Friday, February 26, 2010

Ice Skating at Reservoir Park

Ice Skating at Reservoir Park (1912)

Photo Credit: IPFW ContentDM

I looked far and wide for a picture of the Reservoir Park Ice Skating Pond - the one that *I knew* and experienced however, I didn't have any pictures in my own collection and a web search yielded very few results.

I picked this picture (yes, even though it is from almost 100 years ago) because it comes close to how I remember the place that my mother used to take me and my sister skating to. I remember the "big hill" (which is what I called it), the crowds of people (young and not so young), and the odd shape of the ice pond. I even had my own pair of ice skates! No rentals for me!

I've never talked to my mom about Reservoir Park - if she went there often as a child - but I got the distinct feeling that she had been there a lot. She was very comfortable with where everything was and when we first stepped out on the ice (one hand each in her hands), I felt like I was with a pro.

She glided across the pond with ease. Me - not so much. I fell. Lots of times. She would tell me - Kris, you need to bend your knees a little bit. Don't stand so stiff. It's advice my husband STILL repeats today and advice that my body still ignores (thus the number of times I still manage to land on my butt - not while ice skating but while navigating the ice outdoors). By the way - my sister Patty was a pro also. She's always been WAY more coordinated than me. Ice skating, gymnastics, cheerleading. Yep. She inherited my mom's coordination gene.

When I think about Reservoir Park and ice skating with my mom and sister, I am reminded of something that I purposely ignored in my teen years (and later in my adult life).

My mom - who had me when she was seventeen - no high school diploma - second child within 11 months of me - married to a man who didn't have a high school diploma and many times - not even employed - worked at KMart and at other places...well...she really did a lot for me and my sister. She made sure that we experienced Fort Wayne - probably - in all of the ways that she had. But of course she was working with a budget of practically ZERO.

And for that, I am grateful. Even if I forget to tell her :).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Death of a Timeless Man

Msgr. J. William Lester Obituary

When I was alerted by my husband that Monsignor Lester had died, I felt a terrible sadness in my heart.

Monsignor Lester
was this pillar of the Catholic community and not only did lots of people know him but his presence and influence was felt over several generations - in fact - four generations of my family.

Several of my family members received the sacraments of baptism, reconciliation, eucharist, and confirmation. There were home visits, hospital visits, last rites, and funeral services.

My mom and aunts went to Central Catholic High School and they, along with my grandpa and great-grandma were faithful congregation members at churches where he presided.

My husband and I were married by him - June 2, 1990 - in Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

The weird thing is - I wasn't "close" to him like I was to the priests that were in service at St. Therese (Father Rock, Father Frank).

I think because he was "old school", I held him at arm's length because I knew how much my grandpa (and others) respected him and I never, ever wanted to offend him. With Father Rock, I would crack jokes or poke fun at something and we would both have great belly laughs over it. With Monsignor Lester, I was serious and on my best behavior.

I knew Monsignor Lester had retired from his duties at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. I knew that he was certainly up there in age. But I guess what I wasn't prepared for, was the death of this man who I thought of as timeless.

And because I had recently renewed my relationship with God and the Catholic Church, I always thought that I'd run into him again. And like always, he'd remember the face, but struggle with my name :).

But unfortunately, it is not to be.

God bless and keep you Monsignor Lester. I know that you are in a better place and that your life here in Fort Wayne was adored, admired, and appreciated by multiple generations of families. You touched many of our lives in ways that cannot be fully articulated. You will not be forgotten.