Saturday, May 7, 2011

Growing Old is Not for Sissies!

Let me preface this by saying that 54 years of age is not and should not be old!

But in the past several months, I have nagging little health issues that are probably a consequence of my younger days atop a horse. Specifically, I have nasty pain in both hips, pain in my right shoulder (probable rotator cuff) and female problems. Of course my back and knees are ongoing issues but I am pretty used to them.

I have been holding myself together trying to get my daughter “raised.” And she has been getting job interviews and I am hopeful something will come to fruition—and soon. I am so tired of trying to maintain a household on my crappy income—two people living on what really isn’t adequate for one person.

I have a perfectly good house and husband located two hours to the south of where I sit at this moment. Had I not moved up here to at least try to get good work for myself (and I define good work as work with benefits… which I have not gotten anywhere close to in 10 years of trying!) and live closer to several colleges, my daughter might well be married to some local guy, utterly dissatisfied with her life, living in a place with limited opportunities.

If she gets a job, I think it’s just fine if I choose to move back home; the limited work I do can be dome remotely, with maybe a trip to San Jose once a month, if that. I could also start dealing with my health issues, having what little income I can earn go toward co-pays and doctor bills. At any rate, I am hoping my daughter gets a job soon … now if only I could make her understand just how bad my hip pain is, and how it’s turning me into a hermit!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sleep-Deprivation and the Blessed Pope John Paul II

I do need to get a good night’s sleep in the worst way! For a change it’s not pain keeping me up, but television. First I pulled a nearly all-nighter watching the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton early Friday morning. Just as I caught up with sleep, I remembered that this weekend was to be that of Pope John Paul II’s beatification ceremony, and tripped over a live broadcast.

I have no doubt that John Paul was someone special and utterly worthy of sainthood. Maybe he isn’t as flashy as many of the “older” saints, but in our time, when a miracle has to be something very special to attract the Church’s attention.

John Paul II was so charismatic, something that is impossible to see on television. No doubt that is where most have seen him. I was one of the lucky few to have breathed the same air as he, at Carmel Mission in the fall on 1987. I’d volunteered to provide emergency medical services for media covering the Pope’s visit to the Monterey Peninsula. He presided over mass at Laguna Seca raceway, and following that mass, was headed to the mission for lunch with priests, take a short nap, and then head to his next stop, which I think was San Francisco.

The Monterey Diocese set up big-screen televisions for us to watch the mass, so we could feel closer and also know what was going on. I can’t remember the exact time John Paul II was to arrive at the mission; I believe it was noon or 1 p.m. The media room was at the back of the mission, situated in such a way that we would not be able to see him arrive or depart. Yes, all of us volunteering were disappointed we’d not see him, but there was a kind of peace in knowing we’d served him somehow…
As the day drew to a close, we were told that John Paul wanted to thank the volunteers who were not able to lay eyes on him. A decision was made to have him depart the mission from a different entrance/exit; he would exit into an open area, walk to his limo, and then the limo would drive on a circular path so as many of us could see him as possible.

Watching him walk out was so unreal… John Paul II was still very active and fit, and had some sort of energy around him. I know that sounds stupid, but it was just a feeling I’d not yet ever experienced. I was far enough away I could not see facial expressions; I was standing quite far from the limo. But the Pope had decided he wanted us to be able to see him, and he wanted to thank us. He drove right by me, and though I am sure everyone felt the same, I just know he looked right at me.
There was a grace, a sense of peace and a sense that I was close to someone extraordinary. He did his famous wave, and kept it up until the limo was on the straight driveway and out of our sight.

I know the moment was extraordinary, because to this day, I can close my eyes and recall a 20-second memory clip of John Paul II in the limo, driving in that circular drive, looking at me. I do not have any other memories that play in my mind’s eye that long. Yes, I have flashes of special moments, but Pope John Paul II is a full 20-second memory clip that I can recall by closing my eyes and asking for it. When John Paul II lay mortally ill, I could recall that memory and would pray for him while it was playing. When I heard he’d passed, I was at an Oakland A’s game. There was a moment of silence announced on the loudspeaker, and I closed my eyes and recalled that memory.

Okay, so that might not be a spectacular miracle. To me it is enough to know that John Paul II did and does have God’s ear. Last night I prayed to the newly-Blessed John Paul II and congratulated him and gave thanks for him giving me the opportunity to lay eyes on him. John Paul II is no doubt the only pope I will have seen in person in my lifetime. Sure, I wish I had a photograph of John Paul II during that visit, but I think my 20-second memory clip is far more valuable.

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