Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I want to remember this...
John's grandfather, Pete Hart, is truly one of my favorite people. I could listen for hours upon hours to his stories, advice, and spiritual insights. Last night, we were talking and I just need to jot down the random things I remember that he told me.
We started talking about WWII. He remembers where he was when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He was playing football in a college stadium with some buddies. The patriotism back then was unbelievable. He was the second youngest of seven boys. He remembers crying and begging his father to let him enlist. His father recommended to him to finish college first. He told me that he was glad he did finish college, but at the time didn't see it that way. Six of the boys entered the war, but the one son was a priest, Fr. John Hart. He wanted to enlist, but the army said six sons was enough for one family.
His parents were DEVOUT Irish Catholics. His father went to three masses EVERYDAY. He served the 5:30 mass at a convent then attended two others in town. The mass truly was the focus of his father's life. He said that if you ever needed to find his father you could always find him at the tenth station of the cross praying his rosary. Grandpa said that his father was very fiscally conservative and saw the Great Depression coming so prepared for it. Grandpa doesn't remember much changing in their home during the Depression. He had a wonderful childhood. His brother, Larry, was one of the men who can be seen putting up the flag at Iwo Jima. Fascinating.
Grandpa and his late wife, Izzy have 12 children on earth and three in heaven. They didn't have a car for many years of their early marriage. He said they never thought about the fact that they didn't. His wife came from a very wealthy family in Iowa, but her parents believed that each man should provide for his own. He was glad his father-in-law didn't help them. He said it made them a family and look forward to things. When they finally bought their home, he remembers getting curtains being such a big deal.
He told me his wife made their most difficult children "her favorites." She would say that because they needed her more so they were her favorites. What a beautiful way to look at one's difficult children! You are my favorite! Izzy battled illnesses their whole marriage, but he doesn't remember her ever complaining. She had several back surgeries which caused her extreme and constant pain, but she was always joking about it. She joked about the "electric underwear" she wore for pain relief.
On a side note, he is a fabulous father and grandfather. He writes all his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren several times a year. He always remembers everyone on their birthday with a card, holy card, and gift. He writes a personal note to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren on Christmas...over 100 people. He always tells them how proud he is of them, how important they are to him, and how much he prays for them. Whenever we call to tell him we are expecting, he knows the exact number this child will be in the family.
I am glad to know him. I pray I remember his insights and keep my focus.