Tag Archives: my family

A Memorial for Ray

My poor brother-in-law! I can’t tell you why, but he received no funeral, no burial, and there’s no obituary in the paper. So I wish to provide what little I can by way of a salute. I wish I could give him a New Zealand haka, like the one in the video above. Ray was a college professor. It would have blown his mind, to be honored by his students in a way like this.

Anyway, he was my friend. And a lot of fun to be around. He’d come over for the weekend, and he and Patty and I would laugh ourselves dizzy, playing Mad Libs or just cracking jokes. I’ll miss him. I already miss him. He and I played an awful lot of chess together.

He was ill and, in effect, lost to us for I don’t know how many years. Five? He was still able to carry on a coherent phone conversation back in September, but we soon afterward lost that, too.

He may be remembered for his two books about the Jersey Devil. Those were labors of love, and I freely recommend them.

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Ray, old boy, you didn’t get a funeral, but you are not forgotten, nor will you be. You deserved a haka. But by now you will have already been welcomed by Our Lord Jesus Christ into His everlasting Kingdom–where, behold, He makes all things new.

My Brother-in-Law Has Died

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The Lord did not see fit to grant our prayers for him: Ray, my brother-in-law, has died. We just got the phone call a few minutes ago.  He died in hospice after a very long illness. It would be improper for me to say more.

We prayed very hard for him. I know some of you did. Thank you.

I don’t know why God said no. I can only trust in His wisdom and His love.

Last Call: Prayer Request for Ray

My brother-in-law, Ray, was taken to the hospital yesterday, where he is expected to die. I’ve been praying for him, and so have some of you, but it doesn’t look like God will grant those prayers. But until all is lost, I’ll keep asking. There is nothing too hard for the Lord. Please join me in prayer.

O Lord our God, in Jesus’ name, I pray you to deliver my brother-in-law from death, give him back his life, and restore him to us. If you will, you can make him whole. I ask it in Jesus’ name, Amen.


Last-Ditch Prayer Request

Please, everybody, join me in prayer for my brother-in-law, Ray. He is in very desperate straits and likely to die. I am not free to provide more details.

Please, Lord! Please save this man, restore him to us, save his life. Please, Father, make a miracle: because that’s what it will take. Please, Father, have mercy on us and spare us this loss. Please, Father, heal him. You’re the only one who can. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Patty and I seem to be running out of family.

Amalekites Abound

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It distresses me that any controversy between Protestants and Catholics should have arisen here. And I don’t write this because I don’t trust any of you to come to an understanding on your own, but because I don’t know who else might be reading. And because I think the devil slaps his knees and laughs out loud when we go at it with each other.

There are Protestants who don’t recognize Catholics as fellow Christians, and vice versa. There are Protestant denominations who don’t recognize other Protestant denominations as fellow Christians. Within the same denomination, there are those who don’t recognize the members of the church across town as fellow Christians. I very much doubt this pleases God; but He has had to live with it for a long time.

I come from a mixed-religion family. My grandfather’s generation had rough sledding because of it, but the next generation, my mother’s, had to learn to live with their differences so that the family wouldn’t fall apart. This they successfully accomplished by the time my generation came along. I pray our blog family can do the same–and that it won’t take three generations!

Meanwhile, God has richly endowed us with real enemies throughout the world. Some seek our blood; others seek to separate us from our Savior and destroy our souls. And who can count the churches and congregations that have dived headfirst into outright apostasy?

Amalekites and Philistines everywhere you look! And we’ve got time to be feuding with each other? To believe and pass around bizarre urban legends about each others’ churches?

With accredited seminaries teaching Feminist Theology, etc., that seems a downright frivolous luxury.

In the 19th century, Europe was full of Christians who believed that Jews performed human sacrifice with Christian babies. It was called the “blood libel” and it wasn’t true. Even Russia’s Tsarist secret police testified it wasn’t true. Nevertheless, many Christians believed it. Possibly some still do.

We have much provocation, these days, to believe in conspiracies and all that.

But I think we ought to save our faith for God Himself.



Does She Know She’s a Dog?

Playing with the kittens, playing with the adult cats, helping the mommy cat care for her newborns–does this German shepherd know she’s not a cat, but a dog? (Please ignore the cameo appearance by the raccoon. I think Violet Crepuscular wrote him in.) That such a big dog can be so gentle…

As a boy I was scared of German shepherds. My Uncle Ferdie had one, and I was convinced the dog wanted to eat me. Uncle Ferdie also had a houseful of little girls, none of whom got eaten. Eventually I learned the dog was excited because company came, and just wanted to play. So we made friends.

My Other Four Aunts: a Memorial

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I’d like you to meet my mother’s sisters, my aunts, of whom Aunt Joan was the last one left. Having no children of their own, they showered us with love, their nieces and nephews, all five of us.

My three maiden aunts, Gertie, Millie, and Joan, lived in their father’s and mother’s house all their lives. Gertie, the eldest, died in the same room in which she was born. All three kept the same jobs all their lives.

Gertie worked in New York City and was an ace bowler: I wonder what happened to her trophy. She was fond of cross-country bus and train trips and a little skittish around animals. When she went to Australia, she declined an offer to cuddle a koala. Human children were more her speed. She often took us to New York–museums, the circus, the big department stores. But I had to be taken home early from the rodeo because one of the cow’s horns broke off and I couldn’t stop crying over it. The clowns in the circus kind of spooked me, too. I was much better off with dinosaurs.

As the firstborn, I was kind of a favorite of Aunt Millie’s. She was the secretary at our town’s high school, the voice you heard on the PA system every morning. The pastor at her Lutheran Church called her “our little ewe lamb.” It was a fitting nickname.

Ordinarily a very plucky traveler, she ruined her record by having a serious bout of claustrophobia inside the Great Pyramid.

The second eldest, Aunt Betty, was a nun and a scholar. What a mind she had! I wish she were still here, so I could learn from her. She could quote Horace, in Latin, as easily as I quote Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Aunt Florence, Joan’s twin, started out as a nurse and became a hospital administrator. She and my mother were the only married sisters. What a lot of good, long natters Patty and I used to have with her, on the telephone!

These four women went almost everywhere in the world, always bringing back a plethora of slides and souvenirs. Occasionally they traveled on ships that didn’t customarily take passengers. But I remember them best for the love they poured out on us.

One more anecdote:

My parents went out one night, when I was still a baby, and left me with my aunts at Grandma’s house. Grandma and Grandpa had just returned from their annual trip to Florida.

When my mother returned to pick up her baby, my aunts told her they’d put me to bed in the next room. But I wasn’t in that room. They’d put a doll in the bed, in my place–and something else. One of those grotesque carved coconuts from Florida. And when my mother turned on the light, expecting to see me, and saw this thing instead, she let out a scream you could’ve heard in Egypt.

Meek and mild, modest maidens–with a spot of mischief!

Aunt Joan’s Funeral

This is the hymn they had for Aunt Joan’s funeral mass today, I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say (1846).

There were only six of us. One of my cousins and his wife came all the way down from Connecticut. And one of Aunt Joan’s long-time co-workers stopped in at the viewing. But if you live to be over 90, as Joan did, most of the people you’ve known and loved have already died.

I would like to tell you a little story about her, as a memorial.

She and her twin sister, Aunt Florence: little girls who shared a bedroom, rainy day, what to do? Well, they had one of those old-fashioned beds with an iron frame and bars at the foot. These bars looked like the bars on a jail cell! So the girls decided to play Robin Hood. One of them would be Maid Marian, in the Sheriff of Nottingham’s prison, and the other would be Robin Hood, and rescue her.

So Maid Marian gripped the bars and poked her head through, to cry, “Help! Help!” That was fine, as far as it went. But she couldn’t pull her head back in! And Grandpa had to come upstairs with all his tools and take the bed apart…

The twins are back together now.

Funeral Tomorrow

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I’ll be out all morning tomorrow, for Aunt Joan’s viewing, funeral mass, and graveside service. I expect only my brother and sister to attend, so I made all the arrangements for the same day, to spare them extra trips on the Garden State Parkway.

I’ve instructed WordPress to publish a few posts in my absence.

Aunt Joan used to say she didn’t want to be the last leaf on the tree, but that’s how it turned out. Well, she’s in Christ’s Kingdom now, with all her family and friends. God created us for eternal life, and now she has it. Bless and praise the Lord.

Memory Lane: Adults at Play

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As a little boy, I watched in fascination, and not a little envy, when my aunts sat down to play Monopoly. Joan, Millie, and Gertie, usually with my mother and father joining them–and all that cool stuff going on: I used to poke around Grandpa’s house trying to find the Monopoly board, but could never guess where they’d put it.

I was used to kiddy games like Chutes and Ladders. But this game sounded all grown-up. Railroads! Houses and Hotels! And what exactly was that thing called “Community Chest”? And could that possibly be real money they were tossing around?

Eventually they bought a new Monopoly game and handed down the old game to my cousins, my brother and sister, and me. How intriguing it was, to study all those Rules and figure out how to play the game properly. Our reading comprehension still had some growing up to do, but I’m convinced it grew faster because we were so hot to play Monopoly and we just kept reading and re-reading those rules until we got them right. Or almost right.

Any of those adults could have taken over and taught us how to play, but some rare wisdom told them that it’d be a lot more fun for us if we doped it out for ourselves. It took us longer to learn the game that way, but so what? Working at it until we got it right was great!

I’m afraid that kind of wisdom’s even rarer, nowadays.

But I still love Monopoly, and I still have the game that Grandma gave me for Christmas, long ago. Complete with bills, rules, and cards scotch-taped together where necessary.

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