Monday, February 3, 2014

Making the Effort To Walk To Church In A Blizzard and Then Getting Dissed By The Priest's Sermon

This was a post I originally wrote on February 2, 2011 which I thought I'd revisit and dust off.  Very deja vu and apropos.


All of this snow has me thinking about when we were kids, because it sure seemed like we had a lot of snow days back then. In particular, I remember one Easter Sunday when I must have been about 11 or 12, when we had a huge snowstorm that hit the east coast with about 2 feet of snow.

I grew up in a very religious Catholic household, and neither snow nor sleet nor hail were going to keep my parents from performing their Sunday duties of getting us all out the door and off to church that morning. After all, it was Easter Sunday, one of the days everyone (even the semi-lapsed Catholics) went to church. And believe me, we weren't semi-lapsed, we went EVERY Sunday to church, without fail. My parents were very staunch Catholics.

My mom and the 3 girls (Mary-Kate, Sue, and me AKA Baby Huey) on our way to Easter Mass 
I remember my mother making sure we all got bundled up in our snow boots, hats, mittens and winter coats and out the door to walk the 2 mile trek to St. Agnes Church. All of us went, the 4 kids, my mom and dad, trudging our way through an insane amount of unplowed snow. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was still blizzarding down upon us for the entire walk.

It was kind of fun, in a Nanook of the North, survivalist kind of way. My mom was so pleased that we could show such a wonderful example of Christianity and good Catholic faith (she was, after all, Scottish, and religion was very near and dear to her heart, as was perseverance over insurmountable odds). We finally arrived at the Church, looking like eskimos, and dripping snow all over, but quite pleased with ourselves and our religious fervor.

The priest that day, Father Lutz (amazing how I can remember his name after all these years), gave a rather condescending sermon in which he remarked that, while it was nice that the very few of us who made it to church showed up, it was completely unnecessary, given the weather conditions.

WELL....my mother was completely disgusted! She was soooo annoyed at him, and couldn't believe he would dismiss our valiant efforts to show our faith by our struggle to Mass through all of this snow, only to be so summarily dismissed.

My mother had Multiple Sclerosis for much of her adult life, and in her very stoic way, never even told anyone about it until I was in my 30's. No one. Not my Dad, not her parents, not us, not her best friend(s). No one.

She kept it all in, kept it all to herself for about 20 years. I still cannot quite fathom that, given the year I've been through. She lived in this state of panic and limbo that I've lived in this last year, for over 20 years, never sharing the fear or anxiety with anyone, not even my dad until she was in her 50's.

And me, I shout out my breast cancer woes from the highest mountaintops. I'm so out there, constantly telling everyone how indignant I am about this very annoying and horrible disease that's been hoisted upon me, while she kept it all in with great dignity, only sharing it when we were all older.

She was a strong woman.  I suppose I got much of my "strength in the face of adversity" from her.  I can't really take the credit; my mother raised us to be strong, independent women.

So, let me post these pictures of today's ice storm for posterity. It's the least I can do, in honor of the memories that the snow has brought me today.

Beautiful snow colored Red Maple in our front yard.
Snow covered fir trees.

18 comments:

  1. I had to smile because I grew up in that kind of a Catholic family as well.
    My husband still goes every week come hell or high water.
    I'm trying to enjoy today's snow storm, trying.

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    1. Me too, Doreen. I've just about had it with this snow, but I have a feeling we have a lot more to come. :)

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  2. dear Claudia,

    this post brought back a lot of memories of my parents and how insistent they were about our (catholic) religious upbringing, including mass each and every sunday. I love that photo of your sisters and you (baby huey! my husband's name was hugh, and in college his frat bros called him that - I wish you could see the photo of his 19 yr old self as baby huey at a Halloween costume party!)

    what you wrote about your mom having MS and never telling a soul all those years is astonishing. do you think it was to protect you kids and your dad, or maybe that if she just forged ahead with no fanfare she could endure and accomplish whatever needed to be done to take care of your family? or both?

    just as an aside - I would have been outraged at that priest, too. it's good that your mom was able to express it, and not just accept such thoughtlessness. some would have made excuses for him, not wanting to besmirch a priest for heaven's sake!

    much love and light - and fervent wishes for an early spring!

    Karen xoxo

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    1. Hi Karen,
      You too, eh? The whole Mass every Sunday thing....wow that seems like such a long time ago. My mom actually shared with me that she didn't tell any of us because she knew that if she told my dad, he would start to accommodate the MS and have her in a wheelchair and my mom felt that by fighting it she was keeping it at bay. I don't really think that it would have made it any worse if she had "given in" to it (her thinking, not mine) but she was just such a stoic that she couldn't ever admit that she had a weakness. It's that Irish/Scottish background, I suppose. Hugs to you, hope you're doing ok with this latest winter storm! xoxo

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  3. Claudia,

    I wish it were today for your mom and her MS, because people are open and honest about it, and with the advent of the Internet she would have had many places to turn to. Even if she chose not to reveal, she still could have spoken to others on the web. What a courageous woman who I now greatly admire for her strength. That is astounding. I am going to post this post in my private MS FB group.

    Lovely, lovely post to read on yet another snowy, icy, icky NJ day.

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    1. Thank you, Cathy! I wish it were today for her, too. I think there would have been a much stronger network of support for her, as you've shared. I see that you have a strong network, and I think she would have been able to tap into some of that herself and maybe life could have been a little less daunting for her.

      Thank you for the wonderfully kind words! And stay warm inside, let's hope we all keep our power with this icy, sleety, messy storm. xo

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  4. Beautifully written! Visiting from #SITSBlogging - I think that it is such a shame that so many people lived (and still live) thinking that the only way to be strong was to withhold things. Particularly in that generation -- I'm glad that she did finally share with her loved ones.

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    1. Thanks, Courtney! Yes, I think that in that generation it was just the way they were. No one would ever admit any illness or weakness. I think it's better the way things are now, where we are more open to discussing and being honest. But, we're so lucky that she finally did tell us when we were older so that we were able to help her as she got older and became more reliant on us for help. Thanks for your generous comment!

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  5. This post makes me think of my Catholic upbringing. I can remember twice that I didn't go to church.

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    1. Yeah, we NEVER missed Sunday Mass. My parents were really religious, me not so much. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. What a beautifully written post. I can't imagine that you mom went so long without telling someone about her illness. I'm so glad that we live in a different time and we're free to tell others our story, it really helps everyone that is struggling.

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    1. Thank you, Diana! Such a nice note. I can't either, she was very strong. I think in some ways it's easier to tell people so am glad I live in this era, but back then, people kept all these things inside.

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  7. What a great memory of a snow day! Even though you went to church everyday it mad this day so special that you can remember the small details. I can't imagine how your mom made it all those years without anyone knowing. I have one small cold and everyone knows. Thanks for sharing this story. #SITSBlogging

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    1. Me too (everyone knows it if I have a little cold :)) Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  8. What a great story! Maybe the priest was grumpy because he had to be there because of the faithful that would show up? I can't imagine having MS and not telling anyone. (Stopping by from #SITS)

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    1. Hi Coco, Yes, that was probably a good part of the priests annoyance. I still can't really understand how my mom kept it in for over 25 years, not even telling my dad. She was stoic, that is for sure. Thanks for stopping by.

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  9. Your mother was an incredibly brave woman! My uncle has MS and I see how difficult it is- I can't imagine how she endured so many years without anyone knowing! She sounds like an amazing example of faith, strength, and love.

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    1. Hi Clarissa - I'm sorry that your uncle has MS. I know, I don't know how my mom could keep such an important thing to herself for all those years, it's amazing to me. She was very strong, very focused and she wasn't one to ever complain, even later when we all knew she was sick and the disease really progressed, she still never really complained.

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