Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Celebrating Eileen Janaro’s Birthday🙂❤️

On Sunday, March 5, we celebrated my beloved wife Eileen Janaro’s birthday. “How old is she now?”—you ask? Well, she just turned [⚠️❌😳 Cough! Cough! Cough! ahem, hurrrmph, ack! 😳🫢🤫 ❌⚠️⚠️🙃] years old… 

I would never tell, haha. (Can you see the silly emojis on the device you’re using to read this?) All I’ll say is that she is younger than me!😉

I’m so glad her birthday fell on a Sunday this year. Eileen’s birthday is almost always during Lent (it fell on Ash Wednesday in 2014, but it also fell on Mardi Gras in 2019). Lenten weekdays put a bit of a damper on the celebration, with the result that it usually gets “moved” to the nearest Sunday anyway. In 2023, however, this shift was unnecessary.

Our observance of the Lord’s Day has taken on new characteristics in the past couple of years. We go to Mass with Josefina, our 16-year-old and the last of the kids who still lives “under our parental care” (Teresa, in university, still resides at the house, but she keeps her own hours and lifestyle, and usually goes to Mass at college). Often we meet John Paul, Emily, and Maria at the church, and sit with them… at least until Maria gets fussy and needs to be taken to the back. Ah, the “fun” of babies in church. How well we remember Masses in the “cry room” with Maria’s father, not so long ago, it seems…

On Sunday afternoons, we have an informal, no-pressure, come-if-you-can “family gathering.” Uncle Walter has been coming over on Sunday afternoons for many years, ever since the days when all five kids could fit in a large box. Now it’s a chance for all the adult children who live nearby to come visit, with some staying for dinner. Lucia and Mike live in New Jersey, but sometimes we call or “FaceTime” with them. So it’s almost like having a little “party” on Sunday. Generally the party starts when the younger “Janaro Family” arrives in early afternoon, after Maria’s nap, and it raps up around 7pm, Maria’s bedtime. Clearly the Main Attraction on Sunday afternoons is Her Majesty Maria the granddaughter and niece. She has been learning so much lately. At 20 months old, she’s moving beyond the “baby” stage and on to full fledged toddlerhood.

Maria makes our hearts feel young in new ways. We also enjoy our kids’ company, and are grateful that we can still see them frequently. Circumstances change all the time, of course, so we don’t take these days “for granted” but rather “with gratitude.”

Last Sunday was especially special, as Eileen received lots of love from the people who are dearest to her. Her son cooked the dinner (which was really delicious—he didn’t learn cooking from me). And Agnese baked one of her famous birthday cakes. I gave Eileen a necklace and a couple of Van Gogh printed scarves (which I knew she would love).

Eileen and I have lived many years together and celebrated many birthdays. Now, in our 27th year of marriage, when I say, “I love you” to her, I’m expressing a love that encompasses so much common life, so many common experiences. Many moments have been hard, very hard, having to go through things we never could have imagined. But we have also had beautiful times, crazy times, fun times. It has all been good, because it is a path that leads to the Good and is suffused with the beginnings of the fulfillment we seek, for which we have been made, for which we live in hope.

We pray together every day, and Jesus keeps a hold of our lives and journeys together with us. Even through so many changes in life, through illness and limitations, through our differences in personality and temperament (which, really, help us to grow), through suffering losses of our precious elders, through times that seem overwhelming and paralyzing, Jesus stays with us. He never abandons us.

I love you, Eileen Janaro.❤️ Happy Birthday/BirthWEEK!💝