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)



St.Patrick
Shamrocks
Wearin' of the green
Ronan Tyan sweetly
singing, I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen
Leprechaun's
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



Friday, February 6, 2015

Seahawks & The Super Bowl

     Last week at this time I was looking forward  to  Super Bowl  XLIX , anticipating my team, the Seattle Seahawks would win the  grand trophy for the second year in  a  row, but it wasn't meant to be.  The Hawks lost to the Patriots 28 -  24 .

    In the last minutes of the game  when it seemed certain  the Hawks would have victory, and  every 12th Man was loudly cheering,  the tide quickly turned when the Pats intercepted a Russell Wilson pass. Hope  for  a back to back Super Bowl win was shattered. Fans were stunned, shocked. It took a moment to register what just happend. So close to the goal, why a pass? Why not feed the beast,  and give the ball to Lynch to run across ?
                                                     


    Coach Pete Carroll took responsiblity for the call , but I can't help but wonder if the call had been different , if it was for Lynch to carry the ball across the goal line , the Hawks might have won. We'll never know  for sure how it would have played out. We can only imagine.  My guess is,  if  Coach Carroll would have called  the hand off to Lynch , the Seahawks would be Super Bowl Champs!

    Just before kick off my husband admonished me to control my emotions, saying  I should keep things in stride, and not get too excited one way or the other, "After all, it's just a game", he told me.    Well, I surely tried,  but without much success. But it wasn't just me, for all Gary's talk about staying calm, he got pretty excited himself shouting out to the players as though they could hear him through the TV screen. He  even woke me up in the middle of the night to relive the game, and  question Carroll's  final call. Hmm. Just a game ? Yeah, right. Okay, honey. Now go back to sleep.

      The next day I reflected on how Americans  like a team to cheer , someone to root for, a  worthy champion we can look up to and carry us to a different place, if even for a brief moment.  We wear their  colors.  When lofty and true, it is  a good thing. It brings identification, connection and camaraderie.  I read  Super Bowl XLIX was the most watched in television history.  While  we cheered different   teams,  it was  good so many of us were united around one single national  American event..  we shared common ground. I was also inspired , uplifted in what Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson  tweeted after the loss:


      "Thank you God for the opportunity . I will never waiver who He calls me to be,"

      "At  26 years old I  won't allow  one play or one moment define my career. I will keep evolving"

      " Every set back has a major comeback"


    While Russell Wilson didn't hand his fans another Super Bowl victory, he did give us something to cheer, perhaps even more valuable - an example of  perseverance, positive attitude and faith. Keep on keeping on, even when things don't go your way.

    
                                                         
 

 



 





 

   

 

    

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve & Resolutions

     New Years Eve brings the end of one year, the beginning of another  as folks celebrate, reflect, anticipate; some are melancholy and sad remembering the loss of a loved one, others overjoyed with the birth of new life. Some are glad the old year has passed , others sad to see it go. Many make New Years resolutions to rid themselves of negative traits, and make promises to improve their way of eating , exercise, playing , praying and living life; They resolve to become , what they deem better in the new year than how they were in the old year.

           
        I'm one of those people.  I want to grow in my personal life - to improve my manners, my temperment , my charity toward others . Ah, yes! To exercise more and lose those dreaded pounds gained over the holidays;  To be  more organized , more bold and less fearful , and most importantly to judge less and love more. To practice the Prayer of St.Francis :
       
Where there is injury , pardon; where there is doubt , faith; where there is despair , hope ; where there is darkness , light ; where there  is sadness, joy

       A lofty ideal indeed,  but still my goal - year after year  after year. Resolutions made,  most often unfulfilled - year after year. Yet, I persevere. Perhaps in that alone I succeed , my perseverance  in striving for that higher ground , no matter how many times I fall short . Or maybe it's not my perseverance at all, but God's grace renewing, restoring , resurrecting my heart to try again as one year ends and another begins to strive to forgive and love better.

    Happy New Year ! Praying your  resolutions be fulfilled , and  the blessings of the Almighty flood your gate each and every day of 2015