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Monday, April 30, 2012

Colin's First Communion

Colin received Jesus into his heart for the first time today.  He, along with Duane and Anne, prepared for this day all year long with 17 other second graders at St. Mary's Parish in Moscow.  Sister Margaret, the principal of St. Mary's School, got involved with the preparation and insisted on family retreats and lots of practices.  The entire parish makes this celebration special by allowing each communicant to have their own pew, which is saved for their family.  I was honored to help Colin with his pew banner last week.
He was the lucky winner of one of the first pews so we all got to sit in front today.  I got all emotional as I watched these sweet children file into the church, hands folded, reverent, anticipating what was to come.  At the practice last Tuesday the kids were kinda wiggly, but today they were perfect.  It's the best age to receive Jesus - when you are seven you are filled with trust, you follow directions, you can sit still, and you are delighted to participate as a reader, greeter, usher, and choir member.  Colin helped with the offertory collection.  Sister Margaret insisted that there be no photography during the liturgy so the pictures are either before or after mass.

Grandpa Roy, Colin, and Grandma Theresa
Godparents Aunt Marilyn and Uncle John
Dad, Colin, Mom and Odie

The choir sang "Song of the Body of Christ" one of my favorite songs revealing that we all come to share our story, break bread, and know our rising from the dead.

Reflecting on Colin's special day made me think of my own First Communion and how my parents made it a special celebration.  I know it was a special occasion because the camera came out!  
Dad, Mom, Theresa, Godparents Jo & Ben Engel
We need to continue to share the story of Colin's First Communion - how Jordynn, Colin's neighbor, just showed up at Mass, how the two boys acting as greeters had a little disagreement before they read the welcome, how Deacon George told the story of the Good Shepherd with a Beanie Baby lamb, how Anne and Duane's friends, Eric & Amy, Char, and Francie and their children showed their support by attending Mass, how God blessed Karen with pneumonia so she could join us instead of being on call,
how Grandma Theresa got all chocked up being honored to give Colin and his classmates the Blood of Christ, and how Colin, filled with the love of Jesus, endured the family photo shoots.   Borrowing words from the song, I pray that Colin will find ways to heal the broken, to be hope for the poor and find ways to feed the hungry.  
St. Mary's First Communion Class of 2012
Colin, the love of Jesus, is a little like the kisses that Odie gives you - Unconditional!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Joan

It's been 58 years!!  Don't know why I can't remember the events surrounding your birth day.   But maybe I was busy with four young siblings - you were the sixth child and I wasn't even eight years old.  I was as old as Colin is now and had five younger siblings!  How did Mom and Dad manage???

Looking through my albums, this is the youngest picture of you I could find....


Pictures were rare in those days - at least for our family.  My albums are full of marginal images, but mom seemed to treasure each one.

Here's a classic picture from 1956 when we were visiting the Hoene's in Illinois - you were 2 years old.

You've managed to live the single life for all of your 58 years, but I've wondered sometimes if you wished you'd had children.  Jake was just two years old when the two of you picked dandelions in Mom and Dad's yard and blew the seeds to the wind!

I'm so glad we went to visit Uncle John about this time last year.  Remember how we would sing to us?    I remember you telling me about your phone calls to him.  I know you were always concerned about his health, yet you honored his desire to stay at home, when most of the Kopczynski's wanted him to move to Assisted Living.  

And look at this sweetheart - can't remember her name, but we brought her some Halloween Candy when she lived at St. Joseph's Care Center.  

I like to imagine listening to the radio and 1954 and hearing one of the most popular songs sung by Kitty Kallen.

These are the little things that mean a lot....

Taking care of Bill's dog
Visiting your friends in the nursing homes
Calling Uncle John every week
Appreciating the hugs of my grandchildren
Taking care of your life by riding the bus to work
Sending me a Valentine Card every year (it's the only one I get)
Sending Colin a card for Easter
Taking Aunt Maxine to lunch every month
Bringing my favorite wine to Easter dinner
Sharing your feelings of gratitude for the card Larry sent for your birthday
Calling just to chat...


Saturday, April 21, 2012

African Violets

Each one of my African violets has new blooms!  These poor plants were almost dead after Christmas.  I always make room for Christmas decorations in December and the violets get banished to a corner in my bedroom.  I honestly didn't have much hope that they would survive, but look at them now!  They are blooming along with most trees and plants in my yard.  Maybe it's the spring sun that comes in each window.  I'm amazed at how more light affects the growth of the violets - not much different than the way the longer days affect my mood!  There's a story behind the pink violets.  The one on the left came from Peggy Dorf - I've written about it before.  Peggy rescued the violet from the garage when we were cleaning out Mom's house.  She's made lots of new plants from the original and now one of them is showing new life once again.  The pink one on the right is a descendant of a violet given to me almost 30 years ago by a woman I visited as part of our Parish Renewal outreach program.   I can't remember the woman's name, but do remember visiting her and her invalid husband in a trailer down on Fair Street in Clarkston.  She gave me a violet plant that I've treasured for years.  I've propagated lots of new plants from her first gift and the one in the picture actually came from my friend Maxine Hoene.  I think all those that were entrusted to my care died, but at some point I gave Maxine one of the "babies" and she, in turn, gave me another generation plant.  The gift of this woman continues to live on and reminds me that one never knows how a simple gift might affect others - even 30 years later!

Here's a few early morning views of blooms in my yard - the bleeding heart and forget me nots remind me of Mom.  The little blue plants abound in the space dedicated to my Mom!    Soon the dogwoods will be in full bloom, but that's another story....

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

God's Guest List - Eileen and Ruth

I intended to work out in my yard yesterday, but when the rains came I called two wonderful ladies to come for lunch.  Eileen Kluss is a distant relative.  Her grandfather, Georg Seubert, is my great-grandfather, the father of my grandma Lena Seubert Kopczynski.  I could also be related to Ruth Aram, but I think her ancestors came from Illinois - her mother, a Hussman, married Ben Lightfield.
We had such a great visit, just sitting at the table sharing stories of all generations, those before us and those involving our children and grands.  They delighted me with their zest for homemade ham and bean soup, artisan bread, and strawberry rhubarb pie.  Each of us lives alone now and we talked about the challenges of cooking for ourselves.  Ruth likes to make soup and freezes small portions for future meals. Eileen eats a lot of frozen dinners.  Ruth told the story of being invited to John and Susie Hoene's home during the depression and Susie proudly stating, "everything I've served today came from the farm or the garden except the salt and coffee."  Ruth will be 94 in May and Eileen celebrated her 90th birthday in January!  My Uncle John Kopczynski made wedding cakes for both of their weddings in the 1940's.  Eileen told me her mother, Margaret Seubert Funke, became one of my Mom's first friends.  She often heard her Mom tell the story of how mom and dad met.  "Stan brought Bertha, his new bride, to meet my Mom and I think she spent the whole day at our house - they became fast friends after that."  I told her how grateful my Mom, missing her own family in Illinois, was quickly welcomed by my Dad's relatives and friends in Cottonwood.  The couples played a lot of pinochle together in their later years.  Eileen's parents first lived out near Westlake and when it was time for Eileen to go to school, she lived with her Grandma Jenny during the week - I think for 5 years until the Funke's moved to a farm near Ferdinand.  "Going to a Catholic School was so important to my parents that they figured out a way for me to stay, sometimes for weeks at a time, with my grandma."  Eileen and Ralph bought their home on 13th Avenue about the same time the Catholic School at Our Lady of Lourdes was being built.  "We picked that location so our kids could walk back and forth to the catholic school.  It ended up being a great neighborhood to raise our family - at one time their were 26 kids on our block."  

Our table conversation touched on politics, young people, the organized Catholic Church, and our local fundraising to build a new church.   Eileen said, "I'll never see that new church in my lifetime.  I don't think we need to be spending that kind of money."  Ruth is concerned that so few young people get confirmed now days.  Despite their concerns about aspects of the organized church, they both profess a faith, deeply rooted in their German ancestry.   They are on my guest list because, as Debbie Macomber writes so beautifully, "Our faith is enriched to hear our guests' stories - to see how God moved into their lives.  And when they move into the lives of others, He moves with them." God moved into my little dining room on Monday as these lovely women shared their faith and their stories.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Volleyball Comes to an End

Bradleigh's Snake River U-16 Volleyball team played in their last tournament of the spring season yesterday in Spokane.  The team struggled against some really good teams in the morning pool play and ended up in the Silver Bracket for the afternoon tournament play.  I sat next to Judy, one of the directors, during Pool play.  She's watched Bradleigh play since she was in sixth grade and she mentioned how strong she is as a setter.  Karen and I were fussing a little about the way she plays defense and Judy said she just lacks confidence and doesn't realize how strong she could be if she could overcome those fears of digging and landing on the floor.
But what Judy noticed most is that Bradleigh smiles a lot now.  "I remember that serious, almost sad look on her face years ago.  She's so much happier now. Nevena's done a great job forming these girls into an effective team."   Club ball might be over, but the conversation on the ride home was where to attend a summer VB camp.

Nevena Dragovic coached this team.  She is from Serbia and plays women's volleyball for LCSC. She's been labelled as "tough" by parents of other teams.  She may be tough in that she insists the "bench" remain standing during the matches and the girls eat nutritious food rather than sugary snacks during the tournaments.   The team presented her with a framed picture, but her gift to them was even more impressive.  She took the time to recognize their strengths in front of their peers.  She looked at each girl and spoke about her improvement and how she contributed to the team. These girls may not have won the trophy, but they won big by the way they played together and made their coach very proud of them.  Thank you, Nevana!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter 2012

The Easter Sunday celebration had its share of chocolate candy, plastic eggs, grandma's cookies and orange rolls, but the real celebration revolved around introducing Odie to the extended family.  Anne, Duane, and Colin recently adopted Odie.  Colin got to choose the name and because he's reading a lot of Garfield comics these days, Odie seemed like the logical choice.
The owners told Anne Odie was about seven moths old.  When she took him to the vet, she found out he's probably about four months old.  He's part chihuahua and part terrier.  The family hopes he doesn't get much bigger than he is now.  He's shy around strangers and is getting better with the puppy training activities.  He loves to play with Poka, their cat, but the cat doesn't  give him the time of day.  When Anne was in Ohio, I learned I'm probably better at watching Colin than I am caring for a puppy.  He got away from me on one of our walks and I was worried he might just keep running!  Ah Freedom!!

Boomer and Odie meet each other for the first time.
The day was warm and sunny and we were able to let Odie just run around the back yard.  He has to be on a leash at home because that yard does not have a fence!  Boomer basically ignored him.  But, Odie soon warmed up to Jacob and Bradleigh.
Even Joan enjoyed the dog cuddles!

Bradleigh and Odie

Karen was on call, still working at St. Joe's, so John showed up with Jacob only.  Apparently he gave Bradleigh lots of time to get ready and when she wasn't he left home without her.  I was ready to get in my car and go get her, when she showed up in her car!  Now, she's been driving, with an adult since last August.  She doesn't officially have a license to drive by herself, so I breathed a prayer of gratitude that she made it over here without incident.  Then I heard Duane, Karen, and John telling each other their stories of illegal driving.  Duane had a lawn mowing job when he was 14 and he drove our old Datsun pickup around the Clarkston Heights - gratefully without incident!

The boys gave this grandma the gift of a picture, this year - with the dogs!!

 We were pretty full of ham and cheesy potatoes so we hopped in the car and enjoyed a walk along the levee while Duane and Colin rode their bikes.  At the end of the day I agreed with the Easter Psalm response:  This the the day the Lord has Made, Let us Rejoice and Be Glad!  Alleluia!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Regina April 13

We celebrated Regina's birthday today with what we do best at this age:  Eat, pray, laugh!

Theresa and Kathy prepared the celebratory food, Mary Lou hosted the gathering, and everyone brought a funny card.  Regina chose Holy Family School's scholarship fund as her charity of choice.  She and Jack often spend time at the school, supervising the playground, reading with second graders, or painting the hallways.  We all enjoyed Regina's stories about her recent trip to Hawaii with her grandchildren, Karlee, Lynzee, and Blake.  She also enjoyed some special time with her siblings who live in Hawaii.

Regina and I have been walking partners for over twelve years.  We started walking up and down 6th Street in Clarkston when we both lived on Chestnut Street.  I worried after I moved to Lewiston that we might not get to spend our mornings together.  Regina insisted we continue our walks - one week around my neighborhood and the next week around hers.   Several years ago Marcia joined us and now we walk along the Lewiston Levee.  Regina inspires me with her energy and enthusiasm for life!  She knows how to make every event full of fun.   Many local organizations and friends benefit from her generosity.  She loves to cook and share her culinary treats with her family and friends.  I'm grateful for those special times sitting on her deck drinking coffee or sharing a glass of wine.  

     May the real gifts of this birthday be the blessing
     of a long life and good health, the feasting and
     fun of our coming together and the love we all
     have for you.  Happy Birthday, Regina, and may
     God bless you today and all the days of your life.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Remembering Katie McCarthy

My daughter-in-law's mother, Katie McCarthy, died peacefully in her sleep at a Hospice House in Toledo, Ohio today.  I was first introduced to Katie when my son, Duane, travelled to Ohio to "meet the parents" in 2002.  Duane sent lots of pictures of his visit to Perth Street, Mud Hens T-Shirts, Anne's friends, the family, and Maggie, a beloved dog.  Katie had a twinkle in her eye and I was so eager to meet her, but knew a wedding would have to happen before we could visit face to face.   We soon exchanged Email addresses and got to know each other via the Internet.  I discovered a quick wit in this remarkable woman who raised eight children, sent most of them to Catholic School, and encouraged her Irish husband, Daniel McCarthy.  It seemed to me that Dad got most of the recognition in the family because of his high-profile job as editor of the Catholic Chronicle, a bi-monthly newspaper serving the Catholics of the Toledo diocese.  Here's an excerpt from an essay Dan wrote  in 1986 titled, "Where Does the Time Go?"
     "I look at my wife's face on the pillow beside me and struggle to register the fact that we have six grown sons and two grown daughters.  Only our love for one another could have gotten me and my wife -- Katie's her name, she wants you to know - to this stage in our marriage.  Many of the 33 years since our first son was born went by in a blur of diapers, colicky babies, Chronicle deadlines, financial struggles, and hassles with teenagers.  We didn't seem to have much time to enjoy our children until they were grown.  I respect the Church's teaching on artificial birth control--and Lord knows we followed it--but it's clear to me now that we had too many children too close together.  Katie has told me that she simply has no memory of some of those early years of our marriage.  I know just what she means.  But somehow we muddled through."

     Dan died in December, 1993, so Katie spent almost 20 years muddling through life without him at her side.  She loved to read, loved animals, and loved her family.  She was a good sport, admitting before Anne and Duane's wedding, that she knew nothing of crafting a swag to hang on the fireplace.

But she joined Mary Pat, Marilyn, and me in our creative endeavors, making a huge mess in our hotel room in Boulder.  We all  giggled so much that day trying to make beauty out of dried flowers, grapevine, eucalyptus branches.  I think the experience mimics Katie's life - she made do with what she had.  The kids began to worry about her safety in the old home on Perth St, but she firmly planted herself there and just a week before she died, climbed those stairs to her bedroom! 

I like to remember Katie with  her no nonsense approach to life!  Anne is her youngest child and she didn't fuss at all about this wedding.  Look at her great smile!  Most of the pictures I've seen of Katie show that lovely smile!  She enjoyed the wisdom of a Mom who successfully raised eight children!  When I opened Dan McCarthy's little book, "Letters from the Editor,"  ironically, a poem called "The Ideal Woman" marked one of the essays.  Words from this poem fit Katie perfectly, "There would be no deception or insincerity in her.  In every relation of life she would be found faithful."

Anne flew to Ohio to help her Mom celebrate her 80th birthday on April 1st.  Anne sent an Email to her siblings about her own anxiety watching her mother climb the stairs and say to Anne's friend, Liz,"my kids better not talk about making me leave this house..."   Katie enjoyed the birthday celebration with three of her children present and lots of friends and neighbors stopping by.  Anne presented the prayer shawl blessed by my 4th Day Prayer Group to her that day as well.  Her disease progressed so quickly that she moved to the Hospice House on Wednesday and God called her home on Saturday.  My belief is that Katie trusted God so much, even in those final days,  that He blessed her with her crown just as many Catholics celebrated the Resurrection!  What a glorious day to be welcomed to her heavenly home!  Anne told me that Katie's dear friend, Father Bacik, gave her the last rites and will preside at her Funeral Mass next Saturday.  Father Bacik, a well-know theologian, is the pastor of Corpus Christi University Parish and Katie volunteered for years to type his papers and probably some of his books that were eventually published.  I envision her funeral being a great celebration with people remembering her sincerity and faithfulness, her faith, her volunteer work, her concern for the poor, and her love of her family!

"I have competed well;
I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day."     
            2Timothy 4:7-8

     Rest in Peace, faithful friend!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Prayer Shawl for Grace Church

My dear friend, Grace Church, has suffered from heart disease for years.  One would never know it by all the things she does or all the meetings she attends.  She's been on St. Stan's liturgy committee for years, leading the music ministry.  Her calendar has no white spaces - every day is filled with events, duties, or birthdays.  The doctor's recently discovered that her tiredness and shortness of breath might not be related to her pacemaker.  Instead, they scheduled her for stent placement surgery on April 3rd in Spokane.  Our 4th Day group wanted her to feel loved and prayed for during this procedure so we wrapped her in  "prayer stitches" last Sunday.   We prayed that she'd be cradled in hope and wrapped in love.  We wanted the shawl to be a reminder of our prayers and continued support.
Barbara Fairley, Cecilia's sister,  knit this variegated purple shawl and Grace immediately wrapped it around herself.  She has a way of making us laugh and Sunday was no different.  She said, "I get so cold sometimes, I'm walking around this house with two scarves on, a jacket and sometimes a sweater.  Now, I'll be warm and beautiful!"  I'm happy to report that her stent placement was successful and she was so grateful because that  artery was 90% blocked!  This week we've offered prayers of thanksgiving for God's generous healing of our "Rock."

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Colin Time

Colin and I had some special moments this past week when Anne went to Ohio to celebrate her mother, Katie's, 80th birthday.  I got to observe first hand how smart children are these days.  A group of University of Idaho students came to Moscow Charter School on Friday to teach the children about water pressure, displacement, diving, and fun.

Each student designed a Cartesian Diver. The real fun began when they kids decided to have squid diving races!  

The children soon learned that the diver made it faster to the bottom of the water bottle if the squid costume ( a balloon) was removed.  So, they not only had fun learning about water pressure, but had fun spilling water all over the tables!