My grandma was a little round white-haired lady such as I see in the mirror every morning. She was devout in the loveliest ways and most hours of the day you would hear her singing a hymn. Now that I know more about the times through which she lived, I’m more deeply impressed by her courage, humor and fortitude. She was born in the 1880s. Married and came to the high plains of Montana by train with her husband and three kids. Seven more followed as did the Great Depression and WW II. I’m sure things were more complicated in her life than I will ever know because her daughters — including my mom — are all complicated women.
One of her hymns was “Abide With Me.” It’s a sweet hymn about God’s company in hard times and the inevitable disillusionment of life.
Denis Joseph Francis Callahan loved The Big Lebowski. He took its words and scenes as palpable wisdom. An angry man by nature, Denis needed any calming influence that came his way, and “the Dude” fell into his litany along with daily Mass and conversations with me. I’m good at defusing other peoples’ anger and many were the times that I’d step between Denis and a tree he’d just slammed with his fist (the tree always won) and say, “Let’s go get a burger.”
One of Denis’ words to me in times of trial and frustration was, “Abide.”
My grandma thought the Catholic church was the anti-Christ. Denis thought all Protestants were heretics. But there they were, hanging their lives on the same word.