He once owned a boat called “Nautilus” and lets just say that it was not the most seaworthy craft, and he was not the most seaworthy sailor.
But if you ever wanted Bob Slowey to dive deep into his rich treasury of stories, you only had to ask him about that boat, how it leaked, almost sank, how he polished its teak railings with a toothbrush, and how his earliest close to death experiences happened below deck while his boys Chris and Bob Jnr were batting down the hatches up top, to survive the hurricane.
How appropriate then, On Sunday last, on a balmy afternoon on Chesapeake Bay, that Joan and the family took Bob’s ashes after they had been cast in concrete to be placed in the deep as part of the artificial reef made from the remains of Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium.
As the concrete was lowered, Grandson Liam cried out, “Goodbye Granpa.” Liam regretted not tying a quarter to it, because when he was four years old, Granpa dazzled him with the magic of the disappearing quarter. Daughter Mary Jo told the story of thinking as a kid that her Dad was a spy, because every phone call from work, he would sign off to wife Joan, “1, 2, 3.” Mary Jo only discovered later that it was their secret code for “I love you.” As she looked out at the roses the family had cast on the sea, she whispered ” 1,2,3, Dad.”
These and so many other stories were told and retold as the boat took us out to the Bay. The experience, meant to be the closing act of a great life, was also the opening act of a whole new set of memories for us, and assuredly for his grand-kids. And maybe it was the promise of new practices of how we do funerals in this energy and environment-conscious world.
Funerals are traditionally about black clothes and coffins and days of mourning and condolence-honoring the real sense of loss. But Bob’s family and friends did not mourn that way-The funeral mass was held in a Delaware Bar-and the liturgy transitioned from sacrament to saloon even before the final prayers. Death’s sadness was not ignored, but it was taken to be a part of how life inevitably unfolds. Why imitate death in a ritual of silence and sadness when we the living are still responsible for being life givers and life preservers. Nature does not waste death-so why should we? Life is always the bigger story.
Just as we all drank to Bob at his funeral, we commended his remains back into the circle of life, knowing that even now, the whole marine ecosystem is renting out space for fish and crabs and all diversity of sea life. And Mary Jo even gave us the co-ordinates, N 39 12.430′ W 076 18 400′. It made us jealous because Bob gets a head start on the rest of us at the Second Coming. Jesus won’t need the GPS.
Bob’s funeral was as unique and memorable as his long life. He always told Joan he wanted to be where he could see the three bridges of the Bay, and that is where we placed him, to await the parousia. And in doing that, with the sun gleaming on the waters, we all felt on this glorious day, that perhaps there was a fourth bridge too, and we were on it- Bob had passed over, but we were surely waving our goodbyes from the other end. He was not gone, as the old preachers used to say, but simply gone on ahead.
EULOGY FROM THE REQUIEM MASS FOR MURIEL ANN COSTELLO- JANUARY 8TH 2014
at Nazareth House Chapel, Wynnum North, Brisbane, Australia.
First Thank you all for being here, family, friends from near and far, Oblate Fathers Siebert, Twigg, Wotherspoon, Keelty, and Deacon Ross all assisting Father Henry, QLD Police Commissioner Stewart and Assistant Commissioners, Doctors from the Mater Hospital and Members of mum’s special Nazareth House family, sisters and staff,
Mums grave stone-right next to Suzie’s, her first born, will read
Muriel Ann Costello 1921-2014
The space between those 93 years will be so small compared to the gap in our lives that is so large. So we do our best to fill in the gap, as we always do, with stories.
So here is Mum’s story.
Mum is born in Port Talbot. October 14th 1921 in Old South Wales
Its cold and damp, the sky is grey, the river Afan flowing through the town is grey, and while there is a hint of green in the Taibach Rugby Grounds where her Dad played as a champion fly half, the air is choked with smoke, smoke fed by the chimneys of the relentless Steel Plant that is fired by the coal mined in the Valleys.
Mum decided early on that though she was born into this grey world, on a grey day, in a grey year still recovering from the Great War, that she would not accept Grey as her fate.
She would live a larger life. And she would live it in Technicolor-from the size of her dreams to the bright colors of her dresses.
Don’t you see? he asked….
I see, sure enough, the wise man said,
but when i see, I don’t see what your seeing sees….
Don’t you know? he asked again
I know, sure enough, the wise man said,
but when I know, I don’t know what your knowing knows….
Don’t you even care then? the lad asked almost giving up
I care, sure enough, the wise man said,
but when I care, I don’t get the feel for what your caring cares about….
“Then what is the point?- we can’t do any good?” said the lad, about to walk away
“But we must all strive to do good, son,”said the old man, gently and with a tinge of sadness “You and me, all of us. But the price of being wise is the courage to ask what good is my doing good doing? If you don’t know that, son, how do you know you are doing good?”
“But surely a pure heart is enough?” he said, confused now,
“Seeing and Knowing and Caring are all exemplary, yes,
and doing good is virtuous, but when you live as long as I have,
you realize that it is never so simple-
too often,those who see are blind,
those who know are ignorant,
those who care, are cruel,
and for all the doing good in this troubled world that we can applaud,
the greatest evils are wrought by those too intent on doing good.
I have just watched the Obama Oval Office speech, the second of his time as President.
I know the talking heads have already made a big deal about the stilted, professorial style, the lecture tone, the folded hands in front, the total formality. It was certainly no fireside chat. But something else was missing, and it is dire-more than a lack of policy, or a boring lecture on war and deficits.
What was missing? A Story. This is a President who just visited the wounded at Walter Reed and the troops in Texas to express the appreciation of a gratelful nation, and what did he bring back????Nothing but talking points. This is the president… speaking in the Oval office, THE OVAL OFFICE, with the ghosts of FDR after Pearl Harbor, LBJ after Vietnam. The place screams of stories, but that hallowed place did not speak tonight. This president who once snuck out to Dover to greet the remains of warriors on their last journey home, is determined to keep his feelings private. All we are good for tonight is Cliches and Pabulum. Not a story in sight-No witness, no personal sense of the weight of war and how it weighs on any Commander in Chief. Stunning performance, Mr President.
Iraq has cost us almost 5000 young lives and one trillion dolars, and the Commander in Chief can barely mention two names, Petraeus and Bush. What about Private Guiterrez, the first American soldier killed in Iraq, who was an immigrant from the streets of Guatamela City, whose only dream was to come to America and join the marines, or Specialist Morganne McBeth, a 19 year old African American from Virginia, one of the last to die before the US pull out. Are they worth a shout out along with Petraeus and Bush?
This President might want to ignore a Glenn Beck March on Washington for Votes and Ratings, but at least Beck can cry on camera, he can connect his feelings to the great stories that surrounded him on the weekend, the monuments to Lincoln and Washington and King. Whatever you might think of Beck’s views, he tells a story. I used to remember a Candidate who could quote Lincoln and King in almost every speech he made. Where did he go?
President Obama seems to have fallen prey to the grey bureaucrats who write safe,boring speeches, who warn him elections are close, and that he will be punished for any courage or honesty. So he decides its better to be boring. And he has no story to tell.
For the candidate who got elected on his story and his ability to tell it- to not be telling the nation a story about where we are, and how he connects to the visceral pain of a country at war, a country that feels more and more lost, is to choose to become irrelevant. If he doesn’t seem to care, why should we?
Memo to President Obama, and can anyone please, please forward this to him-his chief earnings come not from Executive Office but from “Dreams from my Father” when he told us his story. What has happened to convince him that in an address to the natio
When NSL began in 2009, we educated ourselves in part by attending as many conferences on the Middle East as possible, including J-Steet, Churches for Middle East Peace, Sabeel, The Palestine Center,and the Holyland Trust. The largest was AIPAC. Among 10,000 plus, we listened to Secretary Clinton, Prime Minister Netanyahu and a Who’s Who of Middle East experts. But there was something missing.
Most, if not all, of the speakers were from an older generation. There were young people there, but if they spoke, it was a token appearance and they were mostly American college kids. Where were the stories of the younger generation from Israel and Palestine? The voices of the future? Not at these conferences!
It was our dream to change all that.
On Monday, March 3rd at the 2014 AIPAC conference, Secretary Kerry got up to renew the administration’s support for the peace process in the Middle East. Towards the end, he included a new voice—the voice of Guy Cherni, NSL 2012. Secretary Kerry quoted from Guy’s speech at the 2012 SAIS Conference in DC. He pledged that he would stand with leaders like Guy who said:
“We respect our past, but we don’t want to live it. We are young enough to dream, to believe that change is possible, and that fear can be defeated.“
Kerry went on “I think Guy is right. Change is possible. Fear can be defeated. But those are choices we have to make now.”
Secretary Kerry’s remarks at the AIPAC conference on Monday demonstrate our progress over the last five years. Evolving from a humble start-up, NSL has proven stories are powerful agents of change and that young people from the region can be heard and taken seriously in Washington DC.
We are preparing to select our 2014 team, and celebrate our 5th birthday. We will need at least five more years before we can see real change on the ground in the region, but we know we have changed the conversation here, as evidenced by Secretary Kerry’s speech.
You can become part of our 2014 program. Help us pay the $100 weekly stipend for each student, or offer a scholarship to pay travel costs for students who cannot afford to pay their own way, ($2500). You can also help by providing an interesting and relevant work placement or by becoming a host family.
Together, we’ll ensure that the work of NSL continues and help build momentum for the peace process that Secretary Kerry is leading. He found inspiration for what he is doing in the voices and stories of the generation that our NSL team represents. Our work has never been so urgent or so important.
To hear what the Secretary said, please click on the following link: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?