January 30, 2010

The Story of "El Muerto" by Marisa Garza

This was Marisa's 6th grade Social Studies assignment, dated 9/8/05. She had heard this story many times from her grandparents. One of her great aunts wrote about "El Muerto" for a Garza family reunion. Marisa loved the story so much, that she used it for her assignment in the context of religious faith. She was in Catholic school at the time, so religion was part of the curriculum!

"When my great-grandmother, Malala, got pregnant with my grandfather, Papi, she also developed a kidney infection. With no medical facilities nearby, my great-grandfather, Papa Valo, had no choice but to drive her to Brownsville, Texas in hopes of finding some medical assistance there. Doctors at the hospital told Malala and Papa Valo that Malala's life was in serious danger and that the only way that they could help her was if she had an abortion. Of course, Malala and Papa Valo said no, so the hospital refused to admit her. Papa Valo tried other doctors and hospitals but they all said that Malala would die no matter what they did and refused to help. Finally, in Mercedes, Texas, a good doctor agreed to care for Malala until she died. Her infection continued and she started to bleed.

Malala heard of a phenomenon going on in a nearby town. People were saying that, in a nearby field, a bright light appeared leaving the image of the Virgin Mary on a rock. It was also said that the owners of the field were allowing people to view the image. Malala begged to be taken to the field. Papa Valo put Malala in the back of the truck along iwth my great-great grandmothers, Nana and Carlota, and my great aunts and great uncles. They all went to see the image of our Virgin Mary.

The image was placed in the ffront of a little alter covered with candles and flowers. My great Tia Dora never gorgot how Papa Valo and great-great grandmothers cried as Malala prayed for her health, for the baby to come, and for her other children, who would be orphaned if she died. In her prayers, Malala promised the Virgencita de Guadalupe to always carry a medal of her if she would intercede on her behalf to her son Jesus.

When they were on their way home, Papa Valo decided to let Malala sit in the front seat of the truck. Malala said she wanted to eat a hamburger. Papa Valo was happy because every payday he would stop at Keno's Cafe and buy Malala a hamburger. They all ate hamburgers that night. The next day, Malala was no longer bleeding and her kidney infection was gone! Malala's and Papa Valo's prayers were answered. Eventually, my Papi was born and because of what had happened during Malala's pregnancy, the family called him "El Muerto"."

South Texas Catholic Newspaper headlined an article about the National Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan Del Valle and the number of pilgrimages made each year to honor her. It is the most visited shrine in the United States, averaging more than 1 million visitors a year.

I also LOVE this story!

January 23, 2010

The Last Letter

I've spent the last two days in extensive, intensive hospice training. Even though I've been doing hospice work for over a year now, in addition to having personal experiences with hospice care, this time to "step back" was invaluable.

One of the most difficult assignments was an exercise called "The Last Letter". I thought this exercise was about writing a letter to a loved one that was dying. I have done this before, so I thought I would just pull from that experience and be okay. I was wrong. It was an exercise in putting ourselves in the role of the dying person. It was ME writing MY last letter to my loved ones. When I put the words "Dear Family" on the paper, I reached for the kleenex.

"Dear Family.
My time here with you physically is running out. I thank you for being here for me, with me. Although my body is weak and my mind is numb, my heart remains full of love for you. I have always loved you even and especially during difficult and trying times. Honestly, I am afraid of being forgotten. I pray you keep our special times close to your hearts and my memory alive as you go through life. Forgive me for all my humanly transgressions. Forgive yourselves as well. There is no point in harboring any real or imagined past wrongs. While I let go of this physical world, keep love in your heart for all of us. To my children, Marisa and Tony, I love you and I will miss you. To my husband, Danny, I love you and I will miss you. Mom"

Three important things to be said at end-of life: 1) I forgive you; 2) Do you forgive me; and, 3) I love you. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? What are you waiting for?

January 17, 2010

A Needed Reminder!

My sister-in-law sent this to me:

It's Between You and God
by Mother Teresa
"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It never was between you and them anyway."

...and, I thank you!

January 10, 2010

By The Grace Of God

Marisa is a Team Leader at Luke 18 this year!

Luke 18 is a retreat program that invites middle schoolers into a deeper relationship with the Catholic Church. It is a chance to help them see that they are not just the future of our Church-they are also the Church right now. Luke 18 focuses on inviting young people to open themselves to God by sharing their experiences and learning from each other in an environment of mutual respect. It is about welcoming youth into the Church-a spiritual family where they are needed, trusted, and appreciated as the good and beautiful children of God that they are. Topics such as Catholic Identity, Sacraments (especially Reconciliation), Prayer, and Spiritual Gifts are woven into the retreat process. The Communion of Saints offers a wonderful focal point for each aspect of the weekend as well.

She needs 'Grace Letters' to offer encouragement for her faith journey and leadership. I've already asked for letters from our family. Any other words of encouragement are truly welcomed!

January 7, 2010

La Familia de Esposo

I was going through an old family website and ran across these 'vintage' photos of Danny and his siblings. This first one is my absolute favorite! Danny looks like he just told Eileen a funny joke or made a 'boy sound'. She is laughing with sincere zeal!

Oh, I'm going to get backlash for posting this one! Here are Danny and Eileen in their band uniforms. Lovin' it! Here are all the kids with their mom. Lots of smiles!

January 3, 2010

Finger Lickin' Fifteen

Author is Janet Evanovich. Every summer my mom and I would trade off buying these books. We got up to Fearless Fourteen. I couldn't bring myself to read #15 this summer. Danny, the kids, and I were at Borders this weekend. Danny coaxed me into buying Finger Lickin' Fifteen. I'm half way through.

Mom, it's just as funny. You would have loved it! Miss you......