Category Archives: Chad

Saving Camp

Camp

When our kids were in fifth and sixth grade at St. Michael’s they had an amazing opportunity to attend Camp Pendalouan to meet and bond with their future classmates from St. Francis and Sacred Heart before the three elementary schools came together as one class in the seventh grade. Chad and Kelly had already been through this great camping experience so Corey was excited for his fifth grade class to go and was hoping to get in the same cabin as his older cousin Matt Grimm who he loved and admired. Matt was one of the MCC high school students chosen to go as a camp counselor. The bond that developed between the elementary and high school students during their week at camp was always so amazing. While at camp the students were challenged physically and mentally on a difficult ropes course with the goal of encouraging each classmate on their team to finish the course, even the weak and the frightened. They learned silly new things like watching sparks fly while chewing Life Savers in the dark. They experienced first-hand what it was like for a large group of kids to eat everything on their plate and not to waste a single morsel of food. And they were guided spiritually in a beautiful but simple environment.

One evening at a St. Michael’s Home and School Association meeting principal Elaine Bertram informed us that a parent complained about inappropriate behavior at night in one of the cabins so the administration felt a need to cancel the overnight part of camp for the fifth and sixth graders. I was so disappointed so I decided to challenge it. The next day I talked with Elaine and told her I didn’t agree with the decision that was made and asked if she thought it would do any good to challenge it. Within hours Elaine had set up a meeting with three principals, a teacher, the parent that had the concern and me. I thought to myself, “Oh boy, what have I done.”

On the day of the meeting I was really nervous but I was prepared to state the value of keeping the overnight part of camp. As we gathered together at the high school for the meeting I believe we started it with a prayer. Everyone had a voice in the meeting and then someone suggested having a parent stay in each of the cabins. We all agreed this to be a great solution so we were able to resolve the overnight camping problem by having a parent stay overnight in the cabins with the students. I felt really good about the outcome and I believe everyone else did, too.

Thankfully, today the concerned parent and I are friends and some of our kids actually went on to become high school camp counselors themselves when they got older. Wouldn’t it be nice if all differences could end in a peaceful outcome?

The Bravelet

Bravelet

Earlier this week I received a beautiful bracelet from Chad and Devin with the inscription of ‘be brave’ on it. They also sent a bracelet to Devin’s mom with the same inscription because she is battling a liver disease. I wasn’t being very brave the day I received this pretty bracelet because I was too busy feeling sorry for myself. Mark and I had just spent a wonderful week with Corey and I was sad to see him leave. I’ve never been very good at saying goodbye and it seems to be getting harder each time.

That same day I received three heartwarming and encouraging emails from three different friends which all helped me see a true picture of life. They helped me see that my life is not just about me and my suffering, it’s about everyone dealing with some sort of suffering in life. No one escapes suffering.

I would like to share one of the emails I received that day. It’s from Mark’s sister Vicki and it really hit home.

Rosemary,

Just wanted to share this with you. On Saturday a friend of mine called and she was having a rough day. She was feeling pretty blue and having a pity party. We spent quite a bit of time on the phone and then I suggested she read your blog. On Sunday I received a text from her “I’m choosing joy today – thanks to Rosemary”. Today I sent her a text and asked her how it went. She said the day went really well. She just kept reminding herself that she was choosing joy.

You 2 have never met, but you are instrumental in helping her get through a rough patch. Just thought you might want to know.

Love,

Vicki

I really believe that we need each other to build us up because without all of you I would have died a long time ago.

Devin’s Letter to Chad

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I found this letter to Chad on Devin’s Facebook page and thought it was so beautiful that I wanted to share it.

He has embraced my crazy, my life, my family, my kids. He makes me stronger, gives me my space, he helps me when he can with whatever he can. He gives me everything I need. He can be so sweet yet isn’t afraid to tell me I’m wrong. He listens, he talks, he gives me more than he even knows. He points out the clouds to me when I don’t seem to notice, he reminds me of things that I sometimes forget. I love you chad. Thank you for everything, for loving me for me…

Dear Mom

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In December I wrote a letter to my kids. For Mother’s Day, they wrote me back.

Dear Mom,

Over the course of writing you this letter we realized that putting into words how much you mean to us is not an easy task. In fact, we’re all in agreement with Maya Angelou who said, “To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” But in the end we decided that if even the great Ms. Angelou couldn’t find the words, then we’ve got nothing to lose.

So here goes.

You, Mom, are our sunny days. You’re our cool breezes and our first snowfalls. You’re our sunrises, our sunsets and our shooting stars. To each of us you embody friendship and happiness, shelter and warmth. At times you have been both our closest confidant and our biggest fan. Yours has always been the number we’ve dialed during happy times and sad, when we’ve felt broken or whole. While writing this note none of us could recall even a single instance that time spent with you didn’t result in us feeling better about the state of things. Even now, when anger and sadness seem like fair choices for all of us, you find beauty, just as you’ve always done.

Over the years people have inquired as to what you’re “really like,” and the truth is so simple that it’s almost unbelievable: there is only one you. You treat every person you come in contact with with the same fairness and kindness and compassion, and you lend a listening ear to anyone who needs it. To say that’s rare is the understatement.

Not too long ago, when all four of us were living in different parts of the country, you mentioned how you wished your kids didn’t grow up and move so far away from you. In the words of author Barbara Kingsolver, “Kids don’t stay with you if you do it right. It’s the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won’t be needed in the long run.”

So thank you Mom, for doing your job better. Happy Mother’s Day. We love you.

Your favorites,

Chad, Kelly, Corey and Bryan

Loaves and Fishes

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Dear Chad, Kelly, Corey and Bryan,

Once again I was lying in bed and a story popped into my mind and I had to get up to write. Your poor Dad was so tired but he helped me out to my chair anyway.

I know some of you question whether you believe in God and I have, too. But since I’ve been sick and have had time to look at my life more clearly I am amazed at the miracles that have happened.

This morning my thoughts went back to the beginning of your Dad and I. Remember when I told you that Dad and I only dated a few times before we decided to get married? Looking back on it now it probably wasn’t the smartest thing we ever did but it just felt right. I never dated much and only had one serious boyfriend before your dad, so falling in love and marrying your father was almost like a miracle and I never knew why but I never looked back at my decision. The funny thing is that I wasn’t a good decision maker at that time and almost always questioned my decisions but for some reason I didn’t question the biggest decision of my life.

We got married and invited 600 people to our wedding reception but the reception hall only had the capacity to hold 500 people. It was stupid on my part but somehow our guests all fit. Did I mention that I was a poor college student and Dad’s small Navy salary probably put us at poverty level? Yet somehow we paid for that wedding with the help of a $500.00 gift from my parents but looking back I’m still not sure how we did it.

We took off for Baltimore with a $500.00 loan from my Dad because I pretty much spent all of your Dad’s earnings and savings on our wedding. Right before we got married we bought a stereo but had no furniture. Again, stupid. After getting to Baltimore one of the first things we bought were matching gray sweatsuits from  K-Mart because we wanted to start jogging together. It was another stupid purchase that we made because we hardly had enough money for food and rent but again we made it work.

Your dad got out of the Navy and we moved back to Muskegon and without a job Mr. Cryderman, the manager at Beverley Hills Apartments, rented us an apartment. Dad got a job at Bofors Lakeway Chemical and a  few months later the company went on strike.   Again we had no money because our only income was $25.00 a week for strike pay. Chad was about three months old at the time so we signed up for food stamps which helped us buy food, diapers and formula. At about the time we would run out of money your Dad would get a side job and we would be able to pay our bills but it felt like a miracle every time it happened.

Sending you kids to Muskegon Catholic felt like an unachievable financial goal at first so we didn’t do it the first year we wanted to because we didn’t want to start you kids at a new school and not be able to continue. Somehow the second year felt right and we made the move. Again, this was a radical move on our part and you kids were scared to death and sometimes hated our decision but it felt right to us and it still feels right. Every year the tuition would rise and somehow our incomes would rise, too.

When Chad and Bryan were foreign exchange students it was expensive but somehow were able to do it. When Kelly and Corey decided to go to two very expensive colleges, I’m not sure how but our incomes would increase enough to make it work without risking our financial future.

When I decided to retire we were nervous about losing my income but it didn’t hurt us. When your Dad decided to retire people thought we were nuts because he was so young but it felt right and it was right because now he’s able to help me. The timing of making our retirement decisions was miraculous in so many ways.

The decision to write this blog was a crazy decision because I am not a writer but we happen to have Corey, a gifted writer, in our family to help me. And because of all of you I’ll always have amazing things to write about.

Miracles are happening all around us if we just find time to open our eyes and hearts to catch them.

I love you all.

Mom

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