Thursday, November 1, 2007

All Saints Day

Recently, I discovered a great website about Christian saints. Its called "Saints Alive", A Catholic priest, Father McNamara, has compiled this information over the years for his congregation in New York state. The saints are listed alphabetically and there is an entry for today's commemoration of All Saints Day, the day to remember unofficial saints, loved ones and friends who lived the Christian faith and have passed from this earthly life.

In 1967, when I was nine years old, my much-loved grandfather passed away on Halloween. Many fond memories remain of "Grampy", as I called him. Probably, his kindness and attention caused me to be what at that time would have passed for being spoiled. I was his first grandchild. He often took me to the park, he bought me dime rootbeers instead of nickel ones, he colored with me, he taught me to draw three-dimensional geometric forms, he taught me how to plant seeds, he played cribbage with me......on and on I could go.

Anyway, the evening he died, my mother came into my room and sat down on my bed and cried. She had just received the call from the hospital that her father had died. He had suffered greatly with a painful form of cancer. Through her tears Mom said that she wished she could jump into the grave with him.......later, at the committal service in the cemetery, my childish mind actually did picture the possibility of Mom jumping into the grave with the casket. She had her reasons for entertaining such a thought back in those days.......a reason beyond the bounds of my understanding at that time, 40 years ago.

Jump ahead many years to one rainy autumn afternoon in 2004-----I was doing housework and somehow began to think about Grampy. Actually, I hadn't thought of him in a long time. I must have been tired or in a down mood, for I then decided to lie down for awhile. My tears were flowing and I was wishing I had some tangible remembrance of Grampy, like a letter in his handwriting, or something similar. And then, honest to goodness, this really happened-----the phone rang and it was my mom. She said excitedly, "Guess what! I was just up in the attic looking for a cookbook, and I ran across some cards and a letter that Grampy wrote to you when you were little!"

I nearly dropped the phone! I said, "Mom, you've got to be kidding", and told her that I had just been thinking about Grampy and wishing I had a letter from him!! She seemed not too surprised, actually.......she's open to unusual happenings, and she and I have occasionally shared other moments similar to this, as I have with my own offspring.

What is the mechanism of an incident like this? Is it thought transference between loved ones? The Holy Spirit at work? Angel activity? Do our departed loved ones have a hand in it? Or is it just an amazing meaningful coincidence, AKA synchronicity? Whatever the case may be, it seems very special when it happens. And I'll have to admit, experiences like this have sparked my interest in learning about the saints and the reasons for the origin of the concept.

My mother had one sister, whom I was named after. That aunt of mine died on this day, November 1, All Saints Day of 2000. A couple years after her death, something odd happened on her birthday, and eventually I will post about that. The aforementioned letter from my Grampy was dated December 17, 1965, and has a Christmas theme, so I'll post about that next month, too......God willing.

Maybe everyone experiences unusual things like this, but few ever discuss it. Or maybe the tendency towards the unusual runs in families. Many years ago, one of my mother's cousins (Grampy's niece) gave me a genealogy of his side of the family. It said that Grampy's great-grandmother, a washwoman in London in the mid-1800's, had the gift of "second sight". I've researched second sight a little bit. The term seems to have originated in Scotland, and referred to people who experienced premonitions, precognitive dreams, etc. Grampy told me once that we were "Scots-Irish", so who knows, maybe it is in the family line.

By the way, our team won the play-off football game last night, by a very lop-sided score, on a very chilly evening. Thankfully, I splurged several years ago on a long down coat. In it I look kind of poofy like the Michelin Man, but it keeps me toasty warm. Football games are tolerable......cheering makes me feel idiotic, though, so I just clap my mittened hands and paste a smile on my face while inwardly praying that no players get hurt. You can gain much yardage in life by being quiet and smiling! Go, Team, Go!!

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