My mother got cancer last November. Over the course of the next ten months she spent most of the time at the Geisinger Hospital, John Heinz Center and Wilkes_Barre General Hospital. The doctors, nurses and therapists, among others, did a good job of helping her. She spent her eightieth birthday in bed at Geisinger Hospital. In the end she finally succumbed and died, on September 23, at the Geisinger (formerly Mercy) Hospice in Wilkes_Barre. Her wake was at Gubbiotti’s Funeral Home in Exeter and her funeral Mass was celebrated by Fr. Leo McKernan at St. Monica’s Parish at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in West Wyoming. Unfortunately it was on my father’s eightieth birthday.
Two weekends ago, on Veteran’s Day, I went to the first annual fund raising banquet for the local Catholic radio station, WJMJ, where I am a volunteer. I really like being involved wtih them because it’s so important to keep the Catholic media alive in Obama’s America. Unfortunately most states don’t have a Catholic radio station. That includes even New York although this station was originally based in Buffalo. Tickets were twenty five dollars each. It was at St. Anthony of Padua Church at St. Barbara’s Parish in Exeter. Predictably, all the regulars showed up & many of them were from St. Monica’s including Fr. Leo McKernan, who’s part of the station’s staff. It’s owned by Ed & Carol Ann Niewinski. Fr. Paul McDonnell, O.S.J., was the principal celebrant at 4:00 Mass. After Mass we all went next door for a reception. Immediately at the end of Mass Ed turned to me & asked me to go next door & to help take the money for the tickets. The food was exceptionally good. It was catered by a local company, Arcaro & Genell, in Old Forge. The guest speaker was Fred Berretta, who was a passenger on Captain Chesley (Sully )Sullenberger’s U.S. Airways flight 1549, the flight that has been named the Miracle on the Hudson. Berretta gave a very impressive speech & asked people to read the book he’s written about the ill~fated trip.
The weirdest thing happened last week. One day, during the middle of the week, my father & I went on one of his usual jaunts to the Veteran’s Hospital in Wilkes Barre for his check up. I always have to drive him there. As I pulled into the parking space I wanted, the guy directly opposite me said we needed a new right rear brake light. That wasn’t the highlight of the trip. On the way down River Road in Plains we always have to pass over a railroad track that doesn’t have a gate that comes down when the train is on its way. There’s one like that on Eighth Street in West Wyoming too. As we passed by the track he made a comment about how there was an accident between a train & a car. The next morning, in the Citizen’s Voice, I read an article about the accident. There’s a couple, Rocco & Liz, in their seventies, who attend St. Monica’s Church on a regular basis. Liz was the driver of the car. She’s seventy~eight years old. Amazingly, although her car was totalled, Rocco said she went away from the accident, after only a brief time in the Geisinger Hospital, with minor bruises on her nose & wrist. That’s most certainly the luckiest break I’ve ever heard of. The meetings at St. Barbara’s Parish, St. Anthony’s Church in Exeter, have been going really well so far on Tuesday nights. Oblates Brother Patrick McLaughlin hasn’t been available for the past few weeks because he’s visiting his family in Albany, N.Y. Fr. Phil Massetti has been covering for him. We have a big crowd each week. That girl Mallory is the only one we’ve lost so far. Last night was her last night. She is moving to North Carolina. Today is cousin Jamie’s birthday. Jerry Garcia, of the Grateful Dead, would have turned seventy years old if he could have lived until today. Tomorrow’s birthday girls are cousins Fran & Elaine.
This past weekend was quite active. St. Barbara’s annual feast, held at St. Anthony’s Church in Exeter, started on Friday night. I didn’t bother to go on the first night though because of the torrential downpour. We’ve been getting quite a lot of electrical storms & heat waves lately . I went on Saturday afternoon after I lectored at 4:00 p.m. Mass at O. L. Sorrows (I lectored at St. Joseph’s at 8:30 Mass last Sunday too) . It was a really nice time. I made sure I entered the raffle, as always. I got a root beer ice cream cone too. On Saturday morning I went to the monthly lay Carmelite meeting. It’s always at 9:00 a..m. on the third Saturday of each month at the Little Flower Manor on South Meade Street in Wilkes~Barre. We always welcome new people who are interested in joining us. Sr. Mary Robert & Msgr. Grimaglia were both there. It went quite well. On Sunday St. Monica’s annual bingo game was held at O.L. Sorrows Church on Eighth Street in West Wyoming. Because I always used to help when I was active in my old Knights of Columbus council 794 in Lindenhurst, N.Y., I made sure I called Tom a while ago to ask if I could help. He got me helping Mike & his wife in the kitchen. I spent most of the time selling soda & other drinks after that. I ate a hot dog with chili & later I ate a wimpie. Unfortunately unlike my old K of C council they didn’t have any knishes. They’ve never heard of them around here. I got some cake & a beer too. I even ended up going to the local Price Chopper for some Diet Pepsi. Unlike last year Uncle Frankie couldn’t go this time because he hasn’t been feeling so well. The Catholicism series, on Tuesday nights, has been going quite well so f ar. Br. Patrick, of the Oblates of St. Joseph, does a really good job of things. Daren’s birthday was on Saturday. She died of suicide a few years ago. I made sure I sent a card to her mother, Grace. Yesterday I got an answer from her.
This past Tuesday night, at 7:00, I went to St. Anthony of Padua’s church in Exeter for the first night of Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism series on EWTN. During the day , each Tuesday, it’s at St. Monica’s Parish. It’s always at St. Barbara’s at night. Br. Patrick, of the Oblates of St. Joseph, was in charge. I sat at an empty table. A little while later a very nice young girl sat right next to me & introduced herself as Mallory. Since I have a lot of trouble with contextualizing, I entirely overlooked, at first, the fact that I see her at 8:30 a.m. Mass whenever I go to St. Joseph’s on Sunday. I can never help noticing her there. Surprisingly she’s not even Catholic. At the end there was a question & answer session. Yesterday I went to O. L. Mt. Carmel’s church on William Street in Pittston to give blood. My appointment was at 4:00 but, being compulsively punctual, I showed up at around 3:00. Unfortunately I forgot to remind them that it was for a double red cell donation so that’s probably not what they did. I was happily stunned to see that it was all over within about six minutes instead of the usual twenty minutes. The last time I was supposed to give blood I was entirely too ill with the flu. By now I’ve been going quite frequently, for such a long time, that the northeastern Pa. blood drives that several phlebotomists & I have gotten to recognize each other quite well. Amber, who was one of the ladies who showed up, reminded me that we’d already met before.