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

Friday, June 26, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... I heart PJ...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
    While I was sitting in my car waiting for the rain to stop so we could play Noah's Little League championship game, I received a call from a number that I did not recognize. Typically, I would ignore such a call, but since I had no place to go, I picked up.
    It was my best friend's brother. This was not totally surprising because I get calls from people I know who may have a legal question for me.
    Not to change the subject, but people think that once you graduate from law school, you are an expert on every area of the law.
    For instance, I may get this... Hey, Mark, I am thinking of starting a non-profit and need advice on 503C corporations versus an S corporation, but I also need to know the tax consequences on senior citizens who serve as board members that have dual citizenship in two separate countries. So, what can you tell me?
     Uh, well, uh, here is what I know... those questions drive me to drinking. Speaking of drinking, if those old board members get a DWI, call me! 
     Just so everyone knows, no lawyer can answer every legal question. Just sayin'.
     Anyway, my friend's brother started off the call advising that he had a story to tell me. As if I had not heard it all before.
     PJ is right now getting prepped for triple-bypass surgery! 
     What? Wait. That can't be right! I really had not heard that one before.
     I had absolutely no response as worst case scenarios rushed through my head. I stumbled through a few stupid questions, but did not listen to the answers. I offered to drive to the hospital but was advised to wait. After I hung up, I felt pretty helpless and did what I always do when I get this kind of news. I called Cheryl.
     Cheryl asked me some smart questions, of which I had no answers.
     After a few minutes, I started to receive texts and phone calls from friends from church making sure that I had heard the news. For whatever reason, this struck me as funny as if "they" were going to tell "me" bad news about PJ.
     Don't these people know that PJ and I have been best friends since we were 3 or 4 years old. I tell them bad news about PJ.
     Don't they know that when we were kids, every weekend, he either slept at my house, or I slept at his.
     That to this day, one of the worst days in my life was when he received an invitation to Kindergarten and I didn't. I found out that day that he was a year older than I. Very traumatic!
     Do they not know that one of the best days of my life was when I learned we'd be in a combination class when I was in 3rd grade and he was in 4th. Better yet, I got to sit at his table for most of the year.
     Do they not know that one of my biggest disappointments during my senior year of high school was that he was at college and I had nothing to do?
     Do they not know that we both eventually went to University of Maryland and lived together for a semester or two.
     That while we were in college, we got jobs at the same restaurant.
     Do they not know that I got him through the one class that we took together. We took Philosophy of the Law. He took it pass/fail and I took it for a grade. He never went to class and I always went to class... and took copious notes.
     Funny story about that... Every test was four or five essays and I would tutor him on four or five things that I thought would be on the exam. On the eve of one of the exams, I was in the library and saw some friends of PJ's. They too, were taking this class. They approached me and asked if I had notes from one day weeks prior. I did... but they made no sense because I was falling asleep during the lecture, but I gave them what I had. They advised me that these were the same notes that they had and that I was of no help. I asked them to see the rest of their notes and they were all mine. PJ, their hero, had given them all of my notes for the entire semester. I didn't mind but he could have at least asked me.
     Do these folks not know that I was in his wedding and he was in mine.
     That every August 16th, on my birthday, like clockwork, he calls me to wish me a Happy Elvis Death Day.
     That we spend every Christmas Eve with his family, and that to this day, he always gives me a lifesaver pack just like he did when we were kids.
     The bottom line is this: they shouldn't be calling me, I should be calling them! But I didn't. I couldn't. My mind was paralyzed.
     However, in case you were wondering, my mind was not so paralyzed that I could not coach Noah's team to it's second straight Little League title. I get it done even under the worst of conditions!  
     Well, I am happy to report that the surgery was a complete success. No damage to the heart at all. I called to check on him Saturday, and got his wife's cell's voice mail. Minutes later, my phone rang, and when I picked up, I heard PJ's voice: Moo Moo. Yes, my nickname from when I was... oh... about 3 or 4. I knew then that we'd be... er... I mean... he'd be just fine.
     I got to see him on Sunday morning and was shocked at how well he looked and how much he was able to do. As the nurse helped him out of his bed, I advised her that I had to do the same thing for him while we were in college, only I usually had to help him into bed!
     The two of us had time together, just the two of us, for about two hours. His wife showed up and I took off. By the way, she looked better than I had ever seen her. She too, gets it done even under the worst of conditions.
     I am so glad that I got the chance to see him and spend that time with him. While I was there, the doctors came in and advised that things are going great. So great that he was discharged that same day.
    Think about that, he had a triple-bypass on Thursday and was out of the hospital on Sunday. He continues to get better every day.
     Funny thing is that you could trace the stages of his recovery through the tone of the text messages that were being sent. At first, great concern and reports of his status and requests for prayers. Then it resorted to pictures of him, and his scar, side by side with Beau Bridges, Jeff Bridges and Don Johnson. Followed by photos of him and Frankenstein and Herman Munster. I was sharing some of these with Cheryl and the kids and Matthew commented on how Mr. P.J. had surgery on Thursday and everyone is so concerned and then two days later you are comparing him to Frankenstein!
     Did you see that incision!  
     Prayers are often answered. The word went out and people responded. Of course, that was no thanks to me... I was a screaming pile of inaction.
     But don't blame me because you may not know this but... he is my best friend and I love him like a brother!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... God cares so wonderfully for the Little Flowers...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...  
     A little back story this time: our beloved priest of three years has been reassigned.  Bethesda's Church of the Little Flower has been blessed to get him. We will miss you dearly, Father Lewis!

Dear Little Flowers,
     I am writing with regards to the news we recently received that our beloved priest, Father Patrick Lewis, will be reassigned to your parish.
     I still recall the first time that I met Father Lewis. It was the most important day of the Sacred Heart Liturgical Calendar... Labor Day. You see on Labor Day, I am in charge of the church. I do everything except say the morning Mass. That being a rather minor part of the Labor Day Festival, of which I am the Grand Pooba, I let Monsignor Parry handle that.
     Anyway, on this particular Labor Day three years ago, perhaps the hottest Labor Day in recorded history, Father Lewis showed up in black shirt and collar. Note.... I said he was beloved, I did not say he was smart.
     He also had a University of Maryland baseball cap on his head. I was in the middle of something vitally important to the success of the whole Festival... grabbing my free sausage sub... when we were first introduced. Being a Maryland alum, I commented... I don't know what kind of priest you are going to make, you may be a cruddy one for all I know, but I do know that I like your choice of colleges! 
     Just my little way of making the new guy feel right at home
     So you may be wondering: what do I need to know about the new Associate Pastor? Well, let me tell you just a few things.
     First, don't play golf with the guy. He stirs up emotions in people on a golf course that you just would not believe. I mean, he innocently picked up the wrong ball one time, and our foursome was nearly attacked... by a foursome that was way bigger than ours. Now, the good news is that when you are with him in these near-death experience, you can always fall back on what I will refer to as, "The Priest Card." That, and a well-timed Angelus never hurts.
    We had to step in:  Look fellas, it was an honest mistake. He doesn't get out and play a whole lot, you know, with all the time he commits to saving souls and whatnot. Can you guys find it in your hearts to forgive him, as he forgives those that trespass against him?  FATHER LEWIS, could you say a prayer for the eight of us... right now... quickly! 
     Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and we all grew closer together when this other group made the wise decision that it would be in poor taste to fight with a priest at a Catholic charity fundraiser! 
     Second, he is committed to his faith... I mean he is a priest, after all. But it is more than that. Father Lewis is truly a Shepherd of Men. He will challenge you, and he will force you to think about things in a different way. In fact, it would be really annoying if he weren't so sneaky about it.
     Let me explain.
     You will find yourself talking to him at the CCD drop off. Typically, this occurs when he is walking out after the kids are all in their classes and you are late dropping your kid off... and you cross paths just before you pull away. The very pleasant conversation will turn to something that you may have said to your children that was not very nice. And at the end of the conversation, he may drop a Have you prayed about it? Because I find that... blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. 
     You then drive off thinking about what he said and pondering better ways to handle a particular situation, and then you slap your forehead and think, what just happened? In the middle of the  conversation, he innocently dropped in the praying about it stuff followed up with the I find stuff and now I am sitting here pondering better ways to handle stuff.
     Like I said, it would really be annoying if it weren't done in such an honest, non-offensive manner!
     Third, he gives the best homilies ever.
     Even this past week when, in the middle of Mass the idea of this Funny Guy Friday was rattling through my head, I was still drawn to his words.
    Let me break down a typical Father Lewis homily. He starts with a prayer to the Holy Spirit
that you may understand what he is about to say. He may not couch it in those exact terms... but that's what he is saying. Then he might lay out a position that is contrary to his. Then he lays out his position. Then he, in his very honest, non-offensive manner obliterates the opposing position by explaining why he is right and squashing them as if they were a pesky little bug.
     He almost always drops in a very funny anecdote... and if you don't laugh, he may confront the congregation and ask something like Oh c'mon, didn't everyone's mothers get you to be quiet in the car by breaking into a recitation of the Rosary? Then he wraps it all up in a very tight bow and sends you off prepared to take on whatever comes your way. The final stamp of approval comes when you lean over to your wife and whisper... He is the best! 
     It happens every Sunday, so if his first homily is a stinker, stick around, it'll get better!
     Oh, and be prepared... he often asks questions of the congregation.
     Sometimes they are tough, and I think he is surprised when more people don't raise their hands with the answer. Just as an FYI, sit near the back and off to the side and raise your hand no matter if you know the answer or not. He will never call on you and the people around you will think that you are one of the most enlightened thinkers in the church. I have to admit, I kind of perfected this, "raise your hand like you know the answer, but in reality the only thing you know is that you will not be called on" move when I was in Law School.
     Finally, you are getting one of the finest men and one of the finest priests that I have met. He will be a blessing to you and to your church. I am sure that I am not alone when I say that I hope there is an occasion when Father Lewis can return to Sacred Heart.
     Treat him well and enjoy every minute... because he is getting transferred in three years.
     By the way, before writing this, I checked out your Little Flower website and you have five priests listed as associated with your congregation. What is up with that? Why do you get our guy when you already have so many? You trying to corner the market or what? If there is not a lot of stuff for him to do, send him back!
     Finally, while I have your attention, there is something that has bothered me for years. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to all the 17- and 18-year-old girls from your church that played 10-year-old softball for the Little Flower's CYO team about eight years ago. I coached my daughter's team. We attended St. Pius X at the time, and we were the two best teams in the league. I watched you all play four or five times while waiting for our game to start or right after our games had concluded, and I had two weeks to prepare for playing you. I saw enough to see how you played, how you all hit, and how you all ran the bases. I dedicated two weeks to beating you guys and had my girls fired up.
     On the day of the big game, my girls executed the game plan perfectly and we won, by a pretty good margin. I was fired up! Then came the post-game handshakes. You girls were so cute and so nice and you and your coaches were so gracious.
     I got in the car and my wife looked at me and said, You don't seem so happy after winning the big game.  I told her that I just spent two weeks of my life getting ready to destroy the hopes and dreams of a bunch of cute little ten-year-old girls, and when I did, they shook my hand and could not have been nicer. I am an idiot! 
     Had Father Lewis been around at the time, he would have said, Have you prayed about it, because I always find... blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. 
     I am going to miss those conversations!
     You will enjoy them!   


                                                                 Mark J. Palumbo 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Hmmm... Where shall we go?

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
    Every year, we make a grand announcement to our kids that we are going to do something special for a vacation. The grand announcement is then followed up with dozens of reasons why we can't take that special vacation. So we end up with that inevitable week in Ocean City, or on that rare occasion, the Ocean City of the South, Myrtle Beach.
    The reasons why we can't go include but are not limited to....
    1. Baseball
    2. Crowds
    3. Work
    4. School
    5. Baseball
    6. Money
    7. Time
    8. Baseball
    9. Weather-related issues
   10. Long drive
   11. Apathy.  Oh wait, one more...
   12. Baseball

    This year's vacation planning was very similar... only grander.
    Cheryl fired the first shot sometime in March.
    Let's go to Italy!!!! Take a Tuscany vacation... Noah would love to see the countryside and see how an authentic Italian meal is made!
    Not sure about that... can't we just take our ten-year-old down to Squizitos and let him watch the guys toss the dough? It would be a lot cheaper. 
    Italy will be awesome.  Grace has been studying Italian in school, so it will be perfect. 
    Matthew is studying Latin... Now where should we go?
    Okay, let's look into it. 
    Knowing full well that we were not really going to look into it.
    Surprisingly, the Italy plan was discussed long enough for me to take two full weeks off of work. This is unprecedented. There have only been two times in my entire life that I took two straight weeks off of work. The first is when Cheryl and I got married, and the second was when Cheryl and I took our own trip to Hawaii.
    I never take that much time off of work. I have learned a valuable lesson in my twenty years of practicing law... if you are not in the office, you can't make any money! If you don't make any money, you can't plan vacations that your never take!
    So, Italy was still in the running right up until we discovered that Grace was not really enjoying Italian all that much, and that semester would probably be her last.  Additionally, the two weeks that I blocked off were sandwiched between a family retreat and Grace's return to college. Our two weeks became 11 days.
    Not enough time... see #7 on list!
    Then Cheryl got the bright idea of going to the Florida Keys. If you take a vacation to the Florida Keys, you might as well go to Disney World.
    BOOM BABY! Vacation plans complete.
    Only Florida gets kind of hot... see #9!
    Hot and crowded. My research revealed two hour lines at... and I quote... at any ride that you will want to ride!... See # 2!
    BOOM BABY! Vacation plans blown up!   
    I called Cheryl and advised that it looked like Ocean City again this year. Maybe a quick trip to Newport, RI, to see her family and then back to our safe Ocean City haven.
    For the past couple of years, Cheryl has tried to talk me into visiting our friends at their lake-front place in Michigan, and do a whole Niagara Falls discovery tour along the way, but that's a lot of driving for me, seeing I drive all the time for work. See # 10.
    There was also talk of visiting Cheryl's sister in Washington State, but when it comes to it, I just prefer the beach.  A place at the beach where we can take our time and hang out all day.
    I contacted a travel agent to get some ideas. She came up with an all-inclusive resort in the Virgin Islands. Seemed like a great idea. All your food and drinks are included and you never have to spend a dime... except for the hundred-thousand dimes you need to spend to fly to and stay at the resort. See # 6.
    And although the food and drink thing sounds great, our family does not really eat like that. We would be chowing down just because we could. Seems to me, that would get kind of old. And we don't really drink that much, so that would be kind of a waste.  See #6 again.
    Undaunted, I began to look on the Internet about Hawaii. Did you know that you can rent a condo in Hawaii for less than you can rent a condo in Ocean City? I know this because I own a condo in Ocean City, Maryland.
    Cheryl was all in. But...  
    What about baseball?
    All done!
    Is it crowded?
    No more than any other time of the year. It's Hawaii... Aloha, Dude! 
    Do you still have the dates off of work?
    Sure do.
    Will we be back before the start of school. 
    Flights are going to be expensive.
    We can use our credit card points to offset the cost!
    Let's do it!

    And we did.... we are booked for a Hawaiian vacation. I am both excited and scared to death. I don't like flying and it is a long flight. Actually, I really don't fear flying... I fear crashing. And Cheryl and I have been there before without kids. It was expensive then and now we are tacking on three more vacationers.
    Oh well, what the heck. We never spend much on vacations. You know what they say about money... you can't take it with you.
    By the way, if anyone is interested in renting a condo, Ocean City is a great place to vacation!!!!!  Call me... we can work a deal!
    I'll need the cash!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Is it warm in here, or is it me?...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     I recently read that the United States Senate held a vote on one of the most controversial topics of our time. They narrowly passed a vote asserting that Climate Change is real. However, there was no consensus that Climate Change is the result of man-made forces.
     In a similar vote, the Senate voted that the sun is hot and the earth is round. A bill asserting that the moon is made of cheese was narrowly defeated.
     I must admit that I have not always been the biggest proponent of Climate Change, but I have to admit... it is real. I mean, a week ago, I played golf... and it was hot and humid with temperatures near 90. Today I was going to play golf, but it was rainy with temperatures in the 60's. One week, and the climate had changed.
     I know what you are thinking... Does this guy ever work? Golf... Golf... and more Golf... What's next, leaving early to coach his son's baseball team three times a week?
     Why, yes... that is next. It's good to be the boss. The only problem with my job and my coaching is the rain out... as a result of... Climate Change!   
     There you go... settled science! 
     You know, if I really were the boss of everything, there would be no Senate votes on Climate Change. In the 1970's there were several magazine covers warning of the coming Ice Age! The world was going to freeze to death. What if the Senate had held a vote declaring the 70's to be the Decade of the Polar Bear.  How silly would that have looked when thirty years later, many of the same magazines... and some of the same people... lamented that we were all going to melt away as a result of Global Warming?
     In fact, the same Polar Bears that were going to take over the world just thirty years earlier, were now going to be homeless as the Polar Ice Cap melted away.
     These poor Polar Bears don't know what they are supposed to do... thrive in the cold or perish in the heat!
     Well, as it turns out, the world is neither freezing nor melting away. So now what? How do we push a weather-related agenda that will benefit all Polar Bears... especially those that stand to gain millions... see Al Gore!
     Oh, I know... Climate Change.
     This covers every possible weather-related scenario. Hot... Cold... Windy... Sunny... Cloudy.
How can you argue against this? The climate does change, so, of course, the legislation passed.
      Pope Francis has weighed in on the subject on the side of the doomsayers believers. This morning, I read a Facebook post about a conservative politician who said that the Pope should stick to issues of religion and leave the science to the scientists. As you can imagine, there were many comments poking fun at the politician for disagreeing with the Pope.  Imagine, someone disagreeing with the Pope... what an idiot! 
     I wonder if these same people would still mock the politician if he disagreed with the Pope on issues such as, oh I don't know... let's say... abortion, gay marriage, or cohabitation.
     Maybe they would, but my guess is that if the politician disagreed with the Pope on those issues, he would be an enlightened thinker.
     Here is what I think. I think that if we are going to involve the Pope, why not go straight to the top.
     God created the earth and everything in it. The planet thrived for... oh... I don't know how many millennia, but suddenly, in the course of the last fifty years, man has come up with three separate theories as to why our days are numbered.
     First we were doomed because of the cold. Then we were doomed because of the heat. Now we are doomed because it is both hot and cold. The perfect catch-all necessitating a vote in the Senate!
     So, with Iran on the verge of having nuclear weapons, our cities burning with civil unrest, people out of work, and Christians being slaughtered because of their faith... and our leaders are voting on Climate Change.
     Makes sense to me.
     I am curious to know what would happen if someone proposed legislation that said four words... God is in charge! 
     Does anyone really think that our political leaders would let that get to the Senate Floor?
     Of course not... that would be silly... and Heaven knows, we cannot have our political leaders arguing over such a trivial matter!
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