Jim O'Leary

Waverly Star

By Jim O'Leary

An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.

  Dec. 29, 2003

Jim O'Leary's year in review: And that just about sums it all up

"We feel bound to disagree with the prophets of gloom who are forever forecasting calamity, as if the world's end were imminent, who claim that the age is far worse than previous ages.

Today, rather, providence is guiding us toward a new order of human relationships, which, thanks to human effort and yet far surpassing human hopes, will bring us to the realization of still higher and undreamed of expectations."

This was uttered by a short man with sensuous lips and a hooked nose in a flat red face framed by elephantine ears. A fat old man with twinkling eyes and a seductively resonant voice, robed with such extravagant dignity as to underscore the comedy of his figure.

No, not Santa Claus, but Pope John XXIII as quoted in Thomas Cahill's biography.

His words came true for us in 2003. It was a year which answered all the prayers I should have said but didn't. This year gave me joys I never deserved nor even sought.

It was a year of travel and time spent with people we loved, most especially our son Sean and his wife Sonja, who gave us a new grandchild so as to take away forever at least one of the seven deadly sins, the sin of envy.

Myles Enrique O'Leary clocked in on December 12, 2003, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Now we're grandparents, just like the rest of you! His parents are Sean T. O'Leary, M.D. and Sonja Burbano O'Leary, M.D. of Fort Collins, Colorado.

My brother Myles E. O'Leary (E for Edward after my father) was everybody's favorite O'Leary around Waverly. He would be surprised and delighted at having a nephew named Myles. Our son Sean liked his Uncle

Myles because Myles could talk baseball with him, among other things. In turn, my brother Myles was named for a cousin my mother admired named Myles Creegan, may he rest in peace.

Our new grandson isn't really named for for my brother. If he were he would be called "Champ." You see that's how everybody in Waverly remembered Myles.

Myles always showed up late for basketball practice. He was on the same team as Tom Litfin and "Red" Fitzpatrick, which tells you about what year this was.

Once when Myles showed up late one more exasperating time, Ches Ogle said, "Only a champion is allowed to be late, O'Leary." So from then on, Myles was "Champ."

Our grandson isn't going into sports though. He's headed for the White House as soon as he gets his M.D.

January found us traveling with the fine and friendly Father Jim Schoenberger down to the Rio Grande Valley to see Bob Bastyr of New Prague, and Arvid and Mary Lou Nelson, Minnesota "snowbirds."

I didn't know it then but it would be the last time I would ever see Arvid. You will remember Arvid for being written up in the Waverly Star for all he had done to make the lives of children better in south Texas.

Some of you may know of Father Schoenberger since he's been a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul for almost 50 years.

While he was stationed as pastor at St. Mary's in Shakopee he was also Catholic Chaplain to the women's reformatory where he was extremely popular. I assure you it wasn't for his good looks.

Fr. Jim had done a tour of Ireland with Mrs. Gerald Herbst May (Annie a.k.a. "Rooney"). Father Jim told me the only time he remembered "Rooney's" being quiet during the trip was for a time when she crawled into a coffin and posed for the group at an Irish monastery, eyes closed, Rosary clasped in her hands.

We had a great time in Sioux Falls when my grand-niece Katie O'Leary chose me to be her Confirmation sponsor and I got my picture taken with Bishop Carlson.

February was a rare month in that we stayed home, except for a trip to Austin to hear President Clinton. Even though we didn't come home until 3:00 in the morning all tuckered out, it was well worth the trip.

Clinton has traveled to over 100 countries since he was president and has clear ideas on every topic. He reminded us that only 1% of our Gross National Product goes to foreign aid, the lowest percentage of any nation. That was before the invasion of Iraq of course. That would happen in the following month while we were in Florida minding our own business.

Also in February, I went to hear a lecture by Abbott Keating, a Trappist monk. He sat down in front of us in a packed Methodist church and closed his eyes. I had heard him "lecture" before and once again he failed to get me meditating, even though I went to sleep along with the rest of them after he encouraged us to close our eyes and sit back.

On the subject of meditation, he quoted Mother Teresa to the effect that she said she just sits and listens to God and when asked what God responded to her, she said, "He just listens to me."

Well, I'll keep trying and let you know how I did next year.

March found Iraq invaded by the U.S. Army, including a couple of nice kids from Corpus Christi I happened to know. We were at an Elderhostel in Florida and afraid to talk politics. I asked my fellow Elderhostelers, "Did you know that Florida was very lush and green? Did you know that Florida is as wide as it is long if you consider the Panhandle?"

Those were safe enough topics I thought. It was good to get back to Texas. We had considered Canada or Mexico, but with a grandchild on the way, well. . .

April got us to Charlotte, North Carolina for the wedding of Katie Miller and Charlie Moosbrugger. The Moosbruggers don't have family reunions as such. They prefer to have many wonderful weddings and Baptisms, all of them presided over by Jeanne's brother, Father Robert Moosbrugger, OMI.

There seems to be an ongoing population explosion taking place in Jeanne's marvelous family and now we have become a part of it, thanks to the arrival of Myles Enrique O'Leary.

May drew us to Santa Fe to "house sit" for my niece Linda while she went on a buying trip overseas. For those of you who have been to Santa Fe, I don't have to tell you how nice it is. For those of you who haven't been there, go to any travel writer and see what it's like. Travel writers all rave about it and they all have got it right.

June found us again on the road to Leadville and Fort Collins, Col., with a trip to see my brother Henry and his heroic wife Margaret.

They took Sean and Sonja and Jeanne and me out to dinner in Longmont. Henry and Margaret's grandson, also named Sean O'Leary, was home on leave from the Air Force.

Henry and Margaret have been married 65 years and I was relieved to see they have enough energy left to bicker in front of company.

July got me to a week-long Spanish institute at Del Mar College here, part of my lifelong effort to learn Spanish. Now I really have to learn it so I can keep up with my grandson.

Jeanne still runs in the Beach to Bay Relay Marathon, rides a bicycle and swims in the Municipal pool. She also deserves to win "Volunteer of the Year" award for all she does in the public schools here.

August proved once again that Doctors Sean and Sonja Burbano O'Leary are irresistible magnets, so there we were again, making pests of ourselves in Colorado. If you knew them, you would understand the attraction. We took in Leadville on the way, and that's where I saw all the people running for a hundred miles non-stop. I done seen it with my own eyes. I even got a column out of it.

September took us to Minnesota for Jeanne's 50th high school reunion.

Jeanne also had quality time in Altoona, Wisconsin with her sister, Mary Moosbrugger Stevens. We got to hang out with Paula Cahill Ruddy, Sister Bridget McDonald, CSJ, and Pat Helin, three of the women we toured Ireland with in 1996.

Driving to Minnesota was enjoyable all the way until we hit the Twin Cities traffic, the kind of traffic that keeps Waverly people staying home. I didn't get to Waverly! Don and Gerry Smith had gone to the trouble of inviting the older crowd to their house to come see me but I had to cancel out.

October drew us to a science teachers convention in Houston, where I discovered just how dumb I really was compared to the high school scientists these days.

It was also in October when I started to volunteer again at the Mother Teresa Shelter for the Homeless here in Corpus Christi (I got a column out of this one too. I'll do anything for a column.)

November caught us once again in Colorado, enjoying a grand Thanksgiving with Sean and Sonja, as well as a visit to Longmont to see my brother Henry, who is recovering nicely from triple bypass heart surgery.

December gave us the greatest Christmas present of all. Our grandchild was born.

We left for Fort Collins and that's where I am now as this goes to press.

Despite being the luckiest man alive, I regret all the letters I didn't write to lonely people and to people not so lonely, but only curious as to my whereabouts. Sins of omission loom large in my life these days of retirement. "For what I have done and for what I have failed to do" the Penance formula goes, and I plead guilty.

I did read three great books: "Mountains Beyond Mountains," by Tracy Kidder, "Stalking the Divine," by Kristin Ohlson (a book recommended by Rush Limbaugh, no kidding), and "Saints' Guide to Happiness" by Robert Ellsberg.

If you read any of these books, please don't forget it was me who told you about them. I want you to keep me in your prayers, especially your prayers of gratitude.

Like mine should always be.

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