Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pray on Your Knees and Live on Your Feet

"Pray on your knees and live on your feet."  Patrick E. Hickey

Those are two hard imperatives from a hard guy, from hard school.

My Dad was not an exceptionally public pietist. He was not public anything.  He never joined anything but the Marines and the Union.  He was private, actually a Private First Class.  He had been kicked out of Catholic grammar school as an 'incorrigible' ( "I decked a nun") and managed to attend St. Rita High School only because of the diplomatic and saintly efforts of his mother - Nora: Grannie Hickey.

Dad was a three campaign ( Bougainville, Guam, & Iwo Jima) combat veteran.  The only WWII memorabilia that survived his seabag ( saved by his sister Marguerite) were his Identification cards, discharge papers, a compass, a letter opener that said GUAM, a carbine bayonet, a pair of canvas leggings and a couple pictures of Dad and Bob Guth. One other item, remained. It was a steel disc with a cross.  Dad gave it to one of my daughters, before he died.  My son has his I.D.'s and compass, The carbine bayonet remains in the sock drawer of his dresser at my Mom's house.  I have his seabag.

The rosary is memorable because of its size and simplicity - a seabag was all a guy had to carry everything he owned back then. He prayed alot, it may be deduced. Each of three campaigns contained enough horrors and challenges for twenty persons, let alone a teenager from Chicago.

When my wife's brain tumor was diagnosed as inoperable, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself - I ain't no tough guy.  My Dad took me out for a couple of beers and counselled, " That poor girl of yours is hit; leave her on the beach."

Talk about a WTF moment.

" All you can do is make her happy in her last few days ro minutes. You have alot to do, my boy. Get busy with it and you had better hit your knees every morning.  Pray on knees and you'll stand up alright."

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