad's passing in July of 1993. It is truly surreal that Dad is now gone almost twenty years. I miss him every day as well. Every day.

And so, I remember....

Where to begin? The fullness, the richness and the plenitude of happiness.

    This is my Mom’s wake, here in my reverie. And it is four years on the journey since that day.
    It was wintry. It was brutal and hostile. But, you know this. When you lose one you love, one who walked with you on life’s journey longest and loved you most unconditionally… you know.
     You know how the day suits the mood, the very core of the reason we are here. As if those we love can only be mourned on the most foul and wretched of days charted within our climes.
   And the pictures. The albums that fill the tables, the collages that line the perimeter of the room.  Standing like sentinels, guarding. Spilling the story of a life well lived and well loved. 

Of grace filled days. Words lovingly and patiently spoken.
  Pictures that now conjure memories, with the speed, the rush of a car moving down the highway. Trees, telephone wires, houses ablur.

     There are Christmas mornings. There are Adirondack lakeside cabins. There are birthday boys and birthday girls, party hats askew. There are whipped confections, moments away from toddler manhandling. There is Dad, wielding enormous camera contraption, flash bulbs huge and blinding. Mom, corralling little people.
     In another memory book, there is laughter and there are lingering summer suppers. Citronella candles burn to stubs as sun dips below horizon, oh, hours ago. Bright moonlight fills the sky and hushed, familiar voices mingle. Some in staccato laughs; some in serious debate; all in good nature, throughout. Pitchers, by now empty of libations. Platters empty of grilled tidbits, shared on our newly-Dad-constructed patio, under spreading maple. Lawn chairs now haphazardly scattered, fitting friends into conversations. Children darting, squealing and firefly catching. Evening, winding down. 

And we thought these days would always be.

    And then, in yet another, there are those shots from way back. Those are yellowed and curled and indistinct, yet clear as right now. 

Black and white and grey. Unlabelled and undated, but on a pier, somewhere in California. Dad in Army issue, looking younger than I have ever known him. Ever. Looking determined, and dare I say, fierce. And yet, posing for this very shot, expectant and cautious. A soft heart and a bright mind. But as a youth of 24 and shipping out again, weary.  
Mom, even younger, looking very Maureen O’Hara. In a-lower-west-side-daughter-of-immigrants-way that only first generation Irish-Americans can muster. Without even knowing. Until perhaps a lifetime later, when scrapbooks are perused and expressions examined..

As if she just finished the talk. The “You will come home and we will have a life” talk.

 Well, he did. And they did.

For 49 years, they had some life.

 And you can almost hear, if you really listen, the mournful strains of “Sentimental Journey,” plucked out by a makeshift band at battleship’s starboard side. A haunting ballad. But then, is there one more appropriate? Those on board and on dock, preparing to ship out. Into the blue Pacific. For some, this is the last they will see of their families, their country. Others will come back. The lucky, the spared. But changed. The Greatest Generation, indeed.

     Yes, hundreds of lives touched, held within these pages, here on a table in this room, where we celebrate this one life and where we celebrate all these lives. Some touched in a big way; some fleetingly. All important.

    So, my children have no earthly grandparents; all of them are “our special saints,” my youngest states. When one of my children becomes wistful, wishing Grandpa “could be here with us,” as when we recently toured the World War II Memorial in Washington DC, the other says, “He IS here with us.” And we take a picture of them sitting on the ridges engraved “Leyte Gulf” and “Manila.”  This is where their grandfather was two generations ago, before most of the people respectfully wandering the Memorial, were even born. Without a doubt, they know, truly know, that they will meet again in Heaven and spend eternity.
 During the prayer service on the final night of Mom’s wake, my oldest, then eight, wished to share a memory with all the others. Among all those story fragments swirling around the room spun by friends, neighbors and family, he felt that this memory of his Nanny was as worthy as the others’ of being shared. This was one of many small thought that would carry him through days, years ahead, when thinking the myriad of thoughts around his Nanny and what she means to him. He shared silliness of a song, that so many times over the years, his Nan sung off key. She bore the brunt of our hysterics to this oft-requested melody, being a good sport about it, welcoming it.
So, it's amid the laughter and the sadness that we know we all will emerge, eventually. All of us, broken. And yet made whole by our Lord’s beautiful gifts of grace and hope.

You can read all about Memoir Monday here:

And you can read my previous Memoir Monday posts here.


Gotta gush again: Love that badge!
 My clever 12 year old son created it!  Good kid to have around. Love that kid.

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  1. Absolutely beautiful post and tribute, Chris. Touched my heart. :-)

    1. Thanks for the lovely compliment, friend.
      I always enjoy your posts, as well, Lisa.:)

  2. Hi Chris, Im so glad that I found your blog. Sorry to hear about your Mom. It has been three years for me. My Mom passed in 2010 and we remember her every day. I was reading about the TMLA reunion and thought of you...Freshman 9 Room 10. Can you believe it has been 20 years since graduation? Even more surreal, since my three are all in high school. I would love to catch up.

    All the best,

    Rosemarie (

    1. RO!!!

      You have no idea how thrilled I am that you stumbled here!
      Getting in touch asap.

      Love ya...

  3. Sweet Chris...what a touching and lovely tribute to your mom. I can feel your longing for her today. Praying peace and blessings and gratitude for all your sweet moments and memories. Blessings, my friend.

    1. Sheila, I so appreciate your visit and your kind words, friend.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving me this lovely note:)

  4. Thank you, Chris, for sharing your post at the "Let's Talk Motherhood" link-up. What a beautiful tribute to your mom, it truly move me to tears. Thinking of you (and your mom) today on this Mother's day!!

    1. Susan!
      Thank you so much for hosting the hop and for your lovely words!!
      happy Mother's Day!


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