Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The End of Your Life Book Club

Sometimes I read a book that touches my soul and I want to remember what I've read.  I've been reading true stories lately and find them more meaningful that most fiction I've read this year.  This book is the inspiring true story of a son and his mother, who start a "book club" that brings them together as her life comes to a close.  Mary Anne Schwalbe and her son, Will, form a book club when she's diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Both avid readers, they carry on conversations about faith, courage, expressing gratitude, and learning how to listen.

I like to read, but often hear my mother saying, "it's such a waste of time, you need to be doing some-
thing productive!" Mary Anne said, "reading isn't the opposite of doing, it's the opposite of dying."  At one point in the book Will wrote, "we love to read books because when we are finished talking about people we know we can talk about the things we've read!  The experience of reading together provided reflection and topics of conversation they would not have otherwise shared.
What's really humbling to me about this book is that 90% of the books and authors they read together I'd never even heard of, such as "The Lizard Cage", "The Bite of the Mango", "The Price of Salt." I felt a little more normal when they talked about "Little Women,"  "The Kite Runner," "The Year of Magical Thinking," and "The Last Lecture."  I feel compelled now to read Susan Halpern's book, "The Etiquette of Illness."  She suggests that we refrain from asking people with a terminal illness, "how are you?"  It's much better to say, "Do you feel like talking about how you are feeling today?"

He also wrote that after Mary Anne died they found 27 pair of reader glasses tucked in drawers, chairs, in baskets, and on top of end tables and night stands.

I buy Dollar Store readers because I keep losing them, although I have spent $18.99 at Costco a time or two for 3 pair.  I noticed that my sister, Karen, tucked a pair into one of the drawers at the Johnson cabin so we'd have help reading recipes for checking our Email on the IPAD when we are there.  I've wondered if croakies or eyewear retainers would help me keep track of all those glasses.  Or maybe I need to invest in those more expensive ones that snap together in the front, above the nose.  You'll notice the glasses on my night stand by the book - for some reason they've not disappeared.  They were the first pair of readers I ever bought, 1.25 over 15 years ago!!  I've used them only for bed time reading and my eyes have not changed in 15 years.

Will writes about his mother's ability to read an entire book at one sitting - something I've never done, mostly because reading relaxes me and I usually fall asleep quickly.  It takes me a long time to read a book - I usually have to renew those I check out of the library because I'm so slow.  I've been trying to check out large print books now and it seems to help my eyes from getting so tired.  Sometimes listening to a book on tape in my car is a better way for me to get through a book quickly.

Mary Anne survived pancreatic cancer for over a year.  She continued to read the Bible, The Book of Common Prayer and Daily Strength for Daily Needs.  After his mother died Will wrote, "Next to Mom's bed was Daily Strength for Daily Needs, still with the bookmark in it marking the entry for Friday, September 11(the day she died in 2009).  I looked in the book first for the Bible passage for that day.  It was the shortest entry in the whole book, just three simple words:

Thy Kingdom Come.

Then I read the rest of the page.  At the bottom was a quote from John Ruskin:

If you do not wish for His kingdom, don't pray for it.  But if you do, you must do more than pray for it; you must work for it.  

I believe those were the last words Mom ever read."

My sisters and I have compiled a list of our favorite books and we, too, have something to talk about when we've finished talking about all the quirky people in the Kopczynski family.  Sisters, add this one to your list!!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Tom and Kathy Cahill 50th Wedding Anniversary

Tom and Kathy Cahill

 I love the way the pictures were displayed, inside the frames of this old wooden door.  One block for each of the six children, the entire family, and the 50 years in Love sign.  
Look at the beautiful family Tom and Kathy created!  They had four children, Mary, Tom, Jim, and Mike, when they moved to Lewiston in 1973, then added Colleen and Christine nine years later!
 Guests enjoyed a roasted pig!!  It was so good, didn't even need any barbeque sauce.  
 Father Joe Schmidt married Jim and Stacey Cahill, 25 years ago, and led them in the renewal of their marriage vows.
  Deacon Fred Schmidt encouraged the whole family to gather around Tom and Kathy as they renewed their wedding vows.  

I enjoyed hearing the camping stories.

 Son Tom said, "we never missed Mass, even when we were camping an hour from the nearest church.  We begged Mom and Dad to let us say three rosaries instead, but if the Schmidts and Neys were camping with us, we always went to Sunday Mass."

 Kathy fought back tears as her sons, Tom and Jim, spoke about the faith of their parents, their commitment to each other, and the wonderful example of unconditional love shown throughout their married life.
 Kathy saved the cake topper from their wedding and the baker made a small cake for this occasion so the bride and groom could, once again, cut the cake.

 Pictures of a few special guests....

Sharon Cooper and her grandson, Owen.  Her daughter, April, is visiting while she and her husband take a break from their work in Pakistan.
 Sister Carm with the happy couple.  Carm spoke about recruiting Kathy to help with the children's religious education program at Our Lady of Lourdes - another one of the many "yeses" Kathy said to various ministry programs.  Carm also mentioned that she did some babysitting for the Cahill kids and "they did not like my cooking."
 Cecilia, Fred and Jeanette Kelly
 Joan Hogan, Stacey Cahill, Betty Huffman and Grace Church
 Kathy and Father Joe Schmidt sharing memories
My brother, Larry, was eager to meet Tom Arnzen, who is Jim Cahill's best friend.  Tom's brother, Jerry Arnzen, is one of Larry's good friends.  

The Cahill children planned and executed a great celebration for their parents.  Kathy did admit that it was hard for her to relax because she's always been the one to be in charge of the food and the logistics of family gatherings.  She also talked about some of the challenges she and  Tom faced in their marriage, but "one word that we never brought up was 'divorce' because we made a commitment to remain faithful to our marriage vows, and I think now we're going to make it."

I remember when I was a new director at Juniper Meadows, facing challenges of staffing and occupancy, and Tom (who'd come to lead the communion service) sat down in my office and patiently listened to my concerns and frustrations.  He'd retired by then and reminded me that work challenges sometimes distract us from our real job, "which in your case, is to love and care for the residents." 

During the celebration, Jean Altmiller and I realized that our friendship really began when Kathy, the Rectora, chose us to be her assistants during the 2001 Women's Cursillo.  We attended lots of team planning meetings and sometimes Kathy would insist that we come for dinner - a real dinner, with several side dishes and a home made dessert.   Jean and I remarked about our good fortune because neither one of us did much cooking for ourselves.  Jean recalled the challenging days when her daughter, Amy, was hospitalized with Gullain-Barre Syndrome and Kathy came to her house and scrubbed the kitchen floor!  I will never forget their generosity and hospitality.

God, bless this special couple and continue to be their source of joy and happiness!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Taylor's Baptism

My heart filled with the joy of anticipation when my sisters invited me to drive with them to McCall for Taylor's baptism.  The invitation was bittersweet because AnnMarie's family was to be the guests at the cabin, but her Mom, Nora, came down with an E-coli infection.  So Karen, Connie, and I were the support grannies of this great event.  

We began our weekend with dinner at the Shore Lodge.  Kennedy came running toward Karen when she first spotted her on the deck.  I remember those moments with my own grandchildren - nothing better than the open arms of welcome from a child!    Kennedy's learned how to take care of her dolls from watching AnnMarie care for Taylor.  We grannies had a lot of fun playing with Kennedy, carrying her dollies, and preparing food in her special kitchen.  I even learned how to stand in line, according to her directions.  
I took this little video to capture Kennedy's sweet voice and delightful giggles.

This precious baby Taylor got to wear the same Baptismal gown that her mother and sister wore for their baptisms.  AnnMarie beamed when she said, "my mom protected the dress so well, it's still white and hasn't turned yellow."

Ann Marie got a little choked up before the baptism, just thinking about the empty space created by her mother's absence.  

Father Steve blessed her with lots of water and she did not even peep!
The proud god-parents, Jim Kaus and Julia Esser.

The floral arrangements caught Kennedy's attention!
The sweetest girls ever, now all beloved children of God!

 Karen insisted on the God-Mother picture.  She is Julia's godmother!
And look at this sweet Grandma picture!  
Our sweet Taylor entertained us with her stretches, coos, and wiggles!  What a precious child.  I wrote this little blessing prayer in honor of her special day.  

Lord, surround precious Taylor
with the fullness of your love
 Lead her in your light each day
 Smile down on her
 with the your gracious mercy and kindness
 Touch her heart
 with grace and goodness
 Teach her to trust your wisdom
 with a faith forever new
 Enfold her in your tender care
 today, August 10, 2013, and always

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Raspberry Festival

My oblate friends, Lisa and Regina, invited me to help with various tasks to help at the Raspberry Festival.  The Festival raises money for the Museum at the Monastery of St. Gertrude.  
It's all about the raspberries that grow behind the Monastery.  My mom helped pick these berries with Sister Wilma every year for over 10 years.  She would get up at 5 AM to beat the heat and the bees!  I noticed a sign up sheet with the names of lots of volunteers that have been picking berries for weeks.

Our dear Sister Wilma, now she and Mom are picking berries in heaven!
 The fun started early on Thursday, July 25, when several of the oblates gathered at St. Stan's Parish Center kitchen to make Raspberry Popcorn.  It was a long day, filled with sticky fingers!  It's quite a process - popping corn, measuring the ingredients, stirring the sryup, baking the popcorn, letting it cool, then bagging it!  We managed to get 108 bags filled and a profit of $540 for the festival.

Then on Thursday, August 1st,  I travelled to Cottonwood with friends to bake the cake that becomes the foundation for the famous Raspberry Shortcake on Sunday.  Carolyn called us Goddesses of Cake!  We baked 100 boxes of cake in less than three hours.  I think our Mother Mary helped keep us organized!

Goddesses of Cake - Regina, Lisa, Marcia, Theresa, Sondra, and Cecilia
 Marcia and Sondra cracked over 300 eggs!
 Cecilia opened 100 boxes of cake mixes.
Lisa and Regina poured and scraped!  I measured the oil and added it to the bowls!  We used the ovens in the Monastery that are used to bake hundreds of loaves of bread every month.  We could bake 12 sheet-cake sized pans at one time.  The pans were wrapped and then put in the freezer to stay fresh until Sunday. 

I loved my job on Saturday - picking roses at the Lewiston Rose Garden and Lisa's garden

Lisa nurtured a dozen of these petunias all summer so there would be raspberry color all around

My Oblate friend, Julie, and her sweet mother helped with the rose bouquets

So did Jack, Regina's husband.

The cart, filled with bouquets, ready for Sunday morning.
We did get a lot of compliments about our decor on the lawn in front of the Monastery.
Regina and friend!

I got to wear Sister Wilma's apron while I served up the watermelon!

They brought back the Quilt Show again this year.

This antique quilt proved to be my favorite in the quilt show because it's hand quilted and my Mom's favorite colors!
Pat Martin entered the T-Shirt quilt she made for Karlee Wilson

My purchased treasures - popcorn and jam for Marilyn
I stopped at the Mom's memorial along Highway 95 on the way home and put some new pink flowers in the holders so it would be more noticeable as we drive by.

I got the sweetest handwritten thank you note from Sister Clarissa, the prioress, which said, "we could never have completed the Raspberry Festival with your help, the help of our oblates, volunteers and friends.  We don't know how much money we made, but we do know that the Festival was a delightful, fun, and delicious community building event."  

There you have it - her sweet note made it all worthwhile!