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A Fast Reward for a Sin

This really happened. 

Recently, my sister and I were in Florida.  After mom and dad passed, we said we would not go back for a very long time.  So, there we were, shortly after they passed.  Ostensibly, it was to go to the cemetery to make sure mom and dads’ gravestones were placed properly, and to pay homage.  The reality is we need to see mom and dad and we are so used to getting on a plane, going to Florida and there they are, it’s hard to stop.

Since we were in the old home area, we decided to stop at the Catholic school and church we attended as children.  It’s the church where we received communion, confession, got spanked by the nuns, you know, the whole Catholic thing.  The school now has a second floor and air conditioning.  Yes, in the 1960’s in Florida, we sweat like Patrick Ewing in the finals.  Everything looked smaller, even with the addition.  They tore down the old church and replaced it with a gorgeous building that sadly held no memories for us.  We both talked about the old church, where it stood and what it was like to attend our brother, Mike's funeral in 1971. 

My sister and I laugh a lot and we did that day. And then we didn’t.  The waterfall of emotions that came and went, each of us in our own world and remembering the events of our youth.  As the mood dipped, we ended up down at the nun’s house.   This was a BIG deal back in the day.  We were not allowed in the house as we found out later, that some of the nuns were smokers and as children, we were not allowed to know that.  And we never saw a nun without their habits.  Once, on the playground, a gust of wind caught Sister Bernadette’s habit and we saw the back of her head.   I think it was a sin. 

We ended up standing in front of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s statue.  We always had to bless ourselves as we walked passed the only woman in history to give birth, without doing the deed. I said, because I’m an ass, “Deb, take my picture with Mary.”  She, being a much better and more mature person than me said, “No, Terry, I won’t.”   I called her a name.  It wasn’t “Deb.”   She took the picture.  I said, “Ok, now you.”  I knew she wanted her picture taken but was afraid to sin.  It might even be a mortal sin.  We’d have to look that up.  While I draped my arm around the statue like mary and I were team mates that had just won a soccer tournament, Deb stood respectfully next to Mary and just touched the Virgin's out stretched hand.  The pictures are hideous because we knew we were being bad.  Sin does not pay.  That’s what the nuns said and it turns out they were right.  Smokers that they were.

I’m telling you all this because I want to tell you the real story of the day.  We finally tore ourselves away from St. Gregory’s and drove by the funeral home on our way to the cemetery.  Wistful and repentant all the way.  As we were driving into the cemetery gates, my phone rang.  I don’t usually answer a number I don’t know but for some reason I picked it up.  We parked at the same place the hearse was on the day of our brother’s funeral.   It was a counselor from a grief center in Missouri.  She was calling to thank me for sending thirty Healing Chickadees to the children in her charge.  They held a grief camp for kids that had experienced the death of a loved one.  She just wanted me to know that the kids love the plush birds, the music, and the videos. She went on quite awhile about how the counselors use the program to help the children.  It was a delightful call and the timing could not have been more DIVINE.

I thanked her and it was kind of a love fest.  Once off the phone, I looked at Deb and said, “What are the chances that we are HERE and she called NOW?” 

Maybe there is no such thing as a sign.  Maybe I am wishful thinking but I choose to believe that it is a signal that what we are doing, matters.  There are children out there, just as we were back in 1971 that have grief that needs expression and needs connection. 

We are committed to keeping the Tweethearts in the air.  They fly to where ever they are needed.   I am so very grateful for the opportunity that this nonprofit gives me to make a difference.  It’s also proof, or maybe I’m justifying, but Jesus has forgiven us for taking pictures with His mother.

May your day be filled with love, joy and serenity.  As we continue to reach out to connect with others with compassion and hearts filled with the DIVINE.



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