Tuesday, April 14, 2015

In the Name

During the Church's required Baptism class for parents of children receiving the Sacrament, the facilitators talk to you about the different symbols used throughout the ceremony: the water, light, fragrant chrism oil, and white garments that your baby is bound to burp or in our case poop all over. They teach you about your role and those of the Godparents. They lay out the order of events, prep you for the terse responses to the Priest's questions, and reinforce how important the ritual is. What they don't mention though is how many times they will say your child's name throughout the service; and just how important that name is. Bobby's full name must have been called a dozen times throughout his Baptism on Sunday, and at each mention I think I beamed with a little more pride. 
While at the end, the Priest petitioned for St. Robert to pray for us, I was hoping that four other men would provide their intercession as well.

Bobby was named after his four great grandfathers; four men who helped make the Greatest Generation even greater. A baker, a bricklayer, a banker, and a builder - each man never solely defined by a profession, but by all the electric elements of their well lived lives.

Bobby was baptized with the name Robert. With the turn of the century. With flour, salt, water and yeast and the sweet aromas of bread filling the small Midwestern city of Quincy, Illinois. With tailored suits and shined shoes. With a bombshell bride whose style rivaled his own. With a mean golf swing and a passport into the most amazing swimming pool on either side of the Mississippi. With a storyteller who always broke after the punch line. With grasshoppers and divinity. With an artistic hand that could bring a boy's imagination to life on a blank piece of paper. With tees, and tackle, and sharp ties. With roses, geodes, lightening bugs and summer clouds outside, and a very hot house inside. With a polished politico who loved playing Mayor or just making a new friend.
He was baptized with the name Bob for short. With a thick head of wavy black hair tucked under his Navy cap. With a room on the Pacific to receive and report radio signals, carrying news from every corner of the War. With an old time Domer, cheering for the Irish in their hey day. With a train ride to Union Station where he met his super soul mate. With a special table for two in a favorite Paris bistro. With an invitation to join us on the Shirley B, docked at Slip Number Six in Burnham Harbor. With Chevys, Cadillacs and cars that were OK! With wheat, corn and soy trades, options, burgers, and safe deposit boxes. With a serial entrepreneur, dressed in blue, always looking for his next venture. With a man who marched to the beat of his own drum, encouraging each of his children and grandchildren to do the same.
He was baptized with the name Barry. With bright red hair and freckled Irish skin. With steel and iron and Pittsburgh pride. With a ruptured ear drum, that kept him on U.S. soil and out of a tank destroyer unit that mostly perished during the War. With a blessing in disguise that brought eight children and their offspring into the world. With rich earth and the potatoes, asparagus and tomatoes that sprout from it. With the skill to jitterbug with his beloved Croatian bride. With a hearty laugh that would shake a belly filled with the Chef's beef birds and baked goods. With a voice that was never on key, but confident enough to belt out any melody. With Easter eggs, apple cider, and burgers. With mason jars ready for their pickled fillings, a shot of Jameson, and a closet full of intermediates. With a stubborn streak, a will to survive and an emotional side reserved only for the people closest to him. 
And he was baptized with the name Schultz. With a war hero who built the bridges over the Rhine, leading the Allied Troops to victory. With a handsome GI who marched through the Arc de Triomphe to find his bride and bring her home. With a humble engineer whose mind could tackle anything from the most complex compounds to the most delicate dollhouses. With potato pancakes and brats for dinner, and kaffe and kuchen for dessert. With the faith that the Cubs would someday be #1. With over engineered doors for the cats to go out and see the brilliant blue skies of Colorado. With cement, Warsteiner, hammers and nails. With the will to fix anything, no matter how broken. 
On Sunday, Bobby was baptized with the names and love of his four great grandfathers, shining down on him from heaven. But ultimately, Bobby was baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son and and the Holy Spirit, who I pray will continue to bless and keep him throughout his days. And naturally we feted, toasted, and celebrated the newest, cutest little Catholic all weekend. 
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A toast to the ever inspiring Greats. We will continue to do our best to fill your legendary shoes.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Couple Clicks

My niece has a pair of sparkly red shoes. She wore them several times when I was home this past week. She loves them and believes they go with everything. Which leads me to think she is wise beyond her three and a half years. After all, glittering ruby slippers have a history of providing security at times when a girl needs it most. Perhaps she already knows that with three clicks and the mantra, 'there's no place like home,' she can transport herself to the best place on Earth: for a preferred snack, a more comfortable nap, a change of costume, or a hug and squeeze from Mom and Dad. If I had a pair, I'd surely wear them all the time as well.

Within the shoe boxes that lazily rest in the attic of my closet, I have a pair of red patent leather Mary Janes and a pair of red suede pumps with pink trim. No sparklers. But it hasn't prevented me from finding the way back home throughout the years I've been away. I was actually wearing cowboy boots last Wednesday morning when I flew the friendly skies back to Pittsburgh to visit my family for Easter.

The trip was smoother than a Twister, but with two kids and one Mom less graceful than Glinda's floating bubble. Regardless, we made it, and Nana's hug on the other side of security was warmer than Aunt Em's and Uncle Henry's wash cloth.

While my beloved hometown continues to evolve, in many ways moving straight from the early 90s to a very hip, modern metropolis, much of what I love about the city stays the same. Emerging from the Fort Pitt Tunnel to an epic view of the city's glowing skyline makes you feel infinite. The roads that meander in concert with the rolling geography force you to lose all sense of direction. Prantl's pastries are still perfectly glazed with icing and Soba's cocktails are still deliciously buzzworthy. Although the sidewalks around the East End seem to get bumpier and bumpier, the morning views of Downtown and Oakland around their bends are as beautiful as ever. Descendants of Carnegie, Frick and Mellon still hang out at the Pittsburgh Golf Club, and stressed out lawyers extend courtroom disputes on the Rivers Club basketball court. The same smiling sales people are waiting to take care of you at Littles, while the same skeptical sales women at Dina Ellen give you the once over. The people still talk with a twang they call Pittsburghese, they dress like everyday is Super Bowl Sunday, and they make daring Pittsburgh lefts before the oncoming traffic steps on the gas. And nestled away above my parents garage, my childhood room remains almost exactly as I left it.

The dulcimer I made in fifth grade still plucks. my clarinet still croons, and my tap shoes can still muster up a good jingle. Molly McIntire and her collection of miniature 1940's memorabilia teach history lessons and the Fisher Price Guys make the mechanics of city life approachable for tiny hands. The books that I never got around to reading still line the shelves and my collection of china animals continue to collect dust in their shadow box. My night stand is crammed with photos and letters and a collection of Disney read along tapes; my desk is framed with accolades from St. Edmund's, Ellis, and Notre Dame; and my closet boasts some of my more garish dance costumes from recitals past. Home, is as sweet as I remember it.

It was the first time in a while that I had celebrated Easter in Pittsburgh. It was also a first for Peter, Mary and Bobby. And my parents didn't skimp on making it a memorable time for all of us. I'd say it was perfect, but there were of course some blunders. Mary won the fussiest child at St. Bede's award, the Easter Bunny was a little creepier than I remember, I felt nostalgic for the great McMurray egg hunt, there were major sugar highs and lows, and par for the course, I found a way to get sick once again. But I loved every minute of being home for the holiday.

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On Monday morning, my kids clicked their shoes and found themselves back in their Midwestern home by midday. Judging by their extended naps that afternoon, I think they liked being in their own beds, in their own rooms, in their own, familiar house. It made me hopeful that I'm creating a place for them as special as the one my parents created for me and my brother and sister. And I hope that even if they don't have red shoes when they're older, they will find a way to click their heels together and find their way home as frequently as possible.