Archive for September, 2012


When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, America was in the midst of an economic resurgence and baby boom.  Blanche was still five months away from delivering her fourth child, the second daughter of her and John.

            Born May 1, 1942, the robust daughter, blessed with a head full of tight curls, was named Shirley; her namesake being none other than the famed, pipe-curled heroine of post depression cinema, Shirley Temple.

            It was John, though, who aptly named the leg and arm-dimpled charmer.  When he and others called, it was to Punky that she responded best.

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I rode by the tree several times before I realized she was speaking to me.  I took a few pictures of her, and settled in for a solemn but silent conversation about life and death and everlasting life.

My oldest brother had just been buried; less than two months before his death, my older brother had died.  She comforted me, this aged. once dead tree, as she communicated through new growth the promise of everlasting life.

Both of my brothers were altar boys and often they served mass together, though two years apart.  Those were the years of prayers in latin; light bells that rang the Kyrie; and incense that choked as it crept into our nostrils.  The service proclaimed the eucharist as the living flesh and the wine as the blood shed by the Christ.  We were taught that by Faith we were saved.  By following Christ and living His commandments, we had blessed assurance of eternal life.

Sinners that we all are, though, it is impossible to live the human life without grace and forgiveness.  Grace is given freely, each day without cost.  When we confess and are truly repentant, we are forgiven, and our sins are removed and forgotten.  It is us who have to forgive.  We have to love one another, and set things right before the sun goes down.   We have to forgive ourselves as we have forgiven others; for some it is a life-long process.

I loved my brothers and I believe that they live in eternal life with Christ.  I believe that their heavenly experience is a continuum of their worship on earth, and they continually shower us with communal prayers for peace and comfort.  Blessings abound for the Bonaguide family bereft of brothers yet sanctified by the hope and promise of everlasting life.

Death brings with it a time of silence; a period of searching and confrontation.  We search our hearts and confront our past looking to amend the present and ultimately change the future.  Death sets things in their proper place.  Wisdom helps us to make the life-changing choices.

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