Family vacation and Mass….Not mutually exclusive!

July 9, 2012

As we were nearing our destination of our first road trip this summer, we passed by a Catholic Church. My backseat was filled with two,  just turned teen girls and my daughter, a soon to be teen. As I was focused on finding the hotel my daughter stated, as a matter of factly, that we were passing a Catholic Church and one of her friends asked me to drive slowly to see what times the Masses were on Sunday! 

Now, I shouldn’t have been surprised and was in fact very proud that my wife and I apparently got through at some level to our daughter!  And it speaks volumes of the upbringing the parents of her two friends had done.  But I was surprised at this brief moment of religious clarity on their part.  I had spent 3 hours hearing the latest music, most of it sung by the three at the highest possible decibels, listening to gossip on boys and of course the requisite whining on material items they wished they had.

But at that specific moment they had a beautiful pause, albeit it for a brief instance, to wonder about Mass times!

I remember not too long ago on my walk how Mass was reserved just for Sundays and when we took  a vacation, it wasn’t only from work or school – but also from other “responsibilities” like Sunday Mass.  

One of the first things we  have done for years, is to seek out a local Catholic Church close to the area we are vacationing in.  It has always been a wonderful experience.  We learn about the universality of our religion and enjoy the different cultural differences each community has to express in a Catholic Mass.

In this past Sunday’s case the priest was there to greet each family before the Mass as they entered; not afterwards like at our parish.  This parish has the custom of having all parishioners share in the Blood of Christ as well as in the Eucharist.  We all share in the same faith but it’s really interesting to see how different faith communities worship  – while still staying within the parameters set by the Catholic Church.

We had a wonderful, relaxing and fun vacation, including a spectacular sunrise enjoyed from our room every morning.  The least we could do was to take an hour to thank our Lord for the wonders he has given us, as well as to thank Him for the opportunity to vacation as a family…. 

As this summer starts I hope we all share the same Mass opportunity with our family.  I am listing below a link to be able to find a Catholic Church and Mass times in whatever area you are vacationing.  Just input the zip code of the area you are visiting. Make this a natural part of vacation planning for you and your family!    www.masstimes.org or 734-794-2100.

                        Sunrise at Melbourne, Florida

Advertisements

Tweens and high heels….what a funny combination!

June 9, 2012

My daughter celebrated her 13th birthday last weekend….even though it’s not until August! One of her closest friends is also a summer baby and is leaving for Spain for the summer…So of course they came up with an idea of celebrating their 13th first teenage b-day together. She promises she won’t ask for another bash on her real birthday in August… wish me luck on that one!

My wife and I are on the same page in not allowing our daughter to wear high heel shoes….So our daughter, the lawyer to be, came up with a compromise – wear platform shoes! Hey, they are actually not heels, but still 2-4 inches high; depending on the type of shoe… Since my wife and I are learning not to make every decision World War 3 and trying to choose what battles to fight, we let her buy a pair of platform shoes….talk about viral communication…. Every single girl at their party had huge platform shoes!

It was hilarious to see the girl’s tower over boys of the same age since the boys have not yet begun to develop their bodies….yes ladies, I know, even as adults we still haven’t developed our brains……. We parents had a ball watching these otherwise coordinated girls trying to maneuver their platforms! It was a miracle there were no broken ankles! My wife went to the girl’s bathroom at one point and saw about 10 girls on the floor exchanging shoes with each other because they were so uncomfortable! About mid way through the night most of the girls were shoeless…beautiful, fanciful outfits and no shoes! I have to give my daughter credit though, she actually took a second pair, these were flats, and at least wasn’t barefoot the rest of the evening.

It was your typical pre-teen party, with the boys goofing off and the girls dancing by themselves. At one point there were around 100 tweens partying. My wife and I couldn’t believe we made it through that night! We learned one important lesson though. We could have been stricter with the heels issue, but we already raised one girl – now 23 years of age. We know we have many, many rounds of battles in front of us. Many battles we had with our eldest daughter were great learning experiences for us.…

Hopefully we are wiser with our youngest…. we are definitely more tired! But we learned that by giving in a little, with something that didn’t involve a moral issue, she had fun and learned a big lesson about heels, platform or otherwise!

In fact, this evening they are off to another birthday party and guess what! They are all wearing flats!


All I want is to see my mom smile again….and for her last days to be happy ones….

May 23, 2012

The physician taking care of my mother in law, an alzheimer specialist – inside a hospice unit in a university hospital – had just asked my wife what outcome she expected from his staff regarding her mom’s care. It broke my heart to hear her response; especially knowing her mom was in a rapidly declining state of alzheimer and dementia….

Her mom was an independent woman who raised three children and cared for an overbearing, cantankerous husband that had various failed marriages before he met this angel on earth. Her mom took an instant liking to me as I did to her. During the 27 years of our marriage she regularly cared for our two girls, volunteered in our various businesses and routinely traveled with us all over the world. When others complain or say bad jokes about their mother in laws I just smile and think how lucky I’ve been to have shared over half of my life with her.

When her mom decided to sell her house we jumped at the chance to have her live with us. She was never a burden; on the contrary, she was an ever present positive impact on those lives she touched. Once she moved in she became a fixture at our neighbor’s homes, bringing together a community like no politician could ever do. One neighbor has become a life-long friend because of my mother in law’s outgoing and caring personality. My mother in law later moved in with my mother when my mother was sick. She cooked for her, bathed her and became her companion. My mom passed away last June and it has been a steady decline in health for my mother in law since.

My wife is blessed with the opportunity to take care of her mother in her final days. She gets up in the middle of the night whenever she hears a noise from her mom’s bedroom, even after a long day of work and taking care of her immediate family. She spends the day catering to her mom’s every need, while she tries to juggle work and family. I don’t judge those that have their love ones live in assisted living facilities or other type of institutions during their final days. I don’t know what their work or financial limitations are. But the Lord knows what is in our hearts and at the end of our journey, we each have to feel comfortable with being able to discuss our actions with our Maker.

I know one thing for sure, if there is a fast lane to Heaven, my wife will be in it. Her faithfulness, unselfishness and loving example to our two girls, has earned her a special place in our Lord’s heart. Our girls have now seen how my father, my mom and her mom were taken care of by their children. Our marriage has had ups and downs spiritually, emotionally and financially. But I can say one thing now loud and clear….I’ve never been as proud of my wife as I am now. She is a woman of faith and truly understands that her mom will soon pass. Her mom will be in a place we all pray we could one day reach. Her mom will be at peace with our Lord and we will be at peace with each other knowing we made her last days as comfortable and loved fill as possible.

I could only hope that I am able to hold on to my wife’s coattails as she one day speeds directly to spend eternity with our Lord. In the meantime, I pray we can grow old together, while we continue on our walk during this wonderful journey of life….


Off to the circus…. we love you… we will pray and worry, and pray and worry some more…but will be proud of you every step of the way….

May 19, 2012

Yes, I know, prayer and worrying shouldn’t go hand in hand….But for those whose children are flying off on their own fully understand this paradox. ….I always had a feeling my oldest daughter was like a round peg in a square hole while studying at one of the best all girl prep schools in Florida….  I felt the same while she went to a top 50 US university in LA then to a master’s program rated one of the top 3 in the world…. 

My daughter has a split personality that amazes me. She is an academic on one hand; performing complicated research and landing at the top of her class….while at the same time seeking to perform and display her creative side in the most interesting and unusual art forms…. During her prep high school years she excelled at musical theater. The classic triple threat:  singing, dancing and acting. We sent her to London, Salamanca and New York to train in the top venues in her field.  In New York she fell in love with circus performing.  She graduated from prep school, went to LA to one of the best film schools in the world and proceeded to graduate with a bachelor degree in archeology…  Yes, it’s a wonder her mom and I don’t have whiplash from her ongoing career changes!  She found a local circus group and performed as a contortionist while going to school.  Those were the longest 4 years of our life – but she got through it, as did we. 

Back in Miami, I got her into one of the most prestigious marine archaeologist masters programs in the world.  She achieved 5 different degrees of high level diving certifications and completed her course work.  Now I realize she excelled in prep school, college and a master’s program probably because of my pressure and my selfish reasons…. All along she dreamt of being a circus performer.   So right after passing her final masters class, she announced to her mother and me that she was heading back to LA in less than a month to join a circus troupe fulltime.   

Her mom is convinced she won’t be back soon.  I tell her if that is the case it’s because she is successful in what she chose to do. If her artistic dreams do not meet her expectations, she will always have a great education to fall back on.   However, that won’t do much to alleviate the helplessness and fears her mom and I will feel while she tries her hand at something that is so foreign to us. 

We are people of faith and know the Lord has her in His Hands.  But as we lie awake at night wondering how she is doing so far away, I will always remember my little girl hugging me and telling me as I fail to hold off my tears……it will be OK papa, I will always love you both….you and mami taught me well…  

And off she goes to the circus….as I pray and worry and worry and pray some more…but always proud of my baby girl…..I love you too….