No Greater Love

Posted on February 14, 2018 under Storytelling with 4 comments

Happy Valentine’s Day, mom

 

M is for the many things she gave me,

O means that she’s only growing old,

T is for the tears she shed to save me,

H is for her heart of purest gold,

E is for her eyes, with love light shining,

R means right and right she’ll always be,

 Put them all together they spell mother,

A word that means the world to me.

I know. I checked the calendar. It’s Valentine’s Day and not Mother’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is for lovers. But it is so much more. It is a time to applaud the notion of love and nowhere is this more recognizable than the love of a mother.

Many of us are getting up there in years. And many of us have lost one or both parents. I don’t think I would get much argument from my peers that we will never again see a generation of women such as those who raised the baby boomers.

How did they do it?

How did they raise 6, 8, 10, 12 children… and in some cases more? Without the benefit of modern appliances, they toiled from early morning until late at night. They prepared meals, baked their own bread, washed countless loads of wash (including cloth diapers!)by hand before the advent of the ringer washer. They read bedtime stories, helped with homework and bandaged many a bloody knee.

They mended clothing and broken hearts and wiped a lot of bums.

They found time to worship, very often praying the rosary daily and attending mass on Sundays.

And when their children left the nest, many of them spread their wings and went out into the public work force where they demonstrated their remarkable work ethic and prowess as managers. After all, can there be anything more daunting than managing a house filled with enough children to field a baseball team?

Some of our moms have died. Others are still living but have been robbed of their memories and a handful is still carrying on well into their 90’s acting as if they are still teenagers.

Being a mother of young children in 2018 is no less challenging. In many ways, it is more difficult. We honor these women too.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all mothers.

 

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The Milk of Human Kindness

Posted on January 27, 2018 under Storytelling with no comments yet

Milk. Sinful.

( Peter MacDonald photo )

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

John. 8:7

We’ve all done something and felt guilty about it afterwards. Depending on your religious upbringing, the guilt could last weeks, months and even years.

Harold (*) was a patient at the hospital and was quite ill. Indeed, Harold, after a long and productive life, was more than prepared to meet his maker. He felt that the end was near.

Annabelle (*) was a veteran nurse. She was smart, compassionate… and a noted prankster.

Annabelle was on the night shift. Harold was one of her patients. It wasn’t the busiest night the floor had ever seen but busy enough that Annabelle never had a chance to take a break. On her rounds, she stopped in to see Harold and noticed that he was restless. “I can’t sleep,” said Harold. Annabelle checked the meds chart and noted that there wasn’t anything unusual. “Are you in pain, Harold?” “Not exactly,” came the reply.

After a few rounds of questions, Harold admitted that there was something bothering him, and it wasn’t physical. “I need to see a priest. There’s something I have to get off my chest before I die.”

Having an opportunity for a last confession is the right of the dying and most hospitals go out of their way to accommodate this most important of requests. “Well, Harold, you’re in luck. There just happens to be a priest in the hospital and I can get him for you.” It was well past midnight. “I can take you down to the chapel right away.

There wasn’t a priest within miles of the hospital at this time of night.

Annabelle gently got Harold out of bed and into a wheelchair. They took the elevator down to the darkened chapel. Annabelle turned on one small light at the rear of the chapel. She got to the confessional and carefully got Harold out of his chair and into the small, dark chamber. “I will go and get Father,” said Annabelle.

Harold had a few minutes to review his transgressions. He was a good man and sin of any kind didn’t sit well with him.

A few minutes elapsed when Harold heard footsteps coming into the chapel. Moments later, the priest’s door closed and a screen pulled back. It was impossible for the priest or Harold to see one another with the subdued light in the chapel.

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”

There was a long pause as Harold mustered up the courage to confess his sins. “A few nights ago, I was quite thirsty. I was able to make it from my bed to the nurse’s kitchenette. I opened their fridges and helped myself to a glass of milk. It was outright theft. For this, I am truly sorry.”

On the other side of the curtain sat Annabelle. She felt slightly awkward hearing a confession, wondering what punishment the Lord might send her way. When she heard about the theft, she stifled a guffaw, wondering how she would keep from laughing out loud and exposing her deception. She absolved Harold of his heinous crime and asked him to say 3 Hail Mary’s.

Harold was visibly relieved as Annabelle wheeled him back to his room. The guilt had imperceptibly shifted to the shoulders of Annabelle.

Once back in bed, Harold thanked Annabelle profusely for arranging a priest on such short notice…. nothing short of a miracle.

Before turning off the light, Annabelle asked Harold if there was anything she could get for him before he went to sleep.

“A glass of warm milk might help me sleep better.”

Annabelle got one for Harold and fixed one for herself as well.

*Names have been changed…

( Thanks, JT )

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Bernie Here – A True Special Olympian

Posted on January 18, 2018 under Storytelling with 9 comments

Bernie Vosman 1960-2018

 

“Go rest high on that mountain,

Son, your work on earth is done.”

Go Rest High on That Mountain. Vince Gill

Bernie Vosman was my friend.

But then again, Bernie was everyone’s friend.

Bernie was a unique person. He was loyal, kind, dependable, witty, and charitable and had an unbelievable work ethic. I got to know him during my years as administrator of the CACL Workshop. We teased each other relentlessly, something for which he became well known. Over the years, he asked many a married man, “How’s your wife?” When he was questioned on his own marital status, he would quip,” I’m not married. I have no money. Me teasing.”

He participated in the Special Olympics for decades and in 1988, traveled to Calgary for the National Games. Amongst all the participants and volunteers at these games, numbering in the thousands, Bernie was given the “Spirit of The Games “award. That speaks volume about his character.

He attended the CACL Workshop for many years and as the supervisor of the woodworking shop said, “Bernie was the backbone of the woodshop. He always knew what to do. He didn’t need instructions and could operate every piece of equipment.” He was considerate of others and was “a really good soul,” according to another staff member. We can all attest to that.

Participants at the Workshop enjoyed outings such as canoeing.  Bernie was always keen to participate… as long as it didn’t conflict with work!

He branched out and started doing work in the community. At the time of his death, he was employed by Nova Construction. Nick, his supervisor, said that Bernie worked with a purpose. “He was never idle. When his regular duties were complete, he would come and ask if he could do something else to help out. He was our morale guy.”

While we will all sorely miss Bernie, it was his family that Bernie cherished the most. His siblings adored him and treated him with dignity and respect. And Bernie returned it in kind, along with some carefully chosen quips! His sister Mary put him on the bus on his first and last day, a span of some 51 years. His work ethic around the farm was legendary. He was proud of his Dutch heritage and while unable to speak the language, he understood every word when it was spoken.

Back in the 80’s, his brother Johnny, who was running the dairy farm, was attending a Bulldogs playoff hockey game at the arena. He became concerned as the game went into triple overtime, knowing the cows needed to be milked. When he arrived home, Bernie has milked every cow and fed them as well. “How did you know how much feed to give each cow,” queried Johnny? “I went by the size of the udder,” replied Bernie. When John tested the milk later, everything was perfect. Bernie was one smart man.

Bernie loved his parents, Bill and Diny and he was their pride and joy. His siblings say that their parents were able to spend their last 20 years together in their house primarily because of the help Bernie provided. When Bill died, Bernie put his arms around his mother’s shoulder and said, “I’ll take care of you.”

At the end of every day, Bernie would go to his bedroom and rehash the events of the day…to himself…out loud. Anyone going by his door would think that there were four people talking.

Son. Brother. Uncle. Friend.

A family member said, “Bernie was our glue. He kept our family close.”

When Bernie arrives at the pearly gates, as he no doubt will, he will stride through those gates and say, “Bernie here.”

 

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