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Posts Tagged ‘#church’

Aunt Anne passed away on Sat. Morning at 7:30 am. We got word yesterday from family that the funeral is this Thurs. up in Harland, WI. The Rosary is at 4:00 pm, visitation is from 4:30-6:45 pm with the mass at 7:00 pm. Then Greg got a call from his mother saying to call Sara (Anne’s youngest child) right away. So he did and she asked him to be a pallbearer. Greg is taking Thurs. and Friday off but using hours he got from an award and not sick leave. It’s about 2 hours from here so we’ll have to leave mid-afternoon to get there and skip dinner until afterwards. That’s not a big deal but something to consider. When we saw the funeral would be at St. Charles Catholic Church in Harland, we wondered why. Aunt Anne was devoted and passionate about her faith. She was a Catholic and she got Uncle Dean to convert to Catholicism before he married her. She was selfless and loving with everyone. She and Uncle Dean lived their faith and were really the only examples I’ve known of true Catholics. They even ministered to prisoners. Besides going to church religiously and tithing, they were the first to help anyone. Aunt Anne belonged to St. Mary’s in Pewaukee her entire life. The church was sold and the congregation began going to Queen Of Apostles in 1999. I never liked that church. It has such a modern look inside, it feels soulless. St. Mary’s reminds me of the church I grew up going to that was not much bigger than a house. Anyway, for all that Aunt Anne has done for the church and the congregation over the years, they won’t let her funeral be there. The day they are having the funeral is CHOIR PRACTICE. That is laughable. They could sing at her funeral. They could cancel and just wing it on Sunday. You’d think church-going people would understand. Instead they put out this nice family in their time of need. This is everything that is wrong with religion. 

 
There is still no word on Stephanie’s funeral. The coroner hasn’t even released the body yet since they are waiting for a dental expert because it was vehicular homicide. 


Today being March 10th gives me all the feels. It was my parents’ wedding day (in 1961). It was the birthday of my best friend in jr. and sr. high school. March 10th is also the day my last best friend died 10 years ago. I don’t think I’ve ever written about it because it was so weird. I don’t like writing mushy stuff. Maybe when I was a teen or in my 20’s, I might. I don’t even talk about this best friend. We met in slams (the question booklets sent through the mail) in about 1997. We had known of each other for another 10 years before that. Her name was Joni Souers. She was 11 years older than me. So she was a year older than I am now when she died. Joni and I were opposites in a lot of ways. She was only 4’10” tall and I’m 5’ 6 1/2”. She was Southern through and through and I’m as Northern as they come. She was brassy and loud and I tend to be quieter. We were both generous with people and had a tendency to be taken advantage of. She had led a hard life and been estranged from her few relatives. Her brother died and her nephew was like a son to her. She doted on Mike, his wife Cherie and their 3 daughters. I helped her through Cherie’s murder by her oldest teen daughter’s boyfriend. We wrote long letters to each other and then emailed every single day. That didn’t work for me. I balked at it and said it was too much for me. She let me know it was too important for me not to do it for her. So I did it anyway. It was the one “fight” we had. We talked on the phone sometimes and when we did, it could be hours. She was a truck driver (long haul) for decades but had quit to become a police officer for a short time. She loved trucking and her husband had been a trucker. He turned out to be a no-good liar who was a bigamist. She got rid of him but she didn’t hate him the way I thought she should. She was a forgiving sort of person who would give the shirt off her back to anyone. She had no living children and had lost a few babies to miscarriage. She fell in love with another trucker (John) and they worked together going cross country trading off driving but never married. She couldn’t have loved him more. Her home base was Texas but in the last few years she had settled in Colorado (outside Denver). She had 2 teacup chihuahuas (Tiny & Muffin) that she took everywhere with her. She and John had gotten a home in CO and she’d been staying home more and more often. She had fixed it up and did a lot of home cooking. She smoked like a fiend which I hate. She enjoyed it so much that nothing could make her stop. She had some health problems towards the end. She would get stomach and back aches. I encouraged her to go to the doctor. That didn’t really help until she doubled over and passed out. They took her to the hospital and found she had a huge mass in her stomach. They operated and removed it and it wasn’t cancer. I called her in the hospital and told her to rest and get well. I told her I loved her which I’ll always be happy about. I had no reason to believe she wouldn’t recover. Then I found out a day or two later that she was being taken for some other tests and she had an aneurysm burst and she was brain dead. Just. Like. That. Her nephew Mike told them to pull the plug because he knew she wouldn’t want to lay there as a shell any longer. I went into shock, as you do when given unexpected news. I can’t think of a worse time for it to happen. Not that there’s ever a good time.
 
Greg was scheduled to leave 3-4 days after I got the news. He was going to be gone for 10 weeks to canine training. It ended up being only 6 weeks. Anyway, I had all kinds of plans to chat on the phone with Joni and just make the most of not having a husband to monopolize my time. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want him to leave but I wanted him to be happy. I knew if I had Joni to talk to, the time would go faster. Well, that didn’t pan out. I was in shock. Greg wasn’t able to comfort me because he was so wound up with leaving. While he was gone, he didn’t know how hard it was for me to be missing him AND my friend. He was only thinking about his own stuff and then his sister had called him while he was there to tell him she had leukemia. If I hadn’t had my mom with me, I don’t know what I would’ve done. She knew Joni from me telling her all about her. Joni sent her a couple gifts which was so sweet. She thought the world of my mom which endeared her to me. Joni had lost a lot of weight and she a bunch of Walmart/Sam’s Club type clothes she had boughten and most were never even worn. They were the size Mom and I wore. She offered to send them to us. I balked at first but she was so happy that I was willing to take them and wear them, I said ok. She sent a huge box of mostly shorts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc. Mom and I divided up the clothes in half. We both wore them and I still wear them. It makes me feel good every time I do because I think of her. I also wear my mom’s clothes which may be creepy to some people but it makes me feel closer to her as well.
 
I’ve pretty much always had barriers up where friendship is concerned. Especially ever since high school. Then after losing Joni, I think I keep people even more at arm’s length. Sometimes I regret not being more open but other times it just feels like the right way to be.
 
All this talk and thinking of death just makes you realize that you can make plans but that doesn’t mean you’ll be here to live them out. I worry about hubby’s retirement. He’s about 4 years away. At times he wants to retire even earlier, then other times wants to wait until exactly then. Still other times he thinks he may want to work longer. It is such a hard call. If you’ve got enough money to last, is it better to retire or is it better to stay active? I hear too many stories of people dying right after they retire. I’m having a hard time deciding what I want to do in our later years. We talk about getting a larger home to fix up and then move to down the line. In your 30’s you have unlimited ideas and energy, in your 50’s not so much. You may feel like doing some renovation but tying yourself down to a long term project is not as appealing. Maybe I should just live day by day as that is all we are promised. Who knows what the future holds with the Coronavirus out there.

 

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On Sunday Sept. 10th, we went to Dickeyville, WI to the Dickeyville Grotto. We were already in the area on vacation (see my last post). Greg’s mother had been there 70 years ago when her sister went to school at Sinsinawa with the Dominican Sisters for 3 years. It is really something to see! I hadn’t heard of it until I was researching things to do prior to our trip. It was built by Father Mathius Wernerus, the pastor of Holy Ghost Parish, from 1918 to 1931. It features a bunch of concrete structures covered in shells, stones, tiles, wood, glass, gems and geodes donated by people from around the world. It is not just religious, it is patriotic. Besides the shrines to the Blessed Virgin, Christ The King, The Sacred Heart, The Eucharistic Altar, The Holy Ghost Tree and The Crucifixion Group, there are depictions of Columbus, Washington and Lincoln. It is breathtaking and unbelievable. The work and dedication to finish it is unfathomable. The amount of items used to cover the grotto is mind boggling.

There is a gift shop on the premises. Plus a can collecting donations. I had to put in a few bucks to keep it going. Something almost 100 years old and still in such good shape needs to be maintained. There’s also a cemetery bordering the grotto. We all walked through it reading the tombstones. A lot of them are faded. A lot of them are extremely old like from 100 years ago. So many of them are children, only a few years old. There was one mass grave of 4 children that died on the same day (Jan. 17, 1992). I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I figured it had to be a car accident or a murder. My mother-in-law suggested it was a fire. Turns out she was right. There was also a newer grave that had a laser image on the tombstone of a truck pulling a boat and what looks like a family farm. I took so many pictures. Too many pictures. Years ago when Greg and I went on a swamp tour in Louisiana, we saw our first alligators. There were a ton of them off the sides of the boat. Tourists were feeding them marshmallows. This is 1989, before cellphones, and we’re taking picture after picture of alligators eating marshmallows. When we got them back, it was so much of the same thing and the pictures weren’t that good. The water was green and murky (it’s a swamp!!) and the gators blended in and the marshmallows are so small. Now whenever one of us (usually me) takes a ton of pictures of one thing, we say it’s like “alligator pictures”. Guess you had to be there. 😉
The sun was so bright that some of the pictures turned out too dark. I can’t see outside with my iPhone in bright sunlight so kind of have to guess how they’re turning out. From a religious and spiritual perspective, the grotto is awe inspiring. I had a hard time picking which photos to include in this post. None of them really do justice to the beauty. From an artistic perspective, it is glorious! I’m so glad we got to take it all in at our leisure and didn’t rush through it. It is free and all outside. Because it’s in the middle of nowhere, you have to make a point to go there or you’ll never see it. Now I want to make a pilgrimage to the other grottos in the Midwest. Most notably, the Grotto Of The Redemption in West Bend, Iowa.
Around the turn of the last previous century, when immigrants were coming to America in a steady stream, grottos were a somewhat common thing. The immigrants came from a culture where it was normal to promise to build something big if your prayers were answered. The type of commitment needed to undertake such a significant project seems to be missing nowdays. In any case, whether you are religious or not, I hope you can appreciate the artistic vision and all the hard work.

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I have much to say but not a lot of time. I’ll type as fast as I can and hope I can get in what I need to. We got back from vacation on Sept. 12th and are gearing up for another one in 10 days. We purposely leave our vacations for the 2nd half of the year because at least then we have something to look forward to. Many use their vacation time up in the first few months of the year and have to wait until the next calendar year to take more. There’s something to be said for just knowing you have the time off coming to you.
Mom drinking her coffee in the RV

Mom drinking her coffee in the RV

Our last trip was up to Black River Falls, WI. I think we’ve officially burned ourself out on the place. The first 5 days the temperature was in the 90’s every day! That’s unheard of for that time of year. Of course, we had no air conditioning. It was less than pleasant but we got through it. We ate out twice at the casino and gambled twice as well. Greg & I got away for a few hours here and there to check out the antique shops in BRF and Hixton. Mom didn’t want to do much which limited what we could do. We knew that going in so really weren’t too bummed out about it. One day Greg & I went up to my hometown–Eau Claire, WI. We hadn’t been there in about 15 years.
Dad's grave

Dad’s grave

We went to the cemetery and saw the graves of my dad along with his first wife, her parents, my half sister’s dead twins, etc. We found the graves right away. My oldest half sister had gone to her 60th high school reunion in August (mind blowing, eh?) and had been unable to find the graves. We went to see the church my grandma (dad’s mom) founded in 1923. It played a large part in my upbringing. I attended Sunday School, got confirmed and then went to church there until I left for college. My dad had been elder in the church and had paid for a lot of the stained glass windows. We went to McDonough Park which is right by Dell’s Pond. We played there a lot as kids. I saw they had replaced the sign that had been shot full of bullet holes with a new one.
North Presbyterian Church that my grandma founded

North Presbyterian Church that my grandma founded

We got out of the car and walked through the old neighorhood for several blocks. It was surreal–like walking back in time. Things were the same and yet they weren’t. The area was always poor but now it seemed so rundown. A shop owner had told us not to go there at night because it was dangerous. There wasn’t a soul on the streets which made me wonder. Seeing the house I grew up in was bittersweet…. Things had been changed for the worse. Basically, it looked like someone had ruined the place. It sits next to a large building that used to be my grandparents corner grocery store. It had closed before my birth and my dad had turned it into a duplex (upper and lower apts). We always called it “The Store”. Well, The Store was for sale and looked unfit for habitation.  The post office no longer delivers to the houses, the mailboxes have now been moved to the curb.
Grandparents' corner grocery store as a duplex

Grandparents’ corner grocery store as a duplex

It made me think of my last blog post and how I feel like white trash. Or I am white trash. While we were there and for a week or so after we got home, I kept thinking, “No wonder I didn’t make anything of myself. It would be nearly impossible to, coming from that area.” I said it to my hubby and he said, “But you did make something of yourself.” I said, “No, I didn’t.” He said, “You survived. You got out.” I guess that’s something…
My first home

My first home

I’ve been buried in laundry and cooking since we got back. I haven’t even been able to work on selling online at all. Mom is taking up more and more of my time which I knew would happen. She pretty much needs help with everything she does now. Some days I run out of patience before breakfast. That’s when you know it’s going to be a long day. I’ll save all the details of that for a future post. Lucky you! 😉
Neighbor's tree being cut down

Neighbor’s tree being cut down

The next door neighbor had their giant elm tree cut down last week. Today the tree cutting co. came to drill out the stump. We had ours done 14 years ago. It was a horrific expense at the time, close to $5,000 then. We’re taking Amber to the vet on Thurs. afternoon for her yearly vaccinations. I’m just trying to keep my chin up and my head above water under less than ideal circumstances. Hope you’re doing the same! 🙂
Logs from downed tree

Logs from downed tree

 

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