In Memory of My Sister, Diane

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Sisters 2018 L to R: Diane, me and Laurie

My sister, Diane, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly two days ago at the young age of 62. I’m in shock and still trying to process the news. She had health issues, but she was still working full-time.

One of the ways I handle grief is to keep busy. I’ve been looking through old photo albums searching for photos for Diane’s slide show to be shown at her wake.

Of course, as a writer, the other way I deal with grief is to write.

Diane was the second child and first daughter of my parents. She was also a Christmas present. Born six weeks early on December 24, 1956, she weighed 3 lbs, 15 oz.   My brother Mike was only 11 months old when my sister was born. When the doctor delivered my sister, he said, “I can’t believe it! Two tax exemptions in one year!”

Like most sisters/siblings, we had our good times and bad times.  We fought and made up too many times to count, but in these last ten years, we’ve had a closer relationship than ever, talking on the phone for an hour at a time every few weeks and emailing and texting frequently.

Here are some of my favorite memories and little-known facts about my sister:

When we were small children and Mom put us to bed, we would stay awake and play games like “You Don’t Say” and other guessing games. Often Mom would have to tell us to “Be quiet and go to sleep.”

One time when we were about ten and twelve, Di and I sneaked down to the Christmas tree in the living room before everyone else was awake to see what “Santa” had left.

Diane would give me hints about what she bought me for Christmas. And every year, I’d be surprised because the hints she gave me were only to distract me from guessing what the real gift was. You’d think after several years I would have caught on, but I never did and I was always surprised.

1971:  Diane and my brother Frank found and broke into my diary. They proceeded to mark each entry. If their name was in the entry, they gave it a good mark. Otherwise, there were a lot of F’s.  If I had to be honest, the entries were quite boring, talking about what grades I got in this or that subject. We laughed about it for years. And… I still have the diary with all the notations.

1975: We had a bad argument when we were teenagers. I don’t even remember what it was about. She was so angry that she proceeded to dump a glass of vegetable juice over my head.  I was shocked that she had done it, but then we both started laughing.  I asked her, “Do you feel better now?”  She responded, “Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do.”  That was another memory we laughed about for years.

1976: Di asked me to buy her some perfume when I went to France on a school trip.  I bought L’Interdit and she liked it so much, she continued using it for many years until it was discontinued.  She gave me a old container of it years ago and whenever I smell that scent, I think of her.

An entry from my diary in 1977: “Shopping with Diane is like putting yourself in front of a firing squad.  She must’ve tried on 30 different pieces of clothing in ten different stores and didn’t end up buying anything!”  (I’m not a patient shopper!)

1978: I was babysitting my cousin Eleanor’s daughter and my sister kept calling, but was quiet except for breathing.  I suspected it was her, but she never answered. I was trembling with fear and about to call the police. Finally, she called and laughed.  I was so glad it was her (and not a psychotic stalker) that I also laughed about it.

In recent years, she had developed emphysema so she depended on kind people to help her. She kept a stash of small angel pins to give to those who helped her. She would tell them, “You’re my angel.”

Two years ago, she recommended the TV show Blue Bloods and happened to own the first two seasons and asked if I wanted to borrow them.  I did, and I was hooked. I wound up purchasing the next few seasons and now watch that program regularly.

She also recommended a movie called “Lars and the Real Girl.”  When she told me the premise (a delusional young man strikes up an unconventional relationship with a doll he finds on the Internet), I told her I didn’t think I’d like it.  She said, “Trust me.  You’ll like it.” And, well, I did.  I would even say it’s up there among my top 100 movies. Excellent script, story and acting.  I’ll miss her future recommendations.

We both loved the rice pudding from The Meadows Diner in Blackwood, New Jersey. Every time I visited, I would bring her some (and enjoy some for myself!)

During our last conversation a few weeks ago, she shared with me that she hoped to come up to Canada for our first grandchild’s christening in the summer.  She told me that I would love being a grandmother because she loved being a Mom Mom to Lanna.  We talked about grandmother names that I might want to use. The last words we said to each other were, “I love you.”

I already miss her.  And I wish I could’ve said goodbye to her.  I know I’ll see her again someday and the reunion will be a joyous one.

Requiescat in pace, Diane.

May the choirs of angels come to greet you.
May they speed you to paradise.
May the Lord enfold you in His mercy.
May you find eternal life.  Amen.

December 24, 1956 – March 7, 2019

A memorial fund has been created in Diane’s name/memory to provide for her granddaughter, Lanna’s, education.  If you would like to contribute, here is the link.

Her obituary is here:

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1961 L to R Mike, Diane, Frank, Ellen

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1963: My sister (right) and me

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Diane’s First Communion 1964

AAA Di and me

1978

AAA My wedding

At my wedding, my sister (right) was the maid of honor

All five 1987 cropped

1987. After my youngest sister (Laurie) was born in 1981, we became five siblings! (L to R, Mike, Diane, Laurie, me,  Frank)

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Into Glorious Light by Paul Keough

Into Glorious LightToday is the official release day for Into Glorious Light: My Memoir of Converting From Exhausted Atheist to Joyful Christian.

Amazon Synopsis: Warning to the hate-crime police: this memoir is not politically correct. What it is, though, is a story very appropriate for Valentine’s Day. It is a story of searching for truth and falling in love with something greater than oneself, greater than humanity, greater than nature, the world and the universe. Paul quickly realized – even as an atheist – that there is no point in trying to make everyone like you. No matter what position you take, there will always be someone on the opposite side of that opinion. Given that, we might as well pursue the truth and do what we think is right, correct?

Truth reveals itself as seen here in these three strange occurrences that challenged his concept of truth:
1. How does an atheist scientist end up married with several children? Is not the world overpopulating from the totalitarian perspective? If that is true, wouldn’t having several children be irresponsible? Why would a trained doctoral scientist from a top university do such a thing? Was he not shocked when he found scientists, business leaders, doctors, scientists, engineers and other intelligent rational professionals were having more than two children?
2. How does a Wall Street analyst in New York City, often considered the center and top of the world, voluntarily leave Wall Street when there was more and more money to be made? Had he lost his marbles? What could be better than making a ton of money? But then we look around and see that most Wall Street professionals do leave Wall Street on average about four years after starting… so the fact that Paul lasted twice that time also seems unlikely.
3. Why would a nerdy science geek break up with a handsome woman who comes from wealth? As an atheist, why would it matter that she claimed to be a witch? If there was no such thing as a witch, or anything like that, why care about any label she gave herself? Except … was there trouble coming from being with a person claiming to be a witch?

Purchase the ebook here.

Purchase the paperback here.

Author Biography

Dr. Paul Keough holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and a Ph.D. in Health Sciences from Northwestern University. Paul is a practicing Catholic husband and father of six children who attend Catholic schools in the western suburbs of Chicago. In his free time, Paul enjoys playing chess and stays active by biking, swimming, playing basketball and tennis and working out with his family and friends.

Career-wise, Paul initially worked on Wall Street with high-profile investors, but then Dr. Keough soon realized his true passion was for helping individuals and their families on Main Street grow their retirement funds. Paul left Wall Street to help the average Joe and Jane on Main Street. Dr Keough brought with him the same experiences and knowledge that he used to research investments for the affluent. Since then, Paul has remained focused on helping his clients work toward their retirement dreams.

Dr. Keough has been recognized for his dedication to clients and featured in the media, most notably, on EWTN’s The Journey Home that aired January 2016:

 http://bit.ly/2h9wNBS

or heard him speak on Dan Cheely’s Relevant Radio Show in April 2016:

http://bit.ly/2znOVCc

Recently in December 2017, Paul was interviewed by the podcast SeizeYourBusiness.com as episode 132: “The Information War & Emotional Finance:”

 http://bit.ly/2ja9Mzu

Also, on Dec 22nd of 2018, Paul was interviewed on Montréal CAN Radio Blog:

https://youtu.be/fUW59xS_2_4

Paul is currently the Principal and Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) of Turnkeough Wealth Management, Inc., where he supervises all activities of the firm. Paul adheres to applicable regulatory requirements, together with all policies and procedures outlined in the firm’s code of ethics and compliance manual. He holds a Series 65 securities license and earned his health and life insurance license in multiple states throughout the United States.

Turnkeough Wealth Management, Inc. is a Registered Investment Advisor Firm with trades executed through Pershing LLC, Member FINRA, NFA & SIPC. Our disclosures are that past performance is not indicative of future performance and all proforma activities including forecasts are forward-looking estimates and are not guarantees of performance. Any risk mitigation is partial, some risks always remain, and risks are usually proportional to potential return regardless of mitigations.

The approach at Turnkeough is unusual for a wealth management firm. First, they have a mission statement to provide comprehensive life planning. When Paul meets with investors, he asks over 300 questions in three hours in these areas: investments, insurance, estate, education, debt, retirement, legal, tax, real estate, career, marriage, spiritual, family and legacy planning.

Their holistic approach is designed to build confidence and comfort. Their goal is to be a good and loyal servant to each of their clients, offering to help with both their clients’ communities’ long-term benefit and the benefit of the clients’ loved ones. The firm is resolutely committed to serving Christians and Jews by providing honest, caring, and thoughtful professional services.  They hold seriously the higher standards of always telling the truth, providing flawless service, minimizing costs, while providing top notch services with kindness and a smile.

The firm abides by compliance, record-keeping, and regulations, manages and tracks performance and results. But also, they hold themselves to a higher standard. The firm has an ethical board of directors composed of non-voting religious persons.

Turnkeough also tithes and gives to various not-for-profit causes all over the world. “We encourage our team to give and when I’m asked how much I say give, give, give until it hurts and then give some more.”

The firm is also very competitive with other financial firms by offerings services where client goals come first always, by seeking alpha (return above market return), keeping costs low using trading methods, providing real attention and real analysis, without automated robots with the goal of exceeding their clients’ expectations.

For further information, please contact Dr. Keough at: paul.keough(at)turnkeough (dot) (com).

www.turnkeough.com

 

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship Only .99 #bargain

Come My Beloved web

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, for the entire month of February, Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship is on sale on Kindle for only .99!

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship is a celebration of faith and enduring love. This compilation contains 12 courtship/dating stories which will inspire, captivate and entertain readers. Some of the stories include: a widow with eight children meets a widower with six children; a man asks his live-in girlfriend “what if we stopped having sex,” and is greeted with tears of joy; an atheist falls in love with her Catholic Prince Charming; a woman prays to God for a husband and years later finds herself falling in love with a seminarian; a sailor prays a novena to marry the right girl. What these and all the stories illustrate is that God is the ideal matchmaker.

Read excerpts here (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Reviews:

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship is a Song of Songs, a book of praise, a treasure-house of faith and romance par excellence!  This truly beautiful collection of Catholic courtship stories is a must-read for anyone discerning a vocation, especially the call to marriage; and for those courting, engaged, already married, or widowed. What a great gift to Holy Mother Church, and a powerful witness that God does make marriages in heaven.  Lisa Mladinich, author, Be An Amazing Catechist: Inspire the Faith of Children, and True Radiance, Founder, Amazing Catechists

Whether you’re courting, engaged to be married, newlyweds, or celebrating your jubilee years together, this terrific resource offers something for anyone looking to grow closer to God and to one another in a loving relationship.  Lisa Hendey, author, The Handbook for Catholic Moms,  The Grace of Yes, Founder and editor, Catholic Mom

Fabulous book that I can’t wait to recommend to all my single and married friends. You truly created a gift for this generation! Dawn Marie Roeder, author It Doesn’t End Here

Pick up a Kindle edition of Come My Beloved for only .99!

Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body

Image and Likeness: Short Reads Reflecting the Theology of the Body, with a foreword by Damon OwensIf St. John Paul II ever summarized his Theology of the Body, it may have been when he said, “Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” But how does this sincere gift look when lived out by human beings with all their failings? What happens to our humanity when we withhold that sincere gift? What does life require of us when we give most deeply?

Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body is a moving collection of poetry and prose, featuring some of today’s brightest Catholic literary voices, including award-winning authors Dena Hunt, Arthur Powers, Michelle Buckman, Leslie Lynch, Theresa Linden, and many more. By turns edgy and sweet, gritty and deft, but always courageous and honest, the works contained in Image and Likeness explore countless facets of human love—and human failure. Readers of Image and Likeness will experience in a variety of ways how humanity, in flesh as well as spirit, lives out the image and likeness of a God who created human intimacy to bring forth both our future and to illustrate our ultimate meaning as human persons.

With a Foreword by international Theology of the Body voice Damon Owens, Image and Likeness puts life and breath into St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in ways that readers won’t soon forget.  Edited by Erin McCole Cupp and Ellen Gable.

Warning: mature themes, content and language.

Reviews:

Barb writes: “What, exactly, are “literary reflections on the Theology of the Body?” They’re stories and poems about how we live, and how we live our lives in relationship with each other, with our bodies, with our souls, and with God. It’s not some complicated, esoteric subject. Because it’s an anthology, there’s something for everyone, from detective stories to poetry to tales of family life that range from the harrowing to the uplifting. These stories and poems are about life. Like life, they are not always neat and tidy and packaged in a pretty box with a crisply-tied ribbon. I’ve come to expect just this from other work from Full Quiver Publishing: this publisher does not shy away from difficult subjects and situations in its commitment to promoting the culture of life and the Church’s teaching on marriage and family.”

An Open Book Family says: “Recommended for reading, reflection, discussion, and even entertainment. A gritty but beautiful introduction not only to the Theology of the Body as it is lived (or rejected), but also to the breadth and promise of Catholic fiction being written by contemporary authors. These shorts are accessible to any careful reader, whether familiar with the Theology of the Body or not.”

Readers can buy the paperback book on Amazon at this link.

It’s available on Kindle at this link.

Ready for 2019!

Every year, on Epiphany Sunday, we bless our home with the saying “Christus Mansionem Benedicat: May Christ Bless this House,” and write with chalk on each of the lintels to outside doors.  The letters CMB are an abbreviation of the Latin saying above, and they’re also the first letter of each of the names of the three wise men: Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. To find out more about this beautiful tradition, click here.

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Image copyright 2019 Ellen Gable Hrkach

An Open Book – January 2019 #openbook

An Open Book 800W

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. It was a busy month before Christmas and during the holidays we had many visitors so there wasn’t as much time for reading as I would’ve liked.  But here are a few:

Prodigal Daughters

Prodigal Daughters: Catholic Women Come Home to the Church

by Donna Steichen

Amazon Synopsis: In this memorable book, seventeen women of the Baby Boom generation tell their poignant personal stories of apostasy and repentance. Each left the Catholic Church to seek autonomy and fulfillment on the major cultural battlegrounds of this era. Each eventually turned homeward to find, like her prodigal brother in the best-loved of Christ’s parables, that her Heavenly Father had been calling her throughout her absence, watching and yearning for her return.

Feminists in the bureaucratic networks of Catholic dissent continually predict that women will abandon the Church en masse unless they are soon admitted to the hierarchy. The women who recount their experiences in this timely and important book prove the dissenters wrong. They are representative of a growing stream of “reverts” who have recognized and repented of their errors when they rediscovered the living heart of Christ at the center of the Church.

Today, when virtually all faithful Catholics wait and pray for the return of some family member or friend who has strayed from the Church, these accounts of faith reborn offer hope and direction to lift the heart of every reader.

My review: I found this a compelling read. I’ve read it once before, but it’s the perfect sort of book to read when you don’t have a lot of time to do so.  I read individual conversion stories over the period of about two weeks. Highly recommend!

Perilous

Perilous Days: Bravehearts # 1

Amazon Synopsis: Awarded the Catholic Writer’s Guild Seal of Approval Award!

As this unforgettable adventure story begins, the quiet life of this peaceful Catholic family is thrown into turmoil by the start of World War II. A Nazi soldier knocks on the door of the farmhouse where teenager Felix Culpa Schmidt lives with his family, including his younger brother, Willy, who is a child with Down Syndrome. The draft notice is tersely delivered. “Report on January 11th and bring your birth certificate.” Felix becomes an unwilling soldier in the German army, forced to serve Adolph Hitler, a man who enacts a plan to kill thousands of ‘useless eaters’- citizens who are elderly or disabled, citizens like his brother Willy. Felix and his loyal dog, Rolf, are assigned to rescue wounded soldiers on the battlefield, working closely with a mysterious soldier who reveals shocking secrets. Perilous Days is book one in the Brave Hearts series of books about Catholic heroes and heroines. Historical fiction for readers ages 9-14. Now more than ever-we need heroes! Learn more about the Brave Hearts series at kathrynswegart.com

My review: Perilous Days is a beautifully written story that will inspire, educate, and entertain all who read it.  Swegart uses rich imagery to transport the reader back to that perilous time of World War II, Germany. Well-developed characters, compelling story, and rich imagery make this the ideal read for young and old alike. Highly recommended!

 

Miracles

Christmas Miracles

Magical True Stories of Modern Day Miracles

Amazon Synopsis: At Christmas, our hearts are touched by reports of wondrous occurrences that make us stop, reflect, and hope. This luminous book shares true accounts of Christmas miracles — inspiring events that happened to real people at Christmas time, including:

A Christmas Mystery: A deaf boy’s generosity is miraculously rewarded

First Christmas: Newlyweds take part in the local Christmas pageant — and receive a surprising lesson in timeless love.

A Heart for Christmas: A series of coincidences brings new life to a little girl

The Stranger: A gentle, mysterious Christmas Eve visitor awes a family

Christmas Saved My Mother: A rabbi tells how his mother, fleeing the Holocaust, was spared on Christmas Eve.

Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.” If you believe in miracles — or want to — let Christmas Miracles light the candle of hope in your heart this year.

My review: I read this book every Christmas. Miracles do happen! My favorite stories are Chester and The Town that Gave Christmas.

Gift

The Christkindl’s Gift by Kathleen Morgan

Amazon Synopsis: When Anna Hannack’s father-in-law brings home a wounded stranger only days before Christmas, Anna’s not happy. Christian charity moves the Hannack family to help the injured man, but the young widow Anna keeps her distance. The tragedies of life have shattered her trust, and she’s determined not to let another stranger threaten her family. Could it be, though, that this rugged Scotsman is actually the gift Anna’s young children have asked of the Christ Child this Christmas?

My review: This is a beautiful Christmas romance.  I read it every year at Christmastime.