Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What is this white stuff coming out of the sky?

Sam's first snowfall in Chicago. He saw a few flakes in Rice Lake last weekend when we were there for my Grandma's funeral. And still hasn't really seem much accumulation. Can't wait to dress him in boots and snowpants and go build a snowman.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sam rejects Satan

The day after his first birthday, Sam joined yet another family: the Catholic one. We celebrated his baptism on Oct. 25, 2008 at St. Gertrude Parish in Chicago. It was a beautiful ceremony, with about 35 friends and family attending. As you can see from the cute picture above (photos courtesy of Leigh Ann Drevs), he wore a lovely white aio dai (traditional Vietnamese dress) with a gold dragon on it.

The ceremony had a few personal touches. We added some water from meaningful places to the baptismal water: some from the Jordan River, from Halong Bay, from my parents' lake and the river near where my parents grew up, and from the pond near my sister's.

Sam has two godmothers: Ed's sister, Trish, and our good friend Kristin. They each read a reading, one from the Book of Samuel and the other from Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (Fun fact: I got to interview him a few years ago).

My sister and her daughter Clare sang "Child of Wonder" to conclude the ceremony. It was beautiful! Peter from St. Gert's accompanies them.

A post-baptism party with lunch of buffalo burgers, chicken and catfish sandwiches, and sweet potato fries was held at the No Exit Cafe, part of the Heartland Cafe. Yum!

It really was a special day, especially because of those who came to welcome Sam to the Catholic family. Not only were Ed's parents and sister there from Philadelphia, but also his brother from Kentucky. Plus Ed's good friend Matt had a layover in Chicago and made the party. Cathy, Bryan and Kevin from U.S. Catholic were there, as were nearly all of my women's group. Lots of other kids too: Mesfin and Mari, Lincoln, Jovie, Vivian, Nico. Thanks to everyone for making it a very special weekend for our family.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Grandma Doris

Today would have been my Grandma Doris' 97th birthday. She died Monday, after being hospitalized with pneumonia two weeks ago. I had a mixed relationship with my grandmother--I loved her dearly and have many fond memories of time spent with her, but she also had been judgmental of me and my life in my adulthood. Still, we had time to reconcile and got closer, especially after my grandpa died about 10 years ago. I think she was very proud of the writing work that I've done, though when we would discuss church politics, she would often say, "I wish you thought the way I do." To which I would respond, "I wish you thought the way I do!"

She was an educated woman, with a college degree, when not many women had one. She taught home economics and raised three children, including my father. She was attractive and stylish, and would probably be horrified that I'm posting this photo of her looking less than her best. I credit at least part of my creative gene to her (and almost all of my pack rat gene). I think she had some regrets in her life; she had wanted to travel more, see more of the world, maybe have a more sophisticated life than the one she had in small-town Wisconsin. She was from the Chicago area and often talked about life as a young girl on the farm near Gurnee.

Grandma Doris had prayed tirelessly for Sam (and for Sophie). She also helped us financially with the adoption by advancing us some money meant for her great grand-children's education. She was so excited when we got our referral. "Is he particularly cute or anything?" she asked before I could show her the picture to confirm that, yes, he was! In the past few months, even as she lost interest in the Packers (which had previously seemed to keep her alive from season to season), she would always ask about Sam, my dad said.

We had wanted to drive to northern Wisconsin for Sam to meet her shortly after returning from Vietnam, but Sam had been so difficult in the car seat that we kept postponing it. Then we heard that the pneumonia couldn't be cured and her heart wasn't strong enough to pump the fluid out of her lungs. She returned to the nursing home from the hospital last week and we knew it wouldn't be long. Two days later we left for Rice Lake, even though my aunt reported that she wasn't really recognizing people anymore.

Sam was a trooper, sleeping the whole 6 hours on Friday night on the way there. On Saturday morning we visited Grandma and she definitely recognized him. Her eyes opened and lit up, though she was so tired it was hard for her to keep them open. Later she said, "Sam." And then, "I am so tired."

My dad stayed by her side Saturday night until Monday night when she died. My Auntie Sue and my cousin Kim were with her when she died, too. My grandma lived a long, productive and happy life, but I am still so sad that she is gone. I wanted her to see both my kids, and I wanted them to know her. But I am glad I was given the opportunity to have Sam meet her before she died. And I know she will continue to pray for our family, but now from heaven.

May eternal rest be granted to you, Grandma Doris, and let perpetual light shine upon you. May you rest in peace. Amen.