Friday, September 4, 2015

Forever In My Heart

Dates and places
and faces of people we love
forge a memory in our heart
to remain forever
a part of us,  and help
shape who we are,
so strong not even
death can diminish
the remembrance
of that time
when the one we loved
stood near, sharing our
laughter and tears
I think of my brother, Walt
who would have celebrated
his 61st birthday today;
his  smile, his words, the
sound of his voice; his warm
hug hello, and his last hug
good-bye. I cherish the boy he
was, the man he became;
my little brother, my forever friend


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Moments of Grace & My Brother, Walt

Sometimes little moments of grace, or an unexpected  surprise pleasantly  touches our life  and we can't help but smile, and be thankful.

This past April I was blessed with two such moments.  The first happened  while I was making the two hour drive from my house in Worley to my mother's home in Clarkston, WA. The drive isn't difficult, but some stretches of the highway can seem long and lonely, especially in bad weather. On this day, a  heavy rain and dark gloomy clouds cast a heavy shadow all about me,  and I considered calling mom to tell  her I would come down another day. But I kept driving,  and as I always do when travelling I prayed a simple, but sweet prayer I learned in childhood

                              Angel of God
                              my guardian dear
                              to whom God's love
                              commits me here
                              ever this day
                              be at my side, to
                              light and guard
                              to  rule and guide. Amen

It seemed no quicker than I  finished with amen I heard the familiar voice of my brother  say, Hi, Kathy, how are you ? Although Walt died nearly 5 years ago,  his voice  seemed so real I couldn't help  myself from looking toward the passenger seat. As I felt his presence, and recognized his smile,   I joyfully exclaimed,  Walt ! It's you! I've missed you so much, how are you ? Good, he said, Don't worry. Keep going, you're gonna be okay.  I had so much I wanted to ask him, to talk with him about, to share. But the moment soon passed, and Walt was gone. But the feeling of peace and joy I experienced  lasted throughout the day, and I thanked my guardian angel for inviting my brother to ride with me, to  be my angel that morning.

Two weeks later, when  Gary and I agreed it was time to replace a broken window in our back door, the one leading from the laundry room onto the deck, another moment of grace touched my life, one that also involved my brother.

 The window had been broken since mid winter, the opening covered with a heavy piece of plywood to keep the snow and cold out. But now spring was on the way, and we  were ready for the sun to shine through.  I called several places to see about replacing the window and was quoted prices  ranging from $225. to $125.  All more than fit our budget, or what we wanted to spend.

 Finally,  Gary decided to load  the door in the back of  our rig , and we took it into town to see if one of the glass companies  there could replace the window. Not much luck, until we talked to fellow who   suggested we stop at Coeur d Alene Building Supply. When Gary and I walked in, we were directed to an office in the back of the store.  The salesman greeted us and motioned us to sit down. Yep! They could get a window for us.  I noticed the  business cards on corner of his desk, and asked if his name was Walt (the name on the card), he said yes, it was. I told him my brother's name is Walt, that he passed away a few years ago. Then the salesman Walt said, guess that means we'll have to give you the Walt discount !

I had two twenty dollar bills and laid them on his desk. Walt the salesman said, "We can make that work".  I told Walt the salesman, my brother Walt is smiling, knowing he was part of this transaction, getting us the Walt discount ! 

So that's my story. Some might say, a fanciful one,  just coincidence. And  that's okay. But not, me. I say there are no coincidence's, only Godincidence's  as my  grace moment with Walt while driving to my mothers , and the way Gary and I  got our replacement window shows.  It still makes me smile when I think of both these happenings, knowing  grace moments touch our life  more often than we know, if only we look for them, and my brothers  presence will always be with me.

*** In memory of Walt Cooney
September 4 , 1954 - May 30, 2010


Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015 - Veteran's & Family History

Memorial Day is more than just the unofficial start to summer, camping trips and Memorial Day sales at local retailers to draw shoppers into their stores,  it is the day Americans  set aside to remember our fallen soldiers killed in war and  all the  deceased who served in the military,  in a special way.  Throughout our nation are parades, political speeches and picnics. Family members , patriotic organizations, church groups visit cemeteries to place flags and flowers at the gravesites of Veteran's to honor their sacrifice; to keep them in memory.  We are reminded there is a cost to freedom.

This year my celebration of Memorial Day coincides with my applying to become a member of Daughters of the American Revolution.  A timely  intersection it seems to me,  as DAR does such a wonderful job in honoring Veterans, both living and dead throughout the year , and in fostering  patriotism  and love of liberty by preserving the American spirit. My patriot is John Hart, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. I am a descendent of John Hart via my paternal grandmother, Vera Williams Cooney and her father Gus Williams. Grandma never became a member of DAR, but her younger sister, Myrtle did,  and Grandma encouraged me to pursue membership, too.

While proving lineal decent from a patriot of  the American Revolution can be a lengthy process, it is well worth the time and effort to discover both a familial and historical connection through the  generations, and share a bond with women, as stated in the DAR brochure, that continues the tradition of promoting patriotism, education, and historic preservation.

So this Memorial Day as I honor and remember deceased family members

                                        Andrew G. Norton (WWI)
                                        Cecil E. Cooney (WWI)
                                        Lloyd E. Cooney (WWII)
                                       Robert Breedlove (WWII)
                                       Leo J. Thorson (WWII)
                                       Austin Twiford (WWII)

and  their service to our country, I also think of my ancestor John Hart and the important role he played in helping to establish liberty and freedom for all in the  United States of America.

God Bless our Veteran's,  and God Bless America !

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sunday, May 3rd

     Yesterday, May 2 my husband and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. We went to a favorite restaurant for an  early evening dinner and was pleased to have our son, Gavin join us for dessert. With happy hearts, Gary and I reminisced about our wedding day and the vows we made to love and always cherish one another.

     Today, May 3 is a different type of anniversary. One that brings a somber, sad remembrance. This year May 3 falls on a Sunday, just as it did in 1970 when I, along with four of my friends crashed down a 75ft embankment off the 101 Freeway  in the red Volkswagen van we were travelling in.  Three of us survived, two died. No one knows for sure what happened. A Marine caravan from nearby Camp Pendleton had been following us for some distance, the soldiers  said it looked as though a gust of wind picked up the van and threw it  over the edge of the highway. One thing I know for certain, neither drugs nor drink were involved, and we weren't speeding.

     When my mother got the call from the doctor that fateful afternoon, he asked her for permission to operate. Mother said she'd like to talk with me first. According to mom, the doctor then  very kindly, but urgently explained to her my life was in danger. Mom asked if I might die, the doctor said, "Yes, Mrs. Cooney". We need you to get here as soon as possible, and if her father doesn't live there, he needed to be contacted and told if he hoped to see his daughter, he needed to hurry. 

    I was unconscious , and would remain so for the next few days. The right side of my body was smashed; my femur crushed, my back broken, as was  my arm and clavicle. My right lung collapsed and I had internal bleeding. When mom arrived at the hospital they told her she wouldn't recognize me as my head was three times its normal size, and  instructed her not to make any gasps or sobs when she saw me, that it may alarm my subconscious . They couldn't be sure I didn't suffer brain damage, and wouldn't know for a few days. Mom was also told I may never walk again.  The priest was called to give me a Sacramental Anointing. Then  the doctors  told Mom  I had a very rare blood type, one they didn't have on location,  and asked if I had Mediterranean blood. Mother said, "No, my daughter is of Irish, Norwegian and English heritage. My  Uncle Pep contacted a  Blood Bank in San Francisco, but it was finally in San Diego my rare Lewis AB negative (with a series of numbers) blood type was located.

   None of this was I aware of  then, of course.  It was only later I came to understand the anguish and heartache my dear  mother and father, my brother experienced in not knowing if I would live or die, or how the extent of my injuries might effect the rest of my life.  It took me awhile to focus, to come to,  and after  those first few days when  I began to respond,  I couldn't grasp where I was or what happened.  My brother, Walt would later tell me, I asked him "What happened to me, did I  fall down ?"  I didn't know to ask about Manya or Karen, I couldn't remember we had been together.  But slowly I did, and  was overcome with joy  to learn they had survived.   It was two and a half weeks after the accident I was told Bob and Tom had died.

   I remained in the hospital for three months, laying in traction, then  for another two months I was in a full body cast , sleeping in a rented  hospital bed in our dining room. Although my mother came to the hospital each day and every evening, and dear friends often stopped by to visit - and even decorate my bed,  at 19  five  months of not being mobile, and away from normal every day life  can seem a long time. I was comforted to know  many were praying for my healing, both physically and emotionally, and thankfully, I liked to read and had a variety of books close at hand, mostly memoirs  (Dr. Thomas Dooley), inspirational (Christy by Catherine Marshall), and spiritual (St. Ignatius, St. Teresa of Avila). I began to experience in a deeper way God's goodness and presence in my life, and the life of others, even through great sadness and pain.

      When I came across St. Teresa's Bookmark, her words became a favorite of mine :

         Let nothing disturb you,
         Let nothing frighten you,
         All things are passing;
         God never changes
         Patience obtains all things.
         Who has God wants for nothing,
         God alone suffices
     After the cast came off, and I took my first steps, I was both grateful, and humbled to realize how many family members  and friends  of different faith  traditions and religious practices were praying for me, and that my healing and recovery was an answer to their prayers.

    - Lenny Goldsmith at  Synagogue, my Methodist Grandmother, Lutheran friends, Molokon Russians,  Catholic aunts and uncles lighting candles  in their parish church, Mr. Given placing my name in Prayer Circle at his Ward in Salt Lake City;  and some who didn't attend any church, but prayed with trust in a loving God that I would be well.

    I wanted to thank God, but whose God?  The Jewish God, the Mormon God, the Lutheran, Methodist, Molokon Russian, the Evangelical God,  Catholic God?  For me,  the answer was , and is very clear -  the  one true  God and Father of us all.  The One who said,

      "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, birds of the air, and the cattle, and over the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground." God created man in his image, in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1 26-27)

      I'm a practicing Catholic and will remain so. I love Jesus, my church, my faith. But I know from experience 'Catholic' prayer isn't the only prayer God hears, He hears the prayer of all people who trust in His word, throughout history and from every corner of the world, from every denomination.

    I contemplate how wonderful it would be, and  pleasing to God,  perhaps today especially - May 3, 2015 when the world is so full of strife and turmoil,  if people of faith spent  less time bickering and fussing  among themselves about  'religious ' differences and spent  more time on what binds us together, belief in the Creator of heaven and earth, and for Christians,  in  Jesus Christ.  Let us  lift up our voices in one accord  and cry out to the Lord for mercy, and pray for  unity and peace in our world.

    *Postscript - at Mass this morning prayers were offered for the happy  repose of Tom Grimshaw and Bob Wrighton as they rejoice in Heaven and see our Lord face to face. And for beloved friends Manya  and Karen that God continues to bless their lives with His light  and abiding grace.







Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March 17 (St. Patrick's Day)

Wearin' of the green
Ronan Tyan sweetly
singing, I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen
Potato famine
and The Blarney Stone,
Celtic prayer, the Trinity
The rebellion of '16
 and Independence;
A pint of Guinness
and soda bread
 happily shared
with both stranger and kin

Oh! To celebrate Ireland
from where my family
roots began, (thanks
to me dear mother and dad)
and our ancestors before them
Cooney, Gavin, Norton
(with a little Thorson
from Norway thrown  in)
hailing from the
likes of  County Kerry,
Tipperarie , County Cork
and Galway;
Irish laughter, Irish song, Irish faith
to help carry us on

And for all of ye  now reading this blog
an old Irish blessing to rest upon you and those you love

May God grant you always
a sunbeam to warm you,
a moonbeam to charm you,
a sheltering Angel , so
nothing can harm you