Saturday, November 15, 2008

An Irish-Catholic Tale, Part VIII

Oh no, not yet. It's too soon!

Young Kathleen felt the now familiar pangs of labor and looked again at the calendar. This, her third child, was not due for another two weeks! There was too much for her to do before the baby arrived. She tried to lie down to see if these were false contractions. With relief, she noticed the contractions had stopped. As soon as she got up to hang the laundry, however, they started again.

Not now! Tomorrow's a big day! I don't want to miss it!

Once again she tried to stop the contractions by lying down. Once again, they would stop as long as she was still, but they would continue the minute she resumed activity. She did everything she could to keep her mother-in-law from knowing. It had been a horrible year; her father-in-law, Louis, had been killed by a deranged neighbor who stabbed him in the neck. The family was still trying to recover from the shock.

Reluctantly, she informed her mother-in-law about the impending labor and requested a ride to the hospital.

What? Can't you make it stop? Bill will have to miss supper.

Supper wasn't all that would have to be missed. Tomorrow morning was to be the first mass of her older brother, Terry! He had just been ordained as a priest and now this child, eager to be born, would make her miss this momentous occasion with his own. With a sigh, she packed her hospital bag, tended to the other children, and waited for transportation.

The year was 1964, and Terry, the second of Chet and Rosie's children, had indeed become a priest. His grandmother, Mary Agnes, would have rejoiced had she lived to see it! Helen, Chet's sister, was able to rejoice for both of them.

Uncle Terry calls this his "porcelain portrait." He recalls, "I had terrible skin but they doctor the photo to make it flawless."

I love this picture for so many reasons. First, the looks on their faces as Uncle Terry gives a blessing to Aunt Mary Ann. What to do when your brother becomes your Father? A photographer with foresight captured a special moment for both of them! Second, just peeping behind Uncle Terry's robe is my BIL, Bob. Yes, it was Himself who kept his mother from attending that day, something Uncle Terry has never let him forget!

Himself recalls this about his uncle: He's the first person I ever saw crack an egg with one hand. He also whipped off his jacket and put out a carburator fire once when we were headed to the beach. I thought that was so cool.

Along with the rigors and rituals leading up to ordination, God had some special training in store for Uncle Terry. While the details aren't important, the trials were many and led him into a lifetime of compassion for hurting people.

Uncle Terry served in West Los Angeles. My first experience at a Catholic Mass was for his Jubilee, which celebrated his 25th year as a priest. Ironically, we almost had to miss it; three weeks earlier I had given birth to his grand-nephew! Himself's son was following in his father's footsteps, marking the milestones of this dear man in a special way.

Working from the Los Angeles diocese, Uncle Terry ministers specifically to women in prisons and spends each Thanksgiving with them. He's also a nationally-known speaker at conferences and gatherings for alcoholics and addicts. His calendar is usually quite full, but obviously not too full for his family, which is most important to him. Since I joined the family in 1986, Uncle Terry has been at every significant occasion and also some not-so significant ones! The key is to get on his calendar, and he'll be there.

Speaking of his calendar, he once lost is all-important day-planner. Desperate for its vital information, he had left a message on his answering machine stating where it could be mailed if the planner was found. This same weekend, a woman was trying to reach him for counsel, but he was out of town. She would call repeatedly and listen to this same message about his lost planner, and each time she called she was a little more intoxicated. Finally, in frustration, she slurred, "You know what? **** you, **** your planner, and **** this machine!" :-D A day in the life of a West Los Angeles priest. He was also an avid runner until his knees couldn't take the beatings any longer.

Pictured: Aunt Helen, age 90, with Uncle Terry at my MIL's house. One of the siblings would always go get Aunt Helen so she didn't miss any family events. I have a picture of her holding a squirming Kelly on her lap, probably from this same event.

As I stated in yesterday's post, these siblings have remained close. When Uncle Terry became a monsignor, we all attended the mass and celebration. A typical glimpse of his humor came when he invited all of his friends to still call him Terry, while, "As for my brother and sisters, you may call me. . . Monsignor."

Uncle Terry with Betty, cousin to Rosie, visiting from Ireland.

In Ireland himself. We definitely hope to go ourselves some day!

One of the most endearing things about him is his spirit of adventure. So far, he has talked his sister into going to Ireland, white-water rafting, and sky-diving! We have a video of their sky dive and it's hysterical. I should say, my MIL was hysterical! She did not want to jump out of that plane. All of these took place after the age of 50.

Terry with kid sister, Kathleen, his adventure buddy. 2008

We haven't seen him since our last trip to California. Hopefully, he'll put us on his calendar soon and come to Florida! I'm sure we have a few roller coasters that would appeal to his daredevil spirit.
Can I say "daredevil" when describing a priest?

No comments:


DaisypathAnniversary Years Ticker