Category Archives: Events

Lassies Reply to the Laddies’ Toast to the Lassies: #metoo version

Our friends, Alison and David, hosted another wonderful Burns’ Supper a few weekends ago and I volunteered to present the Lassies Reply to the Laddies’ Toast to the Lassies. Here it is:

Thank you, Dean, for that poetic and surprisingly woke toast to the Lassies.

I would also like to thank our gracious hosts, David and Alison. You never fail to blow me away with the feasts you provide your guests for the fun events you host.

Full disclosure here, I volunteered to give this reply to the Laddies after a couple glasses of wine. I really need to learn to not volunteer for things after a couple glasses of wine. The last time I had the honor of giving a lassies reply to the laddies toast to the lassies was 7 years ago. If I recall correctly, I replied to Scott’s toast which, as the saying goes, was a tough act to follow.

Before I begin, know that I appreciate each of the laddies in this room.

  • David – I love your sense of humor and have enjoyed being your friend for these past fifteen or so years. Also don’t be mad at me about my reply.
  • Scott – you have such a wealth of knowledge and I always look forward to hearing your stories.
  • Kumar – I don’t see you often, but when I do it is always a joy to talk to you.
  • Peter – I’ve enjoyed watching you grow up into a kind, loving, smart young adult.
  • Brandon – You are extra special to me for so many reasons. I am delighted you are visiting and are a part of tonight’s supper.
  • And Dean – yeah, you’re okay too (actually you’re pretty terrific and I am still glad that 38 years ago you were sitting all alone at that table in that bar when I walked in. With Marcia.)

It’s been a tough year for most of us here. We’ve had to watch as ideologies and values we’d taken for granted – like kindness, common decency, diversity, scientific evidence, etc. were devalued by the laddie who lives in the White House and his groveling sycophantic republican members of congress.

But let’s talk about other laddies:

It’s been a disastrous year for some laddies – not any of the laddies here, you are all true gentlemen. The laddies I mean are those laddies that were publicly called out for sexual harassment, and worse, by some very brave lassies (and a laddie or two).

But I imagine it has been an uncomfortable time for all laddies, even maybe for some of those in this room. Maybe you remembered something you said or did in your youth that could have been construed as harassment – or might be interpreted as harassment today. Or maybe you were just ashamed of your fellow laddies.

When I was thinking about what I would say tonight, and decided its theme would be hashtag metoo, I remembered the many informative Immortal Memory speeches that – usually Laura – has given over the years and it occurred to me (with Andrew’s input) that the laddie we honor tonight, given today’s mores, could be considered a champion sexual harasser – and worse.

So I asked Professor Google and depending on which article you read after searching “Robert Burns Me too“, you will discover that Burns’ was either a possible rapist, a “sex pest,” or simply a “ladies man.”

In a letter Burns that wrote to a friend he describes having his way with Jean Armour, his heavily pregnant (with twins), soon-to-be wife in a manure-filled horse stall. Yet in his poem “The Rights Of Woman” he assures women that he and his buddies are “well-bred men” who were glad that “those Gothic times are fled” “when rough rude man had naughty ways, Would swagger, swear, get drunk, kick up a riot, Nay even thus invade a Lady’s quiet.”

In years past, listening to the Immortal Memory, especially the parts about Robert Burns’ sexual exploits, his illegitimate children, his many affairs, was funny – like a “nudge nudge wink wink” kind of funny. When I thought, this past week, about my reaction those stories, I was ashamed of myself because I was not thinking about the women in the stories – only about the randy laddie.

The articles I read were inconclusive – and as one article so wonderfully put it:

“So what should we make of this? If you’re like me, you have a hunch that the incident described was both painful and degrading. Certainly, if Jean Armour were my friend, I would not hesitate to suggest dumping her boyfriend. But in any case, the jury has been out on Robert Burns for 230 years. Armour, alas, never shall reach out of her grave and carve #MeToo upon her tombstone.”

So now, I don’t know what to think except that I really need to stop dissing Rabbie Burns or I won’t be invited to one of these again.

Thank you. To the Laddies!

Pastor Keith does it again

Nearly 6 years ago I wrote a post about how Pastor Keith helped us through our father’s death and I shared the amazing sermon he gave at my father’s funeral. I’m here now to let you know that he did it again, this time at my mother’s memorial service. We were not entirely sure this would be possible because Pastor Keith moved from my mother’s church to a different church, but since Mom was so fond of Pastor Keith and she’d never met the interim pastor at her church until she was on hospice care, Kevin and I (mostly Kevin) made sure Pastor Keith was able to be involved.

A few days before the memorial service Pastor Keith called to get some ideas for the sermon. We talked about mom’s qualities, about her illness, about her friends, about Kevin’s upcoming wedding. I also shared with Pastor Keith the dream I had the night my mother died.

Without further comment, here’s his sermon:

Funeral Sermon for Patricia Ann Patrick (February 16, 1936–August 26, 2016)
Texts: John 14:1–4 and Romans 8:18–21
Preached: September 9, 2016 at Moss-Norris Funeral Home, St. Charles, Illinois

Grace and peace to you from God our Father, in whose house are many, many rooms, and from Christ Jesus, who has gone to prepare a place for us. AMEN

I’m grateful to Pat Patrick’s family, and to Pr. Michael Rothaar, for inviting me to participate in this service for Pat Patrick this evening. I was Pat’s pastor for five years, and she holds a special place in my heart. Pat was the only parishioner I’ve had, and I suspect will be the only parishioner I ever will have, who invariably as she was leaving worship on a Sunday morning would bow her head in front of me as she was leaving the service and… would kiss my ring. I don’t know for sure how that started, but she did it week in and week out. Someone a couple of years ago noticed her doing this, and privately afterwards said, “Pastor, do you think that’s a sign of the Alzheimer’s?” And I had to laugh and say, “No, no, not at all, she was doing that long before that became an issue! That’s just Pat.” And even after her mind became clouded, she never failed to kiss my ring, and then would smile sweetly and somewhat slyly at me. There was a delightful, childlike quality about her, an almost pixie-like quality, that enabled her to look at the world with wonder, and to laugh that infectious laugh, and to get away with some slightly goofy behaviors that only she could get away with. You can see that delight in the photos of her as a young woman—still a girl, really—as she looks up adoringly at Elvin as he embraces her. Even when she went through trying times across the years, through difficulties and challenges and losses, she still kept that air of eagerness, that spirit of amazed wonderment.

Earlier this week, Pat’s daughter Dona shared with me an experience she had the night of Pat’s death that I think in some way captures that quality. Dona had finally gone to bed that night, sleeping near Pat’s bed, knowing that the end of this life was not far off. As she slept, Dona began to dream. And in her dream, she saw Pat get up out of bed, all dressed in white. There were windows all around. It wasn’t Kevin’s house, but some other place. And in the dream, Pat kept heading toward the windows, drawn like a moth to a flame. She would get up close to a window, and would stand with her hands behind her back like a child who has been told not to touch something very precious, standing up on her tiptoes, straining delightedly, expectantly to see what there was on the other side of the glass, as though there were something of great beauty and fascination to be seen that she couldn’t quite make out. She went from window to window, trying to get a clearer view. Others in the dream kept coming and trying to tug Pat back to her bed, but she couldn’t be held back…she kept going back to the window to stand on tiptoes. Finally, someone took hold of her and pushed her into Dona’s arms, but not even that could keep her from the irresistible attraction of the sight she was straining to see. And suddenly, she broke free from Dona’s grasp, and instantly was transformed into sparkles of light. And at that moment, Dona awoke, and Kevin told her that their mom was gone.

When I heard that account, I was immediately reminded of some verses of scripture, actually verses that come just before the very same passage that Pr. Rothaar read a few moments ago from the Letter to the Romans. This letter was written by the Apostle Paul to people who were going through profoundly difficult struggles in their lives, people who were being persecuted and even killed, people who needed to hear a word of hope and encouragement, people who were unsure about what might lie in store for them. And in the verses that we heard, there is that stirring affirmation that not even death itself, not even life itself, can hold us back from the love that God shows to us in Christ Jesus. Those are amazing words to hear. We can have confidence in them. But now I want you to hear what Paul had to say just before those words. These verses come from another translation that I think captures something very important, and it’s why what Dona had to say caught my attention. Listen to them:

18-21 In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the children of God coming into their own. The world of creation cannot as yet see reality, not because it chooses to be blind, but because in God’s purpose it has been so limited—yet it has been given hope. And the hope is that in the end the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God! (Romans 8:18–21, J.B. Phillips Version)

“The whole creation is on tiptoe…” Most translations give a very dry, “The creation waits with eager longing,” but the original Greek word there is actually very picturesque, describing the whole head being stretched forward, trying to see something wonderful that is about to come. And that is what I pictured when I heard Dona describe her mother in that dream, darting from window to window, standing on tiptoe, hands behind her back, craning to peek into those rooms Christ has prepared to see the wonderful sight of the future God has planned for her and for us. As the children of God, we need have no fear of death, because we have the incredible assurance that death is not the end, that there is resurrection life that will be even more wonderful than anything we’ve experienced so far, when “the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God!” We can approach even our own mortality with expectancy and hope.

Now I can’t tell you exactly what lies just the other side of the glass. Scripture says that right now we see only in a darkened, obscure way, only catching a pale reflection of the glory that will be. But Jesus often gives us word pictures of what God’s fully realized reign will look like, as did the prophets before him, and one of my favorite images is of a wedding banquet, a great feast where there is joy and laughter, where there is plenty for all, where the wine flows freely and the food is abundant, where all those who have struggled, all those who have experienced sorrow and crying, all those who have suffered in body or mind, will be brought in as welcome guests to enjoy the fullness that God has intended for each of us from the very beginning of creation, brought to sit at the banqueting table in their rightful places as beloved children and heirs of God.

I couldn’t help thinking of that picture on this evening, knowing that tomorrow Kevin and Connie, along with some of the same folks gathered in this room tonight to mourn, will be feasting and dancing as they celebrate their marriage to one another at their own wedding banquet. Yes, it’s a contrast, but I think it’s a beautiful expression of a very deep truth: Even in our profoundest sorrow, we can stand on tiptoe, eagerly awaiting joy. And as I picture Pat standing at the window, up on her tiptoes, I think maybe what she was glimpsing was that great marriage feast that will have no end, where she will join with all those claimed by God as God’s own beloved children, completely restored in body, completely restored in mind, sorrows forgotten, tears dried, and infectious laughter ringing out in wondering delight at the magnificent gift of life and freedom that is hers as a daughter of God claimed by Christ Jesus in baptism. And I picture her bowing her head and kissing in gratitude the hand of the one who has invited her to the feast, then looking up and smiling that sweet smile. And that, sisters and brothers, is very, very Good News. Thanks be to God. AMEN

To Indigo Bunting on the occasion of her birthday

in 2006 I discovered a group of people who wrote snippets about other people they knew using the number of words they’d been on Earth. I thought it sounded like fun and began my own 365 blog. The very first person to comment on my work went by the nickname “Indigo Bunting”. For those of you who are not familiar with common bird names, an indigo bunting is a beautiful blue bird (often mistaken for a bluebird).

Indigo Bunting said there were a couple of reasons she was interested in my posts. One was that she’d lived in my hometown in the 1980s. Another was that she knew two other women who spelled their name the same way I did. A third was that she once lived in a town a couple towns over from where I know live. I was in awe of her way with words and immediately began reading her 365 from the beginning. The way she shaped her sentences and phrases taught me a thing or two about short-writing.

Eventually many of the core group of the original 365 group started new blogs and we followed each other to those. Indigo Bunting is slightly less prolific on her own blog than she is in commenting on other people’s blog posts. I don’t know how she does it — nearly every time I read someone’s blog post, Indigo has already been there and written the perfect comment.

Her blog is so well written — usually humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always highly readable.

Not only is Indigo a remarkable writer, she is also a birder, an editor, a skater (ice and roller), a fly fisher person, and expert on fly fishing, a lover of roller derby and she can still turn cartwheels like a kid.

Happy Birthday Indigo Bunting! Best wishes for the coming year. Live long and write lots of blog posts.

 

What we did on our summer vacation: Day 3

Not mentioned in the previous post is that Clare was scheduled to arrive while we were at the rehearsal dinner. Mom and her friend Richard were scheduled to pick her up at 7:30 on Friday night. She called at 3 or so to tell us she’d missed her flight and would not fly in until around 5 am the following day. Dean, great dad that he is, volunteered to wake up before dawn to drive to the airport to pick up his daughter.

I was able to sleep until 7 or so when Clare, after eating a Dad-made breakfast, climbed into bed next to me. We chatted a while, but I knew she was sleepy so I left her to sleep while I started my day.

We (except for Dean) again lazed around the house until it was time to get ready for the wedding. No one was completely satisfied with what they’d brought to wear to the wedding (except for Dean — but I was not satisfied with what he brought) so some grumpiness ensued during the getting ready part of the day.

ready for the weddingFinally we were ready(ish) and we asked Jill (ex-sister-in-law who lives with my mom) to take our photo.

When we arrived at the church in Burlington we were dismayed to realize we were about a half-hour late. I’d forgotten to bring the invitation and we were given the wrong time (but we forgive you D.). We watched the end of the ceremony in the back room with Sheri and Jude, Dean’s nephew’s wife and son.

We had time to spare between the wedding and reception so drove around the countryside for a while. It always reminds me of Sunday afternoons in my youth when we’d drive my Grandma Patrick around and she’d exclaim at the state of a chicken coop or the new paint job of a barn on farms on which she used to live.

dean and donaThe reception was held at Randall Oaks Country Club. We sat with Diane, Dean’s sister, Mert, Dean’s cousin and her husband Tom. Also at our table were the pastor and the organist of the church where the wedding took place. The pastor had been pastor at the church we’d spent many Christmas Eves, so we had things to talk about.

Oh — I forgot to mention that the wedding was held on Dean and my 28th wedding anniversary. We were honored with our own dance — to the Anniversary Waltz.

My favorite part of the reception was watching the flower girls and their cousins dancing as you will see in the photos below.

Here are some photos from the evening.

 

Twenty-one

My oldest child turns 21 today. No longer a child (although she hates when I say that). Although I can remember life before her, I have a hard time remembering a time when I didn’t know her. She’s beautiful. She’s smart. She’s quirky (in a good way). She’s talented. She’s simply amazing. She’s my daughter. Happy 21st birthday, Clare.

Clare with Dionysus at Fruitlands
Clare with Dionysus (at Fruitlands)

The Birthday Quake

Just a quick post to let you know we survived the earthquake on August 23. I was sitting at my computer in my attic office when the desk began to shake. My first thought was — as it always is when my desk shakes — EARTHQUAKE. Then I thought it was probably construction or a truck driving down the street. Then it got stronger and I thought, EARTHQUAKE! Then I thought, YAY! EARTHQUAKE ON MY BIRTHDAY. Then I thought, SAVE THE KIDS! and ran downstairs to tell the kids, who were running around the house yelling, EARTHQUAKE!! to get outside, NOW!

They went out the back door and I went out the front door. We all met in the front yard along with all the neighbors who were home at that time. Everyone was asking, DID WE JUST HAVE AN EARTHQUAKE?

Later, after we went back into the house and confirmed that we did, in fact, have an earthquake, the kids named it a birthday quake. We assessed the damage:


Then the kids went out and bought ingredients for my birthday dessert. I gave them 4 suggestions. They chose the berry trifle.

It was delicious.

Smithville, MS

Piggly Wiggly
Piggly Wiggly (photo courtesy of Corey Smith of Smithville)
Hardware Store
Hardware store hit twice in less than two weeks time. (photo courtesy of Corey Smith of Smithville)

My Aunt Ginny and Uncle Jack live a quiet existence in a town in Northeastern Mississippi. Their days usually consist of watching game shows, talk shows and the hunting channel on television, watching barges going up and down the Tenn-Tom Waterway outside their window or cooking healthy meals. Every few days they take a ride either North or South on Highway 25 for groceries, appointments or other errands.

The town of Fulton is to the North of their house — whose high school is most recently known for canceling prom before letting a lesbian attend with her girlfriend then staging a fake prom to humiliate her.

To their south is a town they like to visit called Amory. In between their house and Amory is a tiny town called Smithville (but pronounced “Smithvul” “Smifful” [thanks Kelli]), which, as Dean noted last week when we visited Aunt Ginny and Uncle Jack, has little to offer than a Dollar Store. Uncle Jack pointed out the post office when we drove past and we also noticed a Piggly Wiggly.

Last week a strong storm — possibly a tornado — went through Smithville and Uncle Jack took us for a ride to see the damage. We saw several trees down and the local hardware store’s metal roof had been blown off and was lying on the ground next to the building.

Yesterday afternoon a massive tornado hit the town and finished off the hardware store, destroyed the post office and heavily damaged both the Dollar Store and the Piggly Wiggly. Aunt Ginny said she saw it going up the waterway and thought it was headed towards her house so she and Uncle Jack took shelter.

While Smithville is nowhere near Bethesda — this is the closest I’ve come to this kind of destruction, having seen the town intact a little over a week ago. My heart goes out to the residents of the town and all other towns affected by the storms yesterday.

Dollar Store
Dollar Store in Smithville, MS (photo courtesy of Corey Smith of Smithville)
Post office
Post office in Smithville, MS (photo courtesy of Corey Smith of Smithville)

Saint Bah Humbug

It's Valentine's Day! Again? Bah Humbug. Love, Clutch Cargo LipsI didn’t always dislike Valentine’s Day. In elementary school, when we used to exchange Valentine’s Day cards, I remember being excited to chose particular cards for whatever boy I happened to like that year and to read more into the messages of the cards I received from those same boys than was actually there. The mere act of inserting the small white envelopes into the handmade “mail boxes” of each student was exciting as was opening each card and reading the name on the back, then taking them home and sharing my excitement with my mom after school.

When I was a teacher, Valentine’s Day was one of those days that we often turned over to “room mothers” for planning, at least in public school. It was always a party day and the kids got high on too much sugar and anticipation. It was nowhere near as bad as Halloween (or the day after Halloween).

When I was a mother of young children, the days preceding Valentine’s Day created an anxiety in me second only to Halloween. At least I didn’t need to create two costumes. I did, however, have to make sure my kids got exactly the Valentine’s Day card packs to send their friends then get after them to write their names on the cards and address them to the children in their classes. I also often needed to send in a baked product for the Valentine’s Day party.

My husband and I usually exchange cards and small gifts on Valentine’s Day and I sometimes make a special meal for him. His cards are usually silly ones and mine used to be romantic. Last year his was romantic and mine was silly. We never go out for Valentine’s Day but we did once and it was a disaster.

It was when we were first dating and I assumed that all couples went out for Valentine’s Day — like it was an unwritten law. He, however, didn’t think this way and felt pushed into a situation in which he was uncomfortable. The evening was memorable in that my date was obviously angry for being there. After that I never pressured him into celebrating Valentine’s Day and this year I said we should do nothing. No cards. No flowers. No chocolates. No special meal either — he has Tae Kwon Do tonight.

Bah humbug.