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MaryKaithe

A Celebration of Life

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I recently read somewhere that we senior citizens should spend some time each day working on a memoir of our lives. I’m sixty-eight this year. I have spent the past year thinking I was already 68, so it would be natural to think I’m really 69 this year; but, I’m not ready to get any closer to 70. Therefore, I think I’ll stop the time machine here for a while. Dial it down, get out and review my personal journey.

 

I don’t want to be old. I want to stay for an extended vacation to finally catch my breath. I continually ran around like a crazed mad gypsy, putting out fires I’d unintentionally started myself. My wild Hungarian-American mother used to tell me that I was my own worst enemy. A drama queen who wasn’t ever happy or grateful enough. Maybe that was true however, that intense, slightly mad woman, helped mold me into her own wild, crazy self-image.

 

I grew up in two multi-cultured and varied societal worlds. The first was a growing Jewish community in the largest “official village” in the world, Skokie, Illinois. This was the strange fertile soil that cultivated my obsession and reverence with and for God.

 

I don’t remember my parents being very devout. My father was indifferent about church and often did not attend. My mother, who had been raised a Catholic, was an angry Catholic. She never told me why, but something had happened between her and the church and she left her Catholic faith.

 

I watched my Jewish friends’ family devotionals and observance of holidays with envy. They were so reverent and meticulous in their worship. I learned some of their dances and songs from attending Hebrew School with them. The celebration of Bar Mitzvahs and Bai’s Mitzvahs were joyous occasions. I wondered when my family would come together to rejoice and celebrate with food, dance and song, the affirmation of my faith?

 

The second society of influence was an extended Catholic family of Greek, German and Norwegian heritage, who were diversified farmers in Merrillin, Wisconsin. It was my father’s huge extended relations who lived hard, worked hard and were intensely devoted to God.  During the summer, my parents would often pack us children off to help on the family farms. We all worked at age appropriate tasks. It was long, hot work, whether picking strawberries, cleaning milking cans or bailing hay.

 

Play was reserved for Saturday night. Everyone from the small farm towns would go to the skating rink attached to a boisterous happy tavern in Alma Center. It was the only entertainment available on hot summer Saturday nights. The music would play loudly for all the skaters, young and old. I learned to skate backwards! I never remember any drunkenness or fighting. Just my extended family at play.

 

Then early Sunday morning everyone returned to Alma Center for church. I loved that atmosphere in that small Catholic church. I felt so close to God it almost hurt. I desperately wished I were a Catholic so I could participate in Communion. I would faintly genuflect before entering the pew and make the sign of the cross on myself in hiding. My problem began just after several cousins had celebrated their first Communion; and while all my friends started having their Bai’s Mitzvas and Bar Mitzvas. I wonder if the hunger, love and devotion I felt for God came from observing these diverse yet lovingly devoted people and how they worshiped and honored their God.

 

The subject of heaven came up between an occasional friend, named Peggy, and I, as we were killing and burying ants. We would sing a dirge while carrying the poor ants to their final resting place. Peggy, a Catholic fresh from her first communion, proudly told me I was going to hell because I was not Catholic. As a child, nothing was as important to me as someday living with God. 

 

Shortly after this disturbing encounter with Peggy and the ants, I went to visit my cousin Gail, in Oak Park. The adults enjoyed playing cards on fall and winter weekends. They would holler and laugh at each other as they played cards. This allowed the young cousins to play together, often with disastrous results.

My aunt mentioned a Vacation Bible school at the church around the block. She thought Gail and I would enjoy going there. I knew the adults wanted us safely out of the way, but I didn’t mind. Gail and I got to walk past a famous gangster’s house on the way to the church, which made it feel dangerous and exciting.

I only remember walking into the basement of the church. Something happened there, because I kept constantly questioning my mother about God and heaven on the ride home.

 

The questions did not stop after we came home, either. Peggy was permanently on the disavowed list. However, my desire to be with God never left me. It continued with me all through high school. I remember fondly how often my high school best friend; Diane and I talked and sang about “our buddy,” God.

That fall, after graduation, I went off to college to study acting and music. My first day there, I ran into an acquaintance from high school. She had someone with her from Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. I had been waiting all my life to secure a place in Heaven. Patricia and Linda led me to Christ on a late summer afternoon.

 

Looking back on my life, I realize I have reached a half-time. I await with excitement whatever is next in my life. My life of faith is not over. I have started writing. I write poetry and stories to leave breadcrumbs of faith for others to follow. Life has been full of disappointments and celebrations, and today I celebrate. Today is my Bai’s Mitzva, or my First Communion. I feast, dance and sing the celebration of life with God. Will you join me?

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MaryKaithe, I love your story! Even though you posted it over one month ago, I only just now read it. You've certainly had a passion for God all of your life, and He's definitely not finished with you yet!! I love what you said about your poetry and stories being breadcrumbs of faith for others to follow! Thank you for sharing your breadcrumbs of faith for us to read! Although I missed your first Communion, I'm celebrating with you today!!

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Thank you David....I'll bet you say that to all us good looking chicks?  LOL... It is always encouraging to hear that my narratives actually touch someone. I look forward to reading about you.

 

MaryKaithe

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I probably missed knowing the answer to this question, but even with the possibility that I'll look ignorant and foolish ... have you ever considered writing your auto-biography?

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I am, however, writing about some of my exploits as a child and everything I have done.  Especially my adventures when I was a kid because my own children think I make them up. 

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Hi MaryKaithe,

I jump into your celebration. Great story. I couldn't bleak my eyes till I finished.

 

Encouraging words and good reading from Nikki, David, and KR! I have read yours too.

 

Just seen your story, MaryKaithe. I wish I did earlier. Been off my regular desk for weeks on research. Yet to be fully back but I will try hopping in and out to be blessed and to input the great conversations going on here.

I really like that you said, though you have reached half time but your life of faith is not over. I say, AMEN to that. I wrote a little book (out of print, returning to print end of year) titled: changing your life at midlife/ middle age - what to do to win the game of life in the second half - where 60 is the  biblical middle age for a potential 120 years (Gen 6:3).

 

Not a max-age of 70 or 80 (as some have suggested based on Psalm 90:10). Reading the whole chapter for context, we get to see that the 70 or 80 mentioned were also clarified in the same chapter: the cut back of life span was meant for Israel as punishment for the period they were in disobedience during their wilderness journey.

 

Psalm 90 isn't a “Thus saith the Lord” on max-age for everybody but Moses' Prayer for Israel, recounting events on their way from Egypt to Canaan (read all 90:3-11). By the way, many versions have Psalm 90 titled “A Prayer of Moses”. This is just to clarify but if anyone needs more clarity on this matter, feel free to post. We have a lot CW who will gladly and freely respond.

 

In those 'middle ages' (60's), we can enjoy greater fulfilment in life while ageing issues can be significantly decreased by simply starting or doing something new. Not just any new thing but first figuring out the yet untapped, unused and dormant talents, gifts, skills, and abilities inherent in your being and focusing on doing those things.

 

We are waiting and the world is waiting for more from you (like you just did) ... those memoirs! 

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On 9/11/2019 at 11:12 AM, MaryKaithe said:

Who would care to read about my life.

Let me ask you this: Who would care to read about mine?

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6 hours ago, KR LaLonde said:
On 9/11/2019 at 11:12 AM, MaryKaithe said:

Who would care to read about my life.

Let me ask you this: Who would care to read about mine?

Whoever God has planned to read about your lives.  It might be a thousand, or it might just be one.  Either way, you're obeying Him and bringing Him glory. 

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