The end of summer is always bittersweet, but this year more than usual. I had all kinds of things I was hoping to do this summer, from lunch with friends to trips to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to take photos, and did nothing, almost, thanks to my ever-present chronic migraines. I even missed the annual Resch Family Reunion–something I look forward to all year–for the second year in a row.
The highlights? I saw my beautiful and sweet niece Kathryn get married in May. (Late May counts as summer, right?) I made it to a family party at my Aunt Sheila’s and got to see my cousin Elissa who was home visiting from Florida in July. My darling niece Laura and her husband John took us out to dinner. And in August George’s sister and her husband invited us to stay with them for a long weekend in Cornucopia, a village not far from Bayfield, Wisconsin, on the South Shore of Lake Superior. It was heavenly. Lake Superior is my favorite place in the entire world. The weather was lovely. And the company was, of course, superb!
All of these activities, it should be noted, took place with pharmaceutical help. Sigh. But I did get some pretty pictures. And hope is on the horizon…It turns out my insurance covers migraine Botox after all, so hopefully this fall will not be so excruciating!
The summer began with peonies…
Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine for the soul.
And continued with more flowers, at home and in Cornucopia…
The family party…
Summer is the annual permission to slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something. To lie in the grass and count the stars. To sit on a branch and study the clouds.
Corny days and nights…
If the sight of blue skies fills you with joy; if a blade of grass springing in the fields has the power to move you; if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.
And if you have a husband who brings you flowers just because he knows they will cheer you up; nieces and cousins and friends who send you sweet messages on social media; friends who stand by you no matter how many times you cancel plans; family who take you out to dinner and invite you over and have you come to stay with them; be grateful, for this is God telling you that you are loved beyond measure.
N.B. Photographer friends, FYI all presets and textures were from 2lilowls.com. I highly recommend their products! If you choose to purchase something, I’m an affiliate and I’d love it if you used my link to do so: https://2lilowls.com/ref/9 (This way I get a small portions of the profits so I can indulge my growing texture addiction!)
The last of the Resch boys, the five sons of John and Bertha Resch, was laid to rest earlier this month. He wasn’t the last-born, but he was the last to die; an entire century passed between the birth of Leo, the eldest of the five, and the death of Albert. But for those of us who loved them, my father and my uncles, a century wasn’t nearly enough time to have them with us.
My Uncle Al, the last surviving brother, died of pneumonia on January 6, 2016. Today would be his 88th birthday.
I feel as though my heart is broken and bleeding, scattered into dozens of pieces. I always adored my Uncle Al (I think all of his nieces did). More than that, however, he’s been like a second father to me ever since I lost my own 23 years ago. In fact, the moment he walked into my dad’s wake, I flung myself into his arms and asked him if he would give me away when I got married. Which, of course, he did. Miracle of miracles, he even wore a tux for the big event, which according to my Aunt Mickie was quite an amazing phenomenon. (I’m not entirely sure my own father would have agreed to wear one, actually.)
All of the Resch brothers were handsome, with easy grins and athletic builds. Although my dad, Leonard, was nine years older than Al, I loved watching them together because not only did they resemble each other physically, but they shared the same mannerisms, gestures, verbal expressions, and quirky sense of humor. And they were both just magic with kids. And animals. And growing things. All of those brothers had a strong nurturing, gentle streak. And talk about salt of the earth! If you needed them, you didn’t even have to ask–they were already there. I believe you learn a lot about a person’s character by what they take for granted. Well, those boys, every one of them, simply took for granted that one is there to help. To be kind. To be strong for you when you felt weak.
So many memories…The day after my dad’s funeral, I called my Aunt Barb in a panic, asking her to come over because mom and I’d had a stupid fight over nothing, and she was hysterical. I’d never seen my mother like that. In no time at all Aunt Barb was there, to talk to my mom in a way that I, submerged in my own grief, couldn’t. And Uncle Al was there too…I just recall clutching the flag from my dad’s casket and sobbing, endlessly, in his arms, while he patted my back and let me cry myself out.
He even came to stay with us a couple of times to help us with major repairs on the house–it was a beautiful turn of the century structure, but required constant upkeep. (That’s another thing about those Resch boys, they could fix anything!) While he was here, Uncle Al and I had a number of long talks, and he related stories about my dad, his Army service, all kinds of things I never heard from anyone else. So in a way, Uncle Al gave me the gift of my father. Just as he became a second father to me, for 23 years.
And of course, being a Resch brother meant mischief. It meant that one existed in order to tease and make the lives of their children, younger siblings, and nieces and nephews difficult! My dad always got this special twinkle in his blue eyes right before he was about to tease me, and so did Al, who called me “Sparky” all through my teen years because of my red hair and, er, temper. Furthermore, all through my teen years, every time a boy paid any attention to me, I was terrified my dad would find out–because I’d never, ever, hear the end of it! Everything was grist for the teasing mill. But they were always sweet, never mean or cruel in their teasing. We–children, nieces, and nephews–all knew it was a sign of affection, and we loved it.
Leo, Leonard, Tony, Al, and Frankie. One blog post can never do them justice, but this has to be written. As one of the nieces, and as Leonard’s daughter and only child, I feel compelled to write something to honor their passing, to tell whoever might stop to read this how truly special these brothers were. To give witness to the huge void they have left behind. And to honor the amazing legacy they have left for their children, their nieces and nephews, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren.
Al’s death has left a lot of broken hearts. Yet, like his brothers, he also was a man who took a great deal of solace from his faith, and those of us left behind do as well; we know that, someday, God promises to wipe away every tear, that death will be no more, that goodbye is not forever. And in the meantime we have our memories, our stories, to share and cherish. We know that they are never far away from us. And most of all, we know that love never ends.
Al lived in Montana, where he and my beloved late Aunt Mickie raised eight children. Some of my favorite memories are of the trips daddy and I took to visit them all! It is fitting, somehow, that he lived in Big Sky Country, because when I think of him I picture enormous, unending blue sky, and sunshine, laughter and stories and a love even vaster than the sky above.
So goodbye for a while, darling Uncle Al. I hope you know how much I loved you and always will, and what a difference you made in my life.
In paradisium deducant te angeli May choirs of angels lead you into paradise in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres and at your arrival may the martyrs welcome you; et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem. may they bring you into the holy city, Jerusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, May the holy angels welcome you, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere and with Lazarus, who lived in poverty, aeternam habeas requiem. may you have everlasting rest.
At our graduation dinner last night the other four Master’s in Theology graduates and I were asked to submit short reflection related to our time as students and now graduates of the Theology Master’s Program at St, Catherine University. I wound up writing mine straight from the heart, so I’m afraid it was less about my favorite class or my most uplifting experience, but at least it had the virtue of being honest.
I must admit that last week’s graduation was bittersweet. I was thrilled to be graduating, oh my goodness, yes, especially with my family there, and with my friend Sherri (who was absolutely glowing and stunningly beautiful); but at the same time I was fighting a migraine and on some fairly heavy-duty painkillers (!) and my fibromyalgia had me so sore that we went straight home afterwards instead of going out—where I sat around in my brand-new academic robes and hood and gorged myself on takeout pizza and watched bad WWII movies on Netflix with my husband George. Okay, so that part was fun, actually, and I wish we had thought to take photos of me stuffing mushroom pizza in my face wearing my graduation regalia!
The bittersweet part is that people keep asking me what is next, and I stumble around, trying to come up with something funny to say, and I’m at a loss. The dream that has kept me going, through the myriad of chronic pain conditions that has required me to drop classes and seek numerous extensions and medical leaves of absence (thanks Bill! (our super-understanding theology department head)) has been pastoral ministry, especially the idea of chaplaincy. That’s the whole reason I entered this program. And now these chronic pain conditions are making it impossible for me to hold down even a part-time job. Or be a reliable volunteer, much less work full-time as a hospice chaplain. So there is triumph in the degree, but grief and uncertainty when i contemplate my immediate future.
Still, there are several treasures I will take away from this outstanding program to help guide me in my coming journey. I have met so many amazing, compassionate, loving people here at St. Kate’s, both faculty and students, who I am honored to count as role models, mentors, and friends. I know that your prayers go with me, just as mine go with you, and that our journeys together do not end here, but in many ways have only just begun. I am excited to continue growing as both a scholar of theology and as a pastoral minister. My studies here have opened so many doors! I feel I have only dunked my toe in the water. And, too, I will take all of your stories with me. I have had a rough time, yes. But I am not the only one. So many of you have done battle with your own pain, and done it with immense grace and courage, and I cannot tell you how much I admire you and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. Finally, I take with me the knowledge that I need to trust in the process, as Deb (my mentor and pastoral ministry prof.) told me recently. This is very difficult for me, (trust is not my strong point) but I know she is right—I need to learn to take better care of myself, and learn to trust that the Holy Spirit will lead me in the right direction, even if I don’t know where in the heck I am going now, beyond more physical therapy. After all, Someone helped me through comps!
Me sporting my new bifocals last night. I mean Progressives.
So as it turns out, I did need new glasses–not just new glasses, but bifocals. Ugh. Old lady glasses. But of course most of my friends have them, and they are most definitely not old ladies. George has them too, and he isn’t old either. So maybe it won’t be so horrid to wear them…except that now that I have them, I can’t see, everything is all wiggly wobbly (to quote my friend Vanessa, who got her Progressives last week). However, it was a perfect conversation topic today as I chatted with my elderly aunt; we really went to town on the topic of eye drops. Well, technically, at 83, I suppose she qualifies as elderly, but she does not exactly seem old to me, or anyone else. I save my best dirty jokes to share with her, and loves them.
So maybe age really is a state of mind, as the saying goes. In which case I can stay a red haired hellion for years into the future? And my new glasses do seem (fingers crossed) to be keeping the migraines at bay, for which I would practically trade my soul. Or my old glasses anyway.
Even with bifocals. Progressives, to be exact. And soon my bifocal contact lenses will arrive! I’ll probably start getting carded again once I have those in…
Gulp. I just realized that I haven’t posted since November. Granted, I’ve had a lot happening in my life, but shouldn’t I be blogging the most at times like this? Instead I drew into my turtle shell. However, since this is Wordless Wednesday, I will skip the writing and catch up using photos!. Pictures of Christmas, that is; I had the flu–influenza flu, not tummy flu–and George had to work both days, I missed my family horribly, but I had plenty of reading for school:
But I enjoyed our decorations, and our tree:
(Like the redhaired angel above, a gift from my friend Monica. Looks a lot like me when I first wake up in the morning…)
Our first Christmas ornament, hand-blown German glass (above)A crocheted star by one of my grandmothers (above)and (Funny the way this black and white version reminds me so much of my childhood Christmases.)
And speaking of childhood Christmases, my favorite part was always Midnight Mass.It was very hard to miss Midnight Mass at Incarnation, the church where I grew up, buried my dad, made my First Communion, Confirmation, and got married (a friend took this picture). actually, we tried to make it, after George got home from work. After driving 45 minutes in near-blizzard conditions, we arrived at Incarnation at about ten minutes before midnight, only to discover that Midnight Mass is now at, um, ten pm. Next year, we are going to the Basilica!
But still, we got a couple of “family portraits” and I managed to get most of our cards out:
And here is the black and white version:
So, I leave you with this quote. It is about Christmas, but it applies all year-long:
“That is the joyful message of Christmas night: if the little child who was born in Bethlehem is truly the Son of God, then from that moment on everything becomes possible”–Cistercian Abbott Andre Louf
Which reminds me that I almost forgot to add our little creche, complete with a cocker spaniel come to adore the Baby Jesus!
As usual, credit for everything below–except my answers, that is–goes to the wonderful gals over at RevGalBlogPals. And I owe them a hearty “thank you” for giving me a some much-needed writing inspiration!
I should mention that I did have my necksurgery last week and the surgeon said the procedure went “swimmingly.” I find this reassuring because those raw and burnt nerve endings feel, well, raw and burnt. Not a pleasant sensation. My usual brilliance is most likely lacking today since I’m on pain killers and muscle relaxers, so bear with me.
As we take a breather from the busy weekend of Sunday/Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, it’s time to reflect on the past year. It’s hard to move out of this holiday season with its delights and celebrations. Here at our home, we’ve barely finished the eggnog. The tree is still up and our cats delight in knocking off the lower (unbreakable) ornaments. As we are rounding the final turn on the year 2012, I hope you’ll play along with these questions. 🙂
1. What is some “old news” this year that you’d like to repeat for 2013?
Saturday lunches and outings with my birthmom, Judy. We try to do this on a fairly regular basis, although it has been difficult to get together for much of this year because of her hip surgery and my neck surgery. My lack of a car doesn’t help, either. But we have a lot of fun spending time together. Plus, I finally know where most of my idiosyncrasies originate! Here I though I was eccentric all by my lonesome, only to discover that I inherited most of them from the Lubys! (The others come from growing up a Resch of course.)
2. What “new thing” have you started that you want to keep going in 2013?
Not having neck surgery! Making an effort, through journaling, meditation, prayer, reflection, and reading, to really observe Advent, as a season of waiting and preparation for the gift of the Incarnation.
3. What event, experience or gift would you just as soon “Return to Sender”? Maybe it was a disastrous sermon, a congregational kerfuffle, a vacation nightmare, or your own mis-step. It can be funny or sad.
I would gladly surrender the experience of running a stop sign and crashing into another car this past June! The gentleman driving the other car, luckily, wasn’t hurt, but I would up with whiplash and neck surgery. And my darling little GEO Metro was totaled! It wasn’t damagedthat badly, but the repairs would have cost more than my 16 year-old baby was worth. Monetarily, anyway, disregarding my love for my first car. So we are in the market for a new car, but all we can get for our money is junk. But I can’t drive now anyway, temporarily at least!
4. Share the brightest bit of joy that was a part of your year.
George and I celebrated our ninth anniversary this October.I think the joy comes from the reassurance of being loved, truly loved, for myself, along with the realization that in nine years we have been through more than many couples endure in a lifetime, and we are still together. And I love him more with each anniversary that goes by. When we got married, I thought I could not possibly love him more than I did, but as time goes by, I find that my love for him grows and evolves, teaching me to appreciate the feeling of contentment that washes over me before I go to sleep, when I see him and Fiona (our dog, naturally) sleeping beside me. Or the simple pleasure of playing frisbee in our backyard together on lovely summer afternoon.
5. Share a picture that says far more than words. (You can use it to illustrate one of the above.)
George and me at Kieran’s Irish Pub after I lectored at the 4:30 Mass at The Basilica of St. Mary
Share a recipe! I’m in the doldrums and need some healthy eating options for my menu planning. Soup, stew, main dish, side dish or a healthy dessert – any and all are welcome!
This is where I need help, too, desperately! I’m hoping a reader will come to my rescue with a nice slow-cooker recipe, perhaps? Please?!
It was the best of times, it was (not quite) the worst of times…
Among the best were our annual Resch Family Reunion, held at my cousin Verlys’ farm up in Pine City (she was living w/mom and dad and was the first Resch to see me!), a Sabas family picnic/Olympics at Resort da Sabas, which doubles as my Aunt Sheila’s place, a Fourth of July picnic on Lake Minnetonka, hosted by my Aunt Toddie and Uncle Bob, and sweet summer afternoons sitting out in our backyard with George and Fiona. Also, I got two unbelievably amazing Twins tickets from my friends Gary and Mary Margaret Hoden, so my pal Patti and I went and sat in THE LEGENDS CLUB. Really, I could get used to living like this!
There were only two things to make my summer less than happy: my birthmom had hip surgery (she’s doing great now, in the hospital they called her a rock star), and I sort of totaled my car and wound up with a very nasty, mean case of whiplash. So I have no car, plus I’m having neck pain and headaches; however, I’ve started physical therapy and my doctor is being very kind about muscle relaxers, so I am hanging in there, albeit not at top speed. Well, there was a third–namely, a huge PTSD flare when some new memories surfaced. I was tormented by flashbacks and nightmares for a while, but thanks to the help of God and my beloved therapist, I’m doing much better now. As usual, I can’t say enough about the support and love of all my family, especially George.
Oh yes, one other highlight of my summer was the opportunity to have dinner at Bulldog NE with my two stepbrothers, Alex and Kelley, and George was even able to join us! Kelley lives in Tokyo so I only get to see him a few times a year, and Alex keeps incredibly busy with his band Deadweight (he is the drummer–and an awesome one too in my totally unbiased opinion) and school, PLUS an August trip to Vietnam with his lovely (fiancée?) Tee (Tina). So it was extra special for the four of us to get to spend some time together–every time I see either of my brothers, I like them more! It’s beyond cool to grow up an only child and suddenly gain a couple of little brothers.
When I look back at my summer, I have to admit that despite the PTSD and car accident, it was a blessed time of love and laughter. I’m attempting to upload a bunch of pictures on my mobile, so we will see how the Great Photo experiment goes!
The Resch Reunion
Me with lovely Sabas cousins Elissa and Deanna
Sandi Sybrandt and family at Resch Reunion
My poor Metro!!
Instagram version, Elissa, Deanna, and me
Kelita and Levi Robertson at Resch Reunion
Mari-Lea and Kathy Oberg and Aunt Jo, Resch Reunion
Resch cousins come all the way from Montana!
Me with Auntie Sheila (Sabas)
My sleepy Fiona (with her favorite toy)
Joe and Nancy Mallery, Linda and Breanna Cook, Resch Reunion
Sabas Olympics!! (Bocce Ball)
Naptime for George and Fiona
Patti and me with Kirby Puckett!
Me with Harmon “The Killer” Killebrew!!!!
George and me enjoying a drink at Kieran’s after mass at the Basilica
A truly awful picture of me with my beloved aunties Marie, Jo, and Julie, Resch Reunion
Aunt Marie, Aunt Jo, Aunt Julie, Resch Reunion
My sleepy baby!
Joni-lea and Faith at Sabas picnic
Wildflowers finally bloom in August, turn out to be Goldenrod (relative of the Evil Ragweed)