When I was a kid, there are three things I remember so clearly. God, wiffle ball and Saturday morning cartoons.
God was part of my life every day. I went to Catholic school for twelve years. First to St. Justin Martyr (Go Olympians!) and then off to Servite High School (Go Friars!!). We went to mass every Sunday with the family. Back then, you could count on one or both of the Talarico boys (yes, even Frank Jr.) as an altar server and my grandma, in her wheelchair, praying her prayers. My parents slaved away at Fish Frys, helped to run the PTA and start the youth group.It was what we did as a family. It would be an example to me and would eventually lead me to where I am today in ministry. I will never forget those days. It was my first and most profound experience of God and Church.
Wiffle ball was one of the biggest parts of my childhood. I know everyone likes to reminisce, but probably my favorite thing to do after school and on the weekend was play wiffle ball. We would rush home from school and get everyone in the cul-de-sac and pick teams. Friends from my class would join in; as well as, the neighborhood kids. Typically, they were the same teams but they were so much fun. I always tried to be on the opposite team of my brother just because, well, that is what brothers do, right? We would stay out till we couldn't see the ball any longer and then mom would yell to us all to come and eat dinner. All were welcome and all ate well. It was my first form of community. It was awesome.
When it came to the weekend, Saturday mornings always started with cartoons. After wiping the gunk out of our eyes, we would rush down to see what was on the TV. Back then, Bugs Bunny was cool. I think he still is! Voltron was the new, hot cartoon and everyone thought they were a superhero. Once we watched a little bit of cartoons, we moved on to our chores. The "list" as my brother and I called it remained the same throughout my childhood. I dusted and Frank vacuumed, He cleaned the mirrors and I emptied the trash baskets. At the time it seemed like such hard work. Not so hard to me now. We couldn't wait till we were done so we could get outside and play. Going outside and play, seems like such a "foreign" idea now a days but it was priceless to us.
So by now you are asking yourself, Pasquale what does that have to do with anything and why did I read your blog today? They are good and fair questions. Today's reading from Deuteronomy reminds me to cherish the memories and to share them with my children.
This upcoming year, my Gianna will begin Catholic school at Holy Family Cathedral. There is no doubt that Maurissa and I will help out in any way, just as my parents did for me and my brother. We will cause it is our new community, just as St. Justin was for my childhood. We will help because it is what we are called to be as Church. The body of Christ.
As for wiffle ball, Gianna does enjoy playing baseball in the backyard with daddy, but more importantly, she begins soccer in a couple of weeks. She is so excited. She can't wait to get all dressed up and run around on the soccer field. Before you know it, she will be having her friends over to play games and hang out. Just like I did when I was a kid. Then the slumber parties. And before you know it, Claire will begin just as her sister. Lord, help us.
The other day, I had the chance to come home early and sit on the couch with my girls. Just the three of us. I know they are only supposed to get so much TV a day, but like they always do, they convinced their daddy to put on cartoons, eat Otter Pops and sit on the couch together. It was priceless. There really is nothing better in life. It made me smile from the inside out and brought to mind memories of my childhood.
Looking back, I can still hear Billy Crabtree yelling to me from the fence. I can still smell the lemon pledge from polishing the furniture and see the "list" on the fridge. I cherish the days I had with Jimmy, Gil, Mike, family and friends. I praise God to be able to share and teach my children the same things. God is so good. Thank you Jesus for the many gifts I have been given. You are so generous to an unworthy servant.
What do you remember most in your childhood?
What will you teach your children?
What have your children taught you?
Dedicated to my dear friend, Michael Catanzaro - You are missed.