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Thursday, March 29, 2012

How Awesome That Must Feel

One of the chaplains was sharing an exchange that took place between him and a family member by way of email Wednesday touched me very deeply. I am so happy he said I could share that exchange with you. First, I have copied his comments, then the family member's response, and finally, my response to both by way of You Tube:
I thought I should update you on how Dad is doing these days. Since mom's death a year and a half ago he has done fairly well; but when you are 91 (that) doesn't mean you are getting any younger. In face he is becoming more and more frail as the days go by.
Not many weeks ago ... Assisted Living... where he lives, had to call 911. (In fact they had to call) on 3 occasions in as many weeks.

Two of the times he was taken to the ED (emergency department), which happens to be the one I work in. He was able to tell them, and I affirmed it, that he did not want any tests or treatments and he didn't want to be put in the hospital.

The doctors were kind and understanding and agreed that at his age he should not be admitted, poked or scanned if he didn't want it. They let him go home each time, much to his relief.

From those experiences we were able to get him into Palliative Care for about a month but he is becoming more frail and still does not want to go to the hospital or leave his home. His desire is to stay in his apartment until he steps into heave; and Life Manor has been extremely supportive and desires to support Dad in this as do (my wife) and I.

And so he has not been made a Hospice patient. He now has all the support and affirmation (so) that he does not need to go tothe hospial or do anything he doesn't want. Their desire is to support him and comfort and to keep him as pain free(as possible.

We have gone through his med (medications') list and (my wife and I) have worked with the nurses to cut his meds down where possible. Dad is absolutely loving the care he is receiving from Hospice; he has a nurse, social worker, chaplain and even a massage therapist who will come and see him on a regular basis and they tell him he can eat anything he wants!!!

The best part about all this is Dad knows without a doubt that he probably is not long for this world and he is content with that. His goal in life has always been to bring glory to God and that is exactly what he desires now. Dad's greatest desire has been to show others that the "Peace that passes understanding" is real. He is trusting that God will allow those who are watching him in these last days,(to) see that "Peace" fully overtaking him now.
Family Member's Response
I was just telling W... this Sunday after church that I'm afraid of dying. I think maybe that's because I'm not living in peace. I'm fearful and anxious. The (graduate) program is pretty thankless and self-serving which is not fulfilling for me. I like helping people and working with people more directly than this. But I'm forcing myself to finish because I'm so close. I'm not sure exactly how to get there, but I definitely aspire to live that way.
Although it may only be another 6-8 months, I'm not sure if I can do it. It's made me anxious and fearful that I'm wasting precious time. I'm nost sure what the right decision is and I struggle with it daily.

Hearing about your dad's journey is very inspiring and I wonderful if has such amazing peace now because he lived a life in peace? I'm not sure exactly how to get there, but I definitely aspire to live that way. Did he everhave questions about Go's plan for him or struggle with how to live in peace?

Please tell him we are praying for him and we are grateful for His grace and the peace your dad is experiencing. His peace has brought me peace, just by hearing about it. I pray that when the time comes, I won't be scared of death and I'll look back at a life well lived, serving God. How awesome that must feel!

McGowan's response:
I was deeply moved as my team member read these two emails to me and two other members. After much reflection, the song which I have recorded came to mind:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fife 2nd Hand Treasures Changing Name, Heading To St. Helens In Tacoma

Fife 2nd Hand Treasures, 5303 Pacific Highway E, has been an indispensable part of many members of the community along the old 99 corridor after owners opened the doors to this small, neighborhood consignment store last summer in the former Rexall Pharmacy slot by the famous Poodle Dog Restaurant and historic Fife Plaza.

While not exactly a classic mom and pop, store proprietors strove to infuse it with a comfortable, come-as-you-are personality while selling both new and gently used merchandise, providing the old-fashioned service, nurturing consignment partners and raising money for a list of worthwhile charities with the kind welcome long-time residents recalled from older businesses who once populated the area in days of yore.

Sadly, old fashioned service and smiles were not quite enough to insure the store as it was would be able to sail completely intact through all of the many and various hurdles and challenges small businesses find themselves forced to navigate in longer post-bubble economic universe. Nevertheless their presence in the area was warm and friendly and many of us around the corner in the nearby neighborhoods will keenly miss them.

So April 15 will be officially the last day that Fife 2nd Hand Treasures will do business at the corner of 54th Avenue and Pacific Highway E. But Fife's turns out to be a gain for the City of Destiny as customers have been informed that the store along the busy highway will begin a second new chapter of its life as Common Ground Treasures doing business at a tad more toney location , 723 St. Helens in Tacoma, WA with a Grand Opening slated for May 1st.

To keep abreast of new store details click here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Evening Reverie

Quiet evening at Bellarmine. I have had lots of time to read and think. My reading got so sad and heavy that I had to back off, chill out, watch a thriller on cable and let go of what I was learning...the forties and sixties and seventies were hard times for this country, courageous folks stood up against Jim Crow in the South and discrimination in the North.
I lived in a bubble, far away from the fear and hurt of the times.
Do I consider that I was a lucky person, learning to pray and studying philosophy during the early sixties? I do not know.
I do know that, every day now I have an opportunity to listen to, understand, and support other human beings. I am very grateful that I have been given this time to think and speak and act in positive and loving ways.

Enjoy these few moments here in the Bellarmine Qadrangle on Sunday evening.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Saint Patrick''s Day: Fond Remembrances

I have fond memories of moments when Irish culture and folks just plain overwhelmed me.

The first man who ever spent any time with me was Father O'Rourke. I was living with my grandmother in Rosenberg, Texas. She was the housekeeper for the priests living there. And Father O'Rourke, who lived in the rectory took time with me personally to prepare me for my First Holy Communion. After he had done that I used to follow him around whenever I could. When he went walking through the church garden saying his prayers I would be walking right behind him saying mine, sometimes the Rosary, sometimes the prayer book. I would have my Rosary; I would have my prayer book. When folks would asked me why I chose to become a priest, I always have talked about Father O'Rourke.

When I went to Seattle Preparatory School, beginning with my sophomore year, Father Mike McHugh, Society of Jesus, chose to be my counselor, mentor, and support person for many years... from the time I was a teenager until I was approved for ordination in 1974. He, my mother and my grandmother, saw me through the ups and downs of teenage and young adult life.

When I went to Berkeley, California to study theology, Sister Dorothy Donnelley chose to reach out to me and to teach me how to listen to the feelings of other people and my own feelings. As I became more conscious of my feelings I became more aware of the loving presence of God with me and all around me.

So I thank the Lord for the wonderful people who have helped Joseph Oneal McGowan, Society of Jesus, to become the African American man who is determined to be a loving teacher and mentor to whomever God sends into my life.
Saint Patrick I salute you with this little sumation of your life's story

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Women's History Month... Light For The Mind, Warmth For Soul

Wind and snow and rain... all those high experiences of living in the Northwest when I just want to crawl back into bed and drift off into I feel warm and I do not have to get out there where I end up shaking and trying, oh so very hard, to keep my umbrella from being blown out of my freezing right hand.
But I live on the hill at Bellarmine High School, where faculty, staff, family members work very, very hard to support the young women and men who go to school here leave home, come up the hill, and hit those books.
I am so glad I live here because, just like so many other private and public schools here in Pierce County, folks are taking care of business, working hard so that our day to day lives can be healthy and happy.
I got out of that bed and headed for the Orell Library, named after the wonderful man who helped to make sure that the students would have access to a beautiful, comfortable space where they could work together, read and write and begin to appreciate the hopes and hurts of our world.
Let me say this one more time: "I am so pleased that young women and men have so many wonderful books to read than I did. I had a great education but I came up during those beautiful hard years when women and people of color were silent witnesses to our every changing country. So many men and women worked so hard to get us to this point but there would be a few more years that had to pass before their accomplishments, sorrows and joys would be celebrated."
So I am shouting out loud and clear because I want to affirm the existence of our sisters:
who continue to dedicate themselves to loving and serving other human beings in our country
all over the world... truly we are the benefactors of generations of people who cried and prayed and worked their way through life so that you and I can continue to make of this world a good place for all

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Riches Plenty at 18th RAGS Wearable Art Sale and Show

Above: The beautiful showroom at Larson's Mercedes-Benz of Tacoma has been temporarily transformed into a fabulous boutique for the 18th annual RAGS Wearable Art Sale & Show March 8-11 in Fife, WA. All photos copyright 2012 by Mizu M. Sugimura.

One of my favorite events on the calendar is the annual RAGS Wearable Art Sale & Show where it's possible to admire and purchase artist created fashions and accessories that take the clothes in your closet to fabulous new heights every year!

There's only one more day to catch this year's event which runs through tomorrow Sunday, March 11, from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. at Larson's Mercedes-Benz of Tacoma, 1701 Alexander Avenue E., in Fife.
An imaginative collection of fun felted hats and wraps created and designed by Irina Francis at Harbor Fibers LLC highlights the wealth of fashion possibilities for purchase at RAGS!

RAGS has been a staple of stylish South Sound shoppers for the last 18 years while raising some good money to benefit the YWCA Pierce County's Domestic Violence Prevention & Intervention Programs. I was introduced to this dazzling event a few years ago thanks to several generous and fashion minded friends. First-time attendee? You may feel much the same after taking a personal look at this year's brilliant line-up.

Above: Textile artist Irina Francis and one of her many delicate and feather light fiber masterpieces!

Today I was captivated by the explosion of color, pattern and texture particularly in the area of shawls and other light wraps which populated this year's show. Notable artist in this category is textile artist Irina Francis of Harbor Fibers LLC. While I'll admit to already having three or four woven and knit wraps in my closet, it was easy to argue with myself after seeing what artists had to that I may well have to open my pocketbook and add that number.

Above: A lovely hand-beaded Kumihimo necklace with silver accents by Seattle artist Carole Grisham of Hiyama Studios.

Joan Joachims Designs features custom one-of-a-kind agate necklaces to die for. Agate you ask? Bling? What this artist does is evavate these otherwise humble stones into the stratosphere by encasing the natural beauty of each in an original designed wax model which will be later cast into metal. Red carpet worthy? I kid you not.

Another RAGS standout this year are beaded necklaces in the Kumihimo style by West Seattle artist Carole Grisham of Hiyama Studios whose creations would add an exotic as well as sophisticated polish to any working woman's professional or evening wardrobe.

Which brings me to what I like most about the annual RAGS show as a attendee - the chance to meet, mingle, chat and salute some of the most innovative movers and shakers in our area.
Seriously! Artists are all about ideas. In their own way, artists break new ground and point out the way for others to higher elevations and new territories. It is actually part of their wider, community focused job description which in contemporary society has been often overlooked.

You don't have to hold a big title, run a business that's a media darling or be a highly sought after member of your local Chamber of Commerce to say a friendly hello to these wonderful citizens. The artists featured at RAGS are more often highly approachable. They are friendly, enjoy meeting people and talking about their work.

During my first year of attendance, I ran into Pierce County artist Lisa Kinoshita who was featured at RAGS. We had a brief conversation. I admired her work. Soon after the event her name started popping up in the fashion columns of the local newspaper, and then a few nationally favorite big-name monthly standards.

As it turns out Kinoshita's skills were not confined to jewelry which underscores the level and caliber of the talent featured at RAGS. More recently Kinoshita was one of a handfull of local artists selected to create a larger artwork of the civic kind by the City of Fife, WA. Whether this year's crop of artists will produce another Kinoshita is a moot point. Then again, you never know...