Saturday, September 19, 2009

Part Eight: Memories of a Grateful Daughter: My Father on the Will of God/My Mother on the Church

My Father on the Will of God

Where did the cancer come from? Stress and genetics surely were foot soldiers in the attack. But who is the general? What is his strategy for victory? If we knew, my mother and I, we could plan our defenses. I will later find an entry in my father’s journal that tells me he knew all along:

January 20, 1987

…I have attended daily mass for some time. At one point I felt close to God and I wanted to put myself completely in his hands. I was surprised to find my self recoil. I was afraid that I would be taken on a journey filled with pain and uncertainty. Those that God loves, he purges, I thought. That means pain. I had no stomach for that. I found myself saying not yet God - Your ways make no sense and they are painful, I am ready to be comfortable. But then I let go and said “What You will. Take me on a ride. I’ll try to hang on. “ Now I wonder if I can...

My Mother on the Church

She stands at the sink peeling potatoes. Bing Crosby sings from the stereo in the next room. I sit at the kitchen table working on my lesson plans. We talk of the New Catechism of the Catholic Church. She pauses in her peeling and looks out the window into the back yard. At one time, she would have seen a swing set. It was painted in animal print and the top of the slide was a cage. It had double bars where the swings hung down. I would walk across them playing circus. I had always wanted to be a circus acrobat. Now I was teaching high school students, a circus of sorts. Was she thinking of earlier days? Was she worrying about herself? Dad? She begins to peel again and says:

After Vatican II , many Catholics were disillusioned. Things they felt were central to their faith had been taken away from them, and many responded with resentment. Grandma Foley, however, responded with a child like obedience and a sense of peace. It was a wonderful example to me. I always remember her saying, “You are Never better than your church.“

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