Nostalgia Brings Clarity

The Fourth of July always makes me feel nostalgic. My daddy was a career Marine and we moved to Oceanside in 1959 when he was transferred to Camp Pendleton. I remember sitting on the curb on Hill Street (now Coast Highway) waiting for the 4th of July Parade to start. There were horses, clowns throwing candy, floats, important people waving from fancy cars. And then the Color Guard! I would jump to my feet, put a hand over my heart, get tears in my eyes, and watch the passing of Old Glory. Somehow, even at a young age, I understood all that it represented.

Those were the days that we would walk from South Oceanside (before it became South O) to Geil Motors (corner of Hill & Wisconsin—now the U-Haul) to look at cars. The car daddy wanted but knew he could never afford was very expensive—$3,000!

Just behind Geil Motors was St. Mary’s School, where I was taught by the Adrian Dominican Sisters with up to 50 children in a classroom. No one dared act up! That is where I learned about my faith (in addition to my parents, of course). MANY years later I was able to send my own two children through the school (K-8) to receive a firm foundation.

Junior High and High School were spent at San Luis Rey Academy (now home to Mission Montessori School). My faith life was deepened under the tutelage of the Sisters of the Precious Blood. I remember that my parents spent $30/month for myself and my sister to attend to an all-girls Catholic high school. (THANK YOU, Mom and Dad!)

Shortly after graduation in 1971, Msgr. Clavin asked me to answer the phones in the church office in the afternoons. Later I was asked to sub for the secretary when she took ill. That was in the summer of 1972. I was asked to take on a full time position in June 1973, just a few months before I got married (at St. Mary’s, of course).

I never had aspirations to be “The Church Lady”. But now, as I enter my 44th year, I guess that’s what I am and I consider myself to be blessed beyond measure.

I have worked with seven different men who dedicated their lives to the service of God and were chosen to shepherd the flock at St. Mary Star of the Sea. Each brought his own personality and vision to the parish and I treasure the opportunity to work side by side with each of them.

It seems that, as we age, we enjoy looking back at our childhood memories, especially those that truly shaped us into the adults we became.

Most of my “faith” memories were created right here at St. Mary’s. I remember receiving my First Holy Communion at our altar rail (oops, it’s missing!) And sitting in the pews that you occupy this moment making my mom Shh! at me. (I wasn’t always perfect.) I remember exchanging my marriage vows at our altar and baptizing my babies at our baptismal font.

So this weekend, when you are having BBQs, watching fireworks, just hanging out with family and friends, think about that little girl sitting on the curb watching the Color Guard pass by.

I ask you to BELIEVE that we are lucky to live in a military town so the idea is never far from our minds; to BELIEVE that we are lucky to hear the “sounds of freedom” booming in the late hours as the military practices for combat readiness. I ask you to PRAY for each member of the armed forces (who are someone’s spouse, child, sibling) that put themselves in harms way to keep us safe.

God Bless America!