In the Land of Grand (kids)

I had planned for the worst, hoping it would not come, but alas it came, quite unexpectedly. A few days after my arrival in the northern land of Grand, we were outside in the bright sunshine with a blue sky stretching as far as the eye could see. The girls were in their summer clothes, jumping on the trampoline. Three days later, on April 11th, we were gazing out the window upon a bright winter wonderland. It could have been worse. A little north of here they dealt with blizzard conditions and much heavier snow. We only got 5 or 6 inches, which is pretty much nothing in the Twin Cities. People around here went about their business as if spring had never teased us with its tenderness. They ignored the cold and the slushy roads, knowing that it’s the only way to get the best of old man winter. Very much like a spoiled child who must be taught to outgrow its childish ways, the last tantrums of winter must simply be overlooked, if end-of-season lessons are to be learned. Their knowing methods worked like a charm. Within a week, the sun was back….until the spring rains set in.

I am sufficiently pacified, though, in the knowledge that we were 30° warmer up here for a few days than my hometown in southern Ohio! After several gloomy, cooler days, we are back again to sunshine and 70’s today, but we face a bit of a cool-down again this weekend. I am fine with that. In Cincy, we usually go from cold and dreary to a settled-in sizzling summer in a matter of days. The unusual taste of appropriate seasonal overlap is pleasing to the palate.

As all these weather patterns swirl around me, I’m busying myself with helping around the house and playing with the grandkids. On Holy Saturday, while my daughter had an unusual afternoon rest in her room, and my s-i-l and older granddaughters had gone to an early Easter Vigil (the celebrant was a visiting Bishop from Chicago who had to get on a plane and get back home that evening, after a FOUR HOURS long Mass!), I spent quite a long time in the lovely outdoors with my youngest granddaughter. She’s almost eighteen months old now, and she delights in being outside, usually screams when it’s time to come in, so her appreciation of me has been significantly upgraded since Saturday. I can now pick her up and make her happy when Mama needs a little help. I can distract her and make her laugh. Sometimes she even stretches her pudgy little arms up to me and says, “Mee-mee!” Mimi’s heart is aglow with this gift of acceptance!

The older girls continue in their usual ways: sweet and fun one second, and completely stressed-out and screaming the next. (They have always been naturally high-strung and easily overloaded, which leads to regular meltdowns, while Mama and Daddy practice saintly patience and employ time-outs as needed). Mimi is not quite as saintly as the parents, nor nearly as young, so it’s been challenging. I head to my hideout in the basement as needed, with earplugs and solitaire on the iPad to get me through the overly dramatic toddler/preschooler “performances.” If the uproar happens to be exceptionally trying, I head to my friend’s house up the road. She’s a grandma, like me, and her house is nice and quiet (except when the two dogs see a squirrel, or another dog walking by). I have stayed in her spare room during past visits, when there were several of us visiting, and there wasn’t room for all of us in my daughter’s house. What a gift to have found a new friend and generous host! (My daughter found her by posting on the NextDoor site, to see if anyone nearby had a room to rent out. Our new friend replied and said I was welcome to stay with her for free, and we hit-it-off instantly. Isn’t that lovely?! Life offers the sweetest little gifts and surprises sometimes.)

With my store of survival skills and hide-outs always at the ready, combined with that sweetened relationship with my youngest grandchild, I am surviving quite nicely, even with the additional disturbance of some unexpected house repairs thrown in for good measure. This week there’s a crew at the house doing some painting and other work in several of the main rooms, so the occupants are scattered on the warm spring winds. Daddy’s at work, while Mama and children are with the in-laws. I’m back at my friend’s house, occupying her couch in a brazen, make-yourself-at-home style. Luckily, we are kindred spirits, so she appreciates me as much as I appreciate her!

So, all things considered, I am fairing much better on this sojourn than I had expected, but then again…, I miss my cats terribly, and I still have THREE WEEKS to go!

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Strive to be a Good Thief

On this solemn day known as “Good Friday,” when we recall the crucifixion and death of Jesus on the cross, I share with you these words from Fulton J. Sheen, taken from “The Cross and the Beatitudes.” In this book, the Venerable Fulton Sheen correlates the Seven Beatitudes to the Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross.

“If then, on the last day, we would receive a merciful judgement, we must begin here on earth to be merciful to others. Just as the clouds release only the moisture which they gathered from the earth, so too can Heaven release only the mercy we have sent heavenward.
By constantly thinking of ourselves, we render ourselves incapable of receiving the kindness of others. Only to the extent that we have emptied ourselves of ourselves can God fill us with himself. And likewise, the best way to have our prayers answered is to pray for the intentions of others, for God begins to think of us when we cease to think of ourselves.
Therein probably lies the reason why more of our prayers are not answered. How can God answer the prayers we address to him unless we answer the prayers others address to us? Do we answer the prayers of the poor? The maimed? The lame? The missionary? How can God give us his gifts if we never give others our gifts? How can God fill our coffers with his treasures, unless we empty them to others?
The law is as simple as that: sow and you reap; do not keep your seed in your barns; give it away – scatter it over the fields; do the foolish thing; dissipate it, so that even the birds of the field may eat of your bounty. And lo! In a short time you will find your seed increased five, ten, one hundredfold. Keep it in your barn, and the birds starve and you have no increase.
Give and you shall receive; be merciful and you shall receive mercy. When, therefore, you are on a cross of pain or sorrow, always think of that cross as the cross of the thief on the right. In that way, you become another Good Thief, for a Good Thief is one who steals Paradise!”

Wishing you a holy and reflective Good Friday, followed by a joyous and blessed Easter!

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