The Wacky World of Josh & Mayce (& other tidbits)

calvin & heaven

I sent this Calvin comic to members of my family, and my sister, Carole sent me back an e-mail regarding her daughter, Regan who I must admit was the most precocious child I have ever known:

I really think that Calvin and Regan are of the same mindset.  I had a conversation with her about heaven when she was nine.  I told her that if she continued behaving the way she had been, she would not be able to get into heaven…..(well it worked for Mom to say that!!).  Her response to me was, “You have not been to heaven, so how would you know how bad is bad enough for God to not let me in!!”

LOL……………this is the very same child who at the age of four was confronted by Carole, who asked in exasperation:  “Regan, why can’t you ever just do what I tell you to do????”  To which Regan, with tears in her eyes replied, “I try Mommy, but the bad side of my brain tells me to do it, and the good side of my brain tells me not to do it………..and the bad side always wins!!”

Oh yes, we Clark sisters have many such stories that could have earned us a pretty penny, if we had only had the ambition to figure out how to market our funny and challenging children!!   I, having moved way beyond ambition, have merely been focusing on my children’s children in order to better document for my family’s posterity, through pictures and video, the various personalities and antics of the “gang of ten” grandchildren!!  Take for example, Josh and Mayce…………they are an interesting and entertaining duo.  Josh has always been very solicitous of Mayce…..getting the booster seat for her whenever it is time to sit down for a meal, making sure she is happy by sharing his toys or getting her a snack or something to drink.  Mayce, on the other hand, is quite happy to have all of this attention when she wants it, but her charming and demure personality can suddenly turn cranky and ill-tempered as it did last Sunday.  While we were all at Christine’s for dinner, the twosome were having a great time giggling, running around the house, etc…………………until a black cloud seemed to descend on Mayce from out of nowhere, and suddenly she decided that she wanted nothing to do with Josh.  Poor, poor Josh………he tried to win her over by putting his arm around her and when that didn’t seem to work, he tried putting his face in front of hers all the while declaring over and over and over again, “Mayce, you are my best “fweind”.  At any rate, whatever it was that caused Mayce to turn on Josh was not going to be easily overcome.  There is a saying in the Clark family that whenever a toddler becomes crabby and uncooperative, we simply state, “He/She is just tired!” and that would let the parents off the hook so to speak.  LOL  Given this amusing relationship between these two, I turned on my video camera while I was watching the two of them for a couple of hours one day last week.   The end result of that video, after some minor editing, can be viewed at the end of this blog. (if anyone is curious).  :-)

Sydney & Tommy

Here in Ohio, fall has finally taken hold………..which brings up a question…… why must the trees with their beautiful lush, green leaves in the summer and their gorgeous, vibrant, orange, yellow and red leaves in the fall……….why must those leaves “fall” to the ground????  I mean……why couldn’t they just simply disintegrate right there on their branches???  Is it so the hardware stores can increase their profits with sales of rakes, leaf blowers, and lawn/leaf bags in the fall (because, heaven forbid, we can no longer burn those leaves!)??  Or is it so someone with an OCD mindset will be forced to turn her attention away from political blogs, “put her two feet on the floor”, grab her rake, leaf blower and lawn bags and head outside to restore “order” to her unkempt and littered yard??  Just asking.  Anyway, last Friday I went out to the yard while the TGIFriday grandchildren were at my house and as it was a fairly decent day weatherwise, I decided to attack some of those pesky leaves and prune back some perennials.  Well, one by one a few of the kids followed and were surprisingly eager to pitch in.   Tommy and Sydney opted to prune the hydrangea, Natalie took over the lawn mower and Sam and Luke took turns with the leaf blower………I comandeered the rake and together we made pretty good progress.  At one point I heard Sydney tell Tommy…………”This is the most fun I have ever had”!!  LOL  (Christopher are you listening?).  Of course, after about a half hour they all gradually fizzled out and returned indoors, but hey!!  a little help is better than no help!!

Natalie's bed
Natalie’s bed
Josh's bed
Josh’s bed

Apparently, Nana is making some impact on a couple of  the grandkids in another area of their lives.  One day last week Jennifer stopped over with Natalie and Ryan and Natalie proceeded to tell me (quite proudly, I might add) that she had made her bed exactly as she has seen me make it in the past.  I told her to text me a picture so I could admire her hard work and this photo shows off her bed making skills.  Now, not only has Natalie been observant, but so has three-year old Josh.  As the little ones usually follow me around whenever they are with me I never hesitate to provide instructions for the various household tasks.  For instance, if I happen to be making up a bed, I will show them how to tuck the sheets in and to pull them taut enough on which to bounce a coin.  I have explained to them that I learned  this little snippet of advice from Papa (a carryover from his basic training days!!).  And so it was that I received this text picture from Christopher of what awaited him when Josh called him up to his room one morning.   Isn’t it interesting what kids pick up on??  I guess since I can not be known as the “great” singing or dancing or athletic Nana…….I will have to be content with knowing that I will be known to them as the “great” neat freak Nana!!  LOL

1897 OSU football team
1897 OSU football team
"snow bowl" 1950
“snow bowl” 1950

This coming week OSU fans will be celebrating beat Michigan Week and although Michigan is not having their greatest season, we will be playing at Ann Arbor and the Wolverines can redeem their season by knocking off the undefeated Buckeyes.  I found these pictures of the OSU football team from 1897 the first year that the two teams played each other and the infamous “snow bowl” game of 1950.  At  least 9 inches of snow alone had fallen on Columbus that Saturday morning and by game time, the temperature was hovering near zero as 30 mph winds swirled around the stadium.  Amazingly, some 50,000 fans made it through the turnstiles where OSU officials did not even bother to take tickets and so any spectator crazy enough to brave the elements could walk right in.  Michigan won that game 9-3.

Of course, before the game takes place, we will all be taking time out on Thursday to give thanks to our God for all of His many blessings.  This year our large ensemble will gather at the old homestead on Oakland Park with Christine and Mike hosting the day’s festivities.  No matter where Thanksgiving Day finds us gathering, and no matter what our personal circumstances may be this year, by looking at the “glass half-full” as Crick would do, we will be able to view life’s challenges with a grateful heart. Curiously, today’s devotional reading reflects on exactly this point.

Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity.  That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything.   There is an element of mystery in this transaction:  You give me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances).  This is a spiritual act of obedience-at times, blind obedience.  To people who don’t know me intimately, it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank Me for heartrending hardships. Nonetheless, those who obey Me in this way are invariably blessed, even though difficulties may remain.

Thankfulness opens your heart to My Presence and your mind to My thoughts. You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective.  It is this Light of My Presence that removes the sting from adversity.                                                                                                                             from Jesus Calling

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.  His mercy endures forever.                                                                                                          Psalm 118:1

May you all enjoy a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.


Your Memory Becomes a Treasure

When someone you love becomes a memory…….your memory becomes a treasure.”                                                        Author Unknown

Ted and Molly were a couple from my parent’s generation whose marriage seemed to me, by all appearances, to reflect a relationship that was uncomplicated and effortless.  I would watch them each week at Sunday Mass where they always occupied the same pew, sitting close to each other…….the two of them were always impeccably attired, her beautiful white hair was worn stylishly short, while he defied aging with a full head of dark hair showing only a tinge of gray.  I came to know them better over the past ten years as we shared the same Eucharistic Adoration hour each week and would often chat afterward, sharing news of our families.  During these times, I came to further admire their caring, loving, quiet and gentle natures and their obvious devotion to one another and I would leave their company wondering why on earth I couldn’t take some of that same “quiet and gentle” and impart it into my own relationship with Crick.  “Easy”, “effortless”, “uncomplicated”, “gentle” and “quiet” were adjectives that I could never have applied to my own relationship with Crick (envisioning the King’s Island Main Street Incident right now ,as well as the “discussion” from years ago which led to my charging out the back door with the words, “You are a nut, Mary Margaret…..a nut!” ringing in my ears!  LOL).  From our many conversations, I discovered that, not only were they both lifelong residents of Clintonville, but that they had attended Immaculate Conception grade school together, became boyfriend and girlfriend, married, raised a daughter and, as they say, the rest is history.  Sadly, Molly passed away a few years ago and Ted, who is now eighty-seven and experiencing some health issues, is no longer able to attend Adoration.  Our friendship has continued however, and we call each other at least a couple of times a month and when I am able, I will stop by his home and quiz him about “the good old days” when life was so much simpler.  Now, why am I telling you all of this????  Because it is a back drop to a conversation that Ted and I had earlier this year as we were sharing our thoughts about the loss of our spouses.  Ted confided that despite the passage of time, his longing for Molly and the profound sense of loss, while somewhat abated, persists to this day.  This wistful yearning, I, too, have come to better understand for while it is the second anniversary of Crick’s death, I continue to discover that seemingly trivial places or events, in unguarded moments, will elicit a memory of Crick along with a twinge of sadness and an overwhelming desire to will him back to this world (I believe there is an old saying, “be careful what you wish for” !!  LOL).  Perhaps strangely, (after all……………I am…………a nut!!), I choose to fully embrace these often overpowering emotions, as they have a way of drawing me closer to that “memory” of all that he was, and all that we shared.  And furthermore, it is in the losing of myself in those memories which seems to keep him always close in my heart and alive in spirit:).

And so, on this anniversary date and in Crick’s memory,  I would like to recall some poignant reflections of our family and friends from the CaringBridge guestbook entries:

Jim is a remarkable man who brought a smile to my face and always brought smiles to the faces of the children at Glacier Ridge Elementary. He has touched my heart just like he does with everyone he meets.

I once thought “Crick could turn a turnip into an apple.”

60th birthday
60th birthday

The first two years I thought Crick was crazy.  I just wasn’t used to him and the way he was always goofing off and pushing everyone’s buttons.  Over the years I have come to consider him a really good friend and more like a brother than a father-in-law.  What I have realized the last few years is that he always did understand me.  We could talk and nothing was ever forced, it was always real and he always listened when I needed him to.  He would always take my side when the women would gang up on us, and of course, we would instigate everything.

He is a man’s man.  Well, he has not only championed that sentiment, but has done one BETTER………he is a kid’s kid!

Crick & grandkids & parachuteI remember when Crick took us outside one winter to build, not just a typical snowman, but our very own igloo!!  We built it so big it lasted until almost spring!  He also helped me to buy my very first car, it was a stick shift and he helped me learn how to drive it and, after many hours of practice, he suggested that we take the car for a test drive up Cooke Rd. to see if I could handle it on a hill.  Well…..I couldn’t make it up the first hill and we kept drifting backwards toward the car behind us.  Finally, Crick put his foot over mine on the accelerator and away we went.  I think his exact words to me were, “Well, you can always sell this car to someone else!”.  He would always beg me to walk on his back and promise to give me all of the change in his pocket.  Boy, was I naive, thinking I was going to make a lot of money.  But……..he did teach me the value of a quarter!!!  Over the years, Crick would put a lot on his back for our family.

Crick was fortunate to have many of his teenage family and friends as his employees during his management days at Friendly’s (or I should say, we were lucky enough to have him employ us!).  As a freshman in college, Crick gave me the confidence to become a supervisor and while I didn’t believe that I could handle the responsibility, he put me right out there and trusted that I could!  He saw a potential in me at that age that I had didn’t even know existed.  When we were younger he would take all of us kids hiking during our “Clark cabin trips” and using his army “skills” would take us on quite an adventure down some incredible hills.  He would also hand out to us his army rations to sample…………yuk!!

0006051161578I started thinking about how long I have known Crick…………it has been basically my whole life!!  I remember sitting in our living room on Oakland Park and talking into a reel to reel tape recorder to say “hi” to him when he was stationed in Korea and then he would send the tape back to us so that we could hear his voice.  I remember Mom making me clean the basement before his wedding to MM in order to display all of the priceless wedding gifts (wonder if they have any left!).   Funny to think now, that I was one of the altar servers at their wedding!!  Crick was also there for Jimmy……there was the day that Jimmy was hiding in the bushes in front of our house and Crick went out to gently remind Jimmy that he was at home and not back in Viet Nam.  Who else but a veteran like Crick could have known what Jimmy was going through. Crick was also there when I was going to enlist in the Army Reserves and he was going to make sure that I ended up in his unit so that he could watch over me………..he even went to the commander to make sure this would happen.  For some reason I never did enlist, but I always knew that Crick was going to be there for me.  Crick has been and always will be one of my brothers!!

Copy of 0266846421008I developed a friendship with “Mr. Jim” at Glacier Ridge Elementary.  Our relationship was always  of a fun nature!  I tutored students after school and of course, Jim made us regular visits.   In return, we would pull his vacuum cleaner plug, toss candy wrappers on his tidied floor and turn lights out, to name a few of the things we did to get him to react.  Jim and I quickly became friends and always had fun with our antics.  Yet, we could also have wonderful discussions on life.  He became a real friend to me as we both shared in common the closeness of our own families.  Jim will be missed by more people that we can fathom and I know that Jim will be meeting my Mom in heaven and making her laugh like he always made me!

0418386832008It seems like a long time ago that Crick and I were standing on the field at St. Michael’s in our wildly unprotective football gear……paper thin shoulder pads, helmets with no face guards or chin straps, and for me,…………fearing the fact that I would have to tackle his older brother, John as he came blasting through the line.  Life seems to warp into hyper-speed as we grow older.  I must say that although Crick and I were never terribly close growing up, I have fond memories of him: caddying with him at York Temple, the fact that he seemed to instinctively know how car engines worked, and how he always exuded this sort of Gary Cooper type…….tall, dependable, good-hearted vibe, even as a kid.  And if his presence is still felt by someone as distant as I am to him, I can only imagine what his presence means to all of those who are truly close to him.  It speaks volumes about how Crick has journeyed through this life.

crick & MM at varsity clubAnd so it is, that our family drinks of the “glass half-full”, each morning, “putting two feet on the floor” and being ever grateful for all of God’s many, many blessings.

Message to Crick…………………….while God has you in His keeping, be assured that your family has you in their hearts…………………..Always, Always, Always :)

In Memory Video: