Posts filed under ‘journey’
You see if we ask the question you might get an answer - the answer may make you uncomfortable- and then you may have to pursue a solution.
During these past months I asked the questions – I was IGNORED locally by men of the cloth - WHY??? because – in my humble opinion – to answer may have led to actually having to acknowledge there was an uncomfortable situation and everything in the garden wasn’t perfect.
In fact by ignoring the motivation of an emotional abusive act they didn’t have to deal with it.
It was essentially easier just to IGNORE and hope “I” would give up go away- because that is what usually happens- and not just with this instance of the Roman Catholic church locally ! ( that was a mistake I don’t give up and I don’t go away ).
This is however, a course of non action that works 95 percent of the time. by those that don’t want to “deal” with unpleasantness or problems. They ignore people and situations until finally every once in a while they can’t ignore anymore, by then a lot of damage is done. I found that out the hard way and the reason we are now dealing with this cruelty of control
As readers, how many times have YOU been ignored in life by your respective governments , politicians, religious affliations , corporations, media , schools etc.
Have we become so lily-livered ( funny word that)-
Means cowardly. People once believed that your passions came from you liver. If you were lily livered your liver was white (because it did not contain any blood). So you were a coward.)
as to run from issues that make us uncomfortable or prod us into action?
Is that what we have become as generation of cowards so that if we
1. We don’t ask
2. It follows we can’t be accused of knowing
Come to think of it the Military establishment being cowardly doesn’t equate and they of all groups shouldn’t be lily-livered about anything. Honestly if someone is putting their life on the line for mine the last question I would be wanting to know is if they prefer the same-sex or opposite sex to share their bed. That isn’t a case of ignoring or not asking the question it just isn’t a question for me anymore than the color of their skin or whether they are Roman Catholic or Protestant, right or left handed .
When I do rise to the surface and go out in the parallel world to mine I am often asked by some who know me and some who are just being polite to their customer
How Are You ?
To a man ( or woman) they expect
“Fine and you”
But because I am no good at pretending I answer truthfully to people who ask
How are you ?
Not good, been better, holding myself together barely, bloody awful or most days I try to get through but then there are days that I am not sure I will make it through !
Very few people really want to know how those that grieve are really. They want you to give a polite answer to a polite question – it is after all the done thing in society to “ask”.
Truth and Transparency are words that are touted on blogs, in political arenas, forums, newspapers but I think real truths are only for the few and the brave, because the answer may mean we would have to face the demons and open wounds and that may make society uncomfortable.
Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell even when it comes down to a mighty nations military because otherwise we might have to actually face unpleasantness and we have become a community of wanting “sugar coated truths” and if I ignore it maybe it will go away .
The highest hits daily on this blog is a post about Dachau and Germany ( June’s total 14,473) – another, albeit an extreme case, of IGNORE - and a local population who lived around these camps of IGNORE- Dont’ Ask – Don’t Tell taken to the extreme –
Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell or Ignore is a mantra of those taking the easy way out because sometimes the “truth hurts”!
“…For a long time during those frightful years I waited for a great voice to speak up in Rome. I, an unbeliever? Precisely. For I knew that the spirit would be lost if it did not utter a cry of condemnation when faced with force. It seems that that voice did speak up. But I assure you that millions of men like me did not hear it and that at that time believers and unbelievers alike shared a solitude that continued to spread as the days went by and the executioners multiplied…. …What the world expects of Christians is that Christians should speak out, loud and clear, and that they should voice their condemnation in such a way that never a doubt, never the slightest doubt, should rise in the heart of the simplest man. That they should get away from abstraction and confront the blood-stained face history has taken on today”. —French author, Albert Camus, in a statement made at the Dominican Monastery of Latour-Maubourg in 1948.
Understanding the Vatican
IGNOR(e)(st)ANCE and the Roman Catholic Church- Part One
IGNOR(e)(st)ANCE and the Roman Catholic Church- Part Two
IGNOR(e)(st)ANCE and the Roman Catholic Church Part Three.
IGNOR(e)(st)ANCE and the Roman Catholic Church -Part Four
IGNOR(e)(st)ANCE and the Roman Catholic Church – Part Five
I waited,wept and wrote on this blog ( for which “for the most part is “ignored” and then on March 26th just one month to the day after I had sent a letter via the international real mail to Archibishop Foley I received a beautiful cream coloured envelope in my mail box.
The feel of the envelope and the paper is silk like – admittedly I thought as I went to retrieve my reading glasses
This will be just a thank you for your thoughts or another form letter
but I was pleased I hadn’t been ignored.
However the letter was so much more than I expected- Oh I expected the legal right issue and the perspective of the Roman Catholic Church re “family” to be in the main body of the letter
( those aspects were not going to be news to me – I already knew that perspective and expected them to be front and center)
BUT what pleased me was his man had actually read the letter and the enclosed letter that I had sent to Bishop Lennon and Father Divis. And for once in this whole debacle I had been heard and acknowledged by the very church that I feel enabled the taking of our closure – I hadn’t been ignored!!!!
The opening paragraph :
“I was sorry to read that you have not received an acknowledgement from either Bishop Lennon or Reverend D. Divis at the time you wrote me; I hope that has been rectified by now.”
ED: Note : Sorry Father – not one word has come through from the illusive Bishop Lennon or Reverend Divis… even though you also cc’d your letter to me to the said Bishop Lennon as of today July 1st 2010.
” I hope you will be able to forgive Angela”
AH! so it seems John Cardinal Foley -Grand Master Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem believes the actions of Angela require my forgiveness and therefore follows what she and her family did was wrong ……SIGH!!!! Thank you very much Archbishop…my thoughts all along.
I sent one of Chris cards , hand written, to the Archbishop thanking him for his thoughtfulness, his concern and the fact I hadn’t for once in this whole Roman Catholic scenario been “IGNORED”
I also stated to the Archbishop to forgive one has to understand the reasoning for such an emotional abusive ( in my opinion) act that was perpetrated NOT IN THE NAME OF RELIGIOUS DOCTRINE” – and to be able to forgive I would first have to understand and I don’t- had this been about faith, family beliefs, that I could have understood and actually no forgiveness would have been required-
This as these many months of writing and exploring “our story” have pointed out to those that read and to this family this had nothing to do with faith or religion- but “CONTROL”, with a possible side of vindictiveness – certainly wasn’t about faith or honor!
IN THIS JOURNEY OF DISCOVERING MY SON AND ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS BROUGHT ABOUT BY 2ND GUESSING BECAUSE OF ANGELA’S ACTIONS- I have more of an insight which will be revealed at the end of my journey . And the journey will end eventually just not quite yet.
But for all of those that have been ignored here is one for you !
Click the letter to enlarge.
IGNOR(e)(st)ANCE and the Roman Catholic Church- Part One
IGNOR(e)(st)ANCE and the Roman Catholic Church- Part Two
IGNOR(e)(st)ANCE and the Roman Catholic Church Part 3.
IGNOR(e)(st)ANCE and the Roman Catholic Church -Part Four
My Roman Catholic friends either laughed , shook their heads or knowingly smiled when I said
I am going to write to the Vatican.
I went on the Vatican’s website- No! I wasn’t going to write to the Pope he has his own problems ( because situations in the Roman Catholic Church that had been ignored, disregarded and swept aside – were now coming to light with a vengeance.
Investigators also opened the graves of archbishops in the St. Rombouts Cathedral in Mechlin, north of Brussels, looking for possibly incriminating documents, said Jean-Marc Meilleur, spokesman for the Brussels public prosecutor.
Austrian Catholics ramp up quest for church reform
It seems the Vatican and the Pope are trying to sort through decades of problems world-wide because they were “ignored” in the first place (imho) . I figured I would get lost in the shuffle of “those that were ignored” and quite frankly they certainly deserved to be heard more than I!
Searching through the Vatican site I came across
Il Gran Magistero dell’Ordine
The Grand Magisterium of the Order
John Patrick Foley –
Ah well here is a someone who was born in Pennsylvania so certainly wouldn’t need an interpreter as to American “mid western” thinking.
I wrote the following:
Archbishop John Patrick Foley
President, Pontifical Council for Social Communication
00120 Vatican City State,
Rome, Italy February 26, 2010
Dear Archbishop Foley.
I am writing to you as you were born in Pennsylvania so presumably you know the “culture “of the Midwestern thinking. Also, quite frankly not knowing the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, I am sending this to you as you seem to be in charge. I am curious to see what happens – will etiquette at least produce a letter of receipt or acknowledgement which hasn’t been the case so far in my journey of grief?
You can put this letter down to a grieving mother who wants some answers or who just wants to reach out and make someone of your faith aware of her terrible pain caused, in part, by decisions of people of your faith and enabling of such by your church and an acknowledgement of such.
I did write to the local Bishop ( Richard Lennon) and the priest here in Ohio involved in my secondary loss of my son. (Please see enclosed letter). However, I have received not even a “thank you for you letter, your concerns have been noted and filed” . As an aside the withholding of my son’s cremains was not done for any “religious reasoning” but because he wasn’t an organ donor so she wanted him “intact”.
Maybe I expected too much. I suppose in the grand scheme of things my grief and loss is tantamount to a mere blip on the screen of life , not worthy of acknowledgement , but to this family it is our world- one of unbearable heartache. Do you not think that I should have “expected” an acknowledgement? It does seem that the consensus among your flock here in Ohio they would not have expected any answer. I find that disconcerting actually that even your own people have told me “don’t expect any response”. Why shouldn’t I have expected a response to a letter sent to “men of the cloth” and the human experience?
So I thought I would reach out to the “almost” top and follow through. Thank you for your time in this matter- I await with anticipation your views or acknowledgement at least.
You see if Angela (Lombardi) ritchey IF she had said:
”due to my religious beliefs I cannot separate the ashes”
Believe it or not I would have understood that reasoning - I would have tried to intercede to change her mind to have people of her faith explain BUT remember that is NOT what she stated in the “note” over her signature – in fact she went out of her way to state that religion wasn’t the reason
Angela Lombardi ritchey
I have decided not to separate his ashes. This decision was not made as a reaction to recent events . Religion did not play a role. Chris did not want to be an organ donor he wanted to leave this world with what he came with…I feel this is one last thing I can do to honor my husband…..
CAN YOU BELIEVE ALL THIS ???? – ALL THE HURT, ILL FEELINGS AND TURMOIL FOR A REASON SUCH AS ‘NOT AN ORGAN DONOR”- BEGGARS BELIEF…….( especially when he WAS! …..guess she didn’t know Chris as well as she thought she did.
This is supposedly an intelligent individual who hopefully takes in account what the outcome of her decisions make ( Dr. ) on fellow human beings. Also medically speaking she certainly should know what happens to the organs during a cremation
During the cremation process, a large part of the body (especially the organs) and other soft tissue are vaporized and oxidized because of the heat, and the resulting gases are discharged through the exhaust system.
Didn’t she give a thought to how her actions ( based on such asinine reasoning) would be nothing less than an act of cruelty of the most emotionally abusive kind perpetrated on this family –
Did she discuss this with her Roman Catholic family ? ( according to Sue Lombardi the morning of Dec 11th when confronted by my daughter- “Angela thought long and hard about this”- ( even more worrying in my opinion as to lacking in consequences of one’s actions- (but then again they wanted to send Chris on a 28 hour train journey when he couldn’t even walk to the bathroom)
Did she discuss her thinking with fellow colleagues in the medical field?( after all some on them were part of the gypsy caravan in the waiting room .
ED note: looking at the scene that day where medical professionals ( my son’s “new” Dr. whom I met for the first time) piled into an already crowded 25 ft area .. sitting on that filthy waiting room floor carpet ( dressed to the nines)…… sharing soup and sandwiches – gathered around the feet of Angela whilst her mother (imho) figuratively crooned and swooned over the “professionals” reminded me of some alien picnic . It was very surreal and not conducive to my having “faith in the profession”- but I digress…….
Did they all think this was the “right ” thing to do?
Did not one soul have compassion for the people who would be traumatized by this act of “legal ” right?
OR DID THEY TOO -IGNORE?
TO BE CONTINUED……….
IGNORE by definition:
To refuse to pay attention to; disregard.
DISREGARD : there is another word you can get your teeth into:
To treat without proper respect or attentiveness.
The epistle is lengthy and explains in the course of this letter “
My son married Angela Lombardi, daughter of Tim and Sue Lombardi on June 7th 2008 at St. Mary’s. He married Angela without becoming a Roman Catholic, acquiesced to her wish of getting married in her church but did not take any counseling or “classes”, he refused to do so. He did not attend any services with her or her family. He had his own “independent views” as to religion, as does his family.
I am coming to the close of this lengthy epistle – Chris’ family has had no closure due to, in my opinion, the enabling by your church of this travesty to our family . I would have thought that at least one of the “god fearing “ parishioners or priest would have had some compassion for my son’s immediate family . I was wrong and I am terribly disappointed that as I put aside religious beliefs to help the oldest Lorain parish continue the same was not done to help a family have closure. For the record I did not contact Angela Lombardi (Ritchey) after the “note” as my son had not yet been cremated. I was petrified (yes petrified) that she would then also change her mind about the cremation. This cruel injustice leaves us no dignity in death or focal point to our grief except the anger that replaces the tears briefly and gives some relief from our mourning
ED NOTE : YOU CAN FIND THE TEXT OF THE WHOLE LETTER TO BISHOP LENNON AND FATHER DIVIS HERE
Letter Jan 9th Bishop Lennon Father Divis
My Roman Catholic friends( every single one of them ) told me:
You aren’t expecting an answer are you ?
Well of course I was expecting an acknowledgment of my “letters” – not emails – even if it was another one of the Bishop’s form letters or a thank you letter,
Aren’t Bishops and Priests supposed to at least have good manners?
so sorry about your loss your thoughts have been noted.
Not a way to run a “business” and trust me on this one – religion has become a business. After all I could have become a convert or potential supporter of the church of Mary Mother of God Lorain Ohio…..Oh wait I already did that.
By February 26th I was even more annoyed that our grief and loss was deemed so insignificant as to not even receiving one line of a condolence or a note of condolence at least-
Hell ! ( sorry Father ) they must have made some money from my son I think there is a cost of internment into the Catholic Cemetery in Lorain
but someone got paid – benefitted – didn’t they because of my son dying !
( more than likely paid for out of the October fundraiser money – SIGH!!! More on that aspect of this journey in another posting)
Where was there at least a “thank you for your contribution”….
Yes! I am being sarcastic and irreverent – but to me this is what they had now relegated my son to—– a business transaction !!!!!!?
My Roman Catholic friends said to a man and woman –
Told you so!!! .
Well OK- if the Roman Catholic Priest and a Bishop in the USA are without compassion or manners maybe Rome and the Vatican will acknowledge at least the situation……
So I wrote to :
Archbishop John Patrick Foley
President, Pontifical Council for Social Communication
TO BE CONTINUED ……….
So here we are June of 2010- Our lives turned inside out and denied even the luxury of closure for our son by staunch Roman Catholics.
Those that are regular readers of my writings throughout the years will know I am one of those people who have to know why, and who is accountable. I have fought for many people and issues through the years I have been an advocate , and tilted at some pretty tough windmills. But the toughest advocacy was and is personal, my own son removed from his family in life and in death. How could this be?
Oh I know the “legal rights” as given to his wife by the law- but what about the moral rights- what about compassion- what about Christian charity – is that not part of the Roman Catholic doctrine?
If the friend of the family who has sent out the emails asking for support for the Lombardis because of big bad me is to believed it was because of the memorial service that a “grieving???? widow ) sat angry and possibly thinking of ways to “control“ a situation because of Chris’ mother (me) .
If you believe the widow it was because she was honoring her husband because he wasn’t an organ donor . (Read the links in green for more information)
Take your pick of reasonings – none that justify ( in my opinion ) the actions of the Lombardis as perpetrated on this family. But maybe I am wrong maybe this is the Mary, Mother of God Parish( St. Mary’s) way” you tell me?
However let’s get back to that church where the memorial service was held and where my son took his vows , it also happens to be the church I help to save from closure .
I wrote a great deal about that church and its congregation
and its worthiness to one Bishop Lennon. My writings and thoughts were front page in the local media.
Ironically about the time my son’s Hodgkin’s returned the church got good news:
As stated in Part Two of this series Chris was not a Roman Catholic and I am very angry that he was now interred in the “NOT OF HIS FAMILY OR RELIGION PLOT’ thanks to the legal rights of the “plot (ting) family “
I accessed the Cleveland Catholic Cemeteries website and asked them how they explained family unity in death when my sons “cremains were effectively legally kidnapped from his faith and family ? I was IGNORED
I knew this priest “Father Divis”and he knew of me ( after all I went to bat for him and his church) , he knew of Chris’ family and he officiated at the wedding ( more on that in the letter to the Bishop) and the memorial service . I never heard from this man of God after my son passed- he certainly knew where to reach me. Ironically I heard from Pastors, Reverends, Priests of other parishes( here and in the UK ) and even an Iman .
So these loving God, staunch Mary Mother of God parishioners, after deciding Chris family would not be able to have their closure in their way then neglected(???) to inform anyone in Chris’ family as to the time they were putting Chris in their “papish ground” .
It wasn’t that they weren’t asked ( well at least to Tim Lombardi ) by two of Chris family members and of Angela and she promised in one of those little notes to Nikki that Nikki would be informed.
I wondered how this Father Divis could officiate at the internment of my son – Did he?
I wonder what justification they will come up with this time?
1. Did he know those of Chris’ blood hadn’t been informed by Mr. Tim Lombardi , Mrs. Sue Lombardi or Angela ( Lombardi )ritchey or any of the “family” as to the time of the interment –
ED NOTE:REMEMBER THE WIFE WAS NOW TAKING CONTROL AND EXERCISING HER RIGHTS AS CHRIS’ WIFE- we once again as per the hospital had to defer to her and or HER FAMILY for any information.
How private do you get with an internment?
2. Did he not think it strange that none of Chris immediate family was in attendance or did he too choose to IGNORE that happenstance or did he find this whole scenario acceptable because we weren’t Roman Catholic?
How does this work in the Roman Catholic Church- Did Angela perhaps have to do a penance for effectively lying to a family and breaking her word in front of witnesses I might add on Dec 4th .
Does honoring ones’ mother and father only count if it is YOUR own mother and father and to hell with anyone elses mother and father.
What penance does a Roman Catholic receive for the pain she caused or perhaps that is OK with the parish and parishioners?
How does this work? Who decides a what is a sin or unacceptable in the Roman Catholic Church – does knowingly inflicting more pain and no closure on those that have lost their only son not count as unacceptable in the Church of Holy Mary Mother of God, Lorain Ohio?
You see I think what they did to this family was sinful and hateful but that is just me who has been on the receiving end of their decision and having to deal with the consequences of their actions .
Who am I just a grieving mother ( who admittedly has a reputation for not going quietly into the night) and a non parishioner.
Maybe delivering pain and non -closure is only unacceptable if you are of their religious persuasion.Oh ! gee where have I heard that before think it was somewhere in the dark ages………
So not having much else to do but cry and get through I wrote a letter to that same Bishop Lennon and to Father Divis.
TO BE CONTINUED……
IGNOR(e)(st)ANCE and the Roman Catholic Church- Part One
ED note: You will notice that I refer to the ROMAN Catholic Church. The reason being is that the term “catholic” is all-encompassing meaning :
Date: 15th century
1 : a person who belongs to the universal Christian church.
Both my children attended the now defunct and closed Lorain Catholic High School from the 7th grade through 12. They did not attend due to religious conviction, we are and were not Roman Catholic. They attended Lorain Catholic because it was the only private school hereabouts we could afford. They attended because I was concerned as to the direction Lorain City Schools were heading at the time. I wanted a smaller school atmosphere where there was accountability and a cor majority of parents who were like-minded when it came to their child’s education.
We spoke to both Nikki and Chris as to the religious aspect of the school and what to expect and what was expected of them. They were told to treat the religion classes as they would any other course and if at any time they felt drawn to the Roman Catholic doctrine we would discuss it fully, also that if they felt pressured or made to feel uncomfortable about being non-Roman Catholics we would also discuss that situation.
For the most part things went smoothly with the educational and the religious aspect of Lorain Catholic. There were times when I made my presence known . Father Leo , Father Zingales could attest to that as well as Jim Francis and a couple of the nuns.
Nikki , usually opted out of the religious retreats preferring to take on a community project instead.
Chris also followed suit until his senior year he decided to attend (probably because he was now dating Angela and she was going and he envisioned a stay up all night sort of pajama party atmosphere for two days rather than a religious experience. )
He was in for 30 hours of fasting and non sleep, both of those things were not good for Chris or his mind-set. Chris not eating led to all sorts of fuss and not getting enough sleep well another story . Not eating and lack of sleep are tactics used by the less than worthy in this world.
To reduce a person’s sense of
individuality and confidence even further, physical measures will be employed. Sleep and food deprivation; can be used to render a person confused and weak, and thus malleable
The parents and siblings were supposed to write our positive feelings about Chris which would be read by him at his retreat. We duly followed the orders of Father Giampietro .
The retreat over – a tired Chris – spent the next day in bed recovering from “religion???”.
A few days later, it was a Saturday I remember, Chris was helping his father trim the willow tree- the mail arrived and along with it a letter from our son from the retreat. I have it pressed in a bible. It was the most unfortunate of letters. It was hurtful and questioning us as a family and our beliefs .
Naturally Chris was called down, none too gently, from the tree and asked to explain his most hurtful words.
Oh you had to write something to get the credit….. Your thoughts as to what your family could do better in their religious practices …. it was all I could think to write..I was tired —
and apparently he had some assistance in writing the note….
Oh! Oh were the signs already in place – hurtful notes
I informed my son there was a consequence to each and every action and since he had opened up the can of worms we would now explore it fully. We would explore the Roman Catholic Church and their faith as well as other religions and cult tactics. And if he felt he would like to be a part of any of them we would take the steps needed. He agreed- reluctantly -to this excursion ecclesiastical because the alternative was removal from Lorain Catholic High School.
For the next few weeks the focus of religious history, the role of churches, Popes, Bishops , clergy. The Good the Bad and the Ugly of organized regious beliefs were explored, he had quite an education into all things religious and the whys and wherefores, the who what and when even to why Christmas is celebrated on December 25th.
But first I went to Father Leo De Chant and Father Fr. Giampietro Gasparin, showing them the offending letter and gave them a distinct dressing down (both in writing and verbally) as well as the possibility I would remove Chris from Lorain Catholic and to my reasoning of such a decision – profuse apologies all around but at least THEY DIDN’T IGNORE ME !
After many weeks of the “Discovery and History Channel ” as well as books .magazines and discussions on the subject. etc. Chris came to the conclusion he wasn’t cut out to be a Roman Catholic and wasn’t sure about being a Protestant either.
He graduated from “Religion/ Life /Consequences of One’s Actions Home School 101″ and Lorain Catholic High School.
He decided organized religion was very cloistering and quite frankly he was bored with the subject – he had done his “penance” and learned a life lesson – he never put anything in writing again without giving it a great deal of thought first Also by this time was eager to start the LCCC soccer team and move on to college.
Nikki married a Roman Catholic and there has never been any issues.
Chris also married a Roman Catholic and there were issues………….
To be continued………..
Interesting few days around here – apparently there are two sides and two perspectives to the taking of our closure and ‘JUSTIFICATION’ .
Ok, I am willing to tell the other side from remarks made by the “friends of Angela’s family” in telling of their reasoning and also in the words written by Angela to this family .
Apparently, according to him, the Lombardis ( in particular Angela) were upset as my cousin, who had flown over from England to be with us read a letter at the memorial service from my husband and myself.
( I guess it wasn’t my place to have asked Tony to do that, should’ve cleared with “THE family first”)
I was not at the service, I was taking care of my grandson and my husband who was emotionally and physically unable to attend. This is the “offending letter “
The Unbearable Pain of Being
THEREFORE, according to “the friend” after what happened at the memorial service
“Angela decided to take CONTROL and to exercise her rights as Chris’ wife with the rest of the burial decisions”
Also in a phone call to my son in law the day after the memorial service with regard to “selling Chris 4 wheeler” ( more on that later) Angela stated :
Have you seen the blog my mother is really angry –
this is the post
“In search of my son- in search of me.”
Part One - In search of my son- In search of me
Part Two – Tourjours Moi-Always Me
Part Three - Always Me – Always Chris
Part Four - In search of My Son-
Chris Ritchey – Thanks
Part Five - Dark Humour- Shedding a Light
Part Six - The Unfinished Portrait
Part Seven- The Unfinished Portrait- The Artists
(2)part two – Who are we really
Part Eight- When Premonition Becomes Hindsight
Part Nine – When Premonition Becomes Hindsight – Part Two
Part Ten- There is an “I” in Death
Both my children grew to adulthood in this old house in Lorain, Ohio. Both of them stayed here until their respective weddings. We were very fortunate to have those years.
Portraits painted by Terrence Gabbey ( cousin)
My great-grandfather and his sons ( on my father’s side) were also artists- however whether or not they were very good depends upon whom in the family you talk to
Well he did manage to convince Harrods that he was good enough and they commissioned him to paint murals ( in all probability) on their walls. Harrods well there’s a coincidence -a little Harrods’ Bear served me well
His son ( my great-uncle) John Stringer also dabbled and his I have five of his paintings on my walls . If you look closely the signature says Jack Stokes.
His name was ‘Stringer” but because he wanted to join the fight in South Africa and the Boer War , and being that he was not of an age to sign up and against his father’s wishes he lied about his age and family so as to get into the fracas. He took the maiden name of his mother “Stokes” ( she of the Stokes of Stanshawes)
“Jack” lost his arm in the Boer War ( not sure if it was the first or 2nd one) all I know is that when he couldn’t sell enough of his paintings to pay the rent he would pawn his false arm.
There are any number of paintings / beaten copper and tapestry and Nana’s needle point that can be found on my walls . Every room has a family “art work”
We even have a small oil from the 1700′s I have no idea of the artist .
I did take it to the Oberlin Art Museum many years ago who told me it was very dirty – (well what did they expect it is over 300 years old ) – We call her The Old Bitch - dour faced in her old frame- probably Dutch -but who knows a throw away Rembrandt ? She too came from my Grandmother’s house where she was before that only she could tell.
I cannot take down the plethora of paintings etc. Each one means something to me , I am running out of room. I look at uncluttered spaces with envy BUT as I discover more and more of my son’s work in boxes and portfolios the walls are filling up even more. In searching for the fact as to whether this family “knew ” Chris – (as 2nd guessing was thrust upon us by “the committee of 19″ ) I have made discoveries as my son’s work speaks and hopefully some that will help his little nephew as he grows. I can tell you Nikki’s walls are filling up too. -Thank you Cleveland Institute of Art!
to be continued ….
Photo appears with permission of Virginia Mak
We may not even recognize each other if we were to pass on a street but we know each other so well. Our outsides are unique to us, we come in all ages, sizes, colours and creeds but our innerselves are carbon copies of each other.
We walk the same path no matter where in the world we are. We have become secretive, good at hiding our true selves from others, even those that love us the most.
We “deal” differently, some use their faith, some their talents, some throw themselves into good works, others just throw themselves into work, some get counselling, others counsel, some have other family members who need their nurture, some eat – others don’t, some drink to fill the void that each of the Sisterhood of Sorrow feel deep within us.
We are met with well-intentioned formulae for “dealing”
“Time to move on” .. It is early days but you will feel better “…. “Time heals”….
“You had the best years of him/her”…. or “it isn’t like you had him/her for any length of time so it must be easier”….. “At least you understand why (because of the illness), there was a reason” ….or ” well at least the accident was quick it wasn’t like you had to watch him/her suffer”
and so it goes on…
Well meaning advice and observations from , the non members of the Sisterhood of Sorrow but only those that have gone through the terrible initiation of membership truly understand that you become a mother the first time your body tells you -YOU are.
And even though your child’s heart stops sometimes before they see the light of day , or days, or weeks or months or years after they come into the world of “others” YOU are changed. YOU the vessel of life has experienced something unique to mothers. As your being filled with life it set in motion a trigger – a fierce , unselfish need to protect and cherish. “Self “ is no longer part of you.
The Sisterhood knows only too well the child you carried and nurtured inside your own body left an imprint on your heart and very being that becomes another facet that is you . It doesn’t matter that you have given birth , the little being expelled from your body in pain and joy, there is an intangible something that remains, imprinted forever on your essence. Maybe one day they will discover a medical term for it but any mother knows it is there and it never goes away .
So The Sisterhood, who have bonded through the loss of their child try to move on. Our constant grief starts to embarrass some, make others uncomfortable, makes others sigh, others ignore, we make others reach for ways to help, some are scared for us and others worry . We are an emotional enigma.
Only the “sister in sorrow” knows the reality of the agony her fellow traveler feels. I am told by another sister who walked my road before me and continues her weary journey :
“ The pain doesn’t go away or lessen , you just get better at hiding it from the outside world – you are expected to carry on as normal eventually by those that care about you “.
We grieve, each in our different ways, we who have outlived our child, not understanding why , looking for answers that are more than platitudes of
“A greater plan” “Better place” “you are only given what you can bear”
We absorb the emotional pummeling those words bring not wanting to show the pain they cause to those who are trying to help. We know they are trying to deal with us to bring us back to being US again.
Just as becoming a mother changed us so losing a child changes us , we will never be the person you knew before our loss just as we will never be the person we were before becoming a mother.
We do not walk our path by choice the journey has been cruelly thrust upon us. We do not ever want to have fellow travelers join us the way is too long and painful and the journey never-ending.
I have watched with trepidation as the ice and snow on the pond has melted and life begins to stir.
A few years back , after experimenting with expensive Koi and other exotic types of fish in our pond and managing to kill them all off in one way or another, I got fed up and went to the old Broadway Feed and purchased 100 goldfish that were normally meant to feed bigger fish.
In fact some of these fish are 10 years old- I kid you not . One poor little devil with a beautiful long tail accidently got dropped on the ledge when we redid the pond a few years ago. I think he/she broke its back . I fully expected to be taking it out of the pond the next morning, but I was wrong apart from having to swim sideways he/she has managed to stay alive over three winters now.
My husband has moaned and moaned about the cost of keeping the pond going all winter for fish that were essentially “fish food” .
” Lets shut down the pond and just buy more feeder fish every spring.”
But I couldn’t do that , those fish had “procreated” and had babies of their own (some of whom they ate I will admit ) but I felt responsible for them. So the pumps keep the water flowing and the “air hole” for the escaping gases has to be kept open much to my husbands annoyance.
There was always a lot of grumbling from the men in this house as I nagged at them to go out in minus temperatures to make sure the air holes were open. It is a big job to keep the pond healthy summer and winter, but it gives so much pleasure ( to me at least)
Chris actually loved the more exotic fish and would buy them., such a waste as they were very expensive and they always ended up dead.
I thought he had learned his lesson but last Mother’s day along with my tadpoles that have turned hopefully into frogs ( I know two did ) I watched as Chris slipped something else into the pond.
A Ghost Koi
“Oh Chris ! why would you buy another Koi? you know they never survive the winter”
as he mischievously grinned up at me from the water’s edge
“I needed to get this one and it’s Mother’s Day so you have to accept it “
The pond was not taken care of this fall in the same way and attention as we would do normally. No netting to stop the leaves from falling in the pond and decaying causing the toxic gasses. We only managed to run the small pump which cut in and out through the winter. Our days of despair left no desire to make sure the air holes were open . In the grand scheme of things the fish were the least of our concerns.
I watched as the snow got higher and higher on the pond and felt a twinge of sadness and guilt ( the truth be known )that my last Mother’s Day present was probably gone. I hoped the frogs would survive and I hoped that Chris would understand.
I was in Chris old room a couple of days ago. I looked out of the window at the pond , the spring sunshine was warming the water. There were flashes of gold as the surviving fish made their way to the warmth and then -a flash of silver.
I was scared to look closer , maybe it was one of the pale goldfish , we have a couple. I couldn’t bring myself to go to the pond for a better look. I can still see my son kneeling by the pond and surreptitiously slipping in that Koi .
Chris would check on the Koi every time he came home , he would ask in the hospital
“How’s the Ghost has it given up the ghost yet?”
I had told myself last summer I would look up how to keep this fish over the winter.
I berated Chris for giving me that hassle and he just grinned at me again.
would I have to set up an aquarium for it?
I got my courage up and took a deep breath and went to the pond. Yes the Ghost Koi had survived and slides silently among the gold and the dark water .
My Mother’s Day present survived and once again I saw in my mind my son’s grin .