Saints in the basement

Angel statue milq124Down in our basement is “the Wall of Death,” so christened by my husband’s cousin, Pat. My husband and I had always kept holy cards from wakes we went to; he often talked of finding a place to keep them in view. One day he found the spot: the pegboard on our basement wall, where I had secretly been thinking of hanging our laughably small collection of tools someday.

There you’ll find cards bearing the names of aunts and uncles, his dad and mine, my brother, his mom. Cards mark the passing of friends, parents of friends, public figures. Chicago Cubs’ broadcasters Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse sit side by side. Mrs. Eleanor Daley, wife of our former mayor and mother of our current one, keeps a respectable distance from the Cub gentlemen, being a White Sox fan herself. Continue reading

Let kids learn from loss

angel crying RGB stock dMBY9CMark Jelacic, a funeral director and father of four, has devoted his career to walking with families in times of grief. “Grief shared is grief diminished,” he says. “This is an old adage but a good one. Let children ask you questions and try to answer them in a supportive, yet simple manner. Honesty works the best; tell them the truth. Tragedies happen, but they need to know their adults, mom and dad, will be there for them. Continue reading

Good grief: A family faces death

iStock_AdamKorzeniewski_000021609090LargeWhen Nikki and Andrew’s close family friend died of cancer, they had to decide whether their daughter, Eileen, who was 7 at the time, should attend the funeral. Eileen was very close with their friend’s daughter.

“Eileen had never been to a funeral and was so young,” Nikki says. “We wanted to be honest, but we didn’t want to unduly burden her.” Continue reading

Absence-minded

cemetery“Are we missing anyone tonight?” roared Bruce Springsteen during his September concert at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. A spotlight fell on the empty seat of Springsteen’s longtime saxman Clarence Clemons, who died last year. Another lit the flag flying over the ballpark bearing Ron Santo’s retired number 10. Santo, a Hall of Fame third baseman who is my husband’s all-time favorite Cub, was the team’s heart-on-his-sleeve, everyman radio broadcaster until his death in 2010. Cubs fans wept at his passing. Continue reading

Saints in the basement

Down in our basement is “the Wall of Death,” so christened by my husband’s cousin, Pat. My husband and I had always kept holy cards from wakes we went to; he often talked of finding a place to keep them in view. One day he found the spot: the pegboard on our basement wall, where I had secretly been thinking of hanging our laughably small collection of tools someday.

There you’ll find cards bearing the names of aunts and uncles, his dad and mine, my brother, his mom. Cards mark the passing of friends, parents of friends, public figures. Chicago Cubs’ broadcasters Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse sit side by side. Mrs. Eleanor Daley, wife of our former mayor and mother of our current one, keeps a respectable distance from the Cub gentlemen, being a White Sox fan herself.

Sometimes, while waiting for the washer or dryer to finish up, I wander in and look at them all, our own little slice of the communion of saints. It’s very comforting somehow. I ask for their prayers often enough.  Continue reading