40 Reflections: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season
Ever since our kids were young, they’ve been on teams. Dance to baseball – soccer to swim and many in between. Our hope was always to give them the opportunity to learn discipline, cooperation, sportsmanship, how to lose graciously, and to always help teammates up when they fall, both physically and emotionally.
When my dad was a freshman in high school back in 1949, he and his buddy, Anthony signed up for the track team. Growing up working in the family grocery store daily, he asked his dad if it was okay if he stayed after school for practice. Always the businessman, grandpa said yes, as long as he was home at 3:00 pm to open the store. The first day of practice, dad and Anthony showed up to practice with the wrong type of socks so they headed to Montgomery Wards with no money to speak of and a plan for my dad to distract the salesman, while his friend tried to “acquire” socks for them. They were caught and then banned from Montgomery Wards. Later that day when dad didn’t show up at the store at 3:00, his athletic career ended before it had a chance to begin. No sports teams, but he always had friends over to the store to play cards while grandma fed everyone.
In 1952, my mom went to boarding school four hours away from her family due to discrimination toward Hispanics in her hometown. In order to pay her tuition, she worked at the school washing all of the bedding, cleaning, and playing the piano for school events. The nuns also had her play for the children’s mass every Sunday at the church about a mile away. She was 14. No sports teams, but a tribe of classmates that supported each other.
Somehow, without formal sports or teams, my parents learned about teamwork, and the joy of supporting those around them, especially each other. In the fall and winter, they shell pecans from their trees, split wood and stack it beautifully. In the spring and summer, they dry apples, plant tomatoes, and jalapeños, prune the peach and apricot trees and say a little prayer over the fig tree that it will “someday bear fruit.”
At 83 and 86, I imagine some days are tackled with love and intention and others are just too long. According to our Catholic faith, following our death comes a whole new life. A new beginning. A concept I tend to find alternately comforting and frightening. Just like the stillness of death and the quiet, it brings to the world.
The team and partnership they have formed over the last 62 years have every quality needed for success. Their will to sacrifice anything for each other, the little acts of service and love they show every day, and their ability to resolve conflicts, even if it just means forgiving and forgetting — as mom says, her memory is not like it used to be.
Today, dad has macular degeneration and the picture in this post shows mom reading the paper to dad. This is a team. This is a partnership. This is love.
Please pray for Ukraine