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Mary’s Good Bread

January 14, 2021

Written by Mary’s son in law, the morning of her death, November 21st.

Mary’s Good Bread

In our house we have a beautiful piece of wooden furniture in our kitchen. It is a 40-odd year old stone grinder. For as many years, it has been in this house, which belonged to Mike and Mary before it belonged to her daughter and me, grinding wheat to make bread.

Mary tried to always provide her family with home baked bread. Even more, with bread baked at home with fresh-ground flour. In our age, you can get bread just about anywhere, but Mary knew that to get the best bread, the most wholesome and nourishing bread, you needed to start from scratch. You needed to grind the wheat berries, carefully measure the water, knead the bread by hand, and wait patiently while it rises. There were no shortcuts for Mary when it came to making bread. Step by slow, time consuming step, she made good bread for her family.

Mary thought about raising children in much the same way she thought about making bread. Mary knew that to raise a child who can live, build, and pass on culture, there are no shortcuts. You need to get down on your knees, look that child in the eye, take that child by the hand, and show that child the world. One by one, with love and kindness, Mary showed the world to her children, and later, to her grandchildren. And Mary’s passion for raising and forming her own children overflowed into her teaching and her writing, by which she sought to help others to raise children who could bear and carry forward the richness of Catholic culture.

Mary believed that culture is passed on hand to hand and one by one. She believed in a loving, creative God who revealed himself to us twice to start with, once in his creation of our real world, and once in revelation. But she believed further that this loving, creative God continues to reveal himself in time to each of us, through our senses, through our encounter with the real world, and through his Spirit dwelling within us. For Mary, education was fundamentally about taking each child by the hand and showing that child the real world, while singing to them and teaching them to listen for the Spirit.

That is why for Mary the notion that there could be any contradiction between science and revelation was the gravest blasphemy. Yes, we need humility in both realms, and to be ready to acknowledge the limits of our knowledge and understanding. But if we do not start with the belief in the total coherence between the first revelation of our loving, creative God and the second, there could never be the billions of other revelations to each of us as we gaze upon what his hand has wrought and listen for his Spirit within us. The Real God created the Real World, and to tear them asunder is insanity.

And so Mary was compelled to write and to teach. To teach science, and history, and right thinking. To teach clarity of thought and expression. To teach children, one by one, to see the world, to listen to the Spirit, and to fight that fatal blasphemy. Against the grain, Mary fought the twin modern heresies of secularism and fideism in their various forms. And many listened, and learned, and loved Mary, her writing, and her teaching.

In her biography on her website, among other things Mary said, “I make good bread.” She ground the flour, measured the water, kneaded the dough, and baked the bread. One loaf at a time, for 40-odd years, for each of her children, and for their children, and for friends, and their children, and their children. Mary baked the bread, and passed on the culture. And loved us all.

This week the grindstone in that old wheat grinder cracked and broke. And Mary passed on to her reward. We are left here with a broken grindstone, and without our mother, grandmother, teacher, and friend. But we know what to do. 

We will grind the wheat, measure the water, knead the dough. We will wait patiently while the loaves rise and we will bake the bread. And we will get down to our knees, take each child in our arms, look them in the eyes, and show them the world. 

Thank you Mary, for good bread.

Fire that Lasts

November 21, 2020

Early on the morning of the Feast of the Presentation of Mary, Mary Daly, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend, was presented by the angels to Mary, our Blessed Mother, who presents her to her Son who turns all tears to joy.

Mom prayed for immense joy for all.

Recently, when Jon asked Mom for her favorite prayer, she prayed this:

A Prayer

Thou who art Love, this prayer I bring Thee, Live
Thy Love through me.
For I am nothing, yet I fain would give
So from my littleness, lift Thou me up
Into Thine own Immensity.  The cup
Of my small heart fill with Thy plenitude,
Thou limitless!  I seek from Thee no further good.

Ask for no other gift.  Not power, Lord,
I would not dare
That Thou shoudst to me of Thy might accord,
Strive not to share
Thy wisdom, save as both shall come to me
By way of Love.  All else I leave to Thee,
Pressing my claim to this one grace alone
That, in my life, Thy Love may grow to be mine own.

And that I know not what I ask, I know.
I cannot drink
Thy cup, nor be baptized, as Thou, with woe.
Trembling I shrink
Back from my own request, would be like Thee,
Yet grudge to pay the cost, for, fearfully,
Mine eyes behold a cross, and Love thereon.
Cannot the prize at some less sacrifice be won?

But, if not, once again, O Lord, I pray,
Love Thou through me.
With Thy strength undergird my weakness, stay
My heart, and be
Thyself incarnate in this human soul
That finds in Thee its Source, its Way, its Goal
And wills against its willfulness to be
A channel for Thyself alone.  Lord, love through me.

Written by Marian MacGown


November 21, 2020

Mary had cramping and pain today. Hard to control.

Emily came, had a wonderful visit; helped with many things.

Thank you for your prayers.

update: friday 20

November 20, 2020

Lucy and Peter left; Johnny and Bets here; Emily arrived late. Bonfire.

Barb cooking up a storm.

Babies wandering in and out trying to make off with loose cellphones.

Realized I was taking 5x the dose for the Curamed; thought I should broaden my horizons. Took Alleve. Mistake. Major allergic reaction. Awful. Finally got some Benadryl. Chris Tibbetts came by; it was Catie’s date night. He was a reassuring presence, answered questions and left a stethoscope for Sebastian

Midnight, Sebastian brought me applesauce and fresh water. And another Benadryl, since I was getting hot and cold. I spit up. And then again several times.

I write because it’s more fun than thinking about my body. Pray for me. Maybe I’m on a sled at the top of a hill.

Wednesday 18 nov

November 19, 2020

My brother Johnny and his wife Betsy came by – from Maryland! – and talked about many things. She has had a long Montessori involvement. Still a pleasure. Their interest in geology has led them to line paths around their house with rocks from hither and yon. These are visible in winter aerial photos. Their children and grandchildren are doing well in various settings.

We had Mass with Father O’Dell and Fr. Cowles, newly released from quarantine. They are a pair! And Jesus always comes.

Lucy and Peter are winding down their visit; promising prayers and leaving so much love.

Marcia (Marsha?) brought 25 grams of C by IV. More strength, less pain, considerably so. May not need pain meds after all. She also recommends patches with, I think, copper peptides, which is another pain stopper, not poisonous. We’ll try them; I’m becoming one expensive old cookie! Probably cheaper than all my hospital adventures, actually, but not “covered” (by Medicare.)

Ann H is working on Corey’s Bow, very exciting. Rachel can help with the printing end, if needed.

Mike and I napped several times, between other visits. All the babies – Zita, Laetitia, and Edith, — continued to weave in and out of each encounter. Ruth rubbed my feet and warned me sternly that if I didn’t call her during the night, she would come by anyway to help me.

Johnny and Bets had promised their children to have a fire here, so they did, attracting the Anders and as well as Peter and Lucy, soon to leave for Ecuador. Since the fire pit is almost directly below my balcony, and I had a supply of rose petals, I tossed them some – to general laughter.

All this and heaven too? I am wealthy.

Mike is very patient about my late typing.

Thank hou for your prayers.

November 18, 2020

Somewhere, Mass is being said for me. Thank you, Father.

I saw a large doe walking by the stream outside my window. Beautiful walk!

And visitors: 

Ruth is here.

Briege went to Mass and brought me communion. 

Someone brought me a special dark bread, full of protein that I need.

Jon Pat left for California and will be back in a week with his whole family. My neighbors have opened their homes to my family, so Jon’s whole crew can all be under one roof. We talked about small things and large just before he set out.

I have been listening to Handel’s “I know that my redeemer liveth.” — sorry I don’t know how to do oinks here.

Rachel is shepherding A Mother’s Rule of Life through Alphs Graphics and enjoying the kind and helepful companionship of Amy McEntee. It will be gold stamped on the front. 

And Rachel has offered to do Corey’s Bow as well. 

Laura Woods came, full of tears and thanks for whatever influence I might have had with her beautiful children. 

My prayer circle came to say the rosary and share news. 

Johnny is coming, probably in Brandon already, but visiting in the morning.

As evening came, I started to cry because it gets so long overnight. Briege caught me and scolded me for not asking for more help. The little ones came up and played on the bed. During the night. Rachel camd and rubbed my back, and then came again and let me shower. That felt good.

Monday Nov 16

November 17, 2020

A quieter day. Lots done. 

Good talk with Jane: for one thing, about her visitation from God at the moment when she was to learn of little Johnny’s cancer. A grace that took her through two years or more. All is well there. She told me a small part of the story in her next book. Suspense! And she returns to the challenges of her teaching. I need to pray for new leadership in her older class. Bad leaders.

The men chose a pair of plots in St. Michael’s cemetery. They said it faces east. Mike is still pretty quiet. “I was supposed to go first,” he says! I did figure he would go first, but we don’t know, that’s all. Apologies for pretending to know.

Good chat with Mary Zelinski; Todd has had covid but seems to be feeling better. Doesn’t have his nose back quite yet. They hope to drive out after Thanksgiving.

Nancy’s Taryn is out of danger. Thank you, dear Mother. The children need her! All our mothers need your special protection.

The family said the rosary in the bedroom after dinner. Then I had a talk with Jon Pat. Many things. He wanted parting wisdom. Nothing new… but I did say that if you want your kids to grow up, grow up. There’s no other way, and it’s dumb to expect of them what you won’t work on yourself. I am so grateful for the role Father Geditz played in our family life when I felt stuck. He has been and remains a deep blessing. Not like Jon and Marie have failed to grow! Gotta do something when you have 8 children!

Awesome what the home education community has produced, and then the small Catholic colleges who are teaching face-to-face! There is a net across the country, not a blanket, but a light net, knotted at intersections.

Johnny is coming, Johnny and Betsy from Maryland. 

Sidney Powell is about to “release the Kraken”. Heh heh! Go lady! 

Sunday update: feast of

November 16, 2020

Yes, there was more. The children came into the bedroom – Jon, Rachel, Briege, and Sebastian — and said the rosary with me and Mike. I don’t have the breath for so many words, but it was lovely, and then they sang the Salve Regina.

Another gracious note: someone in St. Margaret’s fellowship has two grave plots in a small cemetery outside town. They would give them to me and Mike. It would mean a little more distance to the cemetery, but it would also mean a quiet cemetery, a little more remote and meditative. It’s near St. Ann’s in Humboldt, where we first met Fr. Geditz, so that is also charming. It’s more than charming: it’s potentially a place of prayer because Father Geditz left things so wherever he was. Not my decision, but a generous and good option for the children to consider.

Midnight wakefulness. Much to think about. Then I realized that I was also building up pain. So I took some stuff. I’ll do some writing and then sleep. Jon got up a little after two and got me fresh water and rearranged my pillows and things.

St. Albertus Magnus’ feast.

In the morning, I got some food as early as possible to prevent the sugar crash that makes me feel so desperate. A little meat, a little fruit. I can still get to the kitchen, but I return out of breath if I have not eaten. Soon, I enjoy hearing the voices of so many people that I love. And Laetitia bursts into the room, pushing the door wide open and coming round to my side of the bed because she knows I’ll help her up. It’s Mike she wants, though, not me, and he cannot resist her. Today she was not fully dressed, and her silky skin was amazing to touch.

I got hydration, and Jon brought me communion during the process.

Later, Jim Muir came, and the Anders. . We had a vigorous discussion of politics, along with along with Rachel, Jon, and Sebastian. We also talked about hunting, corona, and other matters. Jim’s son-in-law has surgery coming up. After that, he iis south for the winter, so it was also good-bye.

An e-mail reminds me of the feast day. Yes, I need your help, Albert! 

Ann and Nancy came; shortly after they left, Nancy’s daughter had a medical crisis and we’ve been praying for her. She’s a few days post partum with a C-section. Beautiful little boy.

My sister Jane arrived, just for 24 hours. She’s my science teacher sister and author of Marguerite, a novel with a little murder, the story of a little boy with cancer and his family, his interest in rocks, and a lot of other side notes. Including a murder to solve.

Each life so full of interesting challenges… This is how Jane keeps her sanity while the teaching is crazy.

Some rest, then Greg here grilling leg of lamb. I got downstairs for a bit of it, but I could not stay long. 

Ruth arrived from Hillsdale, bringing love from Kevin and her own beautiful face and children. She will stay with Becky again. So glad to see her! So all the children are here, and my personal pain and limitations are quietly growing. Also my gratitude for so much beauty and love.

Lucy said the rosary before she left.

It’s another middle of the night, and I know my children would want me to call them, but I hate to disturb their sleep, well-earned and deep for a few hours… I want to get some food to prevent a wee-hours’ crash. Hmmm.

Jon says that it helps them a lot for me to say I want this or that. They want to help me. Shoot! Now I’m wakening Mike.

Sebstiian is here… Blessings all!

update: Saturday Nov 14

November 15, 2020

Rachel is working on the motherhood essay that I want done for my friends, and she loved it, so that was very encouraging to me. 

Briege tried to clear the decks so that Mike and I would have some quiet time, as indeed we did. A few hours, mostly napping. 

Rachel, Peter, and Lucy went out to lunch. J&L Beer’s was cram full, so they went next door, and it was pretty good. Probably very good, but not perfectly authentic Irish as Peter would know.

Greg, who had an important meeting in Washington D.C.,  got off the plane to stay with Becky this week, because Briege notified him that she thought Becky needed him. I was glad. It is hard to take care of five children even when all is well, but to have the husband out of town and emotional things stirring is triply demanding – at least! 

Becky came early in the day (well midday) while Greg was sledding with the children, and we talked about things. She is sad, but it’s peaceful. It’s just the next step. I am glad she believes in God. We also talked about the Hedge School.

Greg being here also meant that we had a very good conversation about the Hedge School, what I envision and what he can envision and do. I was really happy at the end. We can figure this out. He is the businessman of the family.

A few minutes with Lucy and Peter. They too want to be sure my immediate children and Mike get time with me. I think Briege, who does errands all day is most in need of quiet time. She has Laetitia all day; well Sebastian takes a fair turn. He also remade my bed – hotelier-smooth and tight!

Jon came in the evening. Just dropped by from California. We had a good talk, about mutual and interlocking friendships, about Angela Baird, and about many other things. He brought Lourdes water for me.

All Becky’s children had pictures for me, mostly of turkeys. Hey! And Becky’s turkeys seem to have taken off with the wild turkeys that were visiting last week. Come back, turkeys! Where would they go?

I’ve had some pain today; but the curamed takes care of it; I just have to remember it before the pain sets in. 

Long day. But glad the decision is behind me and the children are behind it as well. 

Undoubtedly more. I can’t remember. Bedtime.

Point of decision

November 14, 2020
tags: ,

Here I am tossing and turning about a decision that alternately seems simple and confusing. I guess the word confusing should bring back the simplicity. Confusion is not from God. But I’m going to go over it anyway.

I can start chemo on Monday. If things go as well as can be hoped, they will know in few months whether it is helping. But I have no sense that I have months ahead of me to make that discovery, and the fiasco on Thursday should remove any doubt but that more things will crop up. I read my chart: patient (73, white female) denies experiencing … fast heartbeat or whatever.

So I feel like a liar. Yes, for years now, ever since I learned about Buteyko, if I find myself needing to open my mouth to breathe deeply enough for what I’m doing, I slow down until I can resume whatever, with my mouth shut. This habit was well-established long before we went on the Camino, and I’m sure it’s why I was able to make that trip. Briege used the same insight while leading her wilderness trips with Wyoming Catholic. It’s legit. So I have experienced discomfort, including fast heartbeat, but I have not asked myself: is this tachycardia? I just shut my mouth and slow down. Similarly if I wake up with dry moouth and fast heartbeat. Drink, shut mouth, tape, wait.

And the doctors take almost no interest in my supplements, but when I unexpectedly spent the night at someone’s house a few years back, my biggest concern was being without niacin because it’s so important to memory. Well, her husband had a huge bottle of niacin – for his heart. So then I understood that niacin was partly about heart maintenance. That’s not why I took it, but the advantage not entirely lost on me. Mom had heart problems, and her mother as well.


Here is the decision. Go forward with a protocol that may cause nausea and vomiting, under the circumstance where my stomach is so small that every meal lost is lost forever and cannot be made up? How can that work?

Go forward with a protocol where my hair is falling out? This was presented as a possible thinning by April, at the hospital, but as a simple expectation by others. It’s admittedly a matter of vanity, but there are other issues. I take ubiquinol or Q10, and have for 20 years or more. Initially, it was because it is the only vitamin that is said to possibly protect from Parkinsonism, and that would be a large benefit, even if uncertain. Father had Parkinson’s and it was so discouraging for him and so demanding of Mom. Even though Q10 is expensive, there were also said to be weight and heart benefits, and I quickly learned that it was effective against gum disease. I suspect it is also the reason my hair has not turned. The point is that Q10 has lots of value. I would certainly double my intake if I started chemo. More is at stake than vanity.

They claim that you can stop the chemo any time. Well, that is, any time fourteen days after you take it. It doesn’t stop when you turn off the spigot.

Alternatively, hospice. Professional help for my children who are stretched so far caring for me. (But I think they are also having a good time reconnecting with each other, and I value that.) No extra burdens. I feel like a wimp, but in practical terms, it makes sense. My strength is less each day. It has to be. I can eat so little! Medicines cannot make you well; they can enable the body to heal itself if it has the wherewithal in terms of fresh air, sunshine, and nourishment. No fresh air in the hospital setting; all masked. No sunshine; the wild ride to ER is through all the dungeon corridors where only hospital personnel ordinarily go, and it’s all a dull gray without those cheery farm scenes that decorate the public parts of the hospital. Let alone windows! And no food.

Dr. Solomon is afraid of liver failure. I guess the ER folks were afraid of heart failure. Well, here’s a suggestion for them: take off that damned blood pressure “cuff” – that dreadfully painful squeeze machine that you can hear ratcheting up every three minutes, or maybe 5. It’s torture. How can any heart be expected to perform optimally in that circumstance? Not to mention the lymph circulation being compromised. Second suggestion: food. Been fasting since midnight and it was by then almost 2:00. Why is this not a consideration? Emily had seizures after her second C-section. “Idiopathic epilepsy” they called it. Our chiropractor explained: that means you’re having seizures and we don’t know why. Low blood sugar; that’s why! Oh that would have set them running, if I’d had seizures! And I’d still be there, you can bet.

It’s five in the morning, and I’m ravenously hungry. I have some steak, some chicken, and some jello from Rachel. I was in pain for a while; now I’m not. Not sure why not. Taking curamed anyway, to stay ahead.

Seems obvious which way to go. But in the daylight, it may not seem so; that’s why I had to write. Writing is a physical form of thinking.

A thought: the hospital is there for crisis. That’s its mission; that’s its nature. The family is for love; that’s its mission. If I take the chemo — and let’s be clear: there is no medical hope for a cure – I become a satellite of the hospital, a job I cannot do well, since I have never even tried to. Indeed, even in the simple matter of whether to have electrolytes in my hydration, I am already at war…

I could go to Latvia and have Rigvir. I could go to Hungary and have Avemar. I can have Ave here, in fact. And in his second term, Trump will pry the FDA off its suppression of other cancer cures. But that’s not my battle; I’m not even on the sidelines. My vocation is the renewal of culture, especially through clarity about the nature of education. If there are extra resources, that is where I need to put them. I have a website in mind; someone who can do it will need to be paid. That sort of thing.

My sweet, sweet visitors have made it clear that the cultural mission is going forward. So that is my joy.

Masses are including me all over the country; one person is praying for me on the hour, every hour, not because he doesn’t have his own needs… Awesome; humbling…

I want to see the brightness of God; I want to follow Jesus. Unless he tells me clearly to go through this chemo thing, for reasons that seem good to His beautiful heart, it seems a wrong use of both public and family – and personal — resources.  

That’s how it looks to me at 5:00 a.m.

6:00 a.m.

9:30 a.m.