Showing posts with label Slavic Village. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Slavic Village. Show all posts

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Sleep in heavenly peace

My 9-year-old daughter asked me the other day, “Daddy, what’s your favorite Christmas carol?”

“Oh, Chloe, that’s easy,” I said and paused, fighting back unexpected tears. ... “It’s Silent Night.”


Here’s what I told her and my 11-year-old, Sophie, and my beautiful and caring fiancĂ©e, Dina:

It was back in about 2002. I was married to your mom back then, but it was before both of you were born. We went to Midnight Mass at St. Stanislaus in Slavic Village in Cleveland. You've been there.

St. Stanislaus is basically a cathedral. People visit it as a historic sight. I knew if I ever got married in the Catholic Church, it should be in St. Stanislaus. … And I did.

My cousin Jen and her husband Peter were married there, and mommy and I were married there. We both had Father Mike marry us. He seems different than a lot of priests I’ve met. He’s modern; he’s a Facebook friend. He posts Facebook things I like.

At Midnight mass, I think we had a group of people there. I forget exactly who was there, but I know that Grandma and Grandpa were there, for sure. At the homily, the part where the priest talks, Father Mike said a few words about the importance of family and God, and then he tried something different. He said, “Let’s sing Silent Night.”
He led Silent Night in a different way. He said, “Let’s start with only the men singing, then only the women, then the children.” We practiced a bit, and then we sang the song, and he was leading each group to a different part. 
The men:
Silent Night
Holy Night
All is calm
All is bright

The women:
Round yon virgin
Mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild

The children:
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Sleep in heavenly peace.

I didn’t expect to react this way, but when it got to the children, the pitch was so high that tears fell out of my eyes. The women’s pitch was extremely high, but the children’s pitch was even more so as it reverberated through St. Stanislaus. I was slightly embarrassed with my crying.

As I was trying to hide my tears and not make a scene, I looked at Grandpa, who was full on sobbing — big time. Oh, he was letting it out. He chuckled between the tears when he was saw me looking at him. We reached across the pew, hugged each other and sobbed together.

Sorry, Chloe. Sorry, Sophie. Sorry, Dina. Yes, maybe it would have just sufficed to say, “My favorite Christmas carol is Silent Night.” Maybe I should have left it at that….

As the years pass, I think I’ve gotten Grandpa’s gene for becoming overly emotional at ceremonies and seemingly random times. I guess that happens. As the years pass, I realize that the time I had with him was worth it, and I wouldn’t change it. I’ll cry if I want. My tears are drops of love for him.

This all reminds me of C.S. Lewis quote I read the other day: “Love anything, and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. … To love is to be vulnerable.”

Sleep in heavenly peace.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Polish eagle: Fierce and sophisticated

Back in college, I took a creative writing class with a guy named Mike, who I had known from a previous class. Because of that prior experience, we sat close, chatted and were pals. The only problem with him was that after a year of friendship, I realized his name was "Rob."

I briefly argued with Mike/Rob about what his name was. I thought he was joking about me getting it wrong. I also blamed him for me calling him the wrong name, saying "Why didn't you tell me earlier?"

Well, a similar thing has happened with the country of Poland. As a man of 100 percent Polish roots, I should know that the bird on the flag is a white eagle and not a falcon. But for most of my life, I have referred to the cool-looking bird as "The Polish Falcon." I even have a friend who I nicknamed "The Polish Falcon." Egads, sorry, national symbol of Poland.

This comes up now because as I spend a week in Cleveland to celebrate the holidays, I went to Slavic Village (a Polish part of town that is becoming increasingly economically depressed) with a couple friends and the World's Most Sophisticated Man.

Both the Most Sophisticated Man and I purchased Polish flags at Seven Roses, a restaurant and deli that is among the top places in Slavic Village. It was even featured earlier this year in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Anyway, I plan on displaying my Polish flag in a prominent place in my Long Beach, Calif., home, perhaps over the fireplace in the room I've dubbed "The Ski Lodge." The flag will be a reminder of Slavic Village, Poland, stuffed cabbage and fresh kielbasa.

I am going to try to refer to the Polish bird as "The Eagle," although part of me still wants to call it "The Falcon." Apparently, the fierce and sophisticated bird has staying power. It first was seen on Polish currency in the year 1000. I have the utmost respect for that bird; it is a bad ass.