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Monday, April 20, 2015


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“I feel so useless.”

She didn’t say it looking for attention or for pity. She didn’t say it as a statement for dramatic effect. She said it almost in passing.

She is an almost 96-year old lady I met yesterday. I had stopped by her home at the retirement community to bring her Communion because her ride to Mass had fallen through. It was the first time she’d missed Mass in almost 60 years, she said. She doesn’t have a car – although she said that she could still drive if she’d had it. But when she moved to the retirement center a few years ago, there was a shuttle bus that she could ride to church. So she sold her car.

Selling that car was one of her big mistakes, she said. That, and selling her house on 10 acres and moving away from the community where she’d lived for her entire adult life, where all of her friends are.

She used to volunteer at the hospital and at the retirement center, but health concerns have taken her out of that.

If it wasn’t so far to church – at least 3-4 miles – she said she would walk. She always thought she would like to live next to the church so she wouldn’t have trouble getting to Mass. I suggested she call our priest and ask about moving into the spare bedroom in the rectory. We both laughed, even though the eternal optimist in me was 1/16th serious.

“I feel so useless.”

It was my turn to feel useless. I wanted to fix the situation for this sweet woman. I suggested maybe she could write letters and cards to soldiers. There is a need for that. She nodded and then held up her tremoring hands, saying that writing is more and more difficult these days.

I told her that I would be happy to give her a ride to Mass when she needed one. I wrote down my phone number even though she said she wouldn’t call me because she was sure my life was so busy. I promised that I would tell her “no” if I couldn’t help, but I’d be happy to drive her if it worked out.

We shared the Eucharist, said a few prayers, and visited for a few more minutes. Then I left to get back to my busy life. But I’m still thinking about her and wondering how many thousands of older people feel useless and what I, what we can each do, to embrace them, letting them know how needed they are in our world. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Vague post: a morality tale

Someone did something not very nice to me & my family. I know the reasons behind it, but I still don't like it.

I was hurt. I still am if you want to know the truth, especially because this someone should know better. But no one will die over this. Probably no one will lose sleep. In the grand scheme of life, it's probably just a speck. Not even everyone affected by it will know about it. 

But I know and I'm kind of stung. Sometimes things happen that are out of your control. That's when you want to know someone has got your back. And sometimes you learn that they don't and you find yourself adrift.

But you know what? That floating out there on the stinging raft led me to look at another situation in my life. A situation where I've been the not-so-nice one. Oh, I had reasons. But those reasons probably don't matter to the person that I've stung. Maybe that person doesn't even realize what I've done. Or maybe they do. But I know. And I know better, so now I have to do better. 

The moral of the story is: 1. Treat people the way you want to be treated and 2. when you realize you've failed to do that, go back to number 1 and start over.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

10 ways to get out of being a line judge at a volleyball game

Tonight was the first volleyball game Charlie got to play in. I was so happy that I volunteered to help the coach in whatever way she needed help. That turned out to be line judge. Oh, anything but that. I think I'd rather pick up the entire team's dirty sweat socks than have to be the line judge.

The job of the line judge is to stand at one corner of the volleyball court and to wave your flag in various directions to indicate that the ball is in or out or that the server stepped on the line or that the wisp of someone's fingernail touched the ball before it sailed out of bounds. Being the line judge is completely stressful. Winners and losers can be decided all based on what one line judge did or did not see. Plus, being a line judge totally interferes with the chatty mom role I prefer to play during volleyball games.

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So while I was doing my line judging duty, I used lulls in the action to think up ways that I could get out of the job. Here's what I came up with:
  1. Wet my pants enough to cause a puddle to form beneath me. (That wouldn't have been much of a stretch...note to all future line judges: pee first.)
  2. Throw up on the court. Definitely not sanitary, but a sure-fire way to make sure no one argued with me about stepping down.
  3. Re-enact the high school drill team's half-time flag routine with the small red flag I was supposed to use to indicate in, out and whatever else the flag is for.
  4. Cheer loudly for the home team. As a line judge, you are supposed to remain impartial. 
  5. Yell "miss it" in the middle of an opposing player's serve (see above re: impartiality).
  6. Stand with my knees locked and will myself to faint right on the spot. 
  7. Call for a do-over several plays in a row, saying "I really should have worn my glasses for the game."
  8. Yell "Way to go, Paul" every time a player messes up. 
  9. Order a pizza to be delivered mid-game and assure the official that I am an excellent multi-tasker.
  10. Duck and scream every time the ball comes within 3 feet of me.
Alas, I did none of these. Instead I stuck out the shift, did not have to make any controversial calls, and made a mental note to be first in line to sign up for ticket sales at the next game.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Bad jokes for my PaPa

 photo MomPapaSchulers_zpse9ehuxvo.jpgMy PaPa passed away peacefully yesterday morning. He would have been 90 years old today. I guess he decided for his birthday he wanted to be reunited with NaNa.

There are a lot of things that I will remember about PaPa.

  • How he left college in his freshman year because he missed NaNa too much. 
  • How he drank "neer beer." 
  • How he would rub my knuckles together when he shook my hand. 
  • How he loved Schuler's Donuts (which are the only ones that could hope to compete with a Long's Donut from Indianapolis). 
But mostly, I will remember PaPa for his corny sense of humor and his never-ending quest to find and share bad jokes.

So PaPa, these jokes are for you:

What do you call rabbits running backwards? A receding hairline

Why did the golfer wear two pairs of pants?  In case he got a hole in one.

What is a bear without teeth called?  A gummy bear

What did the beach say when the tide came in?  Long time, no sea.

What do you call a cow with no legs?  Ground beef

What did one toilet say to the other toilet?  You look flushed.

This one comes from my Uncle Bill:

My favorite by far is his Hammond organ joke. I would be sitting in the living room while he was practicing the organ. PaPa would stop playing and said "You know, Hammond wasn't always in instrument business. He used to be a farmer. Back then the company was called Hammond Eggs..."

So PaPa, though we are sad to say "Wieder auderheisen," we will laugh on in your honor.

Readers, if you have a "PaPa joke" to share, please leave it in the comments and then spread the laughter today by telling the joke to someone who will groan appropriately.