Today, the bambini's and I went to St. Pius for 10:00 a.m. Mass...they were all a little quiet on the way down, despite my best efforts to crack them up with car karaoke - where they request the song and I butcher it. As we sat there, in church, I had Tonio under one arm and Aut under the other, I think we all had Kimmy on our minds...and I thought about how we had arrived as parishoners there...
As I have written, Kim and I started our relationship with San Xavier from the east coast. We had written to Father Dullmeir, right after we were engaged, and asked permission to be married there. We had several telephone conversations and wrote to him over the months. Kim absolutely loved him before even meeting him. San Xavier Mission was one of our very first stops when we moved here, nearly 18 years ago, in March of 1994.
The Mission is such an impressive landmark. Established by Father Kino, a Spanish missionary, back in 1692, the church was finally completed in 1797. It is the oldest European structure in America! I can't begin to describe its beauty, the interior is filled with murals and statues - you could stand in their for hours letting the art sink in and still not see everything.
Kim and I began going to Mass there, making the 45 minute drive in time for the 8:00 Sunday services. We loved Father Dullmeir's delivery and how good he made you feel about yourself. After Mass, we'd hike the little hillside to the south of the mission. About half way up, there is an altar carved into the mountain side. People have placed candles and other artifacts on behalf of loved ones who had passed or needed prayers. At the very top, of this rocky hill, there is a white cross and we'd climb up to it and pray. Then, walk slowly back down together, commenting on the beauty of the view across the Indian farm lands and to the distant Santa Rita's. Sometimes, we'd stop and get some Indian fry bread with honey. Other times, we'd drive towards home and stop at the Village Inn, Denny's, or try to find a new 'hole in the wall'.
When I was working at the Toys R Us on Oracle, we'd go to Mass and then make the drive up to the store, always finding some great hole in the wall's along the way - like Don's on Oracle and Limberlost. There were many other great spots, but I can't remember the names. Sunday's were special, going to Mass together and then grabbing breakfast. After work, Kim would drive all the way back over to pick me up, usually with Cajun in tow. We had a routine, where, we'd all walk the salesfloor at the end of the day, to make sure all aisle looked clean, there were no holes, etc...and Kim and Cajun would take that walk with us. Sometimes, Cajun would get a little excited and have an accident during the walk!
On Saturday, May 21st, 1994, we were married at this breathtaking house of God. Just an incredible day, brilliant blue sky and Kim looking so incredible, like a bright ray of sun...well, you've probably read 'wedding day' on the blog...
When Cody was born, we were still attending San Xavier. It was a bit of a challenge to get there on time for 8:00 a.m. Mass. Sometimes, we'd arrive a little late and stand in the side courtyard straining to hear the father's sermon, but staying cool in the shade and just glad to be there. We approached Father Dullmeir about having Cody baptised there. He advised us that typically, it is best to baptise your child in your neighborhood parish, but we explained that we lived at Rita Ranch, that has no Catholic church, and we had been attending Mass at San Xavier regularly for three years and felt like it was our parish. He knew we were there every week and had us meet Sister Teresa, who was in charge of religious education and would be teaching parents about the sacrament of baptism.
We were so excited. Now driving out to the mission on Sunday's for Mass and once a week for our baptismal classes. I remember, one very warm day, listening to Sister Teresa's lesson and watching a fly buzzing lazily around the room...circling...closer and closer to the sister...all the while, she is speaking, passionately teaching...when, suddenly, the fly dipped and flew straight into her mouth! Kim and I looked at each other, not believing what we had just witnessed! The sister stopped speaking, swallowed hard, and said 'I just swallowed a fly!'. She excused herself for a moment and returned a little red faced, but, unlike in the story of the old lady who swallowed a fly, thank Heaven, did not die!
Cody's baptism was fantastic. The church, the liturgy, the day, were all beautiful - a most memorable occaison.
When Autumn was born, in 2000, we once again approached the father about having our little one batised there. He said that church policy was changing. They were trying to limit religious ceremonies to those that lived on the reservation, as, the amount of tourists had increased and the people who lived on the reservation were unable to attend services due to the crowds. So, we ended up going to St. Francis, where Father Tamminga said he'd be happy to baptize our little blessing!
I have to back up a minute...on days where we knew there was no way we could make it all the way out to the mission in time for Mass, we'd often go to Our Mother of Sorrows. We loved hearing Monsignor Tom. His delivery was always so spirited and we seemed to be able to identify something in our lives that paralled Monsigor's homily. We actually did go through baptismal classes there, as godparents of our friends Stephanie and Steve Gradillas' bambino, Antony. The church has a beautiful baptismal fountain in it - it was a special ceremony!
Sometimes, we'd drive out to Vail, just east of us and attend St. Rita. This was a beautiful little church founded in 1937. Father Bob was the pastor while we were going there. He was always at the front door, greeting everyone like an old friend and shaking hands. The only problem was, you had to be there 20 minutes early to get a seat! We struggled with that, so did not stay there. They have since built a larger church. We had the pleasure of going there last November 21st for a special Mass for Kimmy. It was, as you can imagine, very nice.
We even managed to attend a few Mass' over at Corpus Christi, a swanky church located on the northeast side of town. We liked it, looked into the religious education classes, but, at the time, they were encouraging 'home schooling' for this, and we did not feel up to that. I actually joined the Knights of Columbus while there and they were a great group of guys, who really did a lot to make everyone feel welcome and a part of that church. I had a lot of fun helping with fish frys, free throw contests for the youth group and participating in the Stations of the Cross.
But now, we had comitted to St. Francis, enrolling as parishoners. We started classes for Autumn's baptism. Kim and I had such a good time during these classes. Learning more about the blessed sacrament and each other... Autumn's day was so special and she looked so pretty in her little outfit, with those bright, blue eyes, just like her mama's!! Afterward, we all went to Viro's Italian Bakery for a nice lunch and Rosa made an incredible cake for our little girl.
Then, Tonio came along - and once again, we had his baptism at St. Francis, like we did for his sister. He had a special, traditional outfit, that Kimmy had ordered from Italy for the occaison and looked so handsome in it. We had a huge party at our house following the event, complete with jumping castle! Our friends Courtney and Shawn catered it and Vito and Rosa brought out wedding soup, pastries and an incredible cake! What a fun day that was...
Cody and Autumn both had their First Holy Communion ceremonies at St. Francis...having gone through the classes and Kim and I enjoyed the parent retreats that were a part of this sacrament. In fact, that is how we came to be Max Lucado fans. Max Lucado had writtend some great books, like 'Fearless' - I think I have read almost all of his books and even have had some correspondence with him, providing feedback on advance readers that I receive as manager of Barnes & Noble - nice guy. He has also written some truly inspiring children's books, too.
Cody looked so handsome in his first little suit, and, Autumn was angelic in her little white dress and hairpieces made by our friend Vanessa, who we met at Viro's. Again, following the events, we'd head over to Viro's to celebrate and eat!
We really enjoyed Father Tamminga's Mass'...he always made you chuckle at some point and made you realize that we are all human and could really do better by just understanding that and trying to make someone else's day just a little easier. But, one day, another father was giving Mass, when a cell phone began to ring...this is the ultimate foopah. I'm always double, double checking to make sure my phone is off or silenced before going into church and always feel a little embarrassed on behalf of the poor soul who neglects to do so...the father that day snapped! He started by saying how unacceptable it was for someone to forget to turn off their phone and then launched into a tirade against those who can't get to church on time (that was us!), or those who did not sing, and said 'I bet most of you don't even know what page we are on in the book!'. Finally, he said 'if you are not 'getting' me today, you should just stand up and walk on out of here!'...to my horror, Kim picked up Tonio and walked out!!! I cringed, waiting for a bolt of lightning to strike her on the way out...I should have known, Kim was right. Later that week, we found out, it was the father's cell phone that had gone off! He had left it in his jacket in the room off of the altar where he changes and forgot to turn it off! Kim decided that we should try another church...
And we ended up at St. Pius. Father Harry has been an incredible inspiration to our family. Kim immediately felt engaged and at home with Father Harry's style - making everyone feel at home and comfortable. She got involved with blood drives, pancake breakfasts,etc. I transferred as a Knight of Columbus and volunteered to help teach Antonio's religious education class, as he prepares for First Holy Communion.
Father Harry has been with us since we found out about Kim's illness. We saw him today and Antonio ran over and gave him a big hug. He really brought Kim a lot of comfort.
Now, we find that we will shift back to Our Mother of Sorrows. Monsignor Tom, also gave Kim and our family a lot of comfot during our journey. And, due to the times of religious education classes, and that the majority of our southwest family, Angie and her daughters and their families all attend this church, we find that it will make my transition back to work easier and take some of the stress out of how the bambini's will be cared for out of my life. So, it appears that Antonio will make the sacrament of First Holy Communion at Our Mother of Sorrows. He has been working hard on learning the Lord's Prayer and Hail Mary, and can't wait to receive the body of Christ. He asks every week if he could take 'just a little piece' of the bread. He's so cute!
So there was a tour of our churches...
After Mass today, we converged on Viro's once again...Vito has been so accomodating...this week, thinking it would just be the bambini's and myself, I did not request a table...by 10, Kim had texted me asking what time we were going...so I texted Vito asking for a table for 8...then, I found out Angie and Lexy were coming, too, so texted Vito - who calmly responded...'no problem'. I got the last spot in his lot when we arrived - they were packed, as usual! But Vito had our table and we even got to sit with his niece, Franca and nephew, Mauro for a while, and saw his son Joe and wife Deanna as a bonus. We ate so much! I'm telling you, if you have not made it down there for their Sunday brunch...do yourself a favor and do it!
Visiting with Rosa, Vito, Vito Jr and their staff always makes our family happier (and Christina makes the BEST omelets!)...and so, our morning quiet had been lifted. We took Lexy home with us and Hadley came over. The girls enjoyed walking Bella in the park...Janene swung by and picked up Antonio to play with her boys again and Cody went to our neighbors, Amy and Tom, to play with Alex (and got to go to Baskin Robbins!). I made Sopa de Fideo (pasta soup) for dinner....
You take 1/2 lb of beef or chicken ( I used chicken today, but have had it with the beef and it is outstanding!) and cook in 2 quarts of water until meat is tender and well cooked. Chop pieces into cubes or strips, as desired. Drain meat and save the stock!
Place a little olive oil in a cooking pot and heat. Break a package of fideo pasta up and brown lightly in the oil. Add 5 cups of meat stock, 6 oz can of tomato sauce and stir well. Add 1/2 table spoon of thyme, salt, pepper to flavor and 2 tbsp of chopped onions and chicken.
Add bay leaf and cook over low heat, covereed, until fideo is tender. Remove bay leaf.
I also added carrots and celery. It is best to soften these up a bit before placing in soup, by sauteeing in olive oil or boiling. I also added a punch of oregano, because I like oregano...
The bambini's ate it up!
After Andrea picked up Lexy, and Hadley had gone home, Autumn and I found ourselves with a rare one-on-one moment. She wanted to take Bella for a walk, so we did. Along the way, I told her how proud I was of her...she seems to be handling our new journey the best, with a courageous, positive attitude, so like her mama...each time I hug her, I feel as though I'm hugging a little Kim. I asked her how she is doing it, and, in a Kimmy like, pious way, she shrugs. I ask her is she ever feels mama or sees signs...she says she does not think so...I tell her to be patient and watchful. She tells me, sometimes, she sings the song Mama used to sing to her to wake her up...'good morning sunshine, you make my day bright'...just a little ditty that Kimmy made up to make each child feel special...she is so strong, I told her how proud her Mama would be, and how proud I am...and, as I tear up, Autumn comes forward and embraces me...stilling my tears and my pain. Unbelievable..
Brian got more cuts done today on the block for the nitcho...it is ready for rebar and cement!!! I moved Kim's banner/truck from Desert Sky to Fry's parking lot for the weekend - thank you Fry's! Tomorrow, I will move it to Senita Valley Elementary school, next to Rincon Vista Middle School where Kim worked...thanks Mrs. Crain and Mrs. Erickson!
Today, overall, was a good day...I feel that, through the help of our southwest family, we have grown stonger and made to feel special, given reason to smile - we feel the love...I feel that I can focus better, my heart is lighter...
'Believe in your dreams, that you see when you are asleep'