Caregiver

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Martha’s hands and Mary’s heart: Life on Purpose

Illustration by Hannah Conti When I get to heaven, I have a lot of questions to ask, like: “How do we make sense of suffering?” and “Where did Moses and Abraham hang out before heaven was open?” But one question I’ll be sure to ask is prompted by Jesus’ response to Martha when He was a guest in her home and she asked for help: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things...” (Luke 10:41) When I read those words of Jesus, I just want to ask: “How could you be so rude to Martha, when she was so nice to invite you for dinner and she did all the work?” Behind the scenes of this comment, Martha (and I suppose Mary) were hosting this little dinner and they invited Jesus to come. Now, Jesus was all about dinner. Some of His most important conversations happened over meals. [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:47+00:00 August 3rd, 2014|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

Do you look but don’t see?

I hate wearing glasses. Since I am near-sighted and my near-sightedness is getting considerably closer, I should wear them more, especially when I am driving. But I hate the feeling of something sitting on my face and framing my vision. I lose them often because they just get in the way. My visual struggles got in the way big time last week — once on land and once on the water. Last week, my daughter and I were handing out flyers on Love Lane in Mattituck for our Canine Companion event. While in one of the shops, we ran out of flyers. When we walked back up the street to get more flyers, I saw an eager look on my daughter’s face and I knew she wanted to bring them back to the store by herself. Raising a child with developmental disabilities is always a balancing act and a lesson [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:47+00:00 July 27th, 2014|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

True beauty comes from within

MaryAngela, my second daughter, was joyful and excited about life from the womb. She too was a feminine beauty. On my last pregnancy check up, the day before she was born, the midwife gave me a wide-eyed look of shock and laughter as she completed the exam. I had felt the baby move, but I had no idea what just transpired within me. The midwife explained that while this little one had no intention of arriving that day, the baby pushed her head into the midwife’s hand with a greeting-like movement, seeming to say “hello!” and then retreated back securely in my womb. She had a jovial personality from the beginning. As much Anna loved to wear dresses to twirl while she danced, MaryAngela loved dresses for their parachute value as she jumped from the highest places she could climb. Both of my daughters exuded confidence and delight as they grew [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:47+00:00 July 20th, 2014|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

Faith, love and family, grown like flowers of the field

My husband and I were married on July 12, 28 years ago. To this day, the blue hue on the sides of the road, emanating from a beautiful wildflower that that blooms in July called bachelor’s buttons, reminds me of my wedding. I remember when my mom and I met with the florist for my wedding, just two months before the ceremony. We were discussing the bridal party bouquets. I was adamant that I wanted a bouquet of white roses for myself and single roses for the bridesmaids. After trying to dissuade me, the florist finally conceded and asked to show me the many different options for flowers for the chapel. My husband and I were getting married at the church on the college campus where we met. I stood up and shook the florist’s hand to thank him, explaining that my friend would be picking wildflowers the morning of [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:47+00:00 July 13th, 2014|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

Grief and joy go hand in hand

Michael Hubbard and his mom, Nancy Reyer. (Photo: David Benthal) I have experienced labor eight times. Four times for the kids I am grateful to have with me now and four times for the babies I lost to miscarriage. The live births were well worth the effort. The miscarriages were a terrible loss for which the sense of grief lasted longer than those babies' all too short lives. Losing babies in miscarriage was difficult, especially the longer I carried them. Three of them were in the first eight weeks. One baby died at 14 weeks, just after I had seen her heart beating on the ultrasound. It’s work birthing babies. Sure the conception part is pretty fun, most of the time. But I threw up daily for at least half of the nine months it took for the babies to develop within my womb. My emotions were wacky. My husband [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:47+00:00 June 1st, 2014|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

Lessons from the vineyard

Christine and Larry Vaccari with nephew, Anton Villamena I love living in the heart of wine country on the North Fork of Long Island. There are three vineyards within walking distance to my house in Jamesport. That makes wine tasting and walking an easy weekend possibility. I think each vineyard has a unique contribution to the beauty of the local industry and landscape. My favorite wine and vintner has not won any awards- yet. He is a dear friend, Larry Vaccari. Larry and his wife Christine moved to Peconic over 15 years ago, to enjoy their life together on the North Fork. They have two children, a son, who is a doctor in Brooklyn and a daughter, who is soon to be a graduate of McGann Mercy High School. Their bucolic home is set on a picturesque plot of land overlooking one of the local vineyards. On the outskirts of [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:47+00:00 May 25th, 2014|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

Living in the present

There is not enough time in the day. Do you ever feel like that? I certainly do. I wake up very early, typically before 5 a.m. I usually go to bed by 9 or 10- thatʼs a 16-hour day. One would think that I could get to everything on my “to do” list in 16 hours. But inevitably, there are things left over which take weeks, months and sometimes even years to accomplish. I have projects in my house that I have been meaning to get to for a long time. When I finally do them, I find that they didnʼt take even half the time to accomplish that I spent worrying over them. A few weeks ago, I took Johanna to Cape May Point, to the teen retreat at the Marianist Retreat House. We have been going to this retreat house for the last five years. My twenty year [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:47+00:00 May 18th, 2014|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

God is good and so is Mom

Eileen Benthal and her mother, Edna Devine. (Photo: David Benthal) After I blew through Meeting House Deli to grab a coffee, I quickly programmed the numbers I needed to call while I drove on the LIE. The only reason I upgraded to iPhone5 was for Siri. She and I are on a first-name basis. Hands-free, I started making calls as I drove to the MacArthur Airport. I was so glad that it wasn’t JFK or I would not have made it in time. For the first time in over 20 years, my mom and I are spending Mother’s Day together. She flew in from Florida on Friday to spend the weekend with me until Monday when I take her to the ferry to Connecticut, where she will meet her 24th great-grandchild and join family and friends to celebrate his baptism. If that wasn’t cool enough, Mom is just three months [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:47+00:00 May 11th, 2014|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

Opening locked doors, both real and symbolic

The other day I was sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee and I heard dog tags jingling on the pathway that leads from the driveway up to my front door. When I stood up, I saw Taffy, my daughter’s service dog, jogging up the walk with a big smile on her face (really, she smiles.) “Where did you come from and how did you get out of the house?” She pranced up to the porch and nuzzled her big head into my hands as if to say, “It’s okay, Mom. I was just out for a morning walk.” Taffy is almost 12 years old and she has been Johanna’s service dog for almost 10 years. She has been by Johanna’s side through many ups and downs, in the hospitals, on planes, on stage. They have been in the NY Times and on national news. Taffy was trained [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:47+00:00 May 4th, 2014|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

Signs of new life abound

“Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!” This is the greeting of the Greek Orthodox Church during the Easter season. Like the 12 days of Christmas, we celebrate the Easter season for 50 days. It’s just that important. Christ died for us and rose again on Easter. How could we get it all in three days? When my kids were little, they took the liturgical celebrations of the Easter season quite literally. They milked it for all it was worth. So there was a perpetual Easter egg hunt in the bag yard that began in the wet spring and continued into the warmth of summer. We got our money’s worth of those plastic eggs. But of course we had to keep supplying them with candy to fill the eggs. Now, we don’t even have an egg hunt for the kids. It’s just for the dogs. We fill up those plastic [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:47+00:00 April 27th, 2014|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments