According to Sister George, my Second Grade teacher, my parents, Fr. Kenny, and just about everyone else who taught me about God and Heaven each of us are blessed with a Guardian Angel at birth. This special Angel, we were told, is always with us and is perched on our right shoulders.
Come to think about it – why would an Angel perch on the right shoulder? Was this some kind of moral subliminal indoctrination into Right versus Wrong? Right versus Left? And even in the cartoon shows I watched as a child, the devil angel with a pitchfork was always on the left shoulder, and the Angel with a halo was always on the right shoulder. Interesting! I do believe I will watch a few more cartoons with my grandson to see if this is still true.
So, I grew up knowing without a doubt there was a God who lived in Heaven, Jesus Christ who died for me, and I would go to Heaven when I died if I was “good”. And, I believed wholeheartedly my Guardian Angel was watching every move I made. He was the voice in my head saying “don’t do that” when I was considering shoplifting bubble gum from Mr. Al’s candy counter, or hiding my older sister’s glasses in the apple basket, or throwing my brother’s shoes down the laundry chute so he wouldn’t be the first one out the door.
My Guardian Angel has a very soft voice. He could have spoken up a tad bit louder back then and kept me from getting grounded so often. I was not necessarily a very good listener at seven years old. As I grew older though, I discovered a greater ability to hear my Guardian Angel’s subtle suggestions. Some would say it is the maturation of the conscience and part of the development of our brains. I prefer knowing someone has my back.
In addition to having a Guardian Angel, God also gave me many other gifts to help in this journey called Life. Not only was I raised in a large loving family, I have been blessed with both a wonderful husband whose love for me is unquestionably God’s greatest blessing and four lovely unique children…who are now quite well into what they consider their adult years. …but who are still my “kids”. Nothing puts life in perspective more than being a Mom…especially when those darling babies , who want nothing more than to be held and sung to, morph into secretive teenagers who don’t want to be around you anymore, and then grow into young adults who once again want to hang out with Mom.
Many times I’d find myself repeating my mom’s favorite words of wisdom, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Save your energy for the big stuff. The big problems will come whether you are ready for them or not.” Truer words were never spoken. Even though my children are grown, I still find myself categorizing my worries/problems into big ones versus small. It helps.
My siblings, three brothers and two sisters, are also an integral part of my life; each and every one has been there for support and counsel, laughter and fun. All of them are a blessing from God, put here in our family for a specific purpose. In our own way, we are like God’s gift of a Guardian Angel …we watch out for each other, we worry about each other, and we have each other’s back.
There were times though, when I pictured our various Guardian Angels standing around with their hands over their ears, shaking their heads, and moaning at all the bickering we used to do. Or the times I would imagine my Guardian Angel saying “Your brother is not being very nice. Go tell your mother.” I would hurry off to tattle on him, feeling very holy and self-righteous. I guess I may have deserved the family title of Snitch.
One sibling in particular is younger, though not by much, and she has helped me weather many storms. She is the one I can turn to when I need to let off steam about my husband, children, politics, and associates. She is the one I turn to when I find myself completely frustrated with other family members or consumed with doubts about a decision I have made. When I get an idea in the middle of the day, she is the one I bounce it by knowing she won’t spare my feelings. Some people may feel the need to be diplomatic when asked to give an opinion; Jeannie is not one of those.
All in our family have experienced Jeannie’s gift of telling it like it is…no sugar coating, thank you very much. I still remember when she and her family drove 24 hours straight to celebrate Thanksgiving in my new home. She is the spatial designer, but I thought I would surprise her and have it all done before she came, even though decorating is not one of my strong points. The first thing she did was laugh and say, “Oh my gosh, I am so glad I came!” And then she did what she does best…she took what was in our house and transformed it into a home.
She may live far away in distance, but she is the closest to me in faith and temperament. Over the years we have shared many adventures and dreams. Before she began her job working at their Parish school and office, we would talk every day for hours as we cleaned our respective homes. Many times we would be thinking about the same thing or working on a similar problem. She is the one I turn to when I need to have another pair of eyes to pour over something I have written. We even wrote a Christmas book, together with our older brother, about a Christmas tradition begun by our father.
I love my husband dearly, but there is no substitute for having a sister who thinks like you do, shares similar dreams, and is there for you unconditionally. She is the one who remembers who you were before you were grown. She is the one who backs you up when you claim your grandparents kept ducks in the basement for Duck Soup. No idea is too crazy to share with each other. No worry is too big that cannot be sliced and diced into manageable pieces with each other. No complaint is too petty not to share with each other.
When you have a sister to laugh with you, not at you, life is so much fun. When you have a sister you can call at any hour for help, life is more secure. And, when you have a sister to share your faith with, life is a complete blessing.
Please, let me introduce my “younger” sister Jeannie. I know you will enjoy getting to know her.
Good Morning Catholic Moms,
For many months now, my sister Carol has been asking (or more to the point – pestering me) to write a few words to all of you. She is a columnist with Catholic Mom and author of A Handshake From Heaven and Our Family’s Christmas Elf. Since I offer my assistance and edit some of her writings, she believes I should be writing as well.
It has been a long time since I penned, or I should say, typed any personal piece. I keep telling Carol (and my husband) that I don’t write because I haven’t “found my voice” yet… whatever that means. I’m not sure either, but it sounds good – doesn’t it? (Please take my side on this one!) But, to keep my sister quiet (ok, off my back because she is extremely persistent), I thought I better say at least a short hello to all of you. It has to be short, since I leave for work in thirty minutes. So, Carol – here it is:
First of all, I assume you would like to know my name. That is easier said than done. I have many names I answer to and it depends on who you were with or where we met that determines the name you call me. Since it is Carol requesting this piece, I will use the name she calls me by…Jeannie. So, hello! I am Jeannie, the reluctant writer who has a sister who can be a pest.
I am married to this great guy who only has one name, no nickname; he is just called Hank. Truthfully though, I guess you can say he does have another name – that would be Dad. The Lord blessed me with this wonderful man. Do you know the song (I am awful with titles) that has a line in it that goes, “God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you”? If you don’t, go to ITunes or wherever on the web and search for it. This is our song. I still sit back some days and am amazed at God’s plan. If we both had not made so many wrong choices we never would have found each other.
Is it not amazing how God works? Hank uses the word unfathomable in a prayer he recites every day as he drives to work. We just do what God wants because to us His Plan is unfathomable. I really need to use that word more myself. Try it sometime when you are overwhelmed or overjoyed at something in your life. You will be surprised how it puts things in perspective.
How the heck are we to know what He wants? We don’t. We really don’t. We just need to “Let Go and Let God”.
The other members of my small family consist of two daughters and a son. I say this is a small family because Hank and I both come from the 1950/60 typical large-sized Catholic family. He grew up with six siblings and I grew up with five. If we had met earlier in life we might have mimicked our parent’s family size considering we were expecting our first child by our first anniversary.
So, there we are – your typical Catholic Christian family of five who try to make it through the day with the Grace of God. It’s a very happy life filled with laughter, challenges, and whole lot of love. I hope and pray your life is just as blessed if not more.
Take care of yourselves and your loved ones.
PS Carol, so, are you going to stop pestering me now?
Copyright 2010 Carol S. Bannon