Sunday, November 28, 2010

Scalpels and Snow

My husband has just had knee surgery. Perhaps you are not familiar with this process but that takes him out of commission to do most things for 6-8 weeks, according to his doctor. This means that most of his “normal” duties have fallen on me.

With it being winter in Montana, these duties include things like clearing the snow from the driveway.

So today I’m out there with the snowblower trying to clear the snow from the driveway and the sludge from the end. In order to do this effectively, one must go INTO the road. My husband proceeds to come outside and yell at me to get out of the road because the neighbors needed to get by. Ummm….let me see.

My husband just had knee surgery. This, in the old days, was a cry for help. “Hi, DH is having knee surgery.” Means “I NEED help!!! Please just offer to do SOMETHING!”

You have a husband with a plow on the front of his truck – offer to clear the driveway. You have an oven and it’s the holidays, make me a few extra cookies so I can get that off my list. You have a teenage son who could help carry my Christmas tree up from the basement.

But do you offer?


Because you are too busy with your own lives to do anything other than “offer to pray” and then gossip about me behind my back.

So you can sit in the middle of the road and wait 2 minutes while I figure out how to make the snowblower cut through the 18 inches of crud YOU left at the bottom of my driveway when you plowed out your driveway.

And don’t expect a Christmas Card.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Unexpected Blessings

Last week we found out rather last minute that my husband needed to have surgery on his knee. As I have not mentioned it yet here, my husband is a disabled combat veteran from Operation Iraqi Freedom. His injuries include his right knee, arm, and hand as well as his left shoulder and arm. He also has post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury.

In order to be able to avoid saying "my husband" over and over through this entry and the others to come that will surely involve him, we will call him Prince Charming.

As with all things VA, it's on THEIR schedule. So we found out Thursday afternoon that he was to have surgery Monday morning. Talk about short notice changes to your holiday plans!!!

As usual, God provides and my parents were already on a train ride coming to visit us the very day we received word about the surgery. They arrived the day after and took care of TrainBoy as well as the furry children (all 4 of them!) while we drove over 200 miles to the Ft. Harrison VA to have the surgery performed.

Prince Charming and I got to the VA safe and sound despite a potential blizzard and were tucked into our hotel overnight beforehand. That morning, we packed up our gear and headed over in full winter get up to the VA for the surgery. It was -10 outside before the windchill.

When we took Prince Charming up to the "Same Day Surgery" room, I was told they needed my cell phone number, which I gave them. Then I was told to say goodbye and they would call me when it was time for me to pick him up and take him home.

SAY WHAT!?!?!?!?! I'd planned on being in that room all day...leaving only to pray in the interfaith chapel while he was in surgery. What do you mean I can't be with my husband who's going under general anesthesia?!?!?!

I was so angry and upset. I shuffled my way around until I found the room marked "Meditation Chapel".

I walked in, sat down, took out my rosary, and tried to concentrate. Then I took out my cell phone and called my parents to let them know all was well and what was going on. I knelt on the kneeler, held my rosary in my hands, and began to pray.

Sign of the Cross, Apostles Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, Hail Mary....

Burst into tears...

Kept trying to finish the Hail Mary.

Got through an entire 5 decade rosary with tears running down my cheeks.

I was sad and angry and depressed. I was so upset I could barely stand it.

And suddenly, I was angry about stupid things. Praying in an interdenominational space has never bothered me once in my life. I was suddenly very upset that the only cross in that room was the crucifix on my rosary. I had to leave. I was literally shaking I was so upset. I felt, more than I ever had in my life, that I HAD to get to the Catholic Cathedral in Helena (closest to the hospital) and pray. NOW.

I went downstairs, cried the whole way to the car. Jumped in and tried to start it up.

And it didn't start.

The battery was dead.

So I went back in to the VA Police office and got the little magic car jumper box thingie. I jumped the car myself (go me!) and as I walked back inside to return the box and get my driver's license back, it suddenly dawned on me.

If they hadn't kicked me out...

If I hadn't gotten upset...

If I'd been able to pray and get through it in that chapel...

I would have not found out about the dead battery until Prince Charming was out of surgery.

And I would have been dealing with a drugged up man in a wheelchair that couldn't walk and a dead battery.

I thanked God right then and there, dropped off the jumping box, and jumped in the car to go pray at St. Helena Cathedral. (Which is beautiful - I highly recommend you stop in sometime as a tourist regardless of your religion. It's stunning!!!)

Prince Charming came through surgery just fine. I picked him up right on time and ran around the VA like an idiot gathering paperwork, travel pay, and such. We hopped in the car and drove home through what was supposed to be another blizzard but barely released any snow until after we'd left the area.

It was a 48 hour period FULL of unexpected blessings.

And my first visit to a Cathedral as a Catholic.

I have to say that I really did enjoy praying there. I felt far more at peace and whole. It was a beautiful experience.

As an update, Prince Charming is recovering right on schedule and is expected to return to work in 6-8 weeks. Your prayers, meditations, and kind thoughts are greatly appreciated whomever they are said to. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Blessed Mass Indeed

Last week, I blogged about my First Mass and what a wonderful experience it was. Just a little background since Monday, I talked with Father Joe on Tuesday about the family's "situation" and he's working on getting everything squared away. Praise the Lord for Father Joe! :) While meeting Father Joe, I got the chance to meet Natalie who will be instructing me in RCIA and the other lady in the office, but I can't remember her name at the moment.

For informational purposes, I have decided I should tell you our local "parish" has 3 separate churches. Sacred Heart, St. Mary's, and Our Lady of Ransom. All are served by the same priest, Father Joe.

So last night, I was supposed to be working on some Boy Scout stuff and ended up missing Mass at Sacred Heart, where I attended last week. I looked at my options yesterday evening and decided that the Mass at St. Mary's would be best - partially because of the time slot (10:30 AM) and partially because to be honest, I'm avoiding going to Our Lady of Ransom for fear of meeting old demons there that I'm just not 100% certain I'm ready to deal with yet.

This morning we got up, dressed for Mass, jumped in the car, and drove the 30ish minutes to St. Mary's. A bit nervous without Diane to guide me this week I plundered on through the Church and found a pew. Shortly after we were seated and I finished praying, Father Joe came to chat with us again telling us how pleased he was to see us there. A few jokes later about remembering names and Erma Bombeck (Dr. Denton?) and he was smiling and laughing as he went to the back to prepare for the procession.

TrainBoy and I settled in for the long haul and I started thumbing through the Missal which is still an oddity to me. TrainBoy was whining that he wanted to get to go sit "up there" (in the Choir Loft at the back) and I was explaining that we aren't allowed, etc. Get over it. Not 30 seconds after I finished that statement, my shoulder is tapped from the back by Natalie, my "to be" RCIA instructor. Her kind smile welcomed us and she introduced herself to TrainBoy. Then she asked me to grab my things and come with her up to the Choir Loft to join the choir.

Wanting to excuse myself politely I started to say "no", but TrainBoy jumped up and started heading after her to go up there. He was ecstatic - who was I to stop him.

(a little background here - I have a personal background as a professional singer and have been for many, many years. I love what I used to do and now do it primarily as a volunteer.)

Up in the loft the Mass was already starting. DS found a spot at the rail in front as the musicians and I introduced ourselves quickly. Turns out Natalie is the Church's organist. I've effectively been recruited for life. Show up anytime - no need to rehearse - glad to have you with us.

These people are the most fun I've ever had in a room full of Catholics. We spent several portions of the Mass in giggles over the stupid things that happen behind the scenes when you're a performer. Some examples include: trying to hold onto 2 books and a binder while holding hands during the Our Father without them falling and making a huge THUD, the reluctance of the Cantor to go up and cantor, and my absolute favorite, the last minute competition for who would have to announce the final hymn which had been published wrong. Lord, I have TRULY missed people like this.

Last week I was comforted by Diane. THIS week, I truly felt like I BELONGED.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I'm Italian by birth...not Jewish, but there really isn't another word for today.

My son and I went to the first Sacramental Prep meeting for him this afternoon. The other parents are wonderful but I was completely shocked to learn that in our archdiocese, children are confirmed in 2nd grade!!! I need to speak to the Father about this before I go any further. I was okay with First Reconciliation and First Communion...but Confirmation is a HUGE step in a young person's life and I don't know that a 7 year old is ready for that responsibility.

Moving forward we prayed the rosary for the first time as a family tonight. Just TrainBoy and I. It was a beautiful experience...and rather amusing. I pray that as we grow in our new faith we can all maintain the enthusiasm and excitement of these early days.