Tag Archives: love

100 Years Strong

August 7, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The Bryant-Fisher family reunion celebrates an important milestone in 2017—its 100th anniversary. The three-day reunion event will conclude with a final day of festivities in Elmwood Park.

The “Dozens of Cousins,” named for the 12 branches of the prodigious African-American family, will gather in Omaha on Sunday, Aug. 13, to eat, converse, and renew bonds of kinship while reinvigorating ties to local neighborhood roots.

The first reunion was a picnic in 1917 held at Mandan Park in South Omaha, where family roots run deep. Mandan hosted the picnic for 74 years. Its trails, gardens, and river views offered scenic backdrops. The park is also near the family’s homestead at 15th Street and Berry Avenue, and Graceland Park Cemetery (where many relatives are buried).

The picnic, which goes on rain or shine, relocated to Carter Lake in the 1990s and has since gone to various locales. It is coming to Elmwood Park for the first time this year.

Hours before the picnic, a dawn fish fry kicks things off. With bellies full of fried food, the descendants of Emma Early head for a family worship service followed by the picnic.

Always present is a star-studded menu of from-scratch American comfort and soul food staples: ribs, fried chicken, lasagna, collard greens, black-eyed peas, mac and cheese, potato salad, and more.

The family’s different branches provide tents under which they set up their family feasts. Monique Henry belongs to the Gray tent and says everyone waits for her first cousin Danielle Nauden’s peach cobbler to arrive on the table.

The meals may be the highlight, but the day also includes games, foot races, a dance contest, and a pie/cake baking contest, which Henry says is mainly for the teenagers. The baking contest garners between 20 and 50 entries, depending on the size of the reunion.

Competitions are an intense part of the picnic gathering.

Film-television actress Gabrielle Union, the star of hit BET drama Being Mary Jane, is a descendant who grew up with the reunions. She understands what’s at stake.

“Having a chance to compete against your cousins in front of your family is huge,” Union says. “Some top athletes are in our family, so the races are like the Olympics. Each section of the family is like a country sending their best athletes. You trained for it.”

Union vividly recalls her most memorable race: “I wore my hair in braids but tucked under a cap. I won the race, and then somebody shouted, ‘That’s a boy,” thinking this fast little dynamo couldn’t possibly have been a girl, and I whipped off my cap like, ‘I’m a girl!’”

Although the large family has expanded and dispersed across Omaha and nationwide—and descendants of Emma Early Bryant-Fisher now number in the thousands—the picnic has remained in Omaha the second Sunday of August as a perennial ties-that-bind feast.

Union returns as her schedule allows. The actress grew up in northeast Omaha, attending St. Benedict the Moor. She often visited relatives in South O, where the home of matriarch Emma (a street is named after her) remained in the family.

Union introduced NBA superstar husband Dwyane Wade to the reunion last year. “It was important for me for Dwyane to come experience it,” she says. “No one I know has a family reunion of the scale, scope, and length we have. It’s pretty incredible. It says a lot about the endurance and strength of our family. It’s a testament to the importance of family, sticking together, and the strength that comes out of a family that recognizes its rich history and celebrates it.”

A tradition of this duration is rare for African-Americans given the historic struggles that disrupted many families. Bryant-Fisher descendant Susan Prater James says, “The reason for celebrating the 100th is that we’re still able to be together after everything our ancestors went through.”

“There’s nothing I can complain about [in terms of facing] adversity [that] someone in my family has not only experienced but fought through, and not just survived but thrived,” Union says. “I come from a long line of incredibly strong, powerful, and resilient strivers, and I pull from that daily.

We recognize our uniqueness and specialness, and we never take that for granted. I think with each passing year it just gets stronger and stronger.”

The family tree gets updated with a new history book every five years. “Dozens of Cousins” social media sites keep the grapevine buzzing. The family migrated from South Omaha to North Omaha many years ago, and also once had its own North O clubhouse at 21st and Wirt streets. The Dozens of Cousins, Inc. became a 501c3 in 2016.

A century of gatherings doesn’t just happen.

“We get together all the time, and anytime we get together it’s a celebration,” says Bryant-Fisher descendant Sherri Wright-Harris. “We love on one another. Family has always been instilled as the most important thing you have in this life. This is a part of the fabric that makes us who we are.”

“We don’t know anything different,” says Henry, another Bryant-
Fisher descendant.

“That’s ingrained from the time you’re born into the legacy,” family historian Arlett Brooks says. “My mother committed to her mother, and I committed to her to carry this tradition on. This is my love, my passion. I just think it’s important to share your history, and I want our youth to know the importance of this and to treasure what we have because this is not a common thing.”

The reunion has evolved from a one-day picnic to include: a river boat cruise, skate party, memorial ride (on a trolley or bus) to visit important family sites, banquet dinner-dance, and a talent showcase. Milestone years such as this one include a Saturday parade. Headquarters for the 2017 reunion will be situated at the Old Market Embassy Suites.

The reunion’s Friday night formal banquet means new outfits and hair-dos. But renewing blood bonds is what counts. “It’s a way for young and old to reconnect with their roots and find a sense of belonging,” Prater James says.

Representing the various branches of the Bryant-Fisher family takes on added meaning over time.

“No matter how old you are, no matter how down you get, on that day everything seems to be looking better,” Marc Nichols says.

Cheryl Bowles says she “felt sick” the one reunion she skipped.

Arlett Brooks says she has never missed a reunion, and she’s not about to miss the 100th. “You only get the centennial one time,” Brooks says.

New this year will be a family history cookbook complete with recipes, stories, and photos. Catfish, spaghetti, greens, and cornbread are faves. The history cookbook is expected to be printed and ready for sale at the reunion.

Union says fun and food aside, the real attraction is “hearing the stories—the important stories, the silly stories—and learning the history before people are gone.”

Visit bryantfisherreunion.com for more information.

Monique Henry

This article was printed in the July/August 2017 Edition of Omaha Home.

Food for the Heart

June 21, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Marie Losole still laughs when telling what she calls “the story of our escapade,” a 1967 elopement by train to Idaho, one of two states where 18-year-olds could get married at that time without parental permission.

Fifty years after running away together, Don and Marie Losole are still running—running a restaurant together. Its name, Lo Sole Mio, is a play on words, combining their last name and the famous Italian love song “O Sole Mio.”

Like their love, the restaurant has endured. August marks 25 years for the venture that embodies their passion and lifelong dream.

The couple, who met at Central High School, both come from restaurant families and began their restaurant careers at age 14. Don was head chef at a large country club by the time he was only 21.

In 1975, the couple opened their first restaurant, Losole’s Landmark, a favorite with the downtown lunch crowd. A job opportunity briefly took the family to California a few years later, but they soon realized the West Coast was not a good fit for them.

After their return to Omaha, Don worked on the supply side of the restaurant industry while Marie began creating dishes for delivery, a side business that “pretty soon got so big that we knew we couldn’t keep doing this from home,” she says.

In 1992, the family took a leap of faith that became Lo Sole Mio. Villa Losole, an event venue, followed in 1997.

Both facilities are located near the Hanscom Park area, tucked away in a quaint neighborhood, exactly the sort of location that the Losoles were seeking—a destination. The charming ambiance is a perfect backdrop for the Italian cuisine and family atmosphere.

“We are a family supporting other families…We are very blessed to have some good employees who’ve been here a long time and some loyal customers who have become friends,” Marie says. “I like to walk around and visit with my customers and see what brings them in, just thank them for coming here…I love being a part of people’s memories.”

Lo Sole Mio has employed all six of their children over the years and now some of their older grandchildren (they have 17).

“My mother always used to say to me, ‘as you get older, time goes by faster.’  Well, my summation of that is that time doesn’t go any faster, it’s just taking us longer to do what we used to do,” Marie says.

Sure, the couple boasts some artificial joints between them, and Marie says “my feet ache a little more, my back aches a little more,” but the Losoles are proud to continue maintaining their “old-school” work ethic and hands-on management approach.

“We make sure it’s something we’d want to eat; quality is very important for us,” Marie says. “We are now at the point where we can enjoy life a little bit more without having to be here 80 hours a week or more. But this is still our first priority. We will probably be here until we pass away, I would imagine.”

In fact, she says, “My husband says to me, ‘This is what’s keeping us young.’”

Visit losolemio.com for more information.

This article was printed in the July/August 2017 Edition of 60Plus.

Beep Beep

August 11, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Beep Beep is no ordinary bus. It is a fully restored “sealing wax red” and white splitty Volkswagen (“splitty” refers to the two-panel windshield). The bus, named Beep Beep, was also its owner’s long-lost honeymoon ride.

BeepBeep1Beep Beep’s 86-year-old owner, John Adair, is a multifaceted businessperson. Adair calls himself an “educational entrepreneur” because of his experience starting several Montessori schools in Omaha. He is also the co-founder of U.S. Assets, a nearly 25-year-old tax business that buys delinquent property taxes from various states, pays them, and profits from penalty collections. The delinquent taxes, he explains, are crucial to funding schools. Adair also serves on a number of nonprofit boards.

Adair’s philosophy is not about profit. Rather, he believes in generosity, free-spiritedness, harmony, love, friendship, and family. These ideals, Adair says, are embodied in his choice of vehicle: a 1960 Volkswagen Microbus Deluxe-SO 22.

Auto restoration expert Mike Carroll, proprietor of Air Cooled Express in Bennington, helped to bring Beep Beep back to life. Carroll says the bus model is the “high line of (VW) busses,” characterized by “nice chrome and a fancy interior—all of the amenities offered back then, and from Germany.

He received Beep Beep from Adair via flatbed. When Carroll first saw the bus, he says it “looked like an unfixable wreck…It sat in a forest for 40 years.” The bus had changed owners many times since Adair’s initial possession. It had served many roles: from family van, to television sales vehicle, to being a storage container.

Adair rescued the abandoned, rusting, and hopelessly immobile Beep Beep from an Iowa forest in 2014. Long before that time, Beep Beep carried Adair and his wife, Rosemarie, across Germany during their 1960 honeymoon.

BeepBeep3Beep Beep was “born in Hanover (Germany), same as Rosemarie,” says Adair. He purchased the vehicle on behalf of his father with the agreement that he could use the bus on his wedding trip in Europe.

Beep Beep’s first outing was in the Swiss Alps. After the honeymoon, Adair relinquished Beep Beep to his father and subsequently became estranged from the vehicle until 40 years later, when a family friend asked what had become of the bus. They traced the bus to its resting place in the forest.

Carroll restored the bus with the help of mechanic Terry Wolfe. It took one-and-a-half years to complete the project. Carroll notes that parts for this bus are obscure or almost impossible to find. He faced the challenge of repairing original parts instead of replacing them.

“I repaired everything I could,” he says. Other parts he located internationally. Carroll accredits the upholstery to Sky’s Interior Shop, and the paint and body work to Extreme Paint (both of which are located in Fremont). Carroll says, “when we put that last piece in there, it just about brought a tear to your eye to see it.”

Since the complete restoration, the bus has earned first place in the Restored Class at the World of Wheels show in March 2016, and Best in Class and Best in Show in the Omaha VW Club show in June 2016. Adair says that Beep Beep “is symbolic of happiness” and “the free spirit of living.”

Adair says that Beep Beep “went from an ‘I can’ car to an ‘icon’ car.”

*Correction: Due to an editing error, the September/October 2016 print edition incorrectly identified Adair’s wife as deceased.

Visit omahavwclub.com for more information. B2B

BeepBeep2

Dominique Morgan

January 15, 2016 by
Photography by Bill SItzmann

I’m gonna be so honest with you right now it will piss…you…off. I started writing music at seven. Music just comes to me. I don’t read music. The shit just happens and I just go with it and I just go with it ‘til I can’t go anymore.”

Dominique Morgan, orator of the aforementioned, was a show choir kid at Benson High. At age 14, he came out as gay to his family, “who were cool with it.” He left home during his senior year, “making a stink about being grown,” and followed friends to UNL, where almost no one knew he wasn’t enrolled or that he got by sleeping in cars. Bad checks led to prison.

That was before 2009. Now he is one of the metro’s most celebrated R&B recording artists and a prominent activist. Morgan recently headlined at the Baltimore Pride Celebration, which he described as a highlight of his career.

Morgan is involved at various levels with the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network, Queer Nebraska Youth Network, the NAACP, Urban League Young Professionals, Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition, and the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards. He founded Queer People of Color (QPOC), a group whose focus is providing diverse, local role models for LGBTQIA youth.

An unguarded man expressing his pain and hope on- and off-stage, Morgan brought himself and his fans to tears during an acoustic set with Kevin Sullivan of Bells and Whistles during the 2015 OEAA nominee showcase at Reverb Lounge. His album, Loveaholics Anonymous, is a well-received tribute to the highs and lows of romance, earning him three nominations for best R&B artist, album of the year, and artist of the year. A holiday album, Dom’s Favorite Things, launched in late 2015. If the past is prologue, the next act for this Omaha original could be biblical. What comes after a year like that?

“I’m not worried about that,” says Morgan with a sincere, charming theatricality and flair, but no bull. “I don’t want to be stuck. It’s time for a break.”

Dom-Morgan2

Independence has perks. Morgan is allowing himself time for creative recharging.

“Time to catch a breath and start over fresh. ‘Loveaholics’ is a good, solid album. It’s going to ride me out for another year. With no label, I’m not forced to put out ‘stuff.’ I feel like there’s some things I haven’t done yet musically and I need to take a break to be able to be open to it.”

Morgan says he struggled early on with being open about his painful past. 

“What I was missing for the longest time was focusing on me,” says Morgan, admitting that leaving his prison life out of his published music created imbalance in his new life. “I treated [that life] as if it didn’t exist. It’s hard to balance the two when my music comes from my experience. There would be songs I would write about, but wouldn’t record them or I would record them and never release them. How do you write from those experiences, but you won’t talk about those experiences?”

Working with at-risk teens helped tip the balance toward full disclosure for Morgan.

“When I was working with young people and discussing my process of coming out at a young age, there were so many levels with these young people that I could have worked on, but I wasn’t because they were things I didn’t want to talk about or deal with.” 

Ultimately, the superhero in Morgan opted to open up, using his greatest strength—experience—to connect with everyone needing a loving example. Fusion is one of Dom’s favorite motifs.

“It’s been hard because for a while, people were like, ‘What does he do? Is he a musician? Is he an activist?’ Soon people realized that I blended the two together.” 

When Morgan started receiving notice from the media, he was understandably leery of the attention. Exposing one’s inner most self, as well as past crimes to the world, can be discombobulating, especially when left in the hands of another  writer.

“I was really nervous about having an open conversation about my life. I wanted to talk about music. I wanted to talk about my ‘this, that, and the other,’ but you have to be able to talk about everything. This last year has been the first time that I’ve been open to talking about everything.”

“I did hide for a while,” Morgan continues. “My formative years were not the best. I’m a reinvention of myself. I thought, ‘Do I let people see this shiny, glossy version of Dominique Morgan, which is really safe and comfortable, or do I get outside of my head?’”

Reinvention, acceptance, love, fusion, music, and activism. Dominique Morgan brings it all together.

“It’s part of the process. You can’t reinvent yourself without embracing your old self.” 

Visit dominiquemorgan.com to learn more.

Dom-Morgan1

Not Funny

June 1, 2015 by

This column was printed in the 2015 May/June issue of Omaha Magazine.

It says right there in an old bio I sent out years ago, “I was once Paul Newman’s bodyguard.”

Okay, I lied.

Or, did I?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell. I mean we start out lying at such an early age. I’ve seen studies where scientists have discovered that spreading deliberate falsehoods is in our DNA.

Or did they?

Maybe I’m exaggerating what they discovered. Maybe I just saw it on Facebook—where I also discovered yesterday that President Obama binge watches Overhaulin’ originally from The Learning Channel.

Which brings up a salient point—if TLC and The Learning Channel run shows like 19 Kids and Counting, Sister Wives, and Love, Lust, or Run, then is it a lie to call themselves The “Learning” Channel? Maybe they’re truthful. Maybe I should learn from them, even if the lessons taught are at times contradictory and always impractical.

Do we lie because it’s in our nature, or is it nurture? My mom used to tell us kids that if we ate the crusts of our PB&J sandwiches we’d be able to whistle. Now, since I was the only one of my siblings who could ever whistle, did my mom lie to the brother and sisters? They turned out to be bigger liars than I did. Maybe it was the way they were brought up.

I learned to be honest at my father’s knee. My dad once told me, “There are only three things you should never lie about; love, dinnertime, and taxes.” Though he also offered an addendum, “Pay your accountant to lie about the taxes.”

Lying is everywhere.

And the media, well the airwaves and lies go together like chemicals and life. One is not possible without the other. Brian Williams is a liar. That’s what I’ve been told. He lied about his helicopter being shot down in Iraq. NBC suspended him without pay for six months. So, he’s out about $5 million, not counting the side money he made as my stand-in for my L.L. Bean catalogue modeling assignments.

Bill O’Reilly is a liar, though there isn’t enough space here to enumerate all of the falsehoods he’s likely guilty of spreading. What’s Bill-O’s punishment? Higher ratings. Proving once again that venue is more important that veracity.

Of course, we were all outraged by their lies. We all called talk radio shows to condemn Bill and/or Brian. Who we were most mad at depended on whom we most agreed with. We were so mad some of us posted something on Facebook about how scandalized we were…right under our Photoshopped profile pics.

The irony always escapes us.

So, back to my bio, was I actually Paul Newman’s bodyguard?

You be the judge. In 1968 during the Nebraska Presidential Primary campaign, the movie star himself came to town to speak on behalf of “Clean” Gene McCarthy. The organizers needed “security,” so they recruited some tall college students to show up and form a protective ring around the diminutive star. When the predicable surge of hysterical female fans rushed us, and the station wagon tailgate that Paul stood on so as to be seen, I was terrified. I was petrified. No, I was worse that that…I was shy. Despite the fact that I was touched, grabbed, and groped in ways I had never been before (or since) as I stood between the mob and their prey, our adolescent phalanx held. Paul, who remained true to form “cool,” spoke. No one laid a hand on him…and I could write in my bio:

I was once Paul Newman’s bodyguard.

Go ahead… suspend me.

OtisXII

Karen and Ron Baker

February 24, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Karen & Ron Baker had their first date on May 1st of last year. On October 4th, just four short months later, they were married. Crazy kids in love?  Impulsive, impetuous teenagers? You might think so, but you would be wrong. These two lovebirds are admittedly far from their teen years, and rather than being impulsive, they explain that they “just knew” that they belonged together.

It did happen fast,” Karen admits, “but it isn’t as if we were strangers. I’d known Ron and his family for years. He was our mail man before he retired. We were in the same parish. Our kids were even in the same dance class together.” But in spite of knowing each other, Ron admits he was nervous when he thought about asking Karen out on a date.

“My wife of 48 years had died,” he explains, “and I knew her husband had also died. I was so lonely that I somehow found the courage to call her up.”

Karen believes their connecting was a sign of faith, explaining that she had gone to church to offer what’s called a novena, a nine-day prayer, asking God to tell her what she was supposed to do with her life now that her children were grown and her husband gone. “I was amazed to realize,” Karen says,” that Ron’s call to ask me out came either nine or ten days later! I took that to be a direct answer to my prayer.

“I felt comfortable with him right away,” Karen recalls of their first date. “We discovered we shared so many interests.” Ron agrees, and adds, “By the end of that first date, I knew I loved her, and I told her, even though I was afraid I might scare her off!”

“He didn’t scare me off,” Karen adds, “because I already knew I was feeling the same way.”

From that moment on the couple was inseparable. “I asked her to marry me within a few weeks,” Ron says, “because there was no reason to wait. At our age, you understand how limited your time may be, and that anything could happen to change things.”

Though their family members were indeed surprised (between them, they have 10 children, 22 grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren, all of whom were at the wedding), they are “150 percent supportive of our decision,” says Karen. “They just want us to be happy.”

And it definitely appears that they are.

“We’re enjoying doing so many things together,” says Karen, “especially since both of our spouses had been sick for such a long time. We’ve taken up golf again, and we’re also traveling—things that neither of us had been able to do for many years.”

“We honestly feel like we’re about 30 years old, in the sense that we’re rediscovering life,” adds Ron. “We’ve been given a second chance at love, and we don’t take it for granted. We’re going to share the rest of our lives together.”

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Valentine’s Day

January 20, 2015 by and

Now that our kids are in junior high, they don’t have those Valentine’s Day class parties. For Chris and I, romance has digressed into the form of a nap. In lieu of all the typical celebrations, we make Valentine’s Day a proclaimed day of love for our dog.

I love all dogs and their furry souls. A dog walks by me, and I immediately inquire about the name of the dog, the breed, its age, and its personality. I’m always curious about a dog’s connection to their human.

Before kids, or even marriage, we had Farley the Wonderdog, a 125 pound, loyalty-and-gentle-giant of a black lab. Since I was vetoed on letting him be in our wedding party, Farley was represented at our wedding with a custom-made cake topper. Once the babies arrived, our Farley became our personal service dog. He cleaned up anything on the floor. He would assess the extent of my cooking project and man his station right next to the cutting board.

When the kids learned to crawl, he’d keep them corralled. And when they’d get too close, he’d lick them until they toddled away. When they learned to walk, he’d keep an eye on them and then get out of their way, lacking in their judgment of newfound confidence in their upright adventures. On occasion, he’d knock them down with a whap of his tail, just to remind them who’s really in charge.

My kids were 9 years old when we made the heartbreaking decision to put Farley down. They grew up with him. Farley taught us that we have room in our hearts to love dogs. He taught me the profound and still perplexing lesson that dogs will take any love you give them and reciprocate with an exponentially greater rate.

And that is true love. It’s a give of everything you have—regardless if you have thumbs or not. Farley also taught us to clear all food up to six feet high, and hide all shoes. But mostly, he taught us that we have room in our hearts to love another dog.

So that’s when we rescued Maybee. The word “maybe” initiates hope to a child. Our furry family member, Maybee, is a sign of hope and possibilities for all great things to our family. Maybee is a herding dog, and for the first year we had her, she kept the kids in line by nipping them on their backside. I love this dog.

As it stands now, I’m trying to decide if we saved Maybee or if she saved us. Either way, we’ll celebrate Valentine’s Day with our sweet, smart, and beautiful dog. Instead of chocolate and Sweethearts, we’ll take a romantic stroll in the park and give her doggy treats and a rawhide. Thank you, Maybee! We love you!

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Karen and Ron Baker

January 16, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Karen & Ron Baker had their first date on May 1st of last year. On October 4th, just four short months later, they were married. Crazy kids in love?  Impulsive, impetuous teenagers? You might think so, but you would be wrong. These two lovebirds are admittedly far from their teen years, and rather than being impulsive, they explain that they “just knew” that they belonged together.

It did happen fast,” Karen admits, “but it isn’t as if we were strangers. I’d known Ron and his family for years. He was our mail man before he retired. We were in the same parish. Our kids were even in the same dance class together.” But in spite of knowing each other, Ron admits he was nervous when he thought about asking Karen out on a date.

“My wife of 48 years had died,” he explains, “and I knew her husband had also died.
I was so lonely that I somehow found the courage to call her up.”

Karen believes their connecting was a sign of faith, explaining that she had gone to church to offer what’s called a novena, a nine-day prayer, asking God to tell her what she was supposed to do with her life now that her children were grown and her husband gone. “I was amazed to realize,” Karen says,” that Ron’s call to ask me out came either nine or ten days later! I took that to be a direct answer to my prayer.

“I felt comfortable with him right away,” Karen recalls of their first date. “We discovered we shared so many interests.” Ron agrees, and adds, “By the end of that first date, I knew I loved her, and I told her, even though I was afraid I might scare her off!”

“He didn’t scare me off,” Karen adds, “because I already knew I was feeling the same way.”

From that moment on the couple was inseparable. “I asked her to marry me within a few weeks,” Ron says, “because there was no reason to wait. At our age, you understand how limited your time may be, and that anything could happen to change things.”

Though their family members were indeed surprised (between them, they have 10 children, 22 grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren, all of whom were at the wedding), they are “150 percent supportive of our decision,” says Karen. “They just want us to be happy.”

And it definitely appears that they are.

“We’re enjoying doing so many things together,” says Karen, “especially since both of our spouses had been sick for such a long time. We’ve taken up golf again, and we’re also traveling—things that neither of us had been able to do for many years.”

“We honestly feel like we’re about 30 years old, in the sense that we’re rediscovering life,” adds Ron. “We’ve been given a second chance at love, and we don’t take it for granted. We’re going to share the rest of our lives together.”

Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2014 by

Growing up in a Catholic elementary school, we took notice of holidays with religious connections, mostly involving saints. However, as a younger child, Valentine’s Day did not seem to fit into that religious holiday category. February 14th, skipped over as a feast day by most, is originally known as St. Valentine’s Day.

St. Valentine was a Christian priest in the third century, living in Rome. The Roman emperor at that time, Claudius II, decided that single men would be more useful for fighting, not falling in love. He issued a law forbidding the marriage of any young man. Valentine would not put up with this new rule, so he began to perform marriages in secret. Unfortunately, Claudius II found out about Valentine and put him to death.

Now, Valentine’s Day is known as a holiday celebrating love. Not much is remembered about the famous martyr and even less is actually cared about. Most people see it as a day to recognize all the people that you love in your life—and especially that one special person.

For teenagers such as myself, the holiday does not take over our lives. We shouldn’t spend hours upon hours figuring out the right gift and thinking of things to say to get someone else to fall in love with us. If you happen to be in a relationship, then it is perfectly fine to get your girlfriend/boyfriend a little something, but the holiday should not be blown up to be that big of a deal. Much of the reason teenagers like to make a big deal about Valentine’s Day is to make them seem more mature, but, in a sense, they are only mocking the original intent. The holiday is meant to celebrate everyone in real love, so I think we can leave that to the adults.

With all the pink and red hearts floating around, the holiday can be pretty cheesy, but there is some good to it. For adults, it is a great day to show their love for each other. Kids, well, just stick to the hearts and candy.

Daniel Jewell is a student at Mount Michael Benedictine School.

Finding the Love

February 10, 2014 by

The other day, I did the splits when stepping on my son’s sweatshirt. It should probably be noted that I’ve never done the splits before, so I might have mentioned in a slightly unloving way that he needed to pick his stuff up. Then we had a friend over for dinner, and my sweet, gorgeous daughter reached over my friend and grabbed the drumstick off the chicken and put it on her plate. I was horrified.

I’m really tired of lecturing them though. So I’m going to approach it differently. Maybe their poor housekeeping and manners is an extension of love. I give to you five odd ways that kids express their love for you:

  1. The stall tactics at bedtime. Max and Lucy zone out and move extra slow at the mention of bedtime. They linger in the hallways staring at the walls or have a sudden need to pet the dog. Perhaps they’ve just realized (every night) that the day is over, and they spent a lot of it playing video games or playing with their friends. It’s their way of saying, “But wait, I wanted to hang out with you—I just had 47 other things on my to-do list.” They don’t want their day with you to end. It’s kind of sweet, really. I’m going to try to remember that tonight at bedtime.
  2. “Tuck me in.” This one went on for a long time at our house. To the point where us jerks-for-parents would say things like, “I already tucked you in—go to sleep!” Maybe that’s what’s comforting to them—to see your face right before drifting off to dreamland. Whatever the case, one day they’ll stop asking. And it’ll hurt way more than it inconvenienced you when they were asking to tuck them in.
  3. Leaving shoes, socks, and sweatshirts on the floor. How do they just walk out of their shoes mid-stride like that? Maybe they’re doing it because they feel so secure and comfortable in the home you’ve created. Okay, this one is a stretch, and my kids should find a way to just directly express their love for me—or someone is going to get hurt with this expression of love.
  4. Grabbing at food like wild savages before you pray or say “go!” If you’re like me, there’s not enough food in the house that could qualify as being enough…ever. You made the meal for them with love. Consider them eating it with such vigor as the reciprocation of love.
  5. They ask for tiger time or tickle time. Our kids both loathe being tickled. But they see the joy it brings us to all interact in some chaotic dog pile/giggly torture. Tiger time is when our kids ride around on our backs, and we crawl around on all fours. I’m not sure why they picked, of all four-legged creatures, tigers. But who cares. Sadly, the kids are too big to do tiger time any more. But it’s the precision and inside family name when the kids’ request it that shows their love.

So there are five very indirect, slightly far-fetched ways that kids say they love us. I hope this month when we’re celebrating one day of love, we can stop and see the every day love. It’s gotta be in there somewhere.