Thursday, April 24, 2014

Rediscovering the Art of Discourse



Thirty days after I left the convent, I began to work at Pflaum Publishing. The day before, I’d flown from Kansas City to Dayton. Looking back I realize that the normal reaction to the possibility of a new job might be both anxiety and eagerness. But all I can remember is feeling passive and emotionless. I remember also that my parents had mixed feelings about my taking the job. On one hand, I’d have work and could then support myself and evolve a life. On the other, I was emotionally stunted.

         Both Dad and Mom worried about my well-being. After all, I would be living nearly six hundred miles away where they couldn’t watch over me. Yet they’d always wanted their children to be independent. As I was growing up, they both often said to me, “Dolores, you can do anything you set your mind to.” They always believed in me.
         But they’d never seen me in the state I was in when I left the convent. During the following thirty days, I had, however, improved somewhat, and as I started to climb out of a deep abyss of unease, I was able to relate again. The “acting normal” became almost second nature and by mid-January, I could engage in conversation with my relatives and talk with salesclerks when Mom and I went to a store together. But always it was an effort to do so and I relapsed into silence when I was with only my Mom or Dad.
         Growing up, I’d found that talking with others was both interesting and enlightening. Yet, not only was I mute when I left the convent, I also lacked any spark of interest in others. I was encased in ice. 


          Fortunately, during those thirty days between leaving and starting my first post-convent job, I decided, subconsciously I suspect, to reenter the human race. I relearned the ebb and flow of conversation. The give and take of it.
         I mention this because on Sunday, January 25, 1967, my future boss—Bob—and his three children, who ranged in age from four to eight, met me at the Dayton Airport. It surprises me still that those children, in their fifties now and living in Spain, Texas, and Kansas, still remember picking me up and what we talked about on the drive from the airport to the Loretto Guild where I was to live for the next five months.
         And what did we talk about?
         Baseball.
         I inherited my love of baseball from Dad. Every summer evening while I was growing up, he, my brother, and I would sit on the front stoop and listen to the radio broadcast of the Kansas City Blues, which was a Triple A minor-league Yankee farm team. I’d followed baseball until I was twenty-two and entered the convent. I’d known all the names, positions and teams of the American League, and the changing stats for the Blues and the Yankees. I was a true fan.

Joe Kuhel was the Blues' manager in the early fifties.

         Of course, in the convent we didn’t listen to the radio or read the newspaper, so I was nine years out of date, but Bob’s adult children have told me more than once how fascinated they were that a “nun” knew so much about how to play the game and about the players from the forties and fifties.
         And that, truly, is the first conversation I had after leaving the convent in which I was, for a space of time, myself at my best. Not acting or playing a role, but simply enjoying the exchange of facts and childhood dreams and ideas with other human beings.
         Children have always had the gift of calling forth from me the essence of who I am.

Photographs from Wikipedia. 

42 comments:

  1. What a wonderful way to become part of the land of the living again! I was a real "daddy's" girl myself and learned all about baseball from him at a very early age. But I never followed his Baltimore Oriols instead remaining true to the Boston Red Sox -- to this very day!

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    1. Dear Broad, the wonderful thing is that after all those years of supporting the Boston Red Sox you and all the team's other fans got to cheer as they won the World Series! Peace.

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  2. Interesting to read about the different passages of your life... You have probably answered this but do you regret your years at the convent? Is that what God 'truly' wanted you to do and where you were supposed to be??? Seems as if that convent did more to tear you apart than to build you up... Would you do it again if given the opportunity?

    I'm sure your parents were worried about you --as you began digging back into life... It's almost as if you had been locked in a closet for years... Scary!

    Thanks for sharing... I hope you will turn all of this into a book someday. You have so much to say to others --in so many ways.

    Hugs,
    Betsy
    P.S. I learned to love baseball from my Dad also....

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    1. Dear Betsy, to answer your questions--I don't regret my years in the convent. They helped to form me into the person I am today. And i do think that I had a vocation, but it wasn't one for life. It was one for those formative years of the twenties. I would enter again but only if i were a more mature person to begin with. I think that the convent at the time did little to help a person mature. If you were mature when you entered, things were much differ for you. But I was emotionally--according to a psychiatrist I respected--only 13 when I entered and I remained immature for the 8 1/2 years I was there. Peace.

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  3. A small, and very important step. And finding your passion is still a wonderful way to display your essence.

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    1. Dear Sue, I so appreciate your sentence "and finding your passion is still a wonderful way to display your essence." That sentence rings so true to me. For myself, writing is my passion today. Peace.

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  4. Most children will ask the important questions, change topics willy-nilly, and love the words you say.
    So wonderful that those children/adults remember you.

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    1. Dear Susan, you have really put your finger on why relating to children brings us new life. Peace.

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  5. Sport, for those who love it ,can be a great bond of interest and friendship, Dee, and I'm glad it came to your aid in those first difficult weeks after leaving the convent. I'm afraid I'm a sport ignoramus, though I did use to watch Wimbledon years ago. DD was a huge American football fan as a teenager and constantly tried to interest me in it - without success, I'm afraid. :-)

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    1. Dear Perpetua, I'm not much into sports either, except for baseball. Like you, I used to follow tennis--back in the '50s, but I don't even do that anymore. However, I do sort of follow golf because my brother is a golfer and I like to be able to talk with him about his game and the pros. Peace.

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  6. Cleveland Indians, here. My mother's last words, when I told her Cleveland traded Kenny Lofton. Her eyes opened, her head and shoulders came up and she said "WHO TO?"
    When I was the only woman among men executives I found my knowledge of baseball priceless. If I could get them off golf. Wonderful it stood you in good stead, too.

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    1. Dear Joanne, I just love the story about your mom and the "trade." It made me grin when I read it and now again as I type this response. She sounds like an avid fan! Peace.

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  7. Children and baseball ~ two wonderful aids to opening up and beginning to live again. Springtime of life. That ice picture is a frightening depiction of your inner self at the time. I will write you on the weekend, I have not felt really well and with the A to Z I'm busy too. Take care.

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    1. Dear Inger, I'm so sorry to learn that you haven't been well. Please be gracious to yourself. Peace.

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  8. Children can get even the biggest mute to speak. You sure made an impression indeed

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    1. Dear Pat, I had grown so used to silence and those three children simply drew words forth from me because they were so innocent and so curious. The two boys talked about their playing of baseball and the fact that I could appreciate what they were sharing with me made all the difference. Peace.

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  9. I have never followed any sports, but sometimes I think I've missed out. Seems knowing all that baseball really helped you to reconnect with the world. A good, although a bit scary, story.

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    1. Dear DJan, I'm wondering what was "scary" about the story. Really I was so blessed to meet Bob's children. I hope all is well. Peace.

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  10. I love that you found such great common ground with them, and that they STILL remember it, after all these years. I've always loved being around kids, and thus my teaching career, for exactly that reason: I always felt like they drew the truest me out each day.

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    1. Dear Shelly, your final sentence absolutely says what I was attempting to say: those three children "drew the truest" out of me. Peace.

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  11. Coming from a town with two baseball teams, the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox, baseball, and talking baseball, was a summertime sport in our family. Oh, the "conversations" that were held, on an almost nightly basis, about the teams, of which my large family rooted for in opposition of each other, and even with each other at times! What a gift the commonality of baseball was at easing you into conversation with these young folks, Dee. I know you still had some bumpy times ahead of you, but, how wonderful it was for you at that time - and that you and they remember it so well.
    Have you read Doris Kearns Goodwin'' "Wait Till Next Year"? If you haven't, I would like to recommend it to you as I think you would enjoy it. Goodwin is a historian, most recently recognized for "A Team of Rivals", from which the movie was based on. "Wait Till Next Year" is her memoir of growing up in Brooklyn in the '50s and sharing a love of the Brooklyn Dodgers with her father. As soon as I read you words about you, your brother, and your father listening on the radio, I remember this book and thought of you enjoying it.

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    1. Dear Penny, I have read Goodwin's book "Wait Till Next Year." I was on the waiting list at the library the year it was published. She has always been a favorite historian of mine and that book just pinpointed those days when she and her father followed the Dodgers. Thanks for reminding me of the wonder of that book. Peace.

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  12. I suspect that the number of people who have found you memorable is very large.

    Love,
    Janie

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  13. Children don't judge nor demand much making them the perfect foil for you to have gained your non-convent conversation feet. I'll bet it was fascinating for them to hear a former nun talk knowledgeably about America's pastime.
    My mom made me a fan of the game. We were rabid Indian fans.

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    1. Dear Arkansas Patti, I like the Indians also. And you are so right about children. That's why being ourselves is so easy with them. Peace.

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  14. I am glad I came and read this today

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    1. Dear Jo-Anne, and I'm glad you left a comment. Thank you. Peace.

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  15. Talking sports is often a gateway to friendship. Men have always done this as it forges kinship and passion between them. It is nice to hear that it opened communication between you and this family and started you on your way towards healing.

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    1. Dear Arleen, I'd never thought about the male bonding by sports before but that surely makes sense to me. What do we women talk about when we want to forge "kinship and passion"? You've got me thinking now of all my friendships. Thank you. Peace.

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  16. It sounds like you're off and running on another adventure. Baseball.... I've had enough of that to last me for the rest of my life. But don't let that word get around. Ha.

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    1. Dear Manzanita, I'm not sure where this series of Dayton postings will go. I'm just "flying by the seat of my pants"!!! Peace.

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  17. This is beautiful and true. Best to you in whatever path you are walking down today. :)

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    1. Dear Emily, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I'll visit your blog today or tomorrow. And thank you also for your good wishes. Peace.

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  18. "Children have always had the gift of calling forth from me the essence of who I am." Beautiful and so true. Children haven't always learned how to hide themselves or forgotten natural joy.

    I figured you had made a decision, even if you didn't realize it, when you interviewed for the job. You had inner strength you weren't even aware of! And angels watching over you. ;)

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    1. Dear Rita, you know I'm not sure if I did make a decision when I went for the interview. I was just letting myself drift with whatever anyone else suggested. I seemed incapable of making decisions then or at least that's how I remember it. And yes, as I've written this blog for three years and read the comments of the readers, I've come to appreciate that I do have an inner strength of which I've never been aware. And yes also, angels do watch over me. Peace.

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  19. I am so sorry to be lagging in my reading, Dee, and I'm very glad to get caught up with you. I think of you as someone able to engage across all sectors of society and with all people, so it is really almost unfathomable to me think of how much life drained out of you in the last days of your stay at the convent. It really could have been the end of you, I think, had you not chosen to leave. And how delightful that your re-entry to speaking and engaging comes through America's pastime, baseball, and the interest of young children. It's wonderful to know that you have maintained a relationship with them. I hope you continue to do well, and that this week offers you many delights! ox

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    1. Dear Debra, thank you so much for thinking of me "as someone able to engage across all sectors of society and with all people." I set out to try to live that way when I began reading the epistles of Paul while in the convent. As a Roman Catholic doing the forties and fifties, I'd never really read the Bible for myself--just heard readings from it at Sunday Mass. And so I discovered truths while in the convent that became foundational to my belief system about Oneness. Peace.

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  20. What a lovely story about being truly yourself.

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    1. Dear LadyFi, thank you for your kind words about this story. Now if only I could take evocative photographs as you do to illustrate my postings! Peace.

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  21. I loved this story, Dee! It's interesting, isn't it, how often events that seem ordinary at first glance have profound meaning for all involved. How great that the children still remember, too, and that they were so instrumental in penetrating that wall of ice between you and the rest of the world.

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    1. Dear Kathy, I'm so pleased that you "loved" this story. That says to me there's something in it that reveals human growth and flowering because you so often write postings about those two aspects of life as revealed in relationships. Thank you. Peace.

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