The Gospel Truth

A Weekend of Yesterdays | June 22, 2010

PART II

Saturday morning was the most memorable part of the entire reunion weekend.   It began with an Economics lecture from a member of the Department.

The professor spirited approach melded nostalgia with some current economic data.  He compared the prices of goods, and services as they were in 1965 and what they are now.

According to his calculations, gas was surprisingly cheaper today in minutes one had to work to earn the $2.65 a gallon.   Of course this was before the BP spill and the government’s failure to act swiftly to coordinate the clean up.

During the Q&A, his discussion of the national debt, which he described as a manageable $10 trillion, was less than stellar.

If he read the WSJ or listened to Fox News, he would have known that the official National Debt was more like $13 trillion but what is a few trillion among friends.

When asked about the unfunded debt of nearly $100 trillion for SS and Medicare, his thinking got even more fuzzy–like Robert Gibbs trying to explain ObamaCare with all of its self-contradictions.

(It just dawned on me that the two words that never came up the whole weekend were prostate and Obama.)

When the professor ventured into Theology during his lackadaisical attempt to show his mild concern about run-away  government spending he was on even thinner ice.

In talking about Congress’s in-born reluctance to cut spending, he quoted what he thought was St. Francis…Lord make me celibate but not just now.

Two ‘mates beat me in yelling out…Augustine! The real  quote was Lord make me chaste, but just not now!

None of his economic naiveté distracted from the best thing he did all day and that was–his opening theme–a rendition of the Beatles’ #1 hit from 1965, Yesterday.

Though it sounded more like an historian’s lament, it was a perfect characterization of the purpose of a reunion weekend for us as we recalled the many memories that we have from our yesterdays at Holy Cross.

Our very own tag-team of brilliant doctors provided some very practical and rudimentary ways to keep the memories warehouse functioning.  Next to my big mouth, a very good memory is my strongest feature.

What good will our yesterdays be when dementia has robbed us of our ability to remember?

My mother died of Alzheimer’s on 3/11 and her gradual memory loss sometimes torments me.  My theatrical production, The Last Memory of an Ol’ Brownie Fan deals with my fear.

Both doctors, Joe from Harvard and Leo from Yale were compelling.  How fortunate is our class to have these two consummate medical professionals instruct us about the ravages of age with the most up-to-date information on dementia.

While Dr. Joe gave us the scientific skinny on dementia, its roots, causes and treatments, Dr. Leo related the practical side with suggestions for picking good parents, eating right–little red meat and fatty substances– exercising,  and drinking red wine moderately.

It was obvious that the menus for all of our meals were not prepared by either of our doctors

One of their colleague, Dr. Phil, was seen bellying up to the red wine bar on every occasion–just for medicinal purposes.

The only thing I think that they left out was–laughter.  As the Readers Digest says, Laughter is the Best Medicine.

On a sidebar, during the Q&A I attempted to find a restroom in Fenwick.  I wandered all over the buildings until finally I found one.  I had neglected to drop bread crumbs.

I had to exit the building and I was somewhere near the library on the opposite side of our talks.

By then the gloom of a rainy day had set in Worcester and I got wet.  The unabated rain was in stark contrast to the sunny camaraderie that filled our meeting room that morning.

Next came the Class Mass, arguably the high point of the weekend.  It was concelebrated by Fathers Charles Dunn and our ‘mate Father Paul.

I believe Father Paul is the only mate of the seven who entered the priesthood after graduation.  (One was murdered years ago on the island of Jamaica.)

I did the 1st reading and it was loaded with tough words, like Elijah, Elisha, Baphomet and a bunch of oxen.

Another ‘mate read the intentions, followed by four other ‘mates who provided a requiem for our dead.

I waited until my roommate of three years, Peter L.’s name was called and blessed myself.   I think I still grieve his memory.

Father Paul was ebullient and had the enthusiasm of a rookie priest.

Father Dunn alluded to Paul’s bold imitation of himself during one of our banquets.  Father Dunn was our Prefect of Discipline–a man whom I vowed NEVER to encounter for my four years.  As was part of his job description he never smiled!

When Paul walked in dressed in Father Dunn’s dower attire, he marched around in front of over 700 shocked students, who sat it stunned silence as the proverbial pin crashed loudly on the floor.

I thought they were going to toss him out of school–maybe they made him become a priest because of his stunt.  (They should have made him a bishop.)

I suspected Father Dunn’s comments were payback for what had been one of our class’ most memorable events.

Father Dunn, who was nearing 87, appeared fresh, fit and not only smiled but laughed throughout his talk.  He was like fine wine, which just reaffirmed Dr. Leo’s comments about wine and its medicinal properties.

Father Dunn told us that there was a war going on–against hedonism, materialism and modernism.  He didn’t name the collective enemy but I think he meant the Culture War, which is unlike anything the country has seen since the 1860’s.

He also used St. Paul’s fight the good fight in the same context.

I don’t know if I was the only one to remember this but in 1961 during our orientation period, an English Professor–Edward Callahan also told us to fight the good fight.

Without really knowing it, Father Dunn had brought us full circle from nearly 50 years ago.

It was good advice then and it is good advice now.

I saved the most inspirational moment for last.

Just before the talks began, one ‘mate came in the back door of the room, pushing a walker.

A couple of people were on canes with broken limbs but no walkers.  We’re too young for them, I thought.

Well on Saturday night, while in the red wine line, with Dr. Phil, I asked him about it.

He said quite casually as someone might say they had allergies— I have ALS.

My only response was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis–as if I wanted him to say it was something else.

He nodded and all I could think to say to him was I’ll pray for you.

I have and I will.  I can’t express the gamut of emotions that flooded my mind at that precise moment.

It wasn’t so much the seriousness of his illness but the calm, matter-of-fact resignation in his voice that stuck in my mind.

He was all right with the hand he had been dealt and that was quite an inspiration to me.

I saw Jim E. just before leaving on Sunday.  I was making the rounds, trying to get my last bit of the EA’s (environmental applause) and at the last table I stopped, he looked me right in the eye and gave me that peaceful nod again.

Again at a loss for words, all I could muster was Take care of yourself.

It was at that moment it all came together.  I don’t know if I will ever see Jim or any of the others again.

Life is terminal as Dr. Leo reminded us.  We have to Carpe Diem…in the Christian sense and cherish each moment together–each old memory because our postcards are already printed and waiting in the outbox of our history.

They are only waiting the word from the Divine Postmaster General.

That’s why this past weekend of yesterdays at Holy Cross was so vitally important to me.

The site of My Yesterdays

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1 Comment »

  1. The clock of life is wound but once,
    And no one has the power,
    To know just when the hands will stop,
    At late or early hour.

    Now is the only time you own,
    Live, love, toil in God’s Will.
    Place no faith in tomorrow,
    For the clock may there be still.

    – Anonymous

    Comment by Bill McCurdy — June 22, 2010 @ 10:34 pm


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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net

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