Friday, July 29, 2011

Where Does Time Go?

It seems like only yesterday that I took this photo of my two then-toddlers on the boardwalk in Ocean City,  New Jersey.  Hard to believe it was nearly 14 years ago, if my math is correct.  Rebecca was just recently sprung from her hip spica cast when this photo was taken, and Matthew was approaching his 3rd birthday.  In fact, if memory serves correctly, we celebrated his birthday while we were there on vacation.  He rode the Thomas the Tank Engine Train to his heart's content and we had ice cream and cake afterward at the Carousel Ice Cream Parlor.  A picture-perfect birthday for a little boy in love with trains and ice cream.

This year was quite a marked difference between previous years.  Neither kid had any interest in the rides, much to my relief.  And they were perfectly content to let Mom stay behind and watch the Phils while they played in the game arcade, strolled the boards and took in the sights.  Our family has nearly always chosen Ocean City for a shore vacation because it's a dry town, so you don't see the rowdiness you do in some other shore areas.  Currently there is a push by some business establishments to permit people to BYOB to restaurants, and there is an equally strong push to defeat it.  For years, Ocean City also had "blue laws" which prohibited businesses from opening on Sundays.  Some retail establishments still abide by those laws, though not many.

One reason I prefer Ocean City to the mountains (probably the only reason) is that it is so easy to get to daily Mass.  While the kids are still asleep I can quietly slip out and to to Mass at either of two churches within walking distance.  I recently discovered a third church a little further away that offers a daily "evening" Mass at 4PM.  Sometimes it feels like I'm in the Novus Ordo desert with the number of
Extraordinary Ministers. I was quite dismayed to see priests sitting down at Holy Communion and allowing lay women to usurp their duties of distributing Holy Communion.  But I have to say that aside from that, the Mass seemed more liturgically correct than it had in past years, with the jokes that were told and the one priest's habit of saying his parishioners names before he gave them the Eucharist.  After Mass yesterday morning some folks gathered to talk rather loudly, and they were just as loudly shushsed and asked to leave the church by those faithful who wanted to pray the Rosary in community after Mass.

Anyway, I'd get back just in time to rouse the sleepy-heads from their beds and set on our day's itinerary. (My husband does not care for the shore at all, and also, given the dearth of work he's had, he thought it would be better to forego a vacation this year and work while he had still had some jobs on the calendar.)

I have concluded that without any effort on my part, Rebecca has met the definition some bloggers have set of a "traddie".  Without any input from me, she went on the beach and in the pool with a t-shirt and shorts over her bathing suit and left her Brown Scapular on.  I wish I'd gotten a picture.  At night while in bed, Rebecca asked me to hand her the book she's reading, something about how to defend Catholicism against attacks from fundamentalist Christians.

"Don't you want to pray your Rosary first?"
 "Sure, you want to pray it with me?"

I was very surprised when she began to say the prayers in Latin. I didn't know she knew them.  When I asked her where she had learned them, she said it was from reading the prayers in Latin in her missal during Mass and by saying the Leonine prayers after Mass in Latin as well.  Who would have guessed?  Certainly not me! I do not know them in Latin, and though she didn't say anything about that, I know Rebecca was pleased as punch with herself.

At night when we would walk on the boards, I told Matthew and Rebecca repeatedly how grateful I was to have children like them, who dress and behave appropriately in public.  The display of young women in various stages of undress parading themselves in front of the young men is something I was fortunately spared with all three of my kids.  Really sad.  

Although we eat dinner together almost every single night, I realized how little I know of my son since he has gained some independence and prefers the company of his friends.  Although he continues to have issues related to his pervasive developmental delay, Matt had definitely made some strides.  Although I don't always talk about it, he's a boy upon whom the Lord has placed several crosses.  Aside from the PDD, Matt also has Scheuermann's Disease, which is a chronic deformity of the spine causing kyphosis, or hunchback.  Matt wasn't very compliant with wearing the back brace and honestly, I couldn't blame him.  It  was a contraption that that bound him front and back with the front piece being the most constrictive.  As claustrophobic as I am, I don't know that I would have fared any better.  Although some people opt to have surgery for cosmetic reasons, pain is the only valid reason to undergo surgical correction of this deformity and the procedure involves the insertion of multiple rods and screws.  I would not lightly entertain subjecting my son to this surgery, especially given the high rate of revision when the rods break, etc.  While his back occasionally hurts, we have been fortunate that it's not worse and no where near would it need to be to qualify for surgery.  However, I know he is very self-conscious about the deformity and he doesn't want to go in the water. I offered to get him a compression suit, the kind tri-athletes wear, but I don't push him. I always tell him that these difficulties he has are God's way of letting him know how much He loves him since He sent His own Son here to suffer and has given Matt something in common with Jesus.  

There is something so therapeutic, in my mind at least, about watching the waves roll in and out and listening to them as the crash into the shore.  The three of us sat on a bench at sunset watching surf and the seagulls.  I told the kids how I always picture the Blessed Mother above the sea, dispensing her protection to all who seek it from her.  I told them also how I thought the sea keeps secrets, especially at night when you can't see the fins of dolphins rising above the waves.  I think of all the sea-life withheld from our vision, the remains of bodies and vessels lost at sea that the ocean keeps to herself, never to be revealed on shore by the waves.

In the distance, church bells rang and reminded us it was time to move on, since we had only a limited amount of time left to spend.  As we were walking back, we saw a bench memorialized to a little girl who had died at the age of 9.  The rose on the plaque made me think that either she or her mother had a devotion to St. Therese.  We said a little prayer for the girl and went on our way.  So many benches bore similar memorial markers, though that was the only one I could recall for a child.  

Sometimes, this exile on earth seems like it will never end.  Then I realize how brief it really is.  In the moment of a wave washing along the shore and erasing the foot-prints left by someone now long gone, so it is with our existence here on earth.  When I look back on my life, this sleepy little seaside town and the childhood memories it helped create for my family will be one of the fondest places to visit in my mind.


  1. This was certainly a wonderful post that brightened my day.

  2. Oh, Joyce.
    This one's a keeper.

  3. This was beautiful, Joyce. Your children are most fortunate to have you as their Mother. I think often of our brief stay here on earth...

    "Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty, if we are strong; Most of them are sorrow and toil; they pass quickly, we are all but gone".
    Psalm 90:10

    "Before a watch passes in the night,
    you have brought them to their end; They disappear like sleep at dawn; they are like grass that dies".
    Psalm 90: 4-6

    "For all flesh is as grass; and all the glory thereof as the flower of grass. The grass is withered, and the flower thereof is fallen away".
    1 Peter 1:24

    You and your readers might enjoy this:
    All Flesh is like the Grass--by Daniel Ortega


  4. Thanks Daniel and Julie. Maria, sometimes I wonder how lucky they really are. I seem only to be able to think of what I have done wrong or could have done better. But thank you just the same.

  5. Joyce, what a beautiful post! Thank you. Your children are indeed blessed to have you, and they sound like great kids too! Go Rebecca -- wearing her scapular and coverups at the beach. Wish all the young women did that. (And the not so young too!)

    BTW, I don't know if you will one day decide on Carmel, but you are definitely a contemplative!

    So glad you had such a lovely time with your children. Making memories.....

  6. Thanks Patricia. I am definitely going to give Carmel more thought.I'm starting a new job tomorrow (hopefully, my last job until I retire!) so once I settle in, I'll hopefully come to a decision.
    God bless and keeping your intention in all my prayers, etc.

  7. The Latin Mass and OCNJ, your posts made me smile with familiarity.

    God bless your family.

  8. And yours also Allison, thank you :)


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