August 27, 2006

Our Trip to The Convent

We left right on time but we had to get coffee at Starbucks first. I had two coupons Nicole left for Mini Red for the new Tangerine Frappuccinos.

We got our order and when we left we noticed the man outside. We see him all the time around our neighborhood and just the day before, as we walked to the Big Pickle, Mini Red wanted to cross further up the street to avoid walking near him, but I didn’t see any reason to do that. So as we were getting in the car I suggested to Mini Red that she offer him the other coupon for a free drink. I watched as she walked up to him I realized I had never looked at his face before. He didn’t look as old as I thought he was. His dreads are grey and he is very thin and slightly hunched, but he has a wonderful smile.

I leaned out of the car and assured him the coupon would give him a free drink since we had just used one. He nodded and thanked us and went in. Mini Red got in the car and said, “Mom he was so nice. When I offered him the coupon he smiled and said, “Thank you I really need a drink.” Mom, that really felt good!” We discussed this man and other people living on the streets. I realized that I have never seen this man as disruptive in any way. I told Mini Red that I have always hesitated to give money to people on the streets. I work hard to support her and often you hear that people are begging for the wrong reasons. I told her about a man I would see at my last job. I would offer him a sandwich or purchase a little something extra when out to lunch and he was always so grateful. Then there’s a woman near where I work now and she is always in everyone’s face. It’s always easier to help someone who isn’t in your face.

We decided to look into other ways we can help people, maybe volunteering? I think this will teach Mini Red and me a lot and maybe we can be a little friendlier to our homeless neighbor.

We finally got on the road and I got the blow by blow of Mini Red’s orientation day at Middle School. I’m surprised to hear that her social studies class will be studying the five top religions; Christianity, Buddhist, Judaism, Muslim, and Hindu. I wish she and I could switch places her classes sound so interesting.

It took us two hours to finally get on 81N. Two more hours to go and it was pretty much a straight shot. Route 81N is beautiful! I love the mountains and the views. Thank goodness for cruise control because I would have been flying… more than I already was.

We arrived at Marywood University in just under four hours and my Aunt was tickled pink. We gave her the gifts we had for her and then she put me to work. She was going through some things in her room and it turned to finally just cleaning a lot of stuff out. She didn’t mean for me to work and felt bad but I told her I was family and I was there to do whatever she needed.

She later told me that at 94 she has finally realized she has her limits and needs help with things. I had to laugh when they came to install the phone in her room. She didn’t want one but all the Sisters rooms were getting one. She just looked at the man, sighed and said “Ok.” I guess this was one of those times she realized this wasn’t so bad and not worth fighting.

It’s amazing to watch these women. I could never be a nun. If being a nun was based on celibacy then I would be perfect but their commitment is so much more than that. They lead such a simple life and it doesn’t take much to make them happy. They have no style and they don’t care what they look like. Seeing a chipmunk out the dining hall window brings them so much joy and they all gather around to get a peek. Or a ripe tomato that one of the Sister’s brought back from her family’s farm that is shared with everyone. Their will is so amazing that I’m finding it hard to express how impressed I am with their commitment and faith.

At first I was taken back when they each would say “You’re Welcome”. My first thought was “Are they asking for a thank you for letting us stay there?” I soon realized this was their way of welcoming us. I also learned that when you speak of someone who is alive you bless them and when you speak of someone who has died you have mercy on them. For example they would say, “Sister Magdalene, have mercy on her, cooked the best squash”. This meant she had passed. I noticed it would almost be whispered but no person mention went without some blessing or mercy… God Bless em! Every time we would meet a new Sister we got blessed. I think I’ve had my fill for a good while now.

Our first night was not so good. Neither Mini Red nor I could sleep so Saturday morning we were exhausted. We met up with my aunt in the kitchen and she was ready to cook us eggs. Yeah right… like I’m gonna let this 94 year old woman cook for me! She fought me when I insisted Mini Red and I do the dishes and finally stopped fighting us. In the afternoon we went to the new building to visit some nuns in the assisted living. So many of them remember me as a little girl and I don’t remember any of these women, except for one, but thank goodness I can just refer to all of them as “Sister”. This was such a boring afternoon and I was very proud of Mini Red and her composure considering her lack of sleep. We were then taken to see the Rotunda, which is beautiful. I had no idea this campus had anything like this.

We were so exhausted Saturday night that I fell asleep around 8. By morning I was itching to get out and get home. I feel bad since we are her only family left but Red can only take so much and with all the rain the drive home wasn’t looking promising. We went to mass and brunch and headed out. I was tired of the same stories over and over, my face hurt from smiling and I missed my internet connection.

The mountains on the drive home are so beautiful and I wish I could have captured a photo of the sights from 81S. The fog got impressive but I got in front and headed through. I wanted to get home and as soon as possible. Monday is a big day for Mini Red and we need to shake the weekend off. I was surprised Mini Red didn’t sleep at all on the way home; instead she played her Nintendo DS. She got a big giggle as we were driving through Gettysburg. I noticed a smell in that area and finally realized what it was… it smelled like Beef Jerky!

The weekend was a success! My Aunt was very happy and I tried to just make her happy and do whatever she wanted.