Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Being Present

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Following are two tributes to my late friend Rosemary, written by her husband Mike, and hand delivered to me today. 


 Early one balmy summer evening, I dialed up my best buddy Joe, and said, “Want to go cruising?”  We lowered the top on my red and black Buick Roadmaster convertible and started down Teutonia Avenue with my dice dangling from my mirror.  We came to a stoplight at Villard Avenue and, pay dirt; behold a large black car with pretty girls dangling out of every window waving—at us! Soon the light went green, their tires squealed and off they sped. Quickly, they turned down the first side street and by the time we turned, they vanished. We methodically combed the nearby streets and after what seemed like an eternity, we finally found them. The car wasn’t quite as full, so I asked, “What happened to that cute blonde with the ponytail?” Annie, obviously the pack leader said, Oh, Rosie, we dropped her off, would you like her number?” “You bet” I said and off we speed to the nearest phone booth. “Rosie, hi, I’m Mike. Your friend Annie gave me your number. Would you like to go cruising for some ice cream tomorrow?” “Sounds good to me!” Okay, I’ll pick you up about 6:00 p.m.

I nervously went to the back door, DING DONG, instantly a big burly man in the “T” shirt appeared, “WHO ARE YOU?” I’m Mike and I’m here for Rosie!” The man turned away and yells, “Hey Mert, there after Rosie already, and bring me a beer.” Obviously, he was the prototype for Archie Bunker, but after giving a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” he allowed Rosie to ride with me the next forty years. 


Rosemary was a good and beautiful person both on the inside and the outside. Rose’s golden hair and big blue eyes sparkled and her smile never left her face. I always told her she was a natural beauty. She never needed or used makeup.

On the inside she was equal to the outside. Rose was kind, compassionate, thoughtful. She never even nagged and best of all for me she loved me unconditionally.  

We did everything together and as a family: camping, vacations, church leadership, started the St. Benedict’s Meal Program, joined the St. Vincent DePaul group, and more. Best of all, we raised three almost perfect children, Wendy, Dr. Kris, and Mick to adulthood.

Did we ever disagree? Definitely, but we had a rule, “Never go to bed angry.” Some nights we stayed up pretty darn late.

Ovarian cancer chose Rose when she was only 52 and when she was halfway through her studies to become a hospital chaplain. At 56 Rose slipped away.

Rosemary was a good and dear person. They say, “Only the good die young.” Maybe if Rose had a little “bad” in her she would still be riding with me to this day in our red convertible.

This is tribute to my wife
Rosemary Terwelp

* * *

I did not read these tributes to my friend, Rosemary, in Mike’s presence. As usual, I was preoccupied with other tasks. When I did read them, just before going to sleep that night, I felt shame at my lack of presence to Mike and his heart felt gifts.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

I read a book many years ago titled Spiritual Lemons by Lyn Brakeman. My encounter with Mike yesterday returned to me a memory of a specific chapter in her book titled “The Sacrament of Shame”. My shame led me to call Mike today and apologize for my insensitivity in not reading his heartfelt tributes to Rosemary in his presence. He appreciated my call. 

In the mess of papers I am trying to organize was an article titled “Simple Gestures of Solace”, which speaks to the importance of being present to one another. The article closes with a reflection titled, “The Companionship of the Dead,” which I read to Mike as follows:

 “As we grow older we have more and more people to remember, people who have died before us. It is very important to remember those who have loved us and those we have loved. Remembering them means letting their spirits inspire us in our daily lives. They can become part of our spiritual communities and gently help us as we make decisions on our journeys. Parents, spouses, children, and friends can become true spiritual companions after they have died. Sometimes they can become even more intimate to us after death than when they were with us in life.”

“Remembering the dead is choosing their ongoing companionship.”

I dedicated my first memoire, God Never Hurries, to my late crone friend, Rosemary, in which I share some of her wisdom and influence on my life. I think she is still working with me to grow through the power in reflection and understand how everything is a both/and thing, including the sacrament of shame.

Thursday, October 24

Fall colors have been muted this year because of all the rain. But a glance down a side while biking surprised me with an iridescent red/orange glow of tall stately trees. Because this loveliness will soon slip away, makes it all the more precious to behold.

Friday, October 25, 2019

I don’t know how many years it has been since I washed the window in the garage. It was opaque with spider webs and dead insects. Just to get at it was a project, moving an old hanging bike and a table full of pots, potting soil, and other garage things that could be in a better place. I even put clear tape on the window’s torn screen. Of all the list of projects needing to be done, this clearly was not a priority. No one except me will ever notice the improvement. But I am glad I got this done today.  It taught me to take things one at a time, rejoice in what gets done, and accept it could take the rest of my life to get organized, if ever.  

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Trick or Treat!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Halloween is on Thursday, October 31 but my village scheduled Trick or Treat yesterday from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. A cold rain started exactly at five o’clock. I felt sorry for the young children showing off their wet costumes in search of fun and treats, and their parents who accompanied them. 

I set out a brightly lit pumpkin next to the big bowl of treats, and put on Oliver’s lion mane costume. I wore a warm coat and gloves, put a soft cushion on the lawn chair, and a rug down for Oliver to lay on as we set up under the overhang of my front porch to admire the children and parents out in such frightful weather.  

Oliver’s costume is a big hit with both parents and children who proclaim him, “Simba!” He adored all the attention. I proclaimed the children and parents “very brave” to be out in the cold rain. What I remember most from yesterday’s Trick or Treat was a young father who said to me in a soft appreciative voice, “Stay warm.” The kindness in his voice warmed me through and through, and will always, whenever I recall it.

Today, bright sunshine and warming temperatures began and ended this perfect fall day that seemed created for yard work. Didn’t even need a jacket. I could only feel gratitude for the sun’s warmth and the strength I felt in my body as I worked the rakes and lawn mower and made a huge pile of debris at the curb for pick up. 

Monday October 28, 2019

Grateful again for my warm clothes against the cold, cloudy dampness--snow is coming. Dug out the parsley from my herb garden and put it in a pot to go in the sunroom along with an already potted rosemary plant. Both are hardy and could possibly survive the winter in there as well as continue to provide flavor to my cooking. I insulated and covered the sump pump outlet next to the house to keep it from freezing. It occurs to me life is like the weather—always changing—and requiring us to change in response.     

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