Archive for February, 2006

We’re getting to that time of year where the earth starts to warm. The days are getting longer and soon it will be raining and lightening and flowers will be blooming… Ahh… Right around the time that we get to the point where spring becomes full-on summer, there is usually the first wet-sock/wormy day. I love that day. It rains, the pavement is hot from the sun for the first time in FOREVER… and the worms come out for their suicide adventure across driveways. And then they die. (hence suicide adventure) And it smells like wet gym sock from 4th period gym class.

I loved 4th period gym class.

Bring on the worms.

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Yeah, I am definitely sick. I went to the clinic near my office today and got an antibiotic for a sinus infection I am battling. I knew that I was going to get sick Saturday when I started feeling congested and it just spiraled out of control.

(ok, a little bit dramatic… but hey, I’m sick!)

So this weekend we really busted a move on the house. Mom and Dad R. came up and helped us prime and paint a TON of molding. Frank and I have been back to the house as often as possible to stain the banister and to prime and paint the door frames. The builders put in all the cabinetry and vinyl flooring for the laundry room and upstairs bathrooms. Fingers crossed, we’re only 4 weeks away from moving!!!

That’s about it. Hopefully this sinus infection will go away quickly.

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happy vd!

I just love to say that. HA!!! I tell you, life is rich when you can be so easily amused.

On another note – somewhat more serious. I guess I am still in a bit of a period of grieving. I know that every now and then, long after saying good-bye to Nani, I will think of something like, “I wonder if Nani will hem these pants for me” and remember she isn’t there. And for a moment or two, I will remember her, smile and say a little thanks to God for her life. And that’s pretty cool.

In the theme of thankfulness and richness in life, taking time to say good-bye to Nani reminded me of all the people I have to be thankful for and the richness my life that has nothing to do with what I have in your bank account. At her wake, so many showed up to say thank you to her for her impact on their life. Her legacy. And what was amazing were the awesome friends that showed up for her wake to show support for me and my family.

Thank you to all our friends who came to the wake and to everyone who called/emailed their support and offered their prayers for our family.

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Folded over a rosary, the hands that were busy for 77 years, were quiet and still.

They didn’t really even look like her hands. I am used to seeing them lively – molding fabric into a dress, laying oils onto a canvas, and stirring ingredients into a meal for over 20 family members. Later in her life, her hands trembled and shook with Parkinsons. They became difficult to control. But the heart and mind won out over the hands and commanded them to continue making art… making dinner… holding a hand full of playing cards…

Fifteen years ago – maybe not even that long – we were gathered around the kitchen table pealing potatoes. She was cooking a batch of frites (fries) in the oven. She pulled them out. We laughed, smiled and breathed in the aroma of a delicious meal. She walked toward us, still smiling. But then, a great hiccup of life and the first symptoms of disease, pulled the pan out of her hands. All the air in the room was still. The pan clattered to the floor – her hands frozen in position.

At first it was shaking and then it was full on tremors. She made my sister a coat, me a dress, and drapes for her room. She broke her hip. She cooked countless more dinners. She lost her husband. She painted. She bought a motorized chair to cruise through the house. She sketched and drew.

But after 77 years of creating, today her hands were still.

Good bye, Nani, and good night. God bless you.

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I was able to email most of you, but below is what I wrote earlier. Rosemary “Nani” Bogaerts passed away this morning during complications persumably from side effects from her hip replacement surgery.

I am tired right now, so I’ll definitely write more later.

So here are a few thoughts strung together to create a snapshot of the grandma I knew.

While Nani was a bit crazy sometimes, she ultimately wanted to make everything beautiful. Even with her Parkinson’s disease and bad hip, she continued to paint and sew, giving away clothing and paintings like other grandmas make cookies. She kept a sketch pad next to her easy chair and drew figures and sketched flowers during TV programs – her hands were always busy. One of the saddest things I noticed in the last few months was that arthritis started to plague her left hand and had created a large mass on her joint. But still, she continued to paint and sew.

Growing up, my sister and I loved to go to her house and paint with her in the basement or play cards with her and Papa. The unforgettable Nani smell was an odd mixture of mothballs and perfume mixed with a hint of whatever she was cooking.

She loved when her whole family was gathered around the dinner table eating steak and Belgian frites and mayonaise salad (don’t knock it until you try it). She was responsible for organizing many memorable family events and made sure that every birthday was complete with a cake large enough to feed 22 hungry family members.

Not too long ago, I watched some old home movies that were loaded onto DVD. The movies were from the ’60s and the ’70s – family vacations and visits to relatives in Detroit. Nani was a beautiful young woman – a model when she was younger – and a total flirt. Her favorite person to flirt with was Papa. I remember walking in on many middle-of-the-kitchen-smooches when I was little. Of course I always said, “Ewwww, gross!!”

The first time I was grounded was because I told Nani and Papa to go home when I felt they had overstayed their welcome. I was 4 years old.

Nani kept house and was given an allowance with which to run the household. Before Papa died, he was moved to tears as he described how she took the meager amount of money he had groceries and stretched it out over a week. Nothing went to waste. She loved clothes and learned to sew so that she could custom make the latest fashions. Nani’s haute couture.

When Cait and I stayed with Nani and Papa, she always made the fold out bed just right and tucked us in. Her hands deftly made snug corners on the bed sheets that never came untucked. If we stayed over a Saturday night into Sunday, she always took us to church the next morning (7am!) and then to breakfast. While Papa closed his eyes and “memorized prayers” (ahem, took a nap), Nani kept us in line (“you cannot use the kneelers as a balance beam!!”). Unfortunately, as her Parkinsons got worse, she stopped going to church, but church came to her. And she still painted all of the portraits of the pastors in our parish.

The way Nani said “I love you” was by painting your picture, making you a dress (she swore by polyester and it was hard to convince her to try something cotton), or fixing you a delightful dinner (usually overloaded with onions… but still good). I think that if she ever got to a point in her life where she lost her will to do these things in spite of her Parkinsons, that would have been devestating for her.

The last time I saw Nani, we sat in her new bedroom in my parents’ new home. She made some nachos in her new microwave in her bedroom (it was too hard for her to go up and down the stairs with her hip). We talked a little bit about life. I taught her how to write a letter on the computer. She gave me a blue and white vase (her favorite color combination). While she was thinner than she’d ever been, she was not frail. She seemed to be in good spirits. I gave her a big hug and told her I loved her when I left.

So that’s it – that’s my sketch of my grandma in the only way that I “sketch.”

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The retreat was great. Thank you for everyone who prayed for me while I was gone.

Sure, there were things that I could have done better – been more prepared for – but the important thing is 1) no one was seriously injured, 2) I didn’t hitch hike home early, 3) I learned a TON!!!

Things that make a difference in your life aren’t easy. Vicky, one of my favorite people and the youth pastor’s right hand woman (and wife), is so incredible. She plans these retreats like there’s nothing to it. She pulls together all the minute details that I would never think of – like an attendance sheet used to do roll call every time we boarded a bus. I would have been in Sheboygan saying “Gosh, I thought we had more kids than this.” And Tim (her husband and youth pastor), pulls together great teaching that actually motivates the kids to follow the Bible. How crazy is that???

Anyway, with such a winning combination of Vicky and Tim, Tim and Vicky – how could anything go wrong? It was an awesome weekend. We did a lot of worship and prayer and learning mixed in with wall climbing, tubing, skiing, broomball, power tubing, and all sorts of fun activities. The kids were exhausted on the way home.

I will tell you that aside from learning how to work with the students, the other big challenge was 27 girls with 2 toilets, 2 showers and 4 sinks. Yikes!! INHUMANE!!! Well, not really. I’m sure there are many people who could teach me a thing or two about inhumane. But I digress.

I loved getting to know some of the girls that I didn’t know well prior to the retreat. Good stuff.

Just a few tidbits I want to share:

Song verse of the weekend –
What was said to the rose
to make it unfold
was said to me here in my chest

Feeling of the weekend –

Favorite Food –
Pretzels from the Canteen

Favorite Moment –
Joey defying gravity and hurling his 5′ body over a bar that was at least as high as his chin – and winning the upside down limbo tournament. When he won, one of the big guys lifted Joey up on his shoulders and we all cheered.

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prayer request

Just a quick prayer request – please pray for me this weekend. I am going on a high school ministry retreat up north. I’ve never done this before and I just want to pray for patience and openness. I want to be a good example and a good leader.


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