It’s been a heck of a spring so far. I’ve been buried in work, not to mention snow and unexpected auto repairs. Jodi and I are like ships passing much of the time, except morning prayer, which we’ve managed to maintain. I’ve missed as many of the kids’ activities as I’ve made in the past month, but I see them in while I run, stop to stop, dropping them off and picking them up.
And Bruno waits at the top of the stairs, watching for someone to come in and up, casually stretching, closer and closer, straining for a pet or a pat, hoping for a walk or a car ride at least.
It’s go, go, go as the school year winds down—but this week has been something else entirely.
It started last weekend, with the news that the young woman from UMary whom Brendan began seeing in Rome was coming to visit. Becky spent most of last Sunday with us—eating brunch, playing cards, loving on Bruno, and sharing her family with our family. She’s definitely a dog person; she hunts, fishes, and camps; and she beat Brendan in cards—all good things. In fact, the only questionable things about her are her apparent preference for Harry Potter over Lord of the Rings (caveat: she was recovering from an injury when she read Tolkien and may yet see the light) and her apparent affection for my son who, like his father, knows not when to quit with his so-called humor. We hope to see her again soon.
On Monday we learned that, after more than a week off the map entirely, Aer Lingus had located Bren’s army duffle bag and would be shipping it home Tuesday morning. On Tuesday afternoon we learned what Brendan had brought home to us from his many weeks in Europe:
- For Lily, a wooden bowl from Italy filled with shells and sea glass he collected.
- For Trevor, a Rosary which was prayed at (and touched to) the tomb of Pope St. Gregory the Great, his Confirmation saint.
- For Emma, two Italian cookbooks with dessert recipes including gelato.
- For Gabe, a set of Swiss Guard cufflinks from the Vatican.
- For Jodi, a tapestry and statue of Our Lady of Fatima, and a little triptych of icons: the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, with the Blessed Mother and Jesus in the middle.
- For me, a plaque of the Divine Mercy image with the “Jesus, I Trust You” inscription in Polish—“Jezu Ufam Tobie”—and an icon of Saint Faustina Kowalska.
He saw and learned so much, and the real gift is hearing him describe it all. So proud.
Also on Tuesday, Gabe got the call that he has been selected as a NET (National Evangelization Team) missionary next year. This means that instead of going to college next fall, in mid-August he will report to the NET Center in St. Paul for training, then hit the road to put on retreats in communities across the country, drawing teens to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. Even before he decided for sure to accept the offer, the grin on his face spoke volumes. He will be gone from August until May of 2019, coming home for a couple of weeks over Christmas. We will miss him—but again, so proud!
Emma was inducted in the St. Michael Albertville High School chapter of the National Honor Society on Wednesday night, then returned home to bake her first commissioned wedding cake: a wonderful lemon cake with blackberry puree between the layers and buttercream frosting, white, with soft purple roses and violets and perfect green leaves. She finished it on Thursday morning and delivered it to the bride—it is to be the centerpiece on the couple’s table.
So proud. Do you see a pattern here?
On Wednesday night, after a late meeting, I arrived home to find Lily in bed, but excited to tell me something. She smiled and said, “I want you to take the training wheels off my bike.” She has been saying all spring that she didn’t want to learn to ride on two wheels, especially on pavement, but the neighbor kids do, and a little boy down the street named Logan helped her figure it out. Apparently he still holds on a little bit, but she’s so close she can feel it, and she wants to practice.
And Trevor? Well, this week has been nothing extraordinary: He continues to practice for the drum corps in the high-school marching band, for his current middle-school percussion ensemble and concert band, for his rock band Off Task, and for the yet-to-be-named band he will play in with Brendan and friends this summer. He is contemplating priesthood and will be confirmed a week from Sunday. Come Holy Spirit!
I was running errands this morning, thinking of all these things and suddenly found myself in tears. When I returned home, I posted a little blurb on Facebook, tagging my four older children who have access to social media:
Sometimes when I’m driving around alone on a beautiful morning like this one, I think of my children — their unique personalities, gifts, and imperfections — and so much love wells up in me that it leaks from my eyes at odd moments. How God has wrought such masterpieces with an awkward tool like me is beyond understanding, but I am grateful. I love each and all of you.
Now you know why. We are blessed beyond measure.