Friday, July 31, 2009

Flashback Friday: Humbled

Hi, friends.

I’ve had my fingers at the keyboard for what seems like forever, trying to think of something to type to let you all know I’m still here. I never thought that would be such a difficult thing… you know, with me being such a Chatty Cathy and all. One thing I’ve never been accused of is being at a loss for words. :)

But I’m finding that my body being this sick and in this much pain [and this medicated] takes a lot of energy. And apparently brain power. Many have asked what I’m doing to pass the time… what am I reading, watching, listening to? The truth is that I don’t have the energy or physical ability to really do much of anything. Mostly, if I want background noise, I am putting in movies that I love to re-watch so I don’t have to pay attention or think too hard; it’s nice to hear/see something familiar that I can tune in and out of, and sometimes the silence is really best. I have enough stimulation in my body that having everything else quiet is a bit of a relief.

As I lay there, topics flit through my brain that I want to share with you all, but only half of the thoughts/words form the way I want them to and I quickly realize that this is a time for thoughts to be jotted down and not written out. :) Part of that is due to the exhaustion, and it’s coupled with the added element of taking different medications to knock me out when needed.

I think there’s a rule somewhere… it goes something like, “Friends don’t let friends blog while heavily medicated…

If that isn’t a rule, I’m instating it as one now. Trust me, you all will thank me for it. And I’m sure at some point I’ll walk a fine line with that one over the next few months of this, and you’ll all get a good laugh out of whatever I write. :)

Anyway, the one thing I can tell you that is not fuzzy in my mind is that this experience has been humbling to me in so many ways. Ways in which I’m sure I’ll blog about in time… not the least of which is that I am so humbled by all of you.

Of course, in my tired and medicated mind, I think of the word “humbled” and immediately think of the song, “Oh Lord, It’s Hard to be Humble.” And that, in turn, immediately makes me think about nuns and hogs and singing.

To prove to you that those things go together and are not a hallucination from my medications, I’m reposting this Flashback Friday to entertain you today… hope you enjoy.


Flashback Friday: Vacations at Mt. Loretto
[originally posted: December 5, 2008]

I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume the majority of you reading this didn't spend your vacation every year in a large convent full of nuns. I have to say I feel a bit sorry for you, because we did and it was fantastic.

Every fall my mom, Grandma Rita and all six of us kids would load up into the station wagon and make the long trek across the state to Dubuque, where the Mother House (Mt. Loretto) is located. My dad and my Grandpa Gerald would be following in the pickup hauling behind it a hog roaster and a freshly butchered hog to feed the nuns.

I can hear you laughing in disbelief... but I'm serious. And I have the photos to prove it.

My Aunt Janella was a PBVM (Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and she was living at Mt. Loretto at the time, so this was our chance to visit her and spend some time with all of the Sisters. And let me tell you, we had the run of the place. When I was little one of the nuns would offer to take me for my nap (usually Sr. Raeleen), and instead of laying down we'd sneak to the craft room and paint figurines or sculpt clay or make all sorts of fun little art projects. We'd play hide and seek and ride the elevators and have sing-along sessions. I like to think of it as my own little version of sleep away camp, only my parents were there, too.

mt loretto_0004
As you can see, they tried to groom me early for religious life (1976)

mt loretto_0001
Me at age 3, just trying to be helpful...

mt loretto_0005
Back:Grandma Rita, Sr. Joy (I think that's her name), Laura, Mom
Front: Steve, Janella, Me, Jim, Janette (Honestly, I mainly included this photo because I think it shows that Steve totally fits his nickname, Hoody. Doesn't he look like a "Hoody" in this photo?)

The facilities at Mt. Loretto were so much fun. They had a gymnasium where we could run around and play volleyball or basketball, and it's where I first learned of wolleyball, which is like volleyball but the ball remains in play off the wall.

mt loretto_0003
In the gym, working on my dream of being the next Mary Lou Retton.

One of my favorite things to do during the week was hang out with Sr. Stephen. I would help her clean the chapel and dust the pews, and then we would go into a separate room where they made their own hosts. The communion host would come in a large, flat sheet and we would have little hand punchers that would punch out the hosts into little circles with a cross pressed into the middle. (Much like scrapbook punches, now that I think about it.)

After we would finish making the hosts we would put the leftover scraps into a bag and walk down to the lake, get in the rowboat and feed the ducks. It was always so quiet and peaceful out on the water, and we were always there during the fall of the year so the air was crisp and the trees would have turned their mighty colors. It was a perfect example of work and reward... showing me that at the end of the day, the scraps we're left with can become something that can still nourish.

And the main event of the week: the hog roast.

mt loretto_0007

mt loretto_0008

mt loretto_0002
This particular year we were there on Halloween, and some of the nuns helped me with my costume to trick or treat. FYI: lipstick stains your cheeks and it doesn't come off for days. Trust me.

During one night of our stay, there would be a celebration with all of the nuns... we'd roast a hog and gather in the dining hall for a feast. And for entertainment? The six of us kids would at some point get up to the microphone and sing for everyone. Yes, we were the Von Trapp family without the fear of German invasion.

Our best song was, "Oh Lord, It's Hard to be Humble" and we sang it with enthusiasm. Because the microphone was raised up higher on the stand and I was so much shorter than everyone else, Sr. Martin would take the microphone after we sang and bring it to my level to see if there was anything I would like to say since I couldn't reach.

Foolish woman. Of course I had something to say. It was usually my standard joke that I told at my grandparents' card parties about the Lazy Family that was too tired to go out and see what was wrong with the dog (you have to hear it to fully appreciate it)... and since then I've never met a microphone I didn't like.

So, we were unorthodox. We didn't go to Disneyland. But we had more fun, more life experiences and more fulfilling moments on our trips to Mt. Loretto than most people could hope for. And I wouldn't trade a moment of it for the world.


  1. Love the story. Sounds like such fantastic holidays!
    Thinking of you often.

  2. I've always wanted to go to a REAL live hog roast - it sounds so fun. And looking at that scrumptious roast your dad is working on ... yum. Isn't it amazing how our experiences as a child can affect us so strongly well past them into adulthood.

    I'm praying for you daily Sara. My heart goes out to you. Being patient is challenging enough on it's own. I can't imagine being patient while you are waiting for your body to adjust to the pain. You are so brave blogging about it as you go through it.
    Gentle hugs....

    Recent blog:=- The faster I pedal...

  3. What a great story. Love your stained cheeks. :) BTW, Sitting at the keyboard struggling with what to type is a normal state for me. haha. Praying for you continually. Blessings, SusanD

    Recent blog:=- Thankful Thursday - 7/30/09

  4. If you run out of movies to use as your background, I recommend asking someone to pick up the audio copies of the Mitford books by Jan Karon for you. They are delightful and fill me with hope and warm fuzzy feelings every time I read them, which is about once a year. Next to Harry Potter, totally my favorites.

    Hope you are getting a little better each day!

    Recent blog:=- Unbeknownst to me (and probably to her), my daughter is a tower of strength!

  5. I love this story since I grew up in Dubuque so close to where you "vacationed!!"
    I don't think the Dirty Dancing movie would require either of us to think much. Maybe we could just zone out and pretend we are BABY dancing with Johnny???? :*

  6. I loved reading this again, I just can't help but think "Sound of Music" when I re-read it! Hearing from you twice in one week is awesome! Stellan is doing better again sweet Sara and I pray we will hear that one day you will be as well! Hope you continue to feel our love and prayers :-D
    How has Riley been adjusting? Give him a hug from me!

    Recent blog:=- Ole and Lena

  7. Hi sweet one,
    I, personally, look forward to the hoot and a half that will be your medicated blog for the next little bit. Any word from you is a GOOD one. :)
    I am trusting our amazing God to continue to work in you and heal you, and I see evidence of His hand in this whole situation. Your attitude? INCREDIBLE. Your outlook? SUPERIOR. Your sweet personality? PRESENT. You are a gift, and you will triumph in this lousy situation.

    We are praying for a "quick" wean/taper, good meds to hold you through all of this, and no extra side effects. I am thankful for good nursing, wise doctors, and faithful friends that are all on your side.

    Just heal. Everything else will follow...all us peeps included.

    love you!

    Recent undefined:=- Oh no! Comluv had an error with your feed, see message below!

  8. Perhaps my earliest memory of knowing you, Sara, is at St. Stephen's with you belting out "Oh, Lord, its hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way." I wish you had recorded it so we could hear that side of Sara as well as "Holy Ground." I told stories at Mt. Loretto in May and thought of you and the family there.

  9. Oh Sara. My heart goes out to you and what you're going through right now. May God keep giving you the patience and the strength to get through each day.

    Many hugs

    Recent undefined:=-

  10. That is some roast hog. Now I want to run out & get 3 lbs of ribs. My waistline does not thank you. :)

    I am happy to see any post, even if it is just to lets know you are "hangin in there".

    Recent blog:=- Bible Study – War & Peace – Mathew 5:38-48

  11. Well, you taught me something today. I never even knew an opportunity like this existed! What fun memories and a wonderful childhood. And what a dolly baby you were.

    I'm glad you are being gracious with yourself and only utilizing low stimulation activities as you can tolerate them. I will continue to pray. Thank you for letting us in on an update. I know that is really hard for you and is a gift. Oh! And just a thought? How about if you had a little voice recorder to record your thoughts into? You wouldn't have to try to remember, you could sort out the "medicine" thoughts, and you could remember those coherent things you want to share (or the ones we simply must have like, what happened to the lazy family's dog?!). I would be happy to buy you one and send it if you give me your address. Love to you and gentle hugs.

    Recent blog:=- Positive Day

  12. This was a great one! I totally get that you wouldn't have the energy or mental capacity to put forth that much energy right now. Hey, how about we request favorites for repost during your respite? I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to read the one about your cowgirl microphone again! May I request that right now? Wait! I think I just did! We are joining all these wonderful people who love you so much in prayer for your health and wellness. Love you Sara.

    Recent blog:=- Guess Who Sang to Me Last Night

  13. Robin~All Things Heart and HomeAugust 1, 2009 at 2:18 PM

    Oh thank you Gail for telling us that Sara sang Oh Lord it's hard to be humble...I so love that.
    Been praying ... I love logging on and hearing from you. This post made me want barbecue in Dec. and once again I have the craving. Love to you Sweetie and prayers that there are better days ahead.

    Recent blog:=- Cake Wrecks

  14. that was one of the first posts i read here. i think.

    oh. and... i love you. (don't forget.)

    Recent blog:=- august rush

  15. Hi!! I hope you're feeling better!!

    Recent blog:=- The night of two geckos

  16. Robin~All Things Heart and HomeAugust 3, 2009 at 3:56 PM

    Stopping in to check on you Sweet One. love and hugs and prayers always~Robin

    Recent blog:=- Tiny Tickles of Joy…

  17. Just popping in to tell you that I'm thinking of you. And I hope that the weekend brought you closer to feeling well.
    Praying always!