Monday, February 25, 2013

Mary K. Laughbaum: friend and mentor

While everyone else is watching the Oscars and J is watching the Lion King--go figure, I am wanting to remember a woman who was my 'fairy godmother' all my childhood.  Today was the memorial for Mary Katherine Laughbaum.  She was my mother's best friend from 1949 until Mom died in 2009.  They were the kind of friends that they never went a week without seeing each other.  They both lived into their late 90's.  They had 60 years of friendship.

But with their friendship came a friendship with someone outside of my family whose life was different than mine.  Mary K. and her husband Mac came to Fort Worth the same year that we arrived.  They had a son that was the same age as my brother and were the "new guys" on the football squad as juniors in high school.  My brother came  home and suggested that my mom call on Mary K.  because Mary K. could not hear.  Mom was lonely too.  We were 'Yankees,' people from the North and it was not cool in those years.

Mary K. and Mac had two children: Ronnie and Susan.  Ronnie was Bob's age and Susan was just a little older than I.  But she had been born with Cerebral Palsy and  severe retardation.  And just as we came to town they had had to institutionalize Susan because Mary K. could not care for her.  It was a heartbreak for her and at a certain level I became a bit of a substitute.  She would take me to plays and cultural events so that I could know art and theater. I think I went to an art museum the first time with her.  I had to dress up and wear gloves and we went to luncheon there.  And as I became more involved with music, she came to my recitals and band concerts even though she was deaf.

Because she had lost her hearing as a young adult with Meniere's Disease, she knew how to speak and she learned to read lips.  I learned early how to be very clear in the way I pronounced words so she could understand me.  I learned how to be patient with her--something that young children generally don't learn until later.  She would share with me what it meant to not be able to hear and it started a regard for those who are alternatively challenged early in my life.  I learned because SHE taught me.  She wanted to know my world and she wanted to know me.

She was one of the most patient people I have ever known other than J.  She was kind in a way that is not especially known anymore.  She took care of the nursery at her church during the sermon time and then took home the printed sermons.  Much later, when I was in seminary she would send me those sermons.  She was a Disciple of Christ and went to the congregation on the TCU campus.  So those sermons were some of the best of that tradition.

I am so thankful for Mary K.  But I am especially fond of her because she was such a good friend of Mom.  As Mom began to lose her sight, their friendship became even more poignant.  I often would laugh as they would poke fun at each other.  It reminded me of a comedy routine.  But they understood the loss each was experiencing and not letting the other give into the pain.  Their friendship continued long after their mobility.  They were at the same retirement center.  It wasn't as if they were inseparable, it was just that they had that contact with their lives before they moved to the retirement home.  It brought some stability into their lives and until Mom developed too much dementia that robbed her of her speech, they would spend a bit of time each day to just talk.

Her presence in my life made a difference for me growing up.  She taught me of things that I could never have gotten anywhere else.  Her last years were painfully wracked with arthritis.  But her mind and wisdom were still there.  I will miss her but I know that Mom and she are sitting and talking about some book they have read or someplace they have visited.

Rest in peace, Mary K.  And rise in glory.  

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Five: 5 things that are good in our world.

Deb has posted a truly wintery, Lenten Frodo inspired FF.  I am afraid that I am much in the same place that she is.  It is hard to be anything but wintery in February even down here in the Southlands.  And while we had a beautiful afternoon here the weather can't make up its mind here either.  So what do I find Good about my world?

1.  I have some really neat colleagues here in FTW.  It is nice since I was so isolated in my previous diocese.  Just having a coffee with one of them can make my day.

2.  I love our new home.  It is nice to have a place that is pretty much your own but you don't have to worry about upkeep.  Renting is so much better than trying to own at this point in my life.

3.  I have 2 loving kitties that vie to sleep on my bed at night.

4.  I go to a parish I really love.  The people for the most part work hard at trying to follow Christ.  They call me to live a bit more closely to Christ's walk because of them.  In other words, they are really about being Church.

5. I love and am loved by my best friend.  I guess I can't ask for too much more, eh?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Five: Almost Groundhog Day Edition or Candlemas, or the Presentation, or the Meeting, or the Purification of Mary. Go figure

Friday Five: Almost Groundhog Day Edition or Candlemas, or the Presentation, or the Meeting, or the Purification of Mary.  Go figure

I have to admit: I never thought much about Groundhog Day.

Then I saw that movie. And an odd holiday that seems to be a remnant of an obscure Pennsylvania German custom took on all sorts of new meaning.

So, in honor of the movie and the day, I present you with this Almost Groundhog Day Edition of the Friday Five!

1. The Holiday:  On a scale of 1-5 (with 1 representing, "Hey! Stop hating on the most awesome season ever!" and 5 representing, "Green. NOW."), how much are you hankering for spring? And what is, to you, a true sign that it is actually on its way? 

Since I have already had my first real allergy attack and spent the last week down with the snort, sniffle, achoo routine, I think that Spring is just around the corner for those of us in this part of TX.  I need to start thinking about where I am going to put my new herb garden and such.  

2. The Film: Seen it? If yes, Love it? Hate it? Meh?

Meh!  Murray's films often are too frenetic for me to enjoy.  I have seen parts of it but never watched the whole thing.

3. The Meaning: If you could relive one day of your life, what one would it be?

Ordination Day?  Meebe?  The night that the blue tides came into Galveston when I was in my 20's?  

4. The Meaning, Part 2: If you had to relive one day of your life over and over until you got something right (a la the Bill Murray character in the film), what day would that be?

Now THAT is the description of Hell! And if it isn't Hell, then it damned sure is Purgatory!   Life isn't about doing things right, but learning from day to day about what it means to love and forgive the past.  

5. The Meaning, Part 3: If you had to design a life-changing experience for a fairly despicable human being (as is, for example, the Bill Murray character at the film's start), what would it be? How, given all sorts of unlikely powers to bend time and take control of another person's personal growth, would you do it?

Since I don't know the story, I can't really say.  But to take control of another's personal growth is immoral.  I couldn't be a party to it.

It has been interesting to see what kind of pre Christian Celtic antecedents there are to Groundhog Day.  In Ireland there is the tradition of the snake coming out of the ground and returning to claim more days of winter.  But since there were no snakes in Ireland it is interesting that the critter than does this weatherman deed is a snake.  It must be an even older Celtic story from the mainland before the migration of the Celts to Ireland.  

It is also interesting to find that the Presentation was a feast that was quite early in the history of the Church.  The churching of women was still a memory in the RC's when I was young.  The Purification and the Presentation and the stories of Simeon and Anna have a unique understanding in the Eastern Churches.  It is hard to detach them from Groundhog Day.

Happy (Almost) Groundhog Day!