Bear Growls: Mortality

Friday, February 12, AD 2016

Christ Defeating Death

He had been to touch the great death, and found that, after all, it was but the great death.

Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage

 

 

Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear had a recent reminder that bears do not live forever:

 

 

The evening before last, the Bear was lounging in front of his computer screen, when suddenly moderately severe chest pains struck. He waited for two minutes (having read somewhere that you should act on any chest pains that last longer than two minutes). Then he got up on his hind legs and announced to his driver, bodyguard and factotum, Red Death that we were going to the Veteran’s Administration Hospital ER right now.

 
After what might have been a sketch from the Three Stooges, with a special appearance by Buster, the Yorkie, who insisted on accompanying his master, Red Death and the Bear’s son managed to get the stricken Bear into the car.
 
During the thirty minute drive from the goat pastures of Zoar to the VA hospital, the Bear had to face the possibility it might be a one-way trip.
 
He pulled out his rosary and prayed it.
 
He contemplated his sins.
 
He was sorry.
 
He didn’t feel confident about judgment.
 
He regretted the drama of it all, as he imagined a medical team swarming all over his furry body, his family disrupted and grieving.
 
He told Red Death that he was open to massive employment of morphine if it came to it, short of hastening his death. (The Bear is a chicken, and Bears never turn down opiates.)
 
At the ER, they did an ECG. They drew blood. They put a line in. They hooked him up to a monitor. They gave him four baby aspirin to chew. The Bear asked for some diazepam. (Due to being frequently tranquilized by humans, the Bear has developed an appreciation for benzos.) His request was granted.
 
The Bear amused himself by making his blood pressure go up by picturing the Pope, and then making it go down by not. Seriously. He considered that the Pope might be hazardous to his health. He was, in fact, writing an ephemeris article about the Pope when he was afflicted.
 
He was ignored for an hour and a half, then they came in and took some more blood. The Bear was encouraged that otherwise they seemed have have forgotten about him.
 
Finally, a nurse came in and said everything was perfectly normal, and the Bear had not had a heart attack, and could leave. It was anticlimactic. Follow-up appointments were made with Cardiology.
 
This was a good way to start off Lent. Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return. Who really plans for their death? It seems to the Bear that making it up as he went along was not the best way of preparing himself. Perhaps the Bear will develop this issue.

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One Response to Bear Growls: Mortality

  • Wishing the Bear the best of health as well as the more important stuff.

    I recently read the first half of St. Robert Bellarmine’s “The Art of Dying Well”. Well worth it. The first half is for general life, the second half for when death is more iimminent. One thing he talked about that I found very interesting: in discussing our relationships with God, others, and ourselves, he emphasized prayer (God), charitable giving (others), and fasting (ourselves). There were some powerful meditations on those three, which I’d never run across before. Two days’ ago’s fasting was easier with that book in mind.

God, Death and Faith

Sunday, June 15, AD 2014

 

Grief and Hope

Kyle Cupp has a heartrending piece up at The Daily Beast in which he discusses the death of his daughter and his subsequent loss of faith:

 

In the months following the death of our newborn daughter, I had remained steadfast in my faith, devout and prayerful. I had not for years imagined God primarily as a figure of power, like some cosmic orchestrator of all that is, so I did not feel inclined to blame God for our loss and our sorrow. I didn’t have an answer for it, but I didn’t look to God for an answer. I didn’t expect such a response. I let God be.

As time passed, however, my faith weakened. I lost the feeling of God’s presence and the impetus to pray, and perhaps as a consequence, the ideas I had of God began to make less and less sense to me. I lost clarity of what I believed, finally confessing to my wife late one evening that I couldn’t honestly say whether or not I still believed in God. This was not a confession that brought us peace. A cloud of unknowing separated me from the words of the creed I recited at Mass, and on that evening, sitting close to the love of my life, staring into her misty eyes, I feared that it would separate me from her as well. 

To make matters worse, I had no answers to give her. I couldn’t explain my lapse. I couldn’t point to any decisive event, something that had pushed me off the precipice. Instead, as we reflected back on the previous months and years, I felt as though once solid ground had changed into the wisps of a cloud without my having noticed, and only now did I realize that I was falling. If my broken heart was to blame, it has taken its bitter time, acting stealthily.

I hadn’t fallen into unbelief or atheism, exactly, but more of an agnosticism or skepticism about what I believed and whether I believed. I could no longer say what my faith, such as it was, meant in my life. I no longer had a sure sense of how the Christian story was true. I couldn’t answer where its myths ended and reality began. Occasionally I shot a few words of prayer in what I hoped was the direction of an unseen God, but I struggled and doubted even these simple practices of my faith. Neither Paul nor Kierkegaard were kidding when they wrote of fear and trembling.

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6 Responses to God, Death and Faith

  • It is easy to point to Job 38:1 through 40:2 when I have not (yet) lost a dear loved one. It is hard when the tears obscure the vision and the weight of the Cross bears heavily on the back.

    I have not (yet) lost; however, my 12 step sponsor used to point out to me, “Paul, ‘yet’ means ‘You’re Eligible Too.'”

    Maybe all we can do is hope that God in spite of our unworthiness will be merciful enough to reunite us with our dearly beloved ones who have passed on before us.

  • My own experience with the death of a child is somewhat different. My wife has miscarried three times. Each was early in pregnancy. Only the last miscarriage provided us the opportunity to bury our baby.

    Did not Mother Teresa write in her memoirs how she did not feel the presence of God in her daily life and how it hurt her? Did not St. Teresa of Avila not write much the same thing?

    The idea/notion/fact that God can and does withhold his presence is highlighted in The Screwtape Letters.

    Perseverance is part of the Christian life. Only Jesus was perfect. Only Mary was protected from sin by the grace of the Holy Spirit. The rest of us who reach an age of reason do sin. Often, repeatedly.

    We all lose things and people that are dear to us throughout life. I was nine when my best friend, a girl my own age who lived across the street from me from the time I was two, moved away. I saw her one more time and then never again. I lost my beloved German Shepherd when I was 11 – a dog I had from the time I was six months old.

    From 1990 to 1995, I lost a grandfather, an uncle, my dad, and a grandmother. also, good friends of ours lost a daughter in a car accident in 1995. Most young adults – 20s to early 30s – do not realize that death is going to kick you in the rear end, over and over, before it is your time to go. I knew this when I was 31.

    I never blamed God for any of it. We are all born to die. The only thing remotely fair in life is death, and when it comes is something we do not get to decide.

  • “Silently and sacredly, Vivian lives in our love.”

    ………….and in the perfect Love and Presence of our God.

    My heart goes out to Kyle and his wife.
    I lost a little sister aged two years, when I was ten years old, in 1953. It was a very sad occasion as I recall, but at that age I was too young to fully comprehend, and we used to comfort our selves in that youthful simplicity that she is now a little angel. Mum appeared to get over it after a while, and mum and dad increased our family with another brother and two sisters. But she told me , many years later, that for many years she would weep silently at night grieving for her lost daughter. About 1975 she went to a Catholic Women’s Convention, and there met this priest Fr. Tom Williams – who was later to become Cardinal . He told her that he could “see”- or sense – a type of darkness clouding her spirit – I think they are the words she told me. She told him of her continuing grief for her daughter, and he prayed over her. I recall mum becoming very emotional as she told me how she felt this dark cloud lift away from her, and she felt a totally serene peace and joy come over her. From that day on, she was always a cheerful, positive and happy woman, till the time of her death four years ago at 91.

    My older brother had a serous accident in his truck when working in Saudi Arabia back in 1979. The truck had rolled in some soft sand, and was carrying a large crane. the crane fell on the cab and crushed it, and partly crushed Bruce’s hand and pinned him in the truck for many hours till help came. He said our little sister Lynda came to help him and keep him awake and positive during his ordeal. From that day on, he had a particular devotion to out own little saint.
    I pray that Kyle and his wife will look on their little girl as their own saint, given to them by God for only such a brief time before He called her back to Him. They have their own little saint there in the complete joy and peace of the presence of God and His angels and saints, and interceding for them.

    “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”

  • My brother Gregory died after only one day after his birth. I know he cares for our mom, more than I know how.

  • I haven’t read much of Kyle’s writings, but this is the first time I recall him considering the current state of his faith as troublesome. He’s been writing for years about doubt as if it’s, if not a virtue, then at least a viable expression of Catholic faith. Reading this article, I think he may be coming to the idea that he was deluding himself. I’ve been critical of his writings as misrepresenting orthodox thought.

    I will continue to pray for him, and for his family as well.

  • In 2006, I received a phone call that my daughter, then 17, had been critically injured in a vehicle accident as a passenger with a group of students visiting Los Angeles. She actually was ejected from the van she was riding in, and yet, miraculously, on the Ventura Freeway at Lankershim, during a weekday, all the traffic managed to screech to a stop and she was protected, sheltered and removed to Cedar Sinai emergency care.
    For days, she hovered between life and death, with several disheartening setbacks. At one point she appeared to have recovered and was discharged into my step-daughter’s care: when suddenly without any warning, her spleen ruptured. She collapsed on the bathroom floor with a clunk. Fortunately Nicole, my step-daughter, being an RN, diagnosed it immediately, took emergency action, phoned the nearby hospital where she worked and got her on the operating table, somehow within 15-30 min; at that point, appeared to have saved her life again, but it was still ‘beyond critical’, were that possible to be so.
    During this latter phase, I finally came to an understanding with God and also the Blessed Virgin, of whom I have had a childhood devotion to Our Lady of Mt Carmel: “I understand, God Our Lord, and Our Lady, that many parents I see on the night news, disconsolately weeping, having lost their child prayed that this cup would pass. Who am I to ‘demand’ that my daughter should not be one of these?So be it: ‘Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands..” (excerpt, from OL Carmel traditional prayer). I made the best resolve of my intention that I accepted this outcome, as that appeared to God’s permitted outcome, for His mysterious reasons. Of course, I continued night and day praying the St Louis de Monfort prayer (“Little Crown of the BV”), but I had accepted she was going to pass, that I had had 17 wonderful years with her, and now I needed to pray for her soul before her meeting with Christ.
    Mysteriously, the next day, a certainty I can say I have never experienced before or since came into my mind that she would in fact recover and live. I had no doubt at all. She did in fact, by inches each day, recover. Also in fact, the ER doc who saved her the second time was amazed too: when she had recovered, he gave the credit to Nicole and her alacritous action, “You know,” he told my daughter, “another 15 minutes and I wouldnt have been able to help you.
    She has however, since, made a “full” recovery (although living without her spleen involves certain precautions) and has had her first child, now living with her husband in Belgium. I also knew that Our Lady told me this was a singular favor granted to me and to her: “Now DO SOMETHING WITH IT.”
    As we all know, I can only observe also that the loss of a child is a parent’s worst experience; I DO feel pain that I cannot express for those, like Don McC., who had to drink the full cup. I do think that I know what Kyle Cupp has gone through and is going through: “how can a good God, etc.” For some of us, the bitterness is seemingly with a depth beyond measure. But this bitterness cannot “end in death” but has to be for the ineffable glory of God (Jn 11:4). and as for us, we two were very “graced”: now I pray we can make something of it.

Love Conquers All

Wednesday, October 2, AD 2013

 

Commenter Sywink sent me the above video.  My response:

 

Well that brought tears to my eyes.  My twins had a similar relationship.  When my non-autistic son was praised for helping my autistic son, he would always respond:  “He’s my brother.”  He got back in time from college to act as a chaperone for his brother’s class to a zoo.  When I asked him if he would do this he said, “I would be honored”.  This was on the Tuesday before Larry’s death.    Numerous photographs were taken of this outing.  His class after my son’s death put together a collage of the pictures that have Larry in them.  One shows his brother hugging him.  Needless to say that these pictures are now priceless family heirlooms.  Love conquers all, even death.

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4 Responses to Love Conquers All

Sacred and Holy?

Sunday, September 5, AD 2010

And they cried with a loud voice, saying:  How long, O Lord (holy and true) dost thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? Apocalypse 6:10

If you listen closely you can hear the attendants (which include the mayor of our fine city of Houston Anise Parker) at this “dedication” commenting on their newly “sacred and holy” ground. They are speaking of the largest abortuary in the United States.

If we are moving toward, or already in, a post-Christian civilization then should we be surprised that those who promote and support abortion and other anti-life policies impart a religious sheen on their actions?  After all, human sacrifice was present in almost all pagan religions to some extent with the Aztec sacrifices being among the most infamous.  These people are willing and proud worshipers of Baal and, unless we pray, fast and offer Masses in reparation for these sins, we will only allow this evil to grow and ever more innocents slaughtered at the altar of “Choice”.

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5 Responses to Sacred and Holy?

  • Walter,

    Thanks for posting this.

    It’s a crying shame that the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has the largest abortuary in their backyard.

    I’d like to know if there was a Catholic priest present at the ceremony and what is his name. I only say this because the attendees were reading from a pamphlet that said “holy and sacred ground”. Sounds very Catholic to me.

    That and Carol Alvarado, a Catholic state representative is shown prominently in this video. She is also (or was) on the board of directors of Planned Parenthood of Southeast Texas (Houston).

  • Yeah thanks for posting this.. I get sick listening to that mayor and state rep – notably misguided by a passion that can’t see the truth… Please people from Houston vote them out…

  • “holy and sacred ground” sounds very Catholic to me”

    It could just as easily be Episcopalian, since a lot of their liturgy “sounds Catholic” too (in some cases, more Catholic than the current Novus Ordo).

  • McClarey posted some homilies by Cardinal Newman this past Lent that addressed the neo pagan-atheism that will plague our times.

    It seems we may be experiencing that right now. Secularization of society, practical atheism, and a president with an ideological bent toward socialism, liberation theology, collective salvation and Mohammadism (he may not be a Muslim, but he is certainly sympatico).

    Add that to Human child sacrifice (abortion), use of magic potions (drug and alcohol abuse), sexual rites (cohabitation, pedophilia, pornography, sodomy, homosexualism, ‘gay marriage’, incest, polyamorous unions, etc.) and a generally hedonistic culture.

    We, orthodox Catholics, are nothing more than a remnant in a culture that is more pagan and evil than pre-Christian Rome.

    Time for the saints to rise up.

  • I noticed that the woman in red was clearly embarrassed and did not want to pronounce the word “abortion”.

    They perfectly well know what they are doing and desperately try to delude themselves into thinking that they are not murdering anyone.

    M

Funeral and Repast for Father Hinds Today

Saturday, October 31, AD 2009

Father Edward Hinds

The funeral for Father Edward “Ed” Hinds will be celebrated today, Saturday, October 31,  A.D. 2009 at  10:00am.  The Mass will be the Rite of Christian Burial and simulcast live int he Saint Patrick Parish Center Gym, East/West Rooms, and Cafeteria.  Additional audio will be provided outside.

This will be followed by a private burial.

The Repast will be at 11:30am at the Corpus Christi Parish Center, 234 Southern Boulevard, Chatham, New Jersey.

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Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of the Diocese of Paterson where Saint Patrick’s at Chatham is located had these moving words to say concerning the death of Fr. Hinds titled, A Life Cut Short: The Mystery of Evil:

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3 Responses to Funeral and Repast for Father Hinds Today

Father Hinds Planned To Lay Off Suspect

Tuesday, October 27, AD 2009

Father Edward “Ed” Hinds was found dead in the rectory kitchen of 32 stab wounds late last week in the Diocese of

Father Edward Hines

Fr. Ed Hinds

Paterson located in the area of Chatham, New Jersey.  A suspect has been found who is the church janitor, Jose Feliciano.  He is currently in a hospital because of an undisclosed ailment and has bail set on him of $1 million.

Details are emerging concerning the case.  Mr. Feliciano has had financial and health-related worries.  He was recently laid off his second job earlier in the year.  Additionally The Star-Ledger (New Jersey) reports:

In addition, Hinds intended to lay off Feliciano because of money problems at St. Patrick Church, said Ken Mullaney, the attorney for the Diocese of Paterson.

Jose Feliciano

Suspect, Jose Feliciano

Many parishioners are calling this a double tragedy since Mr. Feliciano was also part of the close Chatham community as well as with the parish of Saint Patrick.

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For the previous article by the American Catholic click here.

For the most current article by The Star-Ledger as of this posting click here.

For a compilation of the latest news concerning the murder of Fr. Ed Hines click here. (The link may become inactive as time passes.)

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Update I: I misspelled Father Edward Hinds name.  It is Fr. Hinds, not Fr. Hines.

Update II: Information about Fr. Hinds funeral and more click here.

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8 Responses to Father Hinds Planned To Lay Off Suspect

  • I hope Jose Feliciano is happier now and his money worries have ceased. What a bum.

  • I could see stress and anxiety as causing Mr. Feliciano to be upset about the possibility of losing his job, but to the extent of extinguishing a life…

    I just can’t figure out why? Why go that far?

    From the article I read, he is known for a cool temperament and not known for losing his temper at all.

  • I can commiserate with Mr Feliciano as it is likely that he was under unrelieved financial pressure. The correct way for a man in his position to handle it though is to declare bankcruptcy and ride around in a bicycle. There is no way for a man his age and position to pay off a mortgage of close to $145,000. One simply has to swallow one’s pride and relax. Millionaires and billionaires do the same. There is no shame once one has tried his best.

  • Hmmm. The alleged murderer could have applied for unemployment, looked for work, entered into a forebearance program on his mortagage with his bank, explored bankruptcy with an attorney, etc. No doubt some nuts will now attempt to use the fact that he was having a hard time as excusing his alleged murder of a priest. I deal with people who are hard pressed financially each and every day and none of them think the solution to their problems is murder.

  • How sad but I figured as much. Well, he has no more money worries. Taking Father’s life wasn’t the answer and whatever he was doing to get Father’s attention wasn’t the answer either.

  • I knew Father Hines as a pastor, a man but moreover as a true friend. He graced me with his presence officiating my marriage and was a true inspiration to many and a leader of the faithful in Boonton and Chester.

    When these things happen, I often am reminded what is at the center of the bible: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man”. It is the exact center of his word (594 chapters before Psalms 118 and 594 chapters after). If you add 594+594 = 1188 – Psalms 118:8 is the center of his word.

    He was an inspiration and he will be truely missed by all that love him dearly. God will love him as he loves and protects us…

  • Robert J. Abate,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

    That is truly a wonderful and heart warming passage. I often go back to God knowing that His plan is best for all of us and this relieves many of my anxieties.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

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Father Edward Hinds Found Slain In Rectory

Saturday, October 24, AD 2009

Father Edward “Ed” Hinds, the pastor of Saint Patrick Church in Chatham, New Jersey, was found slain early Friday Fr. Edward Hinesmorning by parishioners in the rectory when he failed to celebrate the 8:00am Mass.

This morning there was a congregation of roughly 300 parishioners that attended the 8:00 am Mass the day after the slaying.  It was a somber and quiet mood as the parish remembered their dear priest who was the only pastor at the church and he also worked at the parish school.

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11 Responses to Father Edward Hinds Found Slain In Rectory

  • May he now be enjoying the Beatific Vision.

  • When I heard this I was saddenned. Still puzzled as to why.

  • I’m puzzled as well, but I’m sure the details will come out.

    For whatever reason, the grisly death of Fr. Hines, even though I don’t know him, bothers me greatly.

  • Why? I’ll tell you why: because our society is hosed, that’s why! How many generations of children have been raised in Liberal relativism? How many millions of children have grown into adults that have no sense of “right” and “wrong”, let alone enough self-control to *not* throw a hissy fit whenever they don’t get their way??

    Sadly these hissy fits can end with the blade of a knife!

    I’m not one bit surprised that some dude hacked Father to death over an argument. Just look at how people behave at checkout counters and while driving!! We live in a society filled with adult spoiled brats! We can’t even have a grownup liturgy at Mass ~ what makes us think we can have grownup responses to “No” ???

  • Whatever the circumstances, this is very sad; perhaps a commentary on our society.
    In any event, may our God have mercy on Fr. Hinds and grant him the fulness of His salvation, acornding to the promises of Christ.

  • I think of the murderer’s children in these sins. Murder by career criminals is not as depressing as murder by a family man (two young children)who held one job at the parish for 17 years straight where his daughter still attends elementary school. The priest was there 6 years. This could have been a complex rather than simple temptation from the devil involving a slowly growing sinful temper over differences between the two men. And a wife and two children now have a family disgraced for the rest of their lives even though they are innocent. And they have sudden economic trouble combined with the responsibility of visiting the father in jail forever. The children will question their own goodness for years to come; they will suspect their own tempers as murderous even in normal moments. Very awful. Satan is a billiard player who is never just sinking one ball at a time.

  • This is diabolical – meaning to divide.

    When we allow Satan to attack unity everyone is a victim – the murderer, the victim, the family, the parish, all of us.

    We need to reclaim the moral high ground. The only question is are we prepared for the carnage that always results when taking a hill, or are we more comfortable in lazy tyranny?

    The Pope has been warning us of the dictatorship of relativism and many of us are not listening.

    May God have mercy on all who are touched by this, especially Fr. Hines, the janitor who murdered him and the murderer’s family.

    This story just sucks.

  • How sad. I suppose a lot will come out about the janitor in the next few days.

  • Coffee Catholic,

    Your post is deeply disturbing. You know nothing of either of these men or what happened to make the janitor snap and perform the vicious, horrendous act that has ruined so many lives.

    This “dude” is a father, a husband, and -was- a respected and loved member of the church, the school and the community for over 17 years. Tragedy is not reconciled by blame or a biting, uninformed analysis. This murder is something everyone is painfully trying to make sense of. Both of these men were loved.

    All human beings can not be lumped into one compact ball that is then cut down the middle, dividing good and evil into two neat sections. God has nothing to do with this.

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The Pope, The Clown and The Cross

Monday, September 28, AD 2009

skelton_pope

In 1957 comedian Red Skelton was on top of the world.  His weekly comedy show on CBS was doing well.  He had  curtailed the drinking which had almost derailed his career.  Not too shabby for a man who had started out as a circus and rodeo clown and who was now often called the clown prince of American comedy.  He and his wife Georgia had two beautiful kids:  Richard and Valentina Maria.  Then the worst thing in the world for any parent entered into the lives of Red and Georgia Skelton:  Richard was diagnosed with leukemia.  Unlike today, a diagnosis of leukemia in a child in 1957 was tantamount to saying that Richard was going to die soon.  Red immediately took a leave of absence from his show.  CBS was very understanding and a series of guest hosts, including a very young Johnny Carson, filled in for Skelton during the 1957-1958 season.

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37 Responses to The Pope, The Clown and The Cross

  • Beautiful story, Don. Thanks for posting it.

  • Thank you John Henry. I was vaguely aware of the death of Skelton’s son, but until I began researching Skelton last week I was unaware of the connection to Pius XII. Courage and grace in the face of death always moves me, and Richard Skelton had those qualities to the full.

  • Good story. I see Red’s own father died shortly after Red was born. He must have been grounded well in his beliefs. I’m sure there are DVDs of his shows, I think I’ve seen them advertized on TV.

  • Wikipedia has interesting information, I wonder if they reference his Catholicism.

    I see it says he was a FreeMason and more on the story above,

    “As if the loss of his show was not enough, his ex-wife Georgia committed suicide in 1976, five years after their divorce and on the tenth anniversary of their son’s death years before. That was her second attempt at suicide. Georgia left a note that said, “The reason I chose this day, is so you wouldn’t feel bad twice in one year.” [8]”

    So nix to that about being grounded in Catholicism. If Red were a midwesterner from Indiana, Dean Martin was born in Steubbenville, Ohio of all places, if Ohio is considered Midwestern. Interesting to track down where some of these people hailed from.

  • An anecdote about Skelton:

    “Funny how you can go to a doctor’s offices and find magazines that are years old in the lobby. I had to go to a dentist two week ago and found a Golf magazine from the 80’s. I also found a magazine that told me the following story:

    Decades ago, a young American was flying across the mountain ranges of Europe on his way to London. Accompanying his friend, a Catholic priest, the two were scheduled to have a meeting with the Pope in England. As the priest talked, the plane suddenly rocked. Then rocked again. Something told the priest the plane was not destined to ever touch
    land again.

    The passengers, busy in their individual conversations, failed to notice, the priest observed, until a flight attendant made an announcement of impending doom. The plane was over a mountain range and losing altitude.

    As expected, panic set in.

    The priest loosened his seat belt, realizing he had but minutes to offer last rites to any who might desire them. His young friend, Richard, sat motionless, staring at the seat before him. The priest went about his duties. Then, all at once, reality hit Richard in the face and he noticed that behind his seat and to the right was a child, two children, several children. If indeed this was to be the last moments of their short lives, Richard determined, he would make sure the children never knew it.

    The young American rose to his feet and started to make faces at the kids. Horrible faces, ugly faces. Most of the youngsters laughed, but one did not. This boy, about the age of 5, became Richard’s focus. Richard stuck his tongue out. So did the boy. Richard did it again, making an awful face. The boy imitated him. As the priest delivered last rites, Richard kept the children amused. None of them knew the earth was rushing up to meet their craft in spikes of ancient stone.

    Meanwhile, the pilot had been amazed that the plane had cleared most of the rough crags that reached for the skies. One lone mountaintop was left to clear; their fate waited on its other side. By inches, the plane cleared that last mountain. What lay on the other side was a large cow pasture with soft, rolling grasses. The craft slid in on a cushion provided by Mother Nature – rough, but not the landing the pilot and most of the passengers had imagined.
    Certainly not what either the priest or Richard had expected.

    Those young children never knew how close they had approached Heaven’s gates, nor did many of them ever know the young, auburn-haired performer who kept that knowledge from them miles above the earth.

    His name was Richard but we knew him as Red Skelton.”

    I can believe the anecdote. Throughout his life Skelton’s motto appears to have been “Kids First”.

    http://finaltaxi.wordpress.com/2007/09/17/has-america-forgotten-its-famous-clown/

  • Great story. Thanks Donald.

  • Thanks for this story, Donald.

  • Thank you gentlemen.

  • British journalists revel in being mean.

  • I see a family resemblance in his son. Bless Them.

  • Main thing I remember about Red Skelton:
    “Good night, and God bless.”

  • wow, that was very touching.

  • Great story! Thank you.

  • i recall Richard’s passing well. Such a tragic loss. Red was never ever the same. what parent is. He was a great clown ,lover of mankind and beautiful human being. thsnks Brad. I know this story for 50 years. may both their gentle souls rest eternally in peace. bless them and you for reminding us how gentle but strng love is between parent and child.

  • Thank you gentlemen. Tom, your last sentence says it all. I think in the love between parent and child we get a tiny taste of the love God has for each of us.

  • I have deleted the comments of Crusader. They were off topic and frankly a little strange. I have also placed him on moderation for the time being. I have also deleted my response to Crusader as well as the responses of foxfier and cminor, no offense to either of them intended, especially since they are two of my favorite commenters.

  • No offense taken, Donald; I understand completely. The whole situation had me wondering if there was a full moon out.

  • Keeping the peace without harm– sounds like a good plan to me.

  • Crusader, I’ve deleted your latest comments. They were bizarre and had nothing to do with this topic. You are banned from this blog.

  • From the little I know about families, it is extremely difficult for a marriage to succeed when a child dies before their parents, especially when they’re still in adolescence.

    I am sure there are marriages that have been able to stay together, though I have yet to hear or see of one.

    Just a side note.

    On the posting…

    Wonderful story, touching and moving.

  • Tito-
    I know of one, personally, where the child was killed in a farm accident while his mother and brother were near– keeping themselves intact was not easy. I think other children being very young and how sudden the loss is might have a big effect on it.

  • From the little I know about families, it is extremely difficult for a marriage to succeed when a child dies before their parents, especially when they’re still in adolescence.

    I am sure there are marriages that have been able to stay together, though I have yet to hear or see of one.

    My parents. My dad’s parents. My mom’s parents.

    I’m very much hoping not to have to follow in their footsteps, obviously — but a lot of people do deal with it and stay together.

  • That is great to hear Darwin. I knew there were those out there that persevered. That explains a lot of the deepness of your Catholic faith now.

    I hope the same for me if I’m blessed with a family.

  • I think it’s one of those things, like extreme financial difficulties, which can break a marriage that wasn’t strong to begin with. And sadly, a lot aren’t.

  • Also my uncle and aunt, grandparents, and great-grandparents. The latter two couples lived in a different time, of course: losing a child was unfortunately more common and divorce almost unthinkable. Likely that element of unthinkability makes a difference.

  • In the 1800s, killer diseases of children filled the graveyards. One story in my family that was told by my great-grandmother was the rapid succession of death of her three, beautiful, younger sisters from diphtheria. Her mother dreamed, or had a vision, of an angel who shed three tears, and said, “Bea, Flora, and Ada.” Her three, beautiful daughters soon thereafter contracted this childhood killer disease. From that point on, no one in the family was allowed to relate any mystical experiences or dreams. One can imagine the heartbreak of so many families in this time period and speculate that their wardrobe must have consisted of many black garments. No matter how much a family suffered grief and heartbreak, divorce was a rarity. Families were much, much larger then and perhaps were better able to absorb the loss.

  • Lack of three generations that have been taught “when the going gets tough, leave”– and a lack of unilateral decision making for said divorces.

    My mom’s dad’s folks were separated– never divorced, just decided they couldn’t stand each other and lived in totally different areas of the country thereafter.

  • It’s interesting how in the earlier generations families were larger, and by secular standards “to hard” to handle, and were more prone to infant deaths yet they remained in tact and even flourished though today many families divorce after the death of a child.

    Can we say “secularization” or “modernism” has had a net negative effect on the nuclear family?

  • Oops, forgot another aspect: most folks don’t have a support structure.

    When my mom was a kid her mother lost two children, and suffered from what we’d call post-partum depression; the older boys looked after my mom, neighbors watched the boys and made sure that Granny was functioning, siblings and in-laws picked up the slack, and it was a worry that the grandparents were in another state.

    Now? It’s unusual if you have one sister and one brother, it’s unusual if your parents are near to help, hardly any neighbors would be comfortable laying down the law for someone else’s kids and the only two examples I can think of where kids stayed at a cousin’s house, there were rather dire results because of such different parenting styles. (In English: folks with stressed marriages seem to always have utter _BRATS_ and defend their every misdeed to the death.)

    Random extra thought: those earthquakes that hit China and took down several schools, killing many children, also triggered suicides in the parents of the children– suspected to be a result of the one child policy, which means that many families were absolutely gutted.

  • Foxfier,

    Excellent point!

    Especially in rural parts of the country, you would have cousins, nephews, and nieces assisting in raising newborns, infants, and children.

    This was their baby-training for when they had families of their own.

    Now, especially secularized couples, have one or no children and they look around and have no cousins or aunts and uncles as well.

  • Speaking of having a family support structure reminded me of a true story. It’s the story of Charlie.

    Charlie was a momma’s boy. He simply adored his mother. He looked up to his older brother and loved his father but his mother was everything to him.
    When Charlie as 8 yrs. old he came home from school one day only to learn that his mother had taken ill and died while he was in class. He was devastated but took solace in prayer to the Blessed Mother the only other women in his young life.
    In less then 3 years Charlie suffered another loss, that of his big brother he so much looked up to. That left just Charlie to be with his father.
    Charlie grew in the love of his father but in Charlie’s 20th year he was alone in life as his father also died. Even before his 21st birthday Charlie had lost all those he loved in life, his entire family. To make matters worse Charlie got on the wrong side of the authorities in charge. He had to go into hiding after a while and was taken in by the towns man of the cloth for safekeeping.
    Charlie also decided to pursue the religious life and soon the man that had once lost his entire family took the entire world to be his family. He went to those that could not come to him. He traveled his whole life to be with that adopted world family. But Charlie grew old and the travel tired him greatly. Charlie left this life in his old age and know one will ever remember Charlie. Yes that’s right! Charlie will not be remembered at all. At least by that name. For you see Charlie is what his name would be in English. But his given first name in his native language was Karol. Karol Wojtyla…Pope John Paul II

    The man without a family left this world with his entire world family in tears at his passing…John Paul the Great…..

  • Great comment Robert!

  • I just happened upon this story. Sincere thanks to the gentleman who posted it.
    I was blessed to meet and become friends with Red Skelton during the last 18 years of his life. As the girl in the article pointed out, Red was just as wonderful a man when out of character as when he was in character. I saw Red in all kinds of situations through the years, but his faith and quiet strength never waivered. Once, he showed me that first Crucifix given him by Pope Pius, and I’ve never forgotten it. Red’s faith and strength of character had a profound effect on my life. I miss him very much; but, as he promised me years ago, “we’ll meet up there someday.” May God rest him, truly one of the finest men I’ve ever known.

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  • I was so moved by this article. I’d like to post it on my blog, attributing it to you of course, this Christmas eve. Please let me know if I can.

    There are people who face this Christmas without someone they love very much. I believe that Red Skelton’s experience with the pope and his son’s illness affirms the power of Christian love over death and despair. Let me know.

  • Please feel free Suzanne; the more people who know about this wonderful story of faith and love in the face of death, the better.