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See it Through

      The only fatherly advice I can ever give students with family issues is See it Through; See it Through. Now I find myself at mid-life (Ha! as that great Irish theologian Denis Leary once said to Letterman: "Face it Dave: You're not mid-life: how many people you know live to 100?") living in a house with my disabled parents not so uncommon an occurence rendered more poignant by the severe disability of my son who caught a heavy version of the wiring anomalies that run pretty well through both the lines: the one from Cranny near Ennis via Hudson County and the one from Cork to Bay Ridge by way of Wood-Ridge. There's no electrician's manual to cover the wiring issues in this house but that's not the theme at current: the theme at current is how it can be Seen Through.

       The overweening dominance of the Catholic Church over my family's history was a great gift for a historian since it was the one recognizable influence my long-suffering, heroic and extraordinarily profound New Orleans Methodist graduate mentor could urge me to explore. That it was never treated directly at home amped it up to a deep burn: while my dad traveled mom shut the door to their room while the ice cubes crackled; she got on the phone with God knows who and read from Jimmy Breslin columns, delivered a day late via U.S. mail in the final days of the life of the lamented New York Herald-Tribune. She also wove these incredibly lugubrious and very painfully audible narratives in the confessional for all to hear. Now she mostly asks whether Charlie's at school and did I make him a sandwich? My Dad was the compleat non-talker; nearing 80 and immobilized with MS we now talk, just a wee bit (a Tuesday's with Morrie this ain't by a long damn shot). But it really can be seen through: I finally found myself saying to him, in an actual normal tone of voice; "you know Dad the thing that totally enraged me especially with the Boston sex abuse cases is that these guys would say, like, 'Don't bother telling anybody cause they'll never take your word over mine.'" To me that was always the whole deep tribal Irish part of it with its strangling code of silence. Then I finally said in a normal tone of voice "Dad I always figured if something like that happened to me you'd take their word over mine every time."... "Yeah," he said. Like I said it was in a normal tone of voice and that's the whole point; after decades of confrontational tones over issues great and small I finally gave the guy a chance to respond in his own true tone of voice. And no I never was sexually abused though one of my best friends now deceased was. I was smashed hard in the face at age 16 by a Franciscan priest in the old Howard Johnson's motel across from the Watergate in DC but that's for another story (hey if you knew me then--all 108 pounds long straggly hair with a scowl beneath--you mighta wanted to take a poke at me too). But as I tell the kids: It can be seen through if you'll see it though in its own time.        



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Um, OK, I'll give this a try.I'm reminded of Nula O'Faillon's "My Dream of You," where the protagonist tells the neighbor lady, after the harrowing death of her pregnant mother to cancer, that Ireland is full of crazy people and she has to get away.The neighbor lady says something like, "Well, the rest of us manage to stand it, so what makes you so special?"You can get a way from Ireland, bucko, but you can't get away from being Irish, all that faulty wiring, the secrets, the drinking, the feuds, or just wanting to sock somebody in the gob on general principles. All you can do is just keep mining that material and talking about it, though a lot of people wish you wouldn't, and half of them don't even know what you're talking about.Mrs. James Joyce once told her husband, "Dear, why don't you write books people can understand?" Here's a prayer for you from St. Brigid to help you see it through:I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us. I would like an abundance of peace. I would like full vessels of charity. I would like rich treasures of mercy. I would like cheerfulness to preside over all. I would like Jesus to be present. I would like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us. I would like the friends of Heaven to be gathered around us from all parts. I would like myself to be a rent payer to the Lord; that I should suffer distress, that he would bestow a good blessing upon me. I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings. I would like to be watching Heaven's family drinking it through all eternity. At any rate, it beats "The Beauty of This World Hath Made Me Sad."

I've seen enough of you James Fisher to know that you are the real deal. You can't make this stuff up.The beauty in living in God is we know we can see it through. That is the indelibility of the Holy Spirit or the life in the Spirit. Do tell us the story of the Franciscan priest, my Order. I once almost smashed a young 18 year old in the mouth. But I doubt if he resembled you at all. Someone told me has "made his bones" with the Mafia. I met him at a reunion he did not look me in the eye not did he say a word and pretended not to know me. Sad, indeed.Nice sharing.

I suppose the Franciscan was following his founder's admonition to preach the gospel, by words if necessary.

You mention your experience at the Howard Johnson's across from the Watergate.Back in mid-September 1975 about two weeks after my marriage, I reported to our agency HQ in DC for a 2-week assignment. I took my wife (this would be a "working" honeymoon for a relatively new kid on the block). Anyway, my agency arranged for us to stay at Howard Johnson's. Upon reporting in, we were given an apology by the desk clerk: seems there was no room for us at the inn. But, she kindly asked, would we mind carrying our bags across the street to the Watergate where a suite had been set aside for us for two nights?A few nights after our return to HJ, we were awakened in the wee hours of the morning by the fire alarm. So we rushed out to the front street in our PJs and nightgown to wait for the fire dept to handle the emergency and, we hoped, allow us to return to our room. It turned out that some high school or college kids had activated the alarm. We looked across the street to the Watergate where all seemed serene.One interesting note about our trip: when the newly dedicated FBI HQ was opened to the public for the first day, my wife was the first person in line for the first tour of the facility.Anyway, Mr. Fisher, might you have been one of the kids who turned in the alarm :) ???

I'm innocent on that count: my stay at the HoJo's came in the late days of the Nixon Administration when the Watergate complex was still a tourist attraction. I do recall though that HoJo's had a reputation for housing rowdy DC-touring teenagers; making the Franciscan chaperone extra edgy. The worst thing I did was sing Frank Zappa songs over the phone to my friend and bandmate (a Mothers of Invention cover band, no less) Chris Moffa who was in another room down the hall. It is true that some guys in my room were attempting to sweet-talk the young ladies in an adjoining room but such was beyond my ability at that point in life. Thanks to all for sharing.

Hey, which song?We wrapped up all our Zappa records and put them in the attic for our son to find after we die, and he can wonder how "Dynamo Hum" squares with the crabby elderly people who raised him and kept nagging him to get his feet off the couch.This assumes he'll even know what a record is by that time and be able to find a turntable to play them on ...

James, this was a heart-lifting-up read for me, and Jean's reply (especially the prayer of St. Brigid) was also en-courage-ing. Thanks to both of you!

I too thank Jean; for the prayer and the O'Faillon and the Zappa. I could not recall what we were singing in DC but I do remember a night in Paestum, Italy when my great friend the Italian historian Roy Domenico was showing us the ruins. A bunch of kids came crusing by in a car blasting Zappa's 'Willie the Pimp.' I went tearing after them to get the story-- to no avail--but thought it appropriate for the setting given Zappa's Greek-Italian roots.

There you are having a Serious Educational and Cultural Experience, and Zappa comes flying out of nowhere with Willie. I'd say there's a message there, though I'm not sure what that might be, but it sure gave me a laugh for the day, which didn't really seem to be amounting to much beyond raising my lonely dental floss.God bless Zappa in whatever alternate universe he ended up, and I hope they got espresso there.

At 41 years of age, far older than any of Jims college students with family issues, I find myself trying to see it through. Whether the things that comprise it are truly family matters are another matter. However, upon reading Jims post, something about Catholicism, being Irish, and anomalous neurological wiring struck a chord within me. Unfortunately, I know so little about these three elements in some ways so central, perhaps, to my being and who I am. As for my ethnic heritage, Im sad that I didnt take the time to find out more about it when key figures who might have known a little something were still the breathing among us. I do have to say here though that I wasnt necessarily in touch with all the figures who might have known something through no fault of my own and others died before I might have thought to inquire anything. On my mainly (as far as we know) mothers non-Irish side, there was a somewhat mysterious father (my maternal grandfather, obviously) who was of French-Canadian descent and who lost both his parents at separate times when he was still a youth. He was a traveling photographer at least at the time when he came down from the Northeast to the South where my Grandma (Emmie) was living in Georgia and he apparently swooped this southern finishing school graduate off her feet and brought her North, this woman who, as far as my mom knows, was of Scottish, Irish, English, and German background with a smattering of who-knows-what other nationalities mixed in. Not too long ago, I learned that my mom and at least her two brothers (one her twin and the other sixteen and a half months younger than she) used to take the subway themselves to a church in NYC where they grew up (somewhere near where what would be considered Spanish Harlem today, but forgive me because though a central Jerseyan all my life, my knowledge of the city is wretched, in fact, virtually nonexistent) and attend services at some church situated somewhere between Grandmas Baptist roots and Grandpas Catholic onesan Episcopal one. And she and her siblings did this at a young age, starting younger than even 11 years of age, an age at which I feel uneasy about allowing my daughter to go to the bus stop by herself and the bus stop corner is situated only two small-yarded houses away from our own home. (Mom later became a convert to Catholicism at the age of 17.) Mom was one of six children, with her three older siblings being sisters who have since passed away (may they all rest in peace) and who were on their own and married by 17 or 18 years of age and two of whom were mothers by this age already. My mom for a while was the spinster before finally marrying at the quite elderly age of 21 and becoming a mom the following year at 22.My mom was also swept off her feet by my dad (almost ten years her senior) who worked at a bank in the city, although he was a Boston College and Boston College Law School graduate who passed his bar on the first try. Whereas mom grew up with next to nothinga graphic illustration of this being the shoes she sometimes wore as a youth into which she placed cardboard to provide some buffer from the elements because of their holes and the familys inability to buy new ones in a timely fashionin a modest three-bedroom apartment in the city, my dad grew up with a certain degree of privilege in an upper middle class, single family dwelling in South Orange, New Jersey during which time he and his two siblings even had (I heard) a driver to bring them to school and a maid to help with the house. My dads family even owned a second home on the Cape (Cape Cod, Massachusetts, that is). Whereas my moms heritage was of a mixed descent, my dads was of the more pedigreed stock, being of a strictly Irish background.I dont know if theres something about being Irish, even if you know next to nothing about your Irish roots (with me obviously being a case in point), that can lend itself to snobbery or this sense of being a member of some exclusive club in which only the select few are privileged to belong. Perhaps, that is how many groups feel about being a part of any particular ethnic or cultural group, whether that be Irish, Italian, Chinese, Filipino. . . When I look at my husbands Filipino familythe generation one removed from my husband and me (for unfortunately my husband lost the language although he lived there for about four years and spoke only Ilacano before returning to the States at four and a half years of age), I cant help but be a little envious of their ability to communicate in another language and cook in a definably ethnic way and thereby have some true sense of ethnic identity or even, any true identity and sense of belonging in a world in which I have felt so oftentimes adrift and rootless. This having been said and to contradict myself, perhaps (an activity in which you would find I frequently engage from only spending five minutes with me), although I lack these things, there is yet something about being Irish that strangely instills some sense of identity and even pride within me, especially when I encounter another person of pale complexion who shares some of the same ancestral roots. Indeed, there is something intriguing and tantalizing about announcing ones roots to another who shares the same even when you are as ignorant of them as I. Even when you have been guiltyas I haveon more than one occasion of saying, My worse side is the Irish half. Indeed, there have been times when I wish I could deny this side of myself even when there is no denying this largely paternal source of my heritage because Im a facsimile of my father, having the same hooked nose, but perhaps just a wee bit softened by a Creator who, at the time of my conception, was in a benevolent mood in the production of the concoction that would eventually result in me.Oh boy have I digressed from commenting upon Jims original post, but if you can bear with me and just let me see it [this writing] through, you may see a correlation and perhaps get even the tiniest shred of meaning from it so that what Ive written wont be completely in vain and not solely for the satisfaction of a largely self-centered, 50% plus Irish narcissist. Perhaps, spinning long webs of digression and verbosityor verbose digressionis the result of some specific Irish genetic trait. Is procrastination too? I wonder. The beauty of responding to Jims (mydare I even say it and cause him some embarrassment?friends) post at so late a date from when it was originally written and in such a long-winded fashion is that it will probably be thrown out (not included and therefore I am and will continue to address no one in this commentary) because it is so unwieldy and does not meet the specifications for responding to a bloggers post (and as is the case in so many things, I am thoroughly ignorant of what those specifications for response may be since Ive never blogged before and only last week attempted with poor-Jim-heres encouragement to produce some writing to be shared for more than an audience of one or two and probably failed miserably as well, I may as well add here) and because if people are still responding to older posts they will respond to matters of greater import, such as the pregnancy of Mary Cheney to which I quite simply respond by wishing her and her partner all the best and praying that they may have a happy, healthy baby upon whom they can shower an abundance of love. . .Ah, now where were we? Or, more accurately, where was I (because I doubt very much anyone can, has, or even wants to continue with me along this minor sojourn in my life, even as I seek to emerge from a self-imposed solitary confinement in which it may be evident that I am destined to stay)? Ah yes, being Irish, Catholic, a bit off (A bit? I hear someone inquire in my imagination with more than a hint of a raised eyebrow) and seeing it through. Where did I come from and how did I get to this point in my life? How will I see it through? Can it be seen through and when is the appropriate time? Is it a lifelong quest? Is there a particular appropriate means by which someone should see it through? How long do I go trying to figure out the wounds from my childhood, proceed to lick them, and, in my case and fodder for a later, even more unwieldy commentary, how long do I continue to hold on to remorse, regret, and old patterns of behavior that just continue to breed these things and a perception of myself that is one of complete and utter unworthiness and failure? Whew, this is getting a bit heavy; so let me tone it down a bit. . .My paternal grandmother, as was quoted to me on a number of occasions by my mother or father or maybe both, used to say, Id rather be a snob than a slob. Well, if you took one look at the house I keep or, rather, fail to keep, you would know I embody the latter and not the former. And if you conversed with me for just a couple of minutes, you would know I lay so little claim to snobbery, I hope. In fact, one of my daughters claims that I just like everyone and think everyone is nice, and she says this in such a way as to make it seem that anything I do say about another person then becomes something indiscriminately generic and, therefore, without any meaning or merit. This snobby, so nice person communicating before you, however, on many more than one occasion has deemed this particular daughter as someone not nice (and not in such nice, non-profane terms) and has said that her hating that person or this person is essentially meaningless because she lays this pronouncement on everyone. There has to be a middle ground, but back to my grandmother. . .Nancy, the appellation by which we addressed my grandmother, although I learned her name was Anna much later on, and who I learned also later on did not want to be addressed as Grandma because that made her feel old, was treated as a princess by her husband and her children, I learned from my mom (because Nancy died when I was seven or eight years old and Tappy, as my grandfather was known, died slightly before I was born). She was of the mind that no one was good enough for her children, perhaps least of all my non-Irish, poor mother from the city. Indeed, none of her childrens waste products stank, only that of the slobby, non-pedigreed people beneath them perhaps. I know that Nancy loved us dearly in her fashion, because we were after all descendants of her, her dearly departed husband, and her second (the middle) child. The only memories of her and her abode I have, sad to say (on the state of my memory, that is), are sort of like snapshotsNancy smiling as I danced in a jumping up and down fashion, a striped couch, a woman by the name of Hannah helping her use the restroom, eating sloppy joe sandwiches bought from some deli near her house in South Orange, and consuming those chalky mints from a dish in her house, the same type of mints you can sometimes still get at some restaurants at the door upon leaving. (Interestingly, my mom said that her husband, my grandfather, treated her [my mom] with the utmost gentleman-like respect; so if he ever thought that my mother wasnt as good as he or one of his children, he never let on.) All I really know or knew of Nancy was that smile, that couch and tree-shrouded house with the mints, her snobbery, and her being of Irish ancestral roots.I mention Nancy, with whom I had such a shortened acquaintance and about whom I have so little recollection because she is the mother of my father and Irish, to hearken back to Jims mentioning of Irish roots and family issues needing to be seen through in their own time. I wonder if there is not some universality of being Irish that many of us experience or have experienced in our childhoods with regard to silence. I remember my father (who is still one of the breathing among us) being the man who left for work at a bank in the city about 7 AM and who returned somewhere around 7 PM and with whom I had very little discourse. You were just not to bother Daddy when he came home. He would have his dinner and read the newspaper and I remember how he loved to listen to Carlton Fredericks on the radio. I think in every Irish descendants background one can hear the crackling of the ice in a loved ones glass and/or if not the actual ice crackling, the potential for the ice crackling in ones own. (Indeed, Daddys sister and brother were quite the consumers of alcohol, I believe, until almost up until their deaths within two months of one another over fifteen years ago now. Dads sister died after a battle with breast cancer and Dads brother, who had been quite the successful ladies man in his day, died a bachelor in a rooming house of a heart attack in front of the television somewhere in Greenwich, Connecticut. I dont know how long he was sitting there before someone realized that he was no longer watching television, because he was, in fact, now dead.) Alcoholits a funny thing that. While I seem to have some vague recollection of my dad having a beer at an establishment on George Street in New Brunswick, NJ near Rutgers before it was moved further down the streetTumultys Puband admiring the small train going around the tracks above our heads along the inside perimeter of the restaurant and my mom telling my dad to calm down when he was getting a bit loud or boisterous or abrasive in general or with a complaint to a waiter or waitress perhaps, my father became the embodiment of healthful living much before the failing healths and deaths of his siblings. He ingested large quantities of vitamins and minerals and various other nutritional supplements, ate well, followed all the latest nutritional findings with grace and vigor, and exercised regularly. I remember my dad yelling at my sister and me when we were naughty and his threatening us with the black or brown belt and sometimes having one of my three brothers retrieve it for him, a task with which they were, at times, all too happy to assist. I cant say that I didnt deserve a lashing on many occasions, and I do not remember this being a frequent occurrence by any stretch of the imagination. I do remember laughing so heartily one night after Dad had had my sister and me on our beds and had given us a lashing because I think we just both found his frustration so humorous. One time I remember both of us putting plates in our pants before the belt came and laughing after our punishment because he didnt seem to notice we had protective armor on. I have to say that I was a complete nagging, unhelpful pain-in-the-arse (to use a more euphemistic-sounding Irish term) and, though it might not be politically or psychologically correct thing to say so, I did deserve a bit of corporal punishment on many more occasions than the few in which I received it. And I think my mom only ever allowed it when she was truly at her wits end and didnt have the strength or perhaps the desire to prohibit it. However, I do not ever remember being hit by my mom and that was despite the chronic complaining with which Id fill and assault both her ears each day. (Indeed, if she had a third and a fourth ear, they would have been assaulted as well.)While I do remember my dad taking very good care of himself and sometimes meting out punishment to us and nicknaming me in a unique way after a piece of defecation the dog had just made in the backyard and the name sticking for years to come (that hurt more than any belt every did, but I must say, in my heart of hearts, I somehow felt I did deserve that moniker) and commuting day in and day out during the week to the bank, what I dont ever remember (and granted this is with a very imperfect and probably fallible memory) is my dad ever conversing with me, playing a game with me, or spending time with me. I knew that he didnt help around the house, but I thought that might just be the way every dad was, since he worked all week. (God knows I didnt lift a finger around the house with my mother and I didnt have any large responsibilities.) I learned later that other dads still helped around the house and that their wives wouldnt be mowing the lawn with big pregnant bellies and several little ones in tow. I learned that other dads talked and kidded with their kids and hugged and cuddled them and took them places, even if they werent fancy. I learned that other dads werent simply indifferent to those around them.As luck or God, perhaps, would have it, my mother was the polar opposite of my dad. She did the housework to the best of her ability and worked full-time by the time I was five years old and that was with five kids only seven years apart from top to bottom. She took me where I needed to go and spent countless hours with me, most especially as I endlessly queried her and complained to her about anything and everything about which I was curious or about which I was unhappy and the lists were endless. She survived on so little sleep and too many cigarettes, coffee, and soda to keep the engine going. Never, never did I feel in my heart of hearts that my mother did not love me and that she didnt always put me, my siblings, and my dad first. Although my mom is humanly flawed, she is perfect as a mother, as perfect a specimen as anyone could ever find. There was a stretch of some years that my mom did not attend church, but I can say with 100% certainty that you would not find a more giving and spiritual person than my mom and that she could break bread with any priest on the altar of our church and stand toe to toe in goodness and spirituality.I have said of my dad to a number of people that he just should never have had kids. I wonder now as I reflect in a more somber and subdued state of mind and look inward and in a Christian-like, catholic way in my efforts to see it through what ever gives me, gave me the audacity to make such a proclamation. What makes me think I have the right to pronounce judgment upon him? Some remnants of some old Irish snobbery? What indeed gives me the right? Well, indeed, nothing gives me the right. Perhaps, my dad has given me that of which he is capable of giving. Perhaps, growing up, he was catered to and just is a bit oblivious to those around him. Have I really ever talked to him in an earnest way about how I feel? Is it possible to even venture such a conversation with him? Jim mentions how his dad was not the talker; perhaps my dad is of this ilk when it comes to having any intimate father-daughter conversation. Is that an Irish thing? I dont know. My poor moms ears are probably still ringing from how much I did talk to her. Its ironic that my dad is so well-read and has opinions on everything and will be one to try to help another with nutritional-type or disease-type or disability-type issueshealth issues, lets sayand he has definite political views, though Ive not inquired about them. He, I just dont know how to have a serious conversation with one another. And I dont know if I want one ever, or maybe just yet, and with him being eighty now and life being unpredictable for a person at any age, I may run out of time if I want to have a conversation or two.I was a bit remiss in my memory recollections before with regard to my dad. I remember when it was just the two of us perhaps still attending church (and with us perhaps being the least holy of the crew, with me in a truly knowing more serious vein and him, in an unknowing selfish way, so perhaps thats not then a true sinner) how I would sometimes walk with him to the church and I would struggle to keep up with him and wonder how someone could have such impossibly long strides. I would later just go by myself to church until I went to college and turned away from the building and God in some respects, but, perhaps, discovered myself and God in a way in which I was unfamiliar before.Jim speaks of the overweening dominance of the Catholic Church in his familys history. Interestingly enough, forgive the aside, the mentor, who helped him to recognize and explore this influence, and I crossed paths during the second half of my freshman year at Rutgers as one of several instructors for a course in which I was enrolled entitled, Modern Social Thought. This was a semester before I first made some acquaintance with Jim in a (beginner) 100 level history course for which he was the instructor entitled, Development of the United States 101. Jims mentor allowed me to hand in a paper late (an all-too-prevalent theme in my lifelateness, that is) with the catchy topic of Alienation. We had been studying several modern social thinkers and, instead of doing the couple of mini papers I hadnt yet done, he allowed me to do one lengthier paper in which I was to incorporate knowledge, insights gleaned from several writers to whose work I had been introduced. I dont know if my sense of feeling so alienated for a very long time was just so evident to him, or if that coincidentally was just a topic that he came up with for the occasion, but I found it more than fitting that I should try in a quite sophomoric way to explore this theme. Another asidehey, why not? It just so happens that this instructors son was in my class in the fifth grade and I was somewhat enamored of this boy at the time. In sixth grade, while the boy was in another class, I was yet privileged to hear him in more than one concert setting at our school sing, Yesterday. And I remember hoping (perhaps in some form praying) each time that he would reach the high notes okay since he was at that awkward voice-squeaking-striving-to-turn-into-a-mans juncture at that point in his young life. How in awe of him was I when he sang the lyrics of that Beatles song in his ethereal voice!Ah yes, the Catholic Church. While I havent the breadth of knowledgeor much of any real knowledge of the Catholic Churchas might a historian or theologian degreed and/or well-read in such matters, the Catholic Church and Catholicism have yet wielded a strong influence in my life at, perhaps, some basic primal levels. As kids, we basically attended one hour per week of catechism class and church on Sundays (or the Saturday evening mass in later years) and a Holy Day here or there. That was the basis for my very limited knowledge of Roman Catholicismmy attendance at these classes and my hearing the readings during church each week. Had it not been for my eldest brothers bad experience at a Catholic school in the first grade, during which time he was belittled by a nun who told my mom that he was essentially stupid and which resulted in her getting a tutor for him who, in turn, informed my mom that my brother was right on target for his age and grade (the nun had just intimidated him so), my mom would have enrolled all five of us in Catholic schools. Then would the teachings of the Bible and Roman Catholicism have been a part of our daily diet. As a result of my brothers experience, we were on a more spartan diet of religion. I say that the Church has had an influence on me at the primal level because it has always touched some central need in me. And I think at this point in my life I do see this in so many ways as a need for a father who couldnt or chose not to be close to me in the way in which I may have desired or required (the latter being such a strong verb choice). Ive never been in search of a mother, because I had the best. Although my childhood was not perfect, it was better than the vast majority of the worlds population and my mothers love and attempts to mother me and my siblings were perfect. If there is such a thing as perfection with flaws, my mom embodies such a notion. And what could be more virtuous, I wonder, than an individual trying her best with all the flaws she possesses in her all too human condition? Because my mother, in a real sense, raised us without assistance from my dad, she has always been linked to perfection in my mind. And that is why Ive never sought a maternal figure. However, because there was such a void within the paternal domain and my father was more a fixture or piece of fine china one did not dare attempt to handle, I think I have always been on a quest for a father. Looking toward the Church and, indeed, God the Father perhaps made perfect sense to me, although I believe I yearned for a human father who could hold me and love me and encourage me and somehow make me feel whole. But wait! Had not this Father come down in human form and loved us as a human being and suffered as a human being? Perhaps, that was so much of the allurea father upon whose chest I could lay my weary soul at least in a figurative fashion and yet a human being.I think, however, I did not find this to be enough. I spent a period of about five months going to daily mass when I was sixteen after a brief three-week dating period with a friends brother who was a considerate gentleman. And I remember sitting on the concrete steps of that church as the sun would rise and sometimes waiting for the priest to open the doors to the church and just waiting for it to happenthats right for God to literally tap me on my shoulders, the shoulders of this unworthy, sin-ridden girl who kept repeating the same sins over and over no matter how many times I went to confession. I felt I needed that tap for my doubting Thomas soul. I think I still feel I need that tap, although, at the same time, I think the notion of such a literal tap terrifies me to the extreme. What then? What if I see God or Jesus or feel Him right there before me? What then? Certitude like that probably frightens me so much because then I can no longer hide away from my commitment to God. Not that I can right now. Not that I should. Not that I ever really could.The other day, I made it to church with two of my girls, although late. As I was trying to pay attention to the mass, I noticed a woman with whom I had made some acquaintance about four years ago and she had her two girls with her, who just turned thirteen and eight, and she also was carrying a small car seat with an infant boy inside. Forgetting the mass, I had to inquire if this new baby boy were hers (so to speak, for none of us as parents truly owns a child, but you get my drift) and she said that he was. I was so deeply moved to learn that this woman, who had told me of her husbands succumbing to leukemia some time back when her oldest girl was only seven years old and her other girl just two years old, had gone on to find love again with another man (whom she recently married, I learned) and to find new life again with the birth of this child. Is this not evidence of God before me? Do I still need such a literal tap?Back to the idea that one should see it through, I think that it is important for each one of us to look at ourselves, the important key human figures in our lives, our backgrounds, and God in order to reach some sort of peaceful accord with the world, with our souls, with God. Ive been fortunate not to have had a bad childhood, though I do see that I sorely longed for someone more paternally nurturing than the father I was given. But, perhaps, that was all my father was capable of giving, or hes simply unaware of what I needed because I never let him know, at least now as an adult when I am more capable of articulating some things I couldnt have as a child. Perhaps, the Irish influence gives me a propensity toward the drink for I did dabble in it a bit, and that led to some problems with the human flesh, despite my once wanting to be a nun in high school because I loved the idea of being married to God but I lacked the commitment, the purity of soul, and the faith. I think that Irish side also may have somehow instilled in me a temper (for believe me, I have one), but also an overly-sentimental side as well, but thats not always a bad thing. My mother showed me compassion in a way I never would have known were I raised by any other human being and maybe she was even more sensitive realizing how I missed having a dad in a more traditional sense. My wiring, for I never mentioned that. I am flawed and I have to acknowledge that and I have to sometimes forgive myself if Im not the one who can keep things organized as well as my sister or if I cry too easily when others seem so composed and strong. I have to look at all things, including my quest to see God and know God, as much as I reject Him and doubt His existence, in order to see it through as an imperfect human in an imperfect world. And being a mother myself, I have to help my kids see it through, accepting any condemnations of me for I am deserving of quite a few. . .

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