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Theodore's Memorial Video

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In Memoriam

Today we recall the deaths of Richard, Janice, and Terry. They were the crew on a helicopter similar to this one (N217MM, shown above, was our main aircraft) which crashed in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on the morning of December 1, 1994.

I was scheduled to fly the next day on the helicopter that crashed. A day does not go by without me thinking about what happened to my friends that day, and how thankful I am to be alive and still able to care for my wife and children and my patients.

Please remember them in your prayers today. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace.

I have written about more about this incident HERE, HERE, HERE, and probably best of all, THERE.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Feast of St. Andrew, November 30 - and Some Book Reviews

Here is the novena which starts on the Feast of St. Andrew:

St. Andrew Christmas Novena Prayer to Obtain Favors

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (30th November) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)

+MICHAEL AUGUSTINE, Archbishop of New York
New York, February 6, 1897

Here are a few reviews of a couple of books which I published on LibraryThing:

North and South
Elizabeth Gaskell

“Elizabeth Bennett meets the industrial revolution - count the bodies as they fall!”

It has been nearly 40 years since Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice, and the social landscape of England in is transition in Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel North and South. The aristocrat who lives a life of leisure while his tenants work his landholdings in southern England is being replaced by the common man who works his way up to a position of wealth and power in the factory towns of northern England. How these two social classes interact makes up just one facet of the book.

The main characters of the book are the members of the Hale family, with the daughter Margaret being the most important character of all. The Hales move from a country vicarage in southern England to Milton, a fictitious city in the industrial region of North England. Mr. John Thornton, the young owner of one of the cotton mills, befriends the family. He is attracted to Margaret, the only daughter of the Hale’s, but she considers him socially beneath her. Their relationship progresses along with the story of the Hales adjusting to life in a northern town.

One of the main themes of the book is conflict. There are external conflicts, such as the one between the workers and the factory owners, and the southern aristocrats and the industrial businessmen. Mrs. Gaskell does a good job of showing both sides in a sympathetic light without setting one up as a ‘bad guy’ in the story. For example, the union workers had their wages reduced several years before this story takes place, and the workers are clamoring for more money as the cost of living goes up. The mill owners are not able to increase wages because of the price of cotton and other forces which are affecting the marketplace. Both sides have a legitimate argument for getting what they want, and neither are motivated by greed or any other vice.

There is much more to this book than my brief review. I will end with the comment that John Thornton is an excellent study in the practice of the cardinal virtues. This was one aspect of his character which was not carried over to the 2004 BBC version of this book. I strongly recommend this book, and give it 5 stars.

As to my “count the bodies as they fall!” comment above, let me just say that while there is very little violence in the story, many of the characters don’t survive to the last page.

By the way, I did not even know about this book until one day I saw a video of the trailer for the BBC movie. It was on YouTube, and Daniela Denby-Ashe caught my attention. I then went on to look up the book on Wikipedia. It sounded interesting, so I got a free copy of it for my iPhone off of the Gutenberg Project. As I started to read the e-book, I decided to go ahead and buy the hardcover version. Ah, the joys of high tech and copyright-free books!

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee

I just finished reading this book. It was hard to put it down. The book is told in the first person by the youngest child of a lawyer in a small town in Alabama during the Depression. Several themes are explored: racism, standing up for the truth, living in a small town in the South, coming of age(well, sort of....) all come to mind.

I recommend this book, but I am not sure if I would really want to read it again. I found part of the thrill of reading the book was the suspense of wondering what would happen next. The scene in the courtroom was particularly engrossing.

One note about the language in this book. The 'N' word is used constantly, making me think that this book would not have been accepted for publication in this our day of political correctness. The language and the testimony given during the trial give this book a rating of 'Adult' for this book.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Graveside Visit

'Divine Mercy' as drawn by Theodore G. Donahue

Yesterday, on what would have been Theodore's 18th birthday, we visited his grave. It was cold and windy, so we did not stay there long, but we did say a few prayers and spent some time there in silence.

Someone had already put some plastic flowers at the site.

As is usual, the other children asked me when we were going to get a marker for Theodore's grave. I couldn't answer them, because I don't even know when I shall get it done. I still don't know what I could write on a gravestone which would summarize the life of one so dear to me. How could one or two lines describe someone whose absence has left such a hole in our hearts and in our lives?

Nearly 16 years ago, on December 1, 1994, three of my friends and colleagues were killed in a helicopter crash in Ann Arbor, Michigan. At that time, I had compared the deaths of my friends with that of a large stone dropped into a pond. Initially, the passing of the stone leaves a void - but almost immediately the water rushes back in, covering up the defect. Ripples spread out from the point of impact, leaving the surface of the pond more or less unsettled, depending on how close one was to the epicenter. In the aftermath of this crash, new pilots, doctors and nurses joined the group and took up the work. We kept on flying. For me, the stone in the pond seemed to be a pretty neat metaphor for death and survival.

I was wrong.

For those closest to the deceased, that hole, that void, never fills up again. After nearly three years since Theodore's death, his absence is like a pain in my side which will never go away. Every head count I make - and it is very important to count heads when you have such a large family - comes up one person, one name, short of what my obsessive/compulsive brain is expecting. Every time I recognize this discrepancy, I have to remind myself that the count is off by one because one of my children is dead. In some circles, this process is known as 'reconciliation,' where the reason for the incorrect count is resolved. In my case, it is hard to reconcile myself to this fact.

Try putting that on a gravestone.

While thinking about this and freezing in the wind , a car pulled up behind ours, and a man got out. He had flowers - we forgot to bring some - which he carried to a nearby grave. He also stood there for a while, with his back turned away from us to keep the wind out of his face. As I watched him, I considered how blessed I was to be here with my loving wife, my eight living sons and four daughters, and how I should rejoice to be so blessed by God. Carolyn had the same thoughts as she gazed upon the solitary man, with one additional thought: one day it would be just one of us coming here to see Theodore's grave.

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation
Now restored with the help of some cement!

Prayer to Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Mary my mother, take my hand today, and all days.
Lead me away from all occasions of sin.
Guide me in fulfilling your last words in the Gospel,
"Do whatever He tells you."

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