31 Years Ago

On March 17, 1979 my first sister, Erin Patricia was born. Due to a combination of complications and medical incompetence she died on March 30, thirteen days later. I got to hold her once.

Erin's Grave

When Paula and I were married it took us over two years to conceive the first time. We miscarried Blue Bonnet a couple of weeks into that pregnancy. Shortly after, we conceived Lucy. Lucy Elizabeth was born on March 30, 1999. At the time we didn’t realize the significance of the date. A few days later we figured out that Lucy’s aunt Erin had died twenty years before on Lucy’s birthday so we changed Lucy’s name to Lucy Erin Elizabeth in honor of the aunt she would never meet.

My kids often wish that Blue Bonnet hadn’t died so we have to remind them that they have a saint in heaven praying for all of them and that while we may have had a passel of kids, none of the rest of them would have been born if Blue Bonnet had lived. I’m not sure how many of them really understand that.

When I realized yesterday that my sister would have been thirty one, I started thinking of all the things that would be different had she lived: my brother James’s wedding next month wouldn’t be happening because James wouldn’t be here, my daughter Lucy would never have taken piano lessons from my sister Rebekah and my kids wouldn’t have the same wonderful cousins they have now, and we wouldn’t marvel at Michael’s amazing ability to have everything fall into place in spite of the improbability of it all.

What would Erin have been like? Would she be married? Would she have entered the religious life? Would we even have ended up in Colorado Springs or would her life have affected where my dad got stationed?

And so, as we celebrated Lucy Erin Elizabeth’s eleventh birthday yesterday and the thirty first anniversary of my sister’s death, I wonder about the blessings we are given that would never occur without the tragedies that came before.

My uncle lives in the town where Erin is buried and every year he places flowers on her grave. He sent us this picture yesterday. Uncle Richard, thank you for watching over her grave for us since we aren’t able to.

The Colorado Blizzard of ’09

We spent Easter with family in California in nice 70 degree weather. On our trip back we squeaked in just as the leading edge of this blizzard hit. From Thursday night until about 4pm on Saturday we had non-stop blizzard conditions. The snow is still coming down a little but the storm is passing. The pictures below are what it looks like out our front door.

2009 Colorado Blizzard

The drift next to the house is at least four feet deep. The drift I backed the van into is three feet. There are between one and two feet on the ground between our front door and the street.

I have to say, I really love the El Paso County snow removal folks. The grader came through our cul-de-sac and left a four foot high, three foot deep mountain of hard pack and landscaping-rock sized chunks of snow at the bottom of the driveway. We aren’t going to make it to Mass tomorrow.

2009 Colorado Blizzard

We didn’t have it as badly as the folks up the mountains who spent the night in shelters after I-70 was shut down. The national guard had to bring in supplies and as of now the interstate is still partially closed.

New Rutherford Baby!

I can’t believe a week has gone by and I haven’t posted this yet. Thomas Edmund Paul was born on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul three hours after Father came to bless our house. This was our seventh home birth and everything went as smoothly as ever.

Baby Thomas

Congratulations to the Willets on their new one, too!

I’m Voting For Mr. Norris

Overheard in the car:

Lucy (9): “I want Mr. Norris to be president.”


“Chuck Norris. The pro-life candidate.”

Chuck Norris

“Do you mean Chuck Baldwin? Chuck Norris isn’t running for president.”

“Oh, I guess so.”

I’d probably vote for Chuck Norris if he was running.

A Movie to Get You Thinking

Last week I saw a thought-provoking movie that I wanted to get your input on.

The movie featured a brooding hero who really just wants to marry his girl and leave the vigilante justice of his town to someone else. His black sidekick is a quiet man who is always there with the right weapon to help in a pinch.

The villain is a maniacal sadist in a suit who has a couple of equally nutty sidekicks.

Into town rides the idealistic “kid” who thinks that the town deserves better than fist-packing, guns-blazing justice and wants to bring law and order to the town.

The kid ends up realizing that his kind of law and order still needs some good-old-fashioned head-knocking and maybe a gun or two to bring order to the town. In the meantime, he falls for the hero’s girl, she falls for him and the hero saves the town while making it look like the kid is responsible.

The kid becomes the town’s new hero and the real hero rides off into the sunset without the girl. Oh, his house burns down along the way.

In the end, those who are in the know about the real story decide not to let the secret out because ” When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

This movie was nominated for the Best Costume Design Oscar but didn’t win back in 1962.

Sound familiar?

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance has always been one of my favorite movies. How can you go wrong in a movie with both Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne playing leading roles?

What struck me about the movie is how closely it mirrors The Dark Night, a movie that I wrote about earlier this summer. Both movies feature a hero who saves the day and gives someone else credit but there is a difference.

Ransom (Stewart) ends up building his legacy as “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” even though Donovan (Wayne) tells him at the end of the movie that he’s the one who really killed Liberty. Ransom is elected as the territorial representative and eventually becomes a US senator. At the end of the movie it is clear that he has never been comfortable with the way he achieved his fame but apart from the newsmen who interview him, he never tells anyone. It isn’t even clear that he tells his wife. He ends up doing good and bringing his territory into the US as a state and order does come to Shinbone but it is because of a lie of omission that it happens. He had already been nominated by his town to the territorial convention before the gunfight and even though those who oppose him label him as a “cold-blooded killer” for killing Liberty, he doesn’t reveal the truth and gets elected as the representative in spite of that.

Should he have told what really happened? Donovan obviously didn’t want anyone to know so was there anything really done wrong by not revealing the truth?

In the Dark Knight, Batman takes the blame for what Two-Face did in order to preserve the image of Harvey Dent as the city’s white knight. Should he have? There does seem to be a problem with his ending line that “sometimes people deserve more than the truth,” as if covering up a person’s problems is okay if it leads to a greater good. Again, a sin of omission to preserve a greater good.

Do either of these movies provide a satisfactory answer? I’m still trying to figure that out.

Help The Brady Bunch With College

H/T to Shrine of the Holy Wapping by way of St. Mary’s Aggies.

Some friends who have a wonderful Catholic family of 9 kids, all home-schooled, are in the final 10 of a $25,000 college scholarship contest (and the parents are Aggie Catholics if you needed more incentive). They created a great video, but now need your votes to help them win. Go here to vote for them (yes, you have to fill out a short registration).