Throrough Thursday

Thorough is such a weird word. It means complete with regard for every detail. Paying attention to details and accuracy. My old career of a Computer Systems Analyst required being thorough. The details were where you would find success or failure. You had to do a lot of analysis before digging in to a project.

Our 50th Class Reunion should have been last year. We are celebrating this year as 50 + 1. Isn’t that great? It’s in August, we need to pay soon and reserve our spots. This morning, as I waited outside of Papillion LaVista South High School, I watched the kids and parents coming and going. It was fun to imagine all sorts of stories for the people before me. Some were learning to drive, and Mom or Dad would get out of the car from the passenger seat, and drive away after sitting in the drivers seat.

It took me back to my kids learning to drive. Those were the days! My rule had to be, they can drive when they can get a car, put gas in it, and pay their own insurance. Sometimes we would barter work for the insurance premium, but they had to understand how it worked. I absolutely could not afford to have car payments more than my own.

As I looked up at the entrance below the name of this school Addison will attend next year, I thought back to my first days in high school. I was a mess. I was a very shy kid, and nervous. I wanted so much to be accepted. I hoped the bullying would stop. I hoped and prayed (what’s a Catholic kid to do?) no one would pick on me. Boys did not seem to find me attractive, and I was always drawn to kids who I thought were “above” me. Out of my league. Often a “bad boy.” The ones that did what they wanted, not what they should do. I was a rule follower. It’s engrained in you if you’re a kid born in the 50s, raised in the 60s, and graduated in 1970.

I was nervous as a cat in a roomful of rocking chairs. I didn’t like loud noises, loud voices, and calling attention to myself. I used to joke I wasn’t a wallflower, I was the wall. Sad, looking back. Because of a poor body image, I thought I was morbidly obese. Although I don’t think that term existed back then. Trouble was, women were depicted as thin, Twiggy was the “it” girl, and blondes had more fun. Madison Avenue did a number on all of us.

Of course, I never heard anyone talk about feeling inadequate. Did we do that back then? In my experience, the less someone else knew about my feelings, the less ammunition they had to use against me later on. Lack of trust hurt everyone. It hurt me the most. I believe many other kids, especially girls, felt as I did. We weren’t raised by parents who told us, “Good job!” It was expected. You’d hear if you failed to do a good job, but compliments weren’t given freely. I married right out of high school. It appeared as my only option at the time. I made a bad decision there, but I wouldn’t have my kids without having made it. The marriage didn’t last, but that’s ok.

The question is often posed, if you could go through it again would you? If I could keep the confidence in myself that’s been fought very hard to achieve, yes. It’s been a 50 + 1 year journey to get here. Ups, downs, pitfalls, successes and failures. I am not a quitter. Sometimes I think that comes from having to struggle in life. I never felt smart enough. I never made the Honor Roll. But when I finished college in 1995, I had a perfect 4.0 average at Bellevue University. I did not graduate with honors because my previous hours were not from that institution. I think that kind of stinks, I had a 4.0 average there, too. It doesn’t matter. I know what my average was.

All in all, as I looked at my intelligent, kind, beautiful, talented granddaughter Addison walk away from the car this morning, I felt happy. I’m happy for her, she has confidence. Her parents have instilled good in her heart, love in her soul, and confidence to try everything to see what she likes. And it shows. She made the school dance team as an incoming Freshman. She is that good. Today was an optional weight training class that will strengthen not only her body, but her mind. Good stuff. I cannot wait to see what she does these next four years.

As I’m off to plant more flowers in a couple hanging baskets, know I wish you a beautiful day. I am so grateful for the life I’ve had, even the bumpy roads. Cancer, Divorce, disappointment, bad decisions, fear, and loneliness aside, they all helped chisel the woman I am today. I claim victory, and I’m proud. Of me. And grateful. God has been so good to me. I pray for many more years, doing some good in this world.

Join me! Be kind. I’ll see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

As a child, I grew up with my brothers attending a Catholic school and Church. Back in the late 1950s, we made our First Holy Communion, at about the age of seven. Second grade. That’s pretty young, as I think back, and as I think about kids today. Just before the big day, we experienced the other Sacrament that goes hand in hand with it; our First Confession. Wow.

Confession is where you go to the priest, back then it was in the confessional, where you didn’t see the priest, and confess your sins and the number of times we committed the omission. At the time, the Catechism graphics that accompanied the sin was milk bottles. Just like we had our little morning milk break from little glass bottles. They were pictured with a few splotches on them, indicating venial sin. Those weren’t terrible, a white lie, talking back to your parents, talking smack about someone, those kind of minor offenses that marred our characters. A black milk bottle indicated a mortal sin.

I cannot imagine the horror Monsignor Aughney felt when a seven year old confessed a mortal sin. Mortal sins were the game changers, the show stoppers, the back the truck up, let me get absolution kind of sins. Adultery. Murder. Sinful Thoughts. Those were always such hot beds, the nuns mentioned adultery, but never explained it. Murder was easy, easily explained. Sinful thoughts might have been sexual in nature, I cannot see a seven year old sinning that way. At least, not one that has been raised in a household like we were raised.

Our folks were really good people, they worked hard, they sacrificed for us, they taught us about God. They did a good job. We all grew up ok, the usual bumps along the road. The old nuns would call kids out in the classroom sometimes, “Michael M., you need to go to confession!” It was always a boy, being chastised in class. Maybe a stockade would have been less embarrassing. I wonder if the nuns confessed when they beat the snot out of Michael M. for jacking around and talking during class. Any Sister Mary’s out there? Please comment below, just curious.

I no longer attend Mass or use confession as a way to cleanse my soul. I believe the term is “fallen away.” It’s ok, I know God loves me and Jesus saved me, and the Holy Spirit inspires me. I no longer think I need to be killed by the Communists in order to get to heaven. Martyrdom never appealed to me, but as a kid, we were taught about it early. In between offering up little inconveniences and collecting pennies and nickels for the Pagan Baby Fund.

That said, it doesn’t hurt me to “examine my conscience” once in awhile, and tell God I’m sorry for this or that. You can check yourself without having to leave the house. The Catholics still believe in the need for Confession and telling your sins to the priest. I give them straight to Jesus, who to me is the go-to guy for giving it to God. Or I can go direct. Either way, God forgives my indiscretions, whatever they may be. I still haven’t hit adultery or murder, so I’m relieved about that. I have no desire to do either, trust me.

As I got older, gossipping and assassination of character qualified as “murder of another’s character.” A stretch? Maybe, but it makes you think. Even now, being discourteous, being rude, cutting in line, screaming in a policeman’s face at a “rally,” these are all things we do that are not right or helpful to us or society in any way. Practicing discrimination is wrong. I don’t know what sin it is, I just know it’s wrong. Don’t do it. Say you’re sorry. Intolerance of anyone because of race, color, or creed isn’t just illegal in the United States, it’s a sin against humanity. We need to stop and ask forgiveness.

Disrespect for older people or anyone in authority falls under “Honoring they Father and Mother.” If you disrespect Mom and Dad, you will disrespect your elders and police officers. It’s all wrong. I still find myself thinking, “I respect my mother as my mother, so I’m not starting an argument with her over her negativity.” I choose instead to remove myself from the negativity. Problem solved, and I’ve been kindly quiet about it.

A long time ago, while the Babe and I attended Countryside Community Church, in Omaha, Reverend J. Keith Cook gave a sermon about the Ten Commandments. In my whole life, no one ever mentioned the Ten Commandments serve as the basis for all of our laws today. When you think about it, it’s true. Don’t kill. Don’t steal. Honor your parents. Don’t want what your neighbor wants. Honor God, keeping his Day Holy. As a society, we haven’t done that in decades!

I’m going to switch gears here and work on my book homework for awhile, before Gavin gets here. Pizza’s on the menu for lunch, I’m going to let him make them if he wants. This Grandma loves that kid, to the moon and back. Be kind. Be courteous. Be respectful. Wash your hands! Wear a mask! Help me out, can’t meet my grandson in Colorado until we’re safer from the Coronavirus. Thanks for reading today. Think about how we can all be better citizens and souls. I’ll see you back here tomorrow. Be careful out there.

Let’s Be Courteous! We All Need It!