Friday, September 29, 2006

Being Raised Catholic

I am one of the minority of people my age who was raised in an abuse-free, relatively peaceful home. I was raised as an only child by my paternal grandparents who loved and treasured me to the point of spoiling me rotten. They raised me on a small living, and although most of clothing and toys were thrift store bargains, I never suffered for lack of feeling wanted and enjoyed.

They were always home when I came home from school and there was always something cooking on the stove. The house was modest and clean. They always dropped what they were doing to ask me how my day was. They fed me well and taught me to play Canasta and always looked me in the eye and paid attention. They were amazing parents and what made them amazing is that, at retirement age when other folks chose to travel and relax from raising children and the daily drudge of family concerns, my grandparents chose instead to raise me.

Living with older folks can be an adventure. I went to kindergarden thinking the fridge was an "ice box" and the couch was a "divan" and knowing all the words to songs like Mac The Knife. I knew who the Maguire Sisters were but had never heard of the Pointer Sisters. This made me feel special, like knowing a secret language no one else my age knew. But as I grew older and hit the teen years, my grandfather passed away and my poor grandma was left holding my rebellious hand alone. We both survived somehow. My gram is now closing in on 92 years and I am at my 36th birthday. She has been at my side through the birth of my eldest daughter, my marriage and divorce, and has seen me through personal suffering that has broken both of our hearts. She is an amazing lady and still my gentle, peaceful and very Catholic best-friend, even though we live across the country from one another. The greatest gift of all the countless gifts she has given me is my Catholic faith.

My grandmother made sure I attended Sunday Mass and even though she could not afford to send me to parochial school, she did make sure I went to CCD, and "made" all the sacraments. It is through her sacrifices that I learned about the work of love and that it is often difficult and feels unrewarding. It is through mothering my own children thatI have learned about loss and carrying our crosses daily. And with this, something the saints have always written about and what confuses so many good non-catholic christians, is the joy of giving of yourself, loving until it really hurts.

Real love does not require recipriciocity, nor does it expect it as a reward. It's fufillment is in loving itself.


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