Saturday, January 31, 2009

Edmour Joseph Babineau 1916 - 2009

Edmour Joseph Babineau, 92, of Savannah passed away peacefully on Friday, January 23rd at Riverview Nursing Home, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.

He was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on April 25, 1916 to Judith and Edward “Red” Babineau who preceeded him in death. While still a toddler, he and his parents moved to New Brunswick, Canada and returned to New Bedford several years later where he followed his father into the plumbing and pipefitting trade. During World War II, he first served as bayonet instructor at Ft. Benning, GA before seeing combat action in North Africa, Italy, France and Germany with the 45th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. During the amphibious landings at Anzio, he commanded a small group of soldiers, and did not lose a single man. His bravery and flawless French soon secured him a reconnaissance assignment and translation duties where he excelled, eventually earning him two purple hearts and Staff Sargent rank.

After the war, he returned to Massachusetts where he married Beatrice Elena Cieri and settled in Everett, Massachusetts where his only child, Denise Marie Babineau was born. After the war, he worked for Boston Gas Company, where his favorite memory was of building Julia Child’s first demonstration kitchen. His charm and facility with the French language soon made him her favorite technician, and he shared many wonderful meals with her. In 1953, he and his wife purchased Clearwater Inn on the shores of Lake Sunapee, NH, which they operated for 25 years. The role of Innkeeper and Host was tailor-made for Eddie, who was the quintessential “people person.” During his time as Innkeeper, he also was a fishing guide and wrote a regular fishing column for the Boston Globe newspaper which he illustrated with his own photographs. Some of his photographs were used by the State of New Hampshire in their marketing materials.

After his retirement, he and Bea followed their daughter to California in 1980 where the light of his life, his beloved granddaughter Elisabeth was born in 1990. During his 18 years in California, he and Bea traveled via motorhome throughout all 48 continental states, every province of Canada and Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Traveling was one of his passions.

In 1997, he moved to Savannah, Georgia with his wife, daughter and granddaughter where he cherished his time with his family and made new friends and became a communicant at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church. He was an active member of the St. Francis Cabrini’s Primetimers, DAV, VFW, San Jose Grandmothers and Grandfathers Club, Savannah Italian Club and the Knights of Columbus. He was preceeded in death by his beloved wife of 59 years, Beatrice, and his parents. He is survived by his only daughter and granddaughter, Denise and Elisabeth Norman of Savannah, his brothers Gerard and wife Joan Babineau of Rochester, MA, Leonard and wife Francine Babineau of York, PA and Daytona Beach, FL, his sister Anita and husband Conrad Bernier of Rochester, MA, and many loving godchildren, nieces and nephews. His charm, intellect and sense of humor will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

In lieu of flowers, a remembrance may be sent to: Ed and Bea Babineau Memorial Fund, St. Mary Magdalene Church, 1625 Fort Howard Rd., Rincon, GA 31326

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Welcome, 2009!

Last year, 2008, was a very difficult year on many levels; not as bad as 2004 and 2005, but still, it was pretty tough, so I'm happy that its over. I have a standard by which I measure difficult times, and 2008 is probably a 9 out of 10, with 10 being the worst. I've been considering why I thought it was so bad, and I think its because, after all the events of the last 5 or 6 years, I had little physical, emotional, or spiritual strength left in reserve, so everything just knocked me down and I couldn't get back up.

Some difficulties were of my own making, some were the inevitable growing pains and changing relationship between dear daughter and myself, some were thrust upon me by others (the whole trashed rental house saga), some were financial (rental house again), some were intensely personal having to do with my spiritual life and my spiritual father prodding me to rely more on God and less on my own abilities. The positives included my relationships with people - the wonderful people who make up my family (especially dear daughter), my friends, my church family, my I Cantoristas, and even my on-line friends. I'm so thankful for each and every one!

But, this is a new year. In some ways, I've taken a few steps backwards and in some ways, I've taken a few steps forwards. Such is the human condition.

For example, I am now living in my rental house. This is the home that dear daughter and I shared with my parents for many years and which I rented out after my mother died and my father entered a nursing home. This is the home that was totally trashed by the renters from hell. I have spent all my money fixing it, and it still is not rentable, so I have rented my beloved, cheerful little house in a suburb to a lovely military family and have moved back here.

Now that I am living here amidst the boxes and other moving paraphenalia, I realize that my worries about memories good and bad making it impossible to live here were unfounded. I don't see my mother in every shadow, though I do feel her here in an existential sort of way. Its a good thing, though, and not something to be feared - and I was, indeed, fearing it. For dear daughter, though, its another story. She despises living here. The two weeks she spent here over Christmas were horrible for her. Everywhere she looks, she sees another unhappy memory and she can't stand being alone in this house, either. So, it looks like her visits home from college will be short ones. I'm trying to rearrange the house in way that is totally different from the way it used to be. I think that is helping me live here comfortably.

Then there was the moving at the end of the year...... Yikes! When I first moved into my cheerful little suburban house, I had to hire packers to pack everything because my back was out. So everything got moved and placed into my garage. Everything. That includes two households worth of stuff, my stuff and my parents stuff. So, before this move, I decluttered. I estimate that more than half of the contents of that house were either given away, thrown away, or donated. I thought I was doing extremely well with the decluttering until all the boxes needing to be unpacked were put in my den - its FULL OF BOXES!!!! I feel overwhelmed by stuff again, but as I unpack, I am continuing the decluttering process and getting rid of more stuff. I have decided that from 2009 onward, I am never going to be held hostage by stuff again.

In 2008, I had to put my iconography aside because I had no time and no heart for it, but I miss it so. As soon as I get completely unpacked, I'm going to set up the smallest bedroom as my studio and will get back to working hard at it. I have two commissions, a St. Melangell and a St. Thomas, to complete. Both families have been very, very patient, and I need to reward their patience by prayerfully completing these commissions. One of my goals for 2009 is to work harder and more steadily at iconography.

2008 was the year that I finally got my prayer life in order and prayed daily for at least 45 minutes in the morning. This bore such wonderful fruit, but also pointed out how very far from the mark I am. 2008 was the year that I began working seriously and consistently with my spiritual father to grow spiritually, and this has born much fruit, though I find it very, very difficult to be so transparent. He bears with my groanings and moanings, though, and patiently keeps pointing me towards the goal. 2009 is clearly throwing a wrench into my prayer life, though, since my morning routine is different now that I am living in a different place. The challenge for 2009 is to establish a new prayer rule that I can consistently keep, and it is, indeed, turning out to be a challenge. I feel like I'm moving backwards in this regard, but first things first, though, so I'm working at it. Once I get my icons unpacked and get my icon corner set up again, it will help.

One thing I learned in 2008 is that I am very prideful. I find it almost impossible to ask anyone for help, even when I am drowning, and when help is offered, I find it very difficult to accept. Before 2008, I didn't realize how much pride I had in my own competence - and I am very, very competent at many, many things. I didn't realize how much I needed to be considered competent by others. In working with my spiritual father, it became apparent that at some deep emotional level, I feel unloveable, even by God, so the best that my subconscious can hope for is to be considered useful through my competence. What a kick in the pants! I learned that I can't earn God's love - He freely gives it. He gives it because He created me to be His own possession, part of Him, like Him, with Him. He created me because He wanted *me* to exist, to live with Him. He wanted me to exist, so He created me. I get it now. It took me a long time, but I get it now.

2008 was also the year that I finally began letting go. Letting go of foolish pride, of control, of dear daughter, of expectations. This is a good thing. I have a long, long, LONG way to go, but at least the journey has begun. Perhaps in 2009, God will show me the path I am to walk. In His time, not mine. I'm learning that hard lesson called patience, too.

I know that 2009 will bring its own sorrows and difficulties. The nursing home just told me that my beloved father, who suffers from an advanced stage of Alzheimers, qualifies for in-patient hospice care, which basically means that he has a life expectancy of less than six months, and I am grieving already. If I'm honest, I've been grieving him for long time now, because he hasn't been "him" in a very long time, and I miss him. But, I'm determined to leave this to God, and celebrate who he used to be, and celebrate that his body is still here for me to hug and to love, at least for a little while longer.

I don't know what else 2009 will bring, but I pray that it brings peace to everyone. Peace in the world, peace in peoples' hearts. Peace in my heart too.

Have a Blessed New Year, everyone!