Our Lady of Fatima... Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament... Hear us.
Our Lady of the Rosary... Strengthen us.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Funny Guy Friday... Just my tuxedo and me...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband, Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     I bought a tuxedo about five years ago, and I have worn it a grand total of one time.
     I must admit that I look good in it. I don't look good very often, so I need to get in to my tux now and again. To be honest, I look for black-tie events. Unfortunately, in five years, there has only been one. I'm not sure what that says about my life.
     Now that I think about it, I am not sure why I bought the darn thing.
     Opportunity knocked on my tux's door last week when Cheryl and I were invited to the annual fundraiser for Pallotti High School. Pallotti is a small Catholic High School several towns away. It just  so happens that my brother Jeff is in his first full year as principal and president of the school.
     Before I go on, don't you just love "getting invited" to fundraisers. Let's face it, you are not getting invited because the host wants you to attend the fundraiser. They want you... and your wallet... to attend. You could be an axe murderer with a big checkbook, and you are in. In fact, I think that I met an axe murderer while in line to get a drink. It may work out for me though... I slipped him my card, advised him that he should put his axe away and call me on Monday.
     On a side note, I bet the axe murderer is typing on his wife's blog about the fundraiser he attended on behalf of Pallotti High School on Saturday, and he is writing that "you could be a lawyer with a big checkbook and you're in... In fact, while I was in line to get a drink, some shyster slipped me his card, told me to put away my axe and to call him on Monday."
     Anyway, back to my tux....
     My sister-in-law, Theresa, advised that this was a black-tie affair. You remember Theresa; she is my arch nemesis. Anyway, the prospect of a black-tie affair was very exciting because, as I mentioned earlier, I look good in my tux. My only concern was what would Cheryl wear? Sometimes, I worry if she can keep up with me in my full tuxedo mode. I got over that quickly and decided that, for this one night, I would focus on the two of us... just my tuxedo and me!
     Alas, my brother called and dashed all of my hopes and dreams. He advised that although he was going to rent... that is right, I said rent... a tux, most people were going to be in suits. SUITS! I wear a suit every day. I am tired of wearing suits. I wear suits so often that my secretaries know all of my ensembles. It is the talk of the office whenever I buy a new tie. I am bored with suits.
     I confronted my sister-in-law about her faulty information regarding the attire. She pointed out that at last year's fundraiser, some folks wore suits and some folks wore jeans.
   Yes, but let me finish, she continued. This year they are doing a Hollywood theme and they are trying to make it more of a formal affair. You should wear your tux. 
   All I heard was jeans. The tux was out. You see, my desire to look good... have I mentioned that I look good in a tux?... was outweighed by my fear of standing out in the crowd as the only goofball wearing a tux in a room full of cowboys.
     On the day of the "big event" (I purposely put big event in lower case with quotes because I no longer was excited to attend) Matthew had a double-header so we were running a bit late. That is when I got the text from my brother.
     Wear your tux. Your friend Dave is here, and he is wearing his.   
     I was very wary about this new information. I laid both my tux and a dark suit on my bed and pondered. I can't go wrong with the suit. However, I could look like an idiot in a tux.
     All of my 7th grade insecurities flooded my brain. Who am I kidding... 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade insecurities flooded my brain.  Surprisingly, I was awful insecure back then. Perhaps some of that has spilled over into my adult life... Nah! I don't see it!
     Cheryl begged encouraged me to wear the tuxedo. She said that Dave would be in his tux, so there would be at least one other non-Pallotti staff member in a tux. I decided what the heck. I couldn't let my friend Dave down and besides, I look good in a tux. But I had to hurry, we had already wasted a lot of time dealing with the high school me.
     You know, when you only wear something once every five or six years, you forget stuff.
     Little stuff like... a tuxedo shirt needs cufflinks... and... it requires additional black buttons to hide the ordinary plastic buttons. The supplemental buttons and the cufflinks had been carefully put away five years ago in a special place so I would remember where they were. You know that place, don't you? It is special and would never be forgotten. After a twenty-minute search, Cheryl found them right where I had left them.
     Then we had to get on the internet to find out how, exactly, do you wear this thing? Do you wear the bow tie with the vest, or can you wear the necktie with the vest... and if not, where is my cummerbund? At my age, you wouldn't think that I would need to research how to wear clothes, but you would be wrong. FYI... I went with the vest and the necktie and guess what... I looked good!
Better than I remembered five years ago, I might add.
     Cheryl wore something, I think. I really wasn't paying attention to her.
     My mother accompanied us and on the drive over, I asked her...
     Mom, with no other siblings around, just among the three of us (the four of us, if you count my tux), wouldn't you admit that I am your most attractive child? Go ahead, you can say. We won't tell the others.
     Surprisingly, she hesitated and then said in her sweet little Grandma voice... Noooo, I wouldn't say that.
     Ouch, Mom, I must admit, that kind of hurts a little bit!
     Another pause... No no, it really doesn't have to... It shouldn't hurt.
     She is old and she can't hear, she can't see and she is crazy.
     Undaunted, I went into the BIG AFFAIR (notice the caps) with supreme confidence.  Then I saw Dave in the ugliest tuxedo that I have ever seen. It was beige... with a green tie. No vest. No cummerbund. No cuff links. No stupid little black buttons.
     Why, that is no tuxedo, that is a suit! Dave was wearing a run-of-the-mill beige suit. He looked good... but not tuxedo good!
     Cheryl pointed out that Dave's brother-in-law was wearing a tuxedo. Big deal, he's the vice principal at the school. She pointed out another gentleman in a tuxedo. Big deal, he was the emcee. She pointed out another... deejay. And yet another... waiter. Then she pointed out my brother and commented, Wow! That tuxedo looks good on him; he should buy it and wear it every day; he looks so good!  
     On the heels of my mother's slight, I found Cheryl's comments to be a bit offensive and was going to give her a hard time. But, before I could say anything, some guy came over to me and handed me his empty beer bottle and asked if I could fetch him another cold one.
     My tuxedo and I were not having a good time.
     I confronted my brother and he said that he had never sent me a text about what Dave was wearing.
     THERESA! I should have guessed.
     She purposely sabotaged my entire night. She probably even manipulated my mother and that's why dear ol' mom wouldn't give me my props. Theresa denied any wrongdoing and she honestly thought Dave was wearing a tux. Apparently, like my mother, Theresa is old, can't hear, can't see and she is crazy.
     Well, like most stories, this one has a silver lining. Pallotti raised a lot of money... but that is not the silver lining.
     No... the silver lining was... I looked good!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Funny Guy Friday... Of Popes and pools... March Madness is here...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     What a wild couple of weeks.
     The Conclave got together and prayed about the selection of a worthy champion. They prayed for wisdom as they considered the many candidates. This time around, there was no clear cut favorite and the selection could have come from anywhere. Yes, there were your typical choices from the usual places, but this year was different. This year presented an opportunity to choose to deviate from the usual choices and perhaps select a humble underdog.
     The Cardinals had some difficult decisions to make. When the white smoke finally cleared, they went with a relatively unknown Jesuit. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall. I can only guess as to what was going through their minds. Here is what I think may have happened.
     I am sure that they immediately rejected any devils, especially the Blue Devils (I am sure that they hate Duke as much as I do). Then they had to justify denying two Saints; of course I am referring to Saint Louis and Saint Mary's College. In the end, I believe that they selected Gonzaga, a private Roman Catholic university located in Spokane, Washington, and founded by a young Jesuit named Aloysius Gonzaga, to win this year's NCAA college basketball tournament.
     Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that they also picked a Pope but how important is that? I mean... I watch the nightly news, and frankly, the Pope, apparently, is no longer relevant... which is kind of interesting because he gets blamed for a lot of stuff.
     Anyway, the American mainstream media thinks so little of the Catholic faith that they believe that the new Pope should have been a non-Catholic or at least a Catholic that doesn't really believe in any of that "Catholic stuff."
     This time of year, the Vatican should just hope and pray that they have a Pope that can dribble, shoot and defend the post.
     It is that time of year when everyone is filling out their brackets and trying to select this year's winner. With the field wide open, many, including the Cardinals, are looking for Divine intervention. I have been filling out brackets for more than twenty years with mixed results.
     When Cheryl and I were engaged, we had to go to a Pre-Cana retreat for a weekend at a local hotel. For those non-Catholics, that is a marriage class. Cheryl picked the weekend, and that should have been a clue that this marriage thing may not have been such a good idea... she picked the first weekend of the 1992 NCAA Tournament.
     Just so you don't think that I am over-emphasizing the significance of the weekend, sixty-four teams get narrowed down to thirty-two... leaving only 31 more games in the tournament. Each game was crucial to my bracket, and a final four team going down during this round would have killed my chances of winning.
     For instance, this year, if I had selected New Mexico to go to the final four (I had), and they were to have lost to Harvard in the first round (they did), I would have had very little chance of winning the pool. This weekend comes only once a year, and it is a crucial basketball weekend. We could have done Pre-Cana anytime, so please don't roll your eyes... I contemplated calling the marriage off.
     When we arrived, we were advised of the procedures for the retreat. Saturday and Sunday would each have five twenty minute talks covering various topics that newlyweds might face. After each talk, one person would go back to a room and spend twenty minutes writing down all of his thoughts on the topic. After writing for twenty minutes, the other person would join him in the room and the couple would discuss and compare their thoughts for another twenty minutes.
     Picture the heavens opening and light shining through the clouds.
     Picture choirs of angels singing.
     I was going to catch forty minutes of every hour's worth of play and nearly as important, the marriage was back on.
     Cheryl, of course, had a different view of the weekend. She wanted me to pay attention to the talks and concentrate on my writing assignment, and get this... she expected me to talk to her during that last twenty minute session. How was I supposed to watch the games and talk to her? There was no way. The marriage was off again.
     I tried to strike a compromise. I offered to pay extra special attention during the twenty minute talks, go back to my room for the second session...write down my thoughts while watching the games... and then feign interest in whatever Cheryl had to say while watching the games during that
last twenty minute session. I considered this a win, win!
     Cheryl, of course, had a different view of the weekend. She still wanted me to pay attention to the talks, and she still wanted me to concentrate on my writing assignment, and get this... she still expected me to talk to her during that last twenty minute session. You guessed it, the marriage was still off.
     Isn't it ironic... the Pre-Cana retreat that was supposed to bring us closer together was ruining our relationship.  
     Cheryl and I will celebrate our 21st anniversary in April so we did manage to come to a mutually agreeable resolution. I promised to pay attention to the talks. I promised to dutifully write down my thoughts. And I promised to pay attention to her when she came back to the room. No basketball.
     I learned a lot about a successful marriage that weekend, although none of my knowledge came from those silly talks. It came from realizing that Cheryl came first, before everything else. No basketball game, no matter how important, was more important than my new bride.
    Although, it almost came crashing down during the very last session. People were encouraged to write down their questions which were all thrown into a hat. The leaders then picked a random question and the group would enter into a discussion. The very first question was Did Indiana win? 
    Cheryl's head jerked in my direction, but I swore that I did not write that question... I knew that Indiana won because I watched the end of the game.
    Oops! So I did manage to watch a few minutes of the tournament. So what, what is she going to do about it... divorce me? It was March Madness. All should be forgiven.
    Okay, here is what I really learned that weekend: sometimes in order to have a happy marriage, every once in awhile, you have to look out for yourself.
     I think that the Cardinals would agree.
     Just so we are clear, that would be the Catholic Cardinals... not the Louisville Cardinals.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Funny Guy Friday... Call me, maybe...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     Two weeks ago, while the boys were enjoying a sleepover with some friends, Cheryl, Grace and I attended the ten o'clock Mass at our church. About ten minutes into Mass, the most irritating thing happened... a cell phone went off in a pew right around us.
     It was not a ring tone but a steady humm. Either way, it was completely distracting. I have a firm belief that there is no situation that would require that a person bring their cell phone into a church during a service. We all have our pet peeves, and this one is most definitely mine.
     Seriously. What could be so important that you need to bring your cell phone into Mass with you. Are you going to text someone about the great homily? If you actually answer a call, what do you do during an important part of the Mass?
     Excuse me, can I call you back in a minute? I have to go receive the Eucharist.... No no, it will only be a minute... we are in the first pew and it will be quick.... You know what? Forget it. I'll just take you up there with me, and you can listen... I'll put you on speaker.... What's that? Call back and we can skype? Hey, great idea!    
     As the phone kept humming, I became more and more irritated.
     Cheryl and Grace know about my feelings on this topic, so they looked to me for my reaction. They seemed particularly interested. I assumed it was because the humming was in our vicinity. Close enough for me to bring the hammer down on the offender
     I glanced around, searching for the guilty party, but no one was reaching for the phone.
     They had the nerve to bring their cell phone into church... the carelessness to leave it on... the audacity and cowardice to let it ring, ignoring it, so that nobody would know they were obnoxious and careless and audaciousnious.... I am not even sure that is a word, but I am using it for these pathetic folks.
     I looked around still trying to locate the culprit. Not that I would have done anything about it, other than give him the stink eye.
     I guessed that the only person it could have been was the gal behind me. I knew her. In fact, we have been out with her and her husband, and her husband works with my brother. I like her, or, I should say, I used to like her. As I stared her down, she stayed perfectly still, as if she were actually paying attention to the priest.
     I couldn't see where the phone was hidden. In fact, her pew was empty, so the phone had to be on her person. So, not only was she ignoring the humming, she was ignoring the gentle, yet invigorating massage that she was receiving with each passing humm.
     As if she didn't know that I knew she had brought her cell phone into church... failed to turn it off... and then ignored it... as it hummed and hummed and massaged and massaged. Not to be too judgmental, but I don't think that I will ever feel the same way about her again. She is dead to me.
     There. I don't think that's too judgmental. In fact it is just judgmental enough.
     After Mass, as we climbed into the car, I reiterated my hatred for cell phones in church.
     Whenever I go on this rant, it includes an admonishment to my kids, that if ever their cell phones go off in church and I find out about it, they will no longer have a cell phone.
     I restated my position with the hope that I would get an Amen from the congregation.
     Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.
     Cheryl finally spoke up: Okay. We get it. You don't like cell phones in church. Maybe someone forgot that they had it in their purse or something.
     She didn't have a purse. I know because I scouted it out. If I thought that I could have gotten away with it, I would have thrown her up against the wall and patted her down. 
     I was astounded that Cheryl was making excuses for her.  
     Cheryl added:  I could barely hear it.
     That was not possible. It kept humming and humming.
     How could you not hear it? It kept humming. I think her ring tone is set to a loud humm to try and fool people into thinking she is only a partially inconsiderate person and not a complete obnoxious boob!
     It wasn't her phone. 
     It wasn't? Whose phone was it? Did you see? You were sitting in front of Bill and PJ... was it one of their phones? 
     At this point, Cheryl was practically whispering. No. But... I tried to remain calm and ignore it... so people would think it was Bill's or PJ's phone. 
     What? I don't get it. What are you talking about? 
     At this point Gracie dropped the bomb: It was Mom's phone, Dad! 
     What? No way.... Mom's not a complete obnoxious boob.
     Yes, she is Dad.
     This was a devastating revelation.  
     Cheryl broke down and confessed: I'm sorry. I forgot I had it in my purse. I tried to ignore it so you wouldn't get mad.  
     So now I'm the bad guy!
     There was only one thing left to do... I put my hand out and demanded Cheryl's phone.
     Cheryl protested: I am not giving you my phone.
     You know the rule. If it goes off in church, it's mine. 
     That's your rule, not mine. 
     I won't pay the bill then.
     The bill is in my name and covers all of our phones... and it is paid for by your office, so I don't think that is going to happen. She had me. I was powerless.
     Sure, you remember that, but you can't remember to leave your phone in the car during church. 
    At this point, I would like to interrupt this week's FGF in order to apologize to our good friend who was sitting behind us during Cheryl's faux pas: To be clear, I am not sorry for my rush to judgment nor my willingness to so easily write you off. No, I would like to apologize, for my wife's inexcusable behavior. Please know that I will do whatever I can to ensure that it does not happen again... except of course, take away her phone.
     Now that I think about it, you might not know this about me, but I, too, can occasionally be an obnoxious boob. This past Sunday, phones were ringing off the hook during Mass. And each time it happened, I turned to Cheryl and said....
      I think it's for you!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Funny Guy Friday... When's Daniel coming over?

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband, Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     About once a week or so, my twenty-five-year-old nephew, Daniel, comes over to our house to work on hitting with our 12-year-old son, Matthew. Daniel played baseball in college and can skillfully analyze Matthew's hitting imperfections in order to correct them. He doesn't charge for the lessons, unless you count the free dinners. Funny thing is that when he started, I asked Matthew if he were hearing something other than what I usually tell him. He told me no, but that Daniel just does it better. 
     I am sure that these lessons will pay off for Matthew because it looks like he has a great teacher.
     Typically, I arrange for Daniel to come over, and then I announce it to the family when I walk through the door after work. My kids enjoy their cousin's company and are always excited to see him.
     After he is done hitting with Matthew, Daniel will stick around and chase 8-year-old Noah around the house so he can deliver a wicked Atomic Back-Breaker or the equally devastating Big Tickle, or he may chat with 16-year-old Grace and give her advice about high school and growing up. Sometimes he just sits and visits, talking about nothing at all. It is fun for Cheryl and me to just watch and listen.
     Tonight, when I came through the door and announced that Daniel was coming, Matthew asked why?    
     Why do you think? He comes to hit with you once a week but tonight, he and I are going out on the town together.
     Sweet. Daddy is going to be Daniel's wing man!
     Why do I have to be the wing man? He can be my wing man? What's a wing man?
     Now, the idea of me hanging out with my nephew, Daniel, is not that far-fetched. In fact, I was roommates with his two older brothers for several months. Okay... so they were 8 and 11 years old at the time, and I was in law school, but still. Truth be told, if I had had any style, they probably wouldn't have cramped it anyway. I had no "game" because I was living with my parents.
     That's right, it was just my mother and my father and I living in a four bedroom colonial. Still, I had it all... a bedroom and bathroom all to myself... an elderly landlady that did all the cooking, cleaning and laundry.... another equally elderly landlord that paid for everything. I also had a curfew. Okay, the curfew wasn't all that cool... but if I stayed out late my mommy couldn't sleep.
     Let me tell you, it was a wild time on Kennison Lane.
     Then it all changed. I came home from law school one day, and all my magazine covers were off the walls. What red-blooded American male did not have magazine covers pinned all over his walls? Well built... sleek... athletic bodies doing incredible, unbelievable, unthinkable, wild things. Of course, I am talking about the Sports Illustrated covers that I had stapled all over my room. Those guys were quickly replaced by bunk beds.
     I went to my landlords and demanded an explanation.
     Your brother, his wife, and their four boys are moving home for a while. You will be sharing a room with your nephews.
     I don't get my own room anymore? Which nephew?
     We said nephews... with an s... as in two.
     Two? This is unacceptable.
     You are never home anyway, so what does it matter.
     What if I have a date and I want to bring her home and want, ahem, to show her my room. 
     Bring her home. She isn't allowed upstairs anyway.
     My landlords had this silly little rule that no member of the opposite sex, not related by blood or marriage, was allowed to go upstairs in our house at any time. They couldn't even go up to use the bathroom... which was once my bathroom but was now going to be mine, Jeff's, Theresa's, Jonathan's, Jeffrey's, Joseph's and Daniel's bathroom. At the time, I did have a "downstairs girlfriend" but could only imagine an "upstairs girlfriend." I doubt that my fake upstairs girlfriend could have even found a seat in that bathroom.
     What am I going to do with four boys?
     You can play out back with them; they like sports.
     That's true.
     Sure. It will be fun.
     I will dominate.
     Sure you will, as long as your brother Jeff isn't playing too.
     He cheats. He has always cheated, and you two let him cheat.
     We will watch him a little closer this time around. We promise. 
     Okay, but will Mom still do all the cooking, cleaning and laundry?
     Will Dad still pay for everything?
     Fine, I'll try it, but, for the record, I am not happy about this.
     Then move out.
     Well, I am not that unhappy. 
     So, late each night, I would get home from law school, grab a bite to eat, sneak quietly into my room, shush my imaginary upstairs girlfriend, turn on the light next to my bed, and start reading. It was kind of like having your own room, only with two kids sleeping five feet away from you, and two more toddlers right down the hallway.
     It wasn't so bad. I mean, I still got a lot of action at night, if you know what I mean.
     Well, if you don't know what I mean, let me elaborate... one of the two toddlers would have an occasional accident at night. Guess who was the only one awake that could swoop in and handle the mayhem? That's right, good ol' Uncle Mark.
     Every time this happened, I would tell him not to worry about it... our landlady does all the laundry. Then I would provide him with some dry clothes, and send him in with his parents. I promised him that I would never tell anyone about our little routine.
     Perhaps this is why he is willing to do these hitting lessons for free. Please do me a favor and let's just keep this little tidbit to ourselves.
     The truth of the matter is that I loved having those kids live with us. I loved playing ball with them, chasing them around the house and delivering a wicked Atomic Back-Breaker or the equally devastating Big Tickle, or just sitting around giving them advice about school and growing up. Their mother will tell you that my particular area of expertise was dating... real girlfriends, preferably.
     Rule 1. Encourage your date to go with a strapless gown.
     Rule 2. Always purchase a pin-on corsage.
     You know it's funny... I do all these same things with my kids, but they seem to enjoy it more when it involves Daniel. Turns out, he just does it better. 
     I am sure he does... he had a great teacher.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Funny Guy Friday… The funeral crashers...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
    I must admit that I am jealous of my family. Every couple of weeks, when I come home from work, my wife and kids regale me with great stories… some funny, some heartwarming, and some inspiring.
   They tell me about their new friends that they've met, and about the delicious meals that they've shared. It is always somebody new, and, if truth be told, somebody that they will probably never meet again. It really doesn't matter because on these days, they are great pals, willing to share lifelong stories.
    Where, you ask, can you congregate once every month with a room full of strangers and enjoy great food and camaraderie?
    The answer may surprise you.
    That's right, I said funerals. My family have become the Funeral Crashers.
    Perhaps a little history may help explain how all of this started.
    My father passed away about two years ago. We had what I considered to be the typical funeral experience… a viewing, a funeral, and a repast (by the way, repast is a new word that my wife sprung on me after committing herself to this cause).
     It was moving to see the different people who showed up to pay their respects. This was both Cheryl's and my first experience with a death in our own family, and it made us both realize what the visitation part means to those that survive the deceased.
    I made a mental note of it… and then promptly forgot about it.
    Cheryl made a mental note of it and BOOM… she and the kids have a new career… professional mourners.
    I think that the priests have her on speed dial so they can fill a church at any time.
    At least three times in the past three months, Cheryl has announced that she and the kids are going to take some time off from their rigorous home school schedule in order to attend a funeral. On each occasion it was an adult parent of a friend, and in two of the three, they barely knew the deceased.
    I am advised that typically our kids are among the youngest members of the congregation. In fact, it is kind of humorous to hear eight-year-old Noah give his critique of the homily… Father Lewis gave a great homily. It gave me a lot to think about. Monsignor was kind of complicated, but it was funny to see our friend's baby making faces in front of me. Maybe he was having trouble understanding, too.
    From what I can gather, my kids are not always the youngest attendees as it appears that it is not just my family of home schoolers that considers attending a funeral as a field trip.
    Hey Christi, did you guys know Mr. Jones?
    No, not really, why do you ask?
    His funeral is today, and I think I might run the kids over. I can pick your kids up and take them if you want.  I am sure we will get some lunch afterward.
    Well, we were going to go to the aquarium but this might just work out better… sure, if you don't mind, I will take you up on that offer.   
     Now I understand attending the service at the church, but what I don't get is the luncheon after the Mass. It seems to me that would be reserved for close friends and family members, but my family always seems to find a way to worm their way in. Cheryl assures me that they are always invited. I tell her that when people stand up at the end of the funeral and invite people "back to the house" they really don't expect the friend of the niece's cousin's daughter… and her three kids... to pop in. Cheryl assures me that they do, in fact, expect them all to pop in.
    This past week, they had the pleasure of sitting next to an elderly gentleman who happened to be the father of a friend of ours. Turned out that he knew Cheryl's father and that they played shuffle board at the Knights of Columbus. He had a lifetime of stories, and my kids seemed to hang on every word. In fact, I think that they have a play date scheduled for next Thursday.
     The reality is that this whole process is very healthy for our kids.
     My brother once told Cheryl that kids are afraid of death because their parents are afraid of death. My father was home for four weeks before he passed away, and if you could find a way to get past the whole dying thing, it was a beautiful four weeks. Friends and family came and went and paid their respects while he was alive and coherent. There was nothing to fear. His funeral was a celebration of his life, and we did want everyone to share in it.
    As a child, I cannot recall ever attending a funeral. To this day, I am never sure how to act or what to say. I want so much to let people know that we are praying for them and for their family. More importantly, I want them to know that their loved one is in a better place. My words always seem so shallow, ineffective and rehearsed.
    So how can I get better? I can practice. I can watch others. By trial and error, I can see see what works and what doesn't work.
    Lord knows that my kids are getting a lot of practice. They will not be afraid of death and words of comfort will come easy to them. Not only will they have the right words, they will also have the wisdom to be quiet and listen to family and friends as they tell stories… some funny, some heart warming and some inspiring.
    When you think about it, you will never get that kind of knowledge at any aquarium.
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