Sunday, December 16, 2012

I Have No Better Words

It is not quite time for the Feast of the Holy Innocents, which is celebrated December 28 on the church calendar, but what happened on December 14, in Newton CT was tragic and senseless. There are no words to explain what happened, so I found words of prayer instead. 

A Prayer To The Holy Innocents

Holy Innocents, you died before you were old enough to know what life means, pray for all children who die young that God may gather them into His loving arms. 

Holy Innocents, you were killed because one man was filled with hatred, pray for those who hate that God may touch their hearts and fill them with love. 

Holy Innocents, you experienced a violent death, pray for all who are affected by violence that they may find peace and love. 

Holy Innocents, you were murdered at the hands of men who probably felt they were merely following orders, pray for all who act against their consciences that they may turn to God for strength to do what is right. 

Holy Innocents, your parents grieved for you with deep and lasting sorrow, pray for all parents who have lost young children that God may wrap a warm blanket of comfort around them. 

Holy Innocents, those around you certainly felt helpless to prevent your deaths, pray for all who feel helpless in their circumstances that they may cling to God for courage and hope. 

Holy Innocents, you did not know Jesus during your brief lives, but now you praise Him for all eternity, pray for all those who do not know Jesus that they may open their minds to His voice and their hearts to His love. 

Holy Innocents, you died as infants and toddlers, pray for those who are in danger of dying before they are even born through the horrors of abortion that their mothers may recognize the sanctity of all life, turn to God for help, and give their babies a chance to live. 

Holy Innocents, you who are now in Heaven, pray for all of us that one day we may join you there to bask in God's love forever.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Anger is Just Part of Grief

There have been a lot of messages of condolence, messages of love and sympathy for the my dad's death. There have been people who have been kind, helpful, generous and loving. And there are people, who never once acknowledged his death to either my mother or me. There was one, half-hearted comment on a FB post, but it wasn't to me. 

Naturally, there were family members who who couldn't attend his rosary, funeral or his reception for one reason or another, but they sent a card, a note or called to offer their condolences. We knew not everyone could attend. It was the day before Thanksgiving. However there are family members who did not even attend the funeral and for that,  I am not ready to forgive. I should do the Christian thing and let it go. I even talked to a priest, albeit briefly, about it. But the anger still prevents me from letting it go. 

I've thought about being passive aggressive and sending one of them a thank you note for the food she sent for the reception and then stating how hurt I was that she didn't attend the funeral, but I should let it go.

I suppose it's not my job to educate the clueless. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I'm Numb; Going Through the Motions.

Funerals are a big business. We went to the funeral home on Wednesday. We went through the litany of forms to fill out for the arrangements,  then there is cremation or burial, prayer cards to pick out, questions about flowers, do we want a video and a memory book and more?

We nixed the limo. Mom chose cremation and I decided against the video and memory book.

It's all part of the package. It's to help create memories. It's all sales pitches.

Well, by Friday, I started to freak out about having my father cremated. It's perfectly acceptable according to the Catholic Church, but not to me. I started stressing over the thought of it and I just couldn't do it. I was honoring my mom's wishes. Dad never talked about what he wanted, so my mom decided that sounded best. But then, I spoke up and we decided to have him buried. It didn't make any of these any easier. He's still dead and never coming back again, but I found some peace knowing his body is still whole. I certainly don't want cremation for myself and could not make that choice for him.

So... trying to change funeral plans on a weekend when the cremation is set to take place the following Monday-- after the Rosary earlier in the evening. I made a few phone calls, sent emails and first thing Saturday morning the director on duty called me back and said it was no problem to make the changes. When I talked with Stephen, the day of the Rosary, he said he completely understood. He was very kind and accommodating. he made us all feel at home at the mortuary on the day of the Rosary.

I didn't know what to expect for the Rosary. We arrived at 4, the allotted time for family and close friends. My cousin came up from Silver City and other family came and visited from the 4-5 p.m. visitation.

There were people I never expected to see there, distant family, one of his caregivers and some of my friends came to show their support. It was overwhelmingly good. There was a lot of love for my dad there and it meant a lot to me that so many dear friends and family came. One of my other cousins came, but didn't stay for the Rosary. She had a good excuse, at least she believe it and left.

We had a break on Tuesday. The funeral was Wednesday and incredibly lovely. I was so glad we had it at the Cathedral and Fr. Adam was able to celebrate the Mass for us. Again, faces I didn't expect to see where there and sadly, faces I expected to be there didn't come. I don't know why they chose not to come and honor my father's memory. If it was because it was at a Catholic church, if they were truly busy or just felt unwanted/unwelcome. I will never know because I won't ask them. Their absence said it all especially as they showed up at the Burial as if nothing else happened that day. Stephen, our funeral director was awesome in how he kept us moving on time at the cemetery and we didn't have to interact with too many people until after the burial.

I thought the ceremony at the National Cemetery would get to me. We had a full honor guard but it was very moving and poignant. I think my father would have liked it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

And There Was Heartache

A week ago my beloved father died...

You'd think that it just happened. The loss is deep, heartbreaking and all-consuming. The pain is great, the yearning huge and the tears never ending. He'd been sick for nearly a year-- he was strong and determined-- but in the end the cancer that he tried to beat won. When the end came, I think he found peace. His last 24 hours, he slept peacefully until he finally drifted away.

There is so much to say about my father, yet the words aren't flowing. He was a passionate, kind, strong-willed, stubborn, generous, loving and wonderful man. As we prepare for his funeral tomorrow, I sit here quietly reflecting on my father's life and feel such a huge void in my life. I am not alone as I grieve and I am not alone in my loss, but my world has suddenly gotten a whole lot smaller. My father, that larger than life figure, is gone. I still see his face when I close my eyes and I can still hear his voice in my head, but to know I cannot touch him physically anymore breaks my heart.

My faith is weak, yet I believe that there has to be something beyond this life, beyond this vale of tears. I think, as I was watching him slip away these last few weeks, I caught a glimpse of what just might be beyond this life. I think he could see that there was something beyond this world; it was like he was reaching out to his siblings. The loved ones that have gone before him. Maybe he could see his mama and his papa. Their names rolled off his lips like a litany of prayers, it seemed like  he could see them calling out to him, yearning and waiting for him as he reached out and tried to touch them off in the distance. Thinking that gives me peace anyway.

I have great memories of my father. We'd spend hours star gazing, going for rides, talking on the phone or watching the Lobo game. He was passionate about sports, politics and loved the Golf Channel and used to watch General Hospital. On Saturdays, he loved getting up and going to breakfast at the Village Inn. He taught me all about love, morality and respect. We argued like cats and dogs but we always made peace. He was stubborn and opinionated and knew how to do everything, yet he taught me so much. He was just and kind. We always managed to have a laugh or two. Sometimes, I felt like the son he always wanted, but honestly,  I think he liked having a girl better. He treated me like a princess, yet I grew up independent and strong because of him.  Yes, he spoiled me rotten, but he also taught me about the value of work and an education. He always wanted the best for me and even when I failed, he never failed to tell me he loved me. I am a better woman because of my father and I cherish him deeply. He cried on my wedding day, but I think he also know that I was marrying a good man, a man who like him, I loved and adored. And I know he was happy that day as well. 

So tomorrow, we celebrate his life with a Mass of Christian Burial and then we lay him to rest at the Santa Fe National Cemetery. I'm not ready for it; I'm a little saddened by the thought of it, and I'm a little scared. I know I can "live" without my daddy. That's the nature of life; children usually bury their parents, but I'm just not ready to let him go.

Here is a slide show I put together in his honor.

And this is the obituary I wrote for him.

Roman Jose Salazar, 84, a life-long resident of Santa Fe, died peacefully Tuesday, Nov. 13 at his home after a lengthy illness.

Roman was born in Española, NM, on April 17, 1928.  He was the youngest of seven children. He came to Santa Fe as a young boy to live with his brother Ramon and wife, Dulce, so that he could attend St. Michael’s, where he attended from elementary school through high school. He excelled in football and basketball and was captain of both teams his senior year. He was also a member of the Sodality of Mary. He graduated in 1947. He received a scholarship to St. Mary’s College in Moraga CA, a small university run by the Christian Brothers. He received a football scholarship, but the intention was for him to play basketball as a walk on. He played a season of football, but was sidelined after a knee injury. Soon after his second semester of college, he returned to Española to help care for his sick mother. He then worked at various jobs, mostly as a carpenter, until he was drafted into the US Army in 1951. He served for two years and was honorably discharged with the rank of Corporal in 1953.

He enjoyed the life of a bachelor until he finally found a soul mate, in Theresa Olivas. In 1965, they married and few years later, they had one daughter, Maria Feliz. They had great adventures as a family. He enjoyed playing sports of all kinds, but found his passion playing golf. He spent many years happily playing the links at the Santa Fe Country Club, winning many tournaments with his best friend Lee.  He also enjoyed watching Lobo basketball and attended as many games as he could at the Pit with his daughter.  He retired from Public Service Company of New Mexico in 1988 after nearly 30 years of employment.  He loved tending his garden, most especially the greenest patch of lawn in town. He enjoyed spending time with friends and family. Wherever he went he always bumped into a friend.

He is preceded in death by his parents Pacomio and Vincentita Salazar; brother Ramon Salazar; sisters, Cleofas Salazar, Antonia Martinez, Celida Maestas, Elizama Brazeal and Romancita Salazar. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Theresa Olivas Salazar; daughter Maria Feliz; son-in-law David Duran and beloved poodle, Noche. He is also survived by special friends, Lee and Sara Sanchez and their children; many nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.

Public visitation will be 5-7 p.m. and a rosary will be recited at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19, at Berardinelli Family Funeral Service, 1399 Luisa Street, 984-8600. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21 at the Cathedral Basilica, 131 Cathedral Pl., 982-5619. Interment will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the National Cemetery, 501 N. Guadalupe St., 988-6400.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to the Tuition Assistance Fund at St. Michael’s High School, 100 Siringo Rd., Santa Fe, NM 87505.

I love you and will always miss you, Daddy. 
Peace and love to you on your new adventure. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's Over

My dad died today at 1 p.m.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

All Saints Day

Back in the days when I blogged here regularly, I would post a reflection or commentary on the event of the church. Today is All Saints Day, a feast day in the church. A Holy Day of Obligation in fact.

Today, Fr. Adam, our former pastor, came over to the house to perform the sacrament of healing for my dad. He also gave him last rites.

It was a powerful sacrament to witness. The anointing of the sick is an amazing sacrament. I can attest to that. But the last rites is even more powerful. Dad was aware of all that was going on, but he wasn't having a good day. He seemed to be grateful that Fr. Adam came out. Getting a priest out to the house was a challenge. For whatever reason, our new pastor, Fr. Dan never replied to my message asking for someone to come out. Another priest I admire is out of town and won't be back for another week or so, so Fr. Adam took time and came out.


Nonetheless, it all brought peace to our family and I'm grateful to be able to have such powerful, amazing and beautiful sacraments.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Care and Comfort.... Hardly

We fired Presbyterian Hospice today. Little did I know there were more than five Hospice services in Santa Fe. I was fed up with all that they couldn't do-- when we were lead to believe they could do so much more. I had it with our "case social worker" too. She infuriated me to no end. When she called to "check" on things was the day I decided to fire them. I didn't want to talk to her anymore, so I just handed her off to David who explained how unhappy we were with their services and were lead to believe they offered more than we did. In the end, they seemed to push medication more than anything. It really upset me to the point where I started looking around at other places and made a few phone calls and set up an appointment with someone else.

I'm glad to be done with them. We've transferred our Hospice benefits to Del Corazon Hospice. And I hope for however long Dad has left, he will be cared for, happy and comfortable.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Knock at the Door

So it's been far too long that I've actually sat down to blog. In the years gone by, I've had ups and downs with my faith, with my church and with how I feel about all of it. I've also felt that way about people in my life. I've had ups and downs with my own health and that of loved ones. I've lost a wonderful dog and am bored with my job.

In a nutshell, most of 2011 and 2012 have been both good years and bad years. I had hoped all the difficulties of these two years would wane as the days went by, but I find the difficulties becoming an old friend.

I think as I return to blogging, I'll probably fill in all the gaps about heartaches and healthaches that have affected my life. For now, I'll start with my dad and where we are. Last November his lung doctor sent him for a routine chest X-ray and discovered a small mass on his left lung. It wasn't officially diagnosed as Lung Cancer until January of this year. We were pissed at the lack of follow up with his lung doctor. He said he'd schedule tests, but a follow up CT Scan didn't get set up until the end of December and it was inconclusive, so another follow up didn't get scheduled till sometime in January and that lead him to getting the PET scan which showed the tumor. It was a bit larger. The aforementioned lung doctor was supposed to set up meetings with oncologists, but never did. I had to set up the appointments. Needless to say, this should have been taken care of back in December. We were into Mid-Febuary, but treatment was within our grasp. We saw a surgeon who recommended against it, but there was a radiologist in Albuquerque who said it was worth a shot. He took a week's worth of intense radiation, ending on his birthday, April 17.

By May, when he had a follow up CT scan we learned that the tumor was contained but not cured and that the cancer had spread to his liver and adrenal glads. We then moved to three doses of a chemo in the hope to slow it down. Dad tolerated the treatments. In fact, the steroids he was given gave him an extra burst of energy and he was feeling pretty good. But then, here we are. Three weeks ago, we started hospice.

We have been told we have at least 6-8 months with Dad. I'm hoping that we find time to spend together that is enjoyable, meaningful and happy. We fight a lot, but we also are incredibly close and the best of friends.

This weekend one of my cousins from Silver City came up for the weekend to see Dad. She was always close to him. Her sister lives here and she drops by quite a bit to visit. One still remains Catholic, the other has become an born-again Baptist.

Religion always causes tension in families. My dad is one who believes once baptized a Catholic, one is always a Catholic. He, of course, doesn't preach it nor does he lecture that to my cousin, but he certainly doesn't appreciate her subtle ways of trying to save his soul. I tend to be more contentious about it, but I've never confronted her either. It's her choice and she is happy, but I'm getting to the point where I might need to say something.

As we were doing a few things at the house today, helping Dad get comfortable in the new hospital bed, there was a knock on the door. I answered it. There were two strangers at the door. They were Hispanic, friendly and one introduced himself as my cousin's pastor and the other was just a member of the church or something. I probably immediately rolled my eyes upon introductions because I already knew what it was about. Time to save some Heathens!

The pastor asked if they could come in and meet my father and pray. I politely told them no thank you. While we appreciated the gesture, we were a Catholic family and would call our priest when we felt like it was time. I did not let them inside the house; I did not engage them in a religious dialog. I said we were strong in our Catholic faith, we had our sacraments and thanked them for coming out but dismissed them.

Then, when the door was closed, did I say how I really felt. I felt offended, irritated and angry, not at them, but at my cousin for sending them. She should have known better. The many times she tried to get her pastor to come over or to tell my father that he needed to be saved and he said was saved through his baptism, had his faith and his own way of believing that she didn't need to worry about trying to save him, but take care of her own soul instead.

Again, she knew we were Catholic. She attended my Wedding Mass, she knew we attended Mass regularly and that my father believed the same, but she doesn't believe Catholics are Christians in the true sense of the world.

My dad has a silent faith, but it's strong and I know he believes. He stopped going to Mass with us about a year ago-- his aches and pains getting the best of him-- but he truly believes. My cousin doesn't see that. She only sees the world through her narrow view from her Bible, and literally believes it's her duty to save souls. I don't believe that it's our job to save anyone's soul. I think we need to worry about ourselves and focus on living a good life through faith, works, charity, humility, kindness and love. I also believe we need to teach our children our faith, baptize them, catechize them, share with them our sacraments and love of Christ through His Church. We need show them and others the way of Christ through how we live our lives, by our actions, not by sending others to proselytize or demand that we find Jesus to be saved. I'm sorry but I find that offensive. Jesus is never lost. We lose our sights on Jesus sometimes, but he is always there, always living in our hearts, even when we don't think he is there.

And even if he didn't say it, the words credited to St. Francis about preaching the gospel at all time and by using words if necessary is a fitting way to live the Gospel. It is by doing for others and loving others that we show our love of Christ--that we show the world our Christian Faith. And maybe I don't show it often enough or maybe my cousin was just doing what she thought was right, but it certainly set me off and has made me think twice about my own actions regarding my faith.

I admit I've grown weary at times and I'm feeling on the edge. I'm not even sure I'm strong enough to get through the days ahead but we'll see. Maybe my faith is still there, coaxing me to go on, but it's a very private thing for me and I just can't outwardly show that I'm a Christian. If you know me, then you should know that I am a Christian by the way I live my life. And right now my life is focused on my dad. Maybe I'll find some strength as the days get harder and maybe I'll discover just how much I can do.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Saying Good Bye

Sunday, July 8, 2012, we had to say goodbye to our Sweet Estrella. She was a precious, loving and truly amazing dog. She came to me during the Cerros Grande Fire, when the city shelter emptied its kennels to foster families so that it could house Los Alamos pets displaced by the fire. I picked her out of a group of three or four dogs. She looked like the nicest of the group. She became friends with my dog Barkley and then some of my very good friends came for a visit from all over the country and she was pretty good. The worst that happened that weekend was one of my guests had and allergy attack and I think the air mattress collapsed because of the dogs. She fit in perfectly and I knew that I had to officially adopt her, which I did.

When David joined the family, she was smitten and he really loved her too. She'd be the one to keep him company in the mornings. She had a gentle soul and a heart full of love.

For the last year she'd been ailing and suffering from arthritis and a few other things. We knew time with her was getting short and finally, she told us she was ready. We took her to the vet and held out a little hope we could do something, we knew we were going to say goodbye.

David carried her to the 4Runner, wrapped in a towel and placed her on the bed. Iggy escaped and wanted to go with us. He adored her. He got to say his goodbye. If it hadn't been hot, I might have taken him.

When we got there, the office was packed. We didn't take her into a room. I hated to move her as she was comfortable and they were running slow, Sundays at the Vets are always mobbed. They brought her water and we sat with her. The vet examined her and did the procedure in the back of my car. It was the best place. She loved taking trips in the car. She had a lot of happy moments riding in my 4Runner.

It was hard letting her go. I think her passing was harder for me because we knowingly took her to ease her suffering. When Barkley died, I wasn't expecting it. He was suffering but it was a sudden and took me by surprise. Putting him to sleep was the best thing I could have done for him as well, but it was a painful decision. 

So, goodbye Miss Waggles, the Labrarottie with the velvet ears. You were loved and you will be missed.

Friday, March 2, 2012

It's Friday, but Not That Friday Yet

Photo Credit: Copied from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Website.

For some reason I was sure I posted this video link to Fr. Martin's trip to Chimayo a couple of years back. It's a great essay about the Pilgrimage to Chimayo on Good Friday.

Watch here...  and here is the accompanying article.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Like the Deserts Miss the Rain...

Well, yeah it's Lent. And I'm feeling more and more distant from my faith and beliefs more than ever. Going through the hell of the last six months has left my faith shaky at best. I still hold onto the mustard seed in my wallet and I still hope that I can find a way through the spiritual darkness I've been wandering through for the last couple of months.

Lent is my favorite season in the church, culminating on the Triddum which really feeds my spirit. I think it's almost as spiritually uplifting as the Novenas are to me.

I slept through most of the morning again today. I'm fighting insomnia and I get my best sleep in the mornings. I hope that somewhere, deep inside of me, I find a light in the dark. It's not fun wandering in this desert.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Blog Roll Update

If I'm going to come back to blogging again, I thought I'd update the blog roll. I took off a few dead blogs, blogs I don't really read or endorse and  then updated the blogs that have changed locations. Next I shall endeavor to tackle the link list. That, I suspect will be more difficult.

It's good to see that some of the blogs and bloggers I really like are still out there blogging away. Cool.