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Among Women Espresso Shot #19: The Wisdom of Grandmothers

Among Women Espresso Shot #19: The Wisdom of Grandmothers

On today’s Among Women Espresso Shot…  The Wisdom of Grandmothers.

As I’ve been anticipating becoming a grandmother, I’ve reached out to a few friends who have preceded me in this vocation for a little advice. Now that my first grandchild has arrived — welcome to Aidan Waiyun Sung! — I offer this short podcast with some of the wisdom that others have shared with me. Special thanks to Judy Klein, Maria Scaperlanda and Susie Weiss!

Listen to the podcast here.

Oh! And figured you might like some photos, too!

Bob and I with Aidan after he was born.

Aidan Waiyun = Aidan –  [Irish] fiery and Waiyun – [Chinese] great blessing or great grace.

Happy new parents, Benjy and Katie, with Aidan.

Red. White. and Blue.

Red. White. and Blue.

Last year, our celebration of July 4th took on a new and holy meaning. Why of course we’re still forever grateful to be American citizens and we pray for our nation and celebrate our common ideals in the founding of this nation. Yet, last year we also celebrated a new beginning — not of a country but of a marriage — a new family formed in our daughter, Katie,  and son-in-love, Benjy.

Here’s to their first anniversary! May God bless and increase you both in every grace and blessing for a faithful and fruitful love!

Grateful for the red…

Chinese tea ceremony after Mass.

Chinese tea ceremony after Mass.


Happy, happy!  (double happiness!)

Happy, happy!
(double happiness!)

And blue…

Loved the navy on the bridesmaids! Good friends!

Loved the navy on the bridesmaids! Good friends!

One of my best days… (with scenes from my daughter and son-in-love’s wedding)

One of my best days… (with scenes from my daughter and son-in-love’s wedding)

One month ago, on July 4th, my only daughter, Katie, married her college sweetheart, Benjamin Sung. For them it was a wonderful, glorious day! May it be the first of many happy ones together! Our two sons, Bobby and Peter, were groomsmen. Let it be said that my husband and I wore impossible-to-hold-back-smiles almost all day long.


For me, it was one of my best days. Ever.

It’s hard to know where to start, other than to say, there are days that, if you are paying attention, you will experience an awareness that, this day will be among your very best days. Sometimes, you may not realize it until it is over, and that’s alright too. For when you have one of your best days, it stands out in your memory as a kind of timeless transformative experience.

I’ve been a parent for over 26 years. I’ve found that there are joys and holy moments that are both personal and intimate and known only to myself; nobody else will ever know them, save maybe those closest to me, because they are deeply ingrained in the memory of my heart. And yes, some of those quieter days are among my best days. But then, there are other days — “events” that are momentously shared and photographed and recorded. This day, the wedding day, was one of the those events that was full of joy, both the personal kind and the public kind.

The best days are the ones that shed light and meaning on every other day.

This is what I’m talking about. When you have babies and little children, you start to train them in the faith and morals that you wish to see them enter into and, God-willing, receive as their own. There are numerous conversations and teachable moments and experiences that you repeat over and over again, at every stage of growth in childhood and adolescence. It is hard, painful even, at times. You pray like crazy for these children. You often wonder if you should bother, but bother you do. Then you stand there in hope that something of what you know and say to be true is being heard, tested, adopted. You spend years building a case for the truth and efficacy of the Christian life, by first being challenged to live it yourself, warts and all… and then you pray that despite your own foibles, your marriage reflects something more than a partnership, but a marriage that begets love larger than itself…  that marriage is a wedding of souls and purpose for the sake and the good of someone else –and later, several someones — other than yourselves.

And you pray some more. Lots more. And then you wait. You never know when one of your best days might happen.

For me, Katie and Benjy’s wedding was one of the best days: to see your adult child embrace their faith — and find a faithful mate who shares it — and enter into Holy Matrimony with full awareness of both the graces and the responsibilities therein, is a blessing that is an order of magnitude beyond just being proud of your child in the moment. No, this is a deep stirring that what you are watching unfold had divine origins, and that you somehow are being afforded the sublime privileged to partake in it. You cannot begin to describe the stunning gratitude that is bursting in your heart. For you are so grateful to God that you are there to witness a love grounded in something bigger than ourselves, greater than our emotions or ego, stronger than our doubts and problems, and more beautiful than wedding attire and flowers. You are experiencing something truly, eternally, significant. It is the gift of God’s love being made visible.

On July 4th we were privileged to witness two souls stand before God and do the seemingly impossible — something that can only be afforded by grace — pledge loving fidelity forever. To see the joy this couple had, and the confidence they have both in grace and in each other is extraordinary. This married love is the crowning of a chaste friendship that led to a slow-burn blossoming romance that has inspired their friends and their loved ones. It is proof that good flows from the goodness of God’s plan for men and women, and self-sacrifice before marriage becomes a firm foundation for happiness and blessings after the wedding day.

A sacramental marriage today is rapidly becoming counter-cultural. Let us pray for all married couples who try to follow the gospel’s lead to the best of their abilities and share their faith with their families and others through their vocation. Most especially, let us pray for the newlyweds that are among us. Their Christian witness will surely be put to the test. But despite any struggles to come, may they come to know and find the deepest truth of love is right there with them in those moments.

There. Is. No. Greater. Love. Than. This.

Katie and Benjy: may that Love always be the hallmark of your best days!



Let me thank all of you who have kept our family and our new couple in your prayers! I have permission to share a few photos and details of the happy day here on the blog.

There was a nuptial Mass at our local church, with a reception that followed afterwards that afternoon. It was hot that day! 95 degrees! (When have we had a heat wave like that, New England?? Whew!)

Our new son-in-love is Benjy Sung, a middle school math and science teacher. The couple first met through a Christian camp years ago and stayed friends over the years, even as they both attended different colleges and study-abroad.

The wedding Mass had a bilingual (English and Cantonese) Liturgy of the Word and Prayers of the Faithful, and there was an East-meets-West flavor at the reception: We incorporated a Chinese tea ceremony, explained below.

Afterwards, the couple took off for a honeymoon while Bob and I entertained family guests at our home for the remainder of the July 4th weekend, before taking off on a week away in Maine ourselves. So here’s a few photos that we hope you will enjoy!

A very calm bride awaiting the limo for the ride to church! (taken with my iPhone)

A very calm bride awaiting the limo for the ride to church! (taken with my iPhone)

I love this one with the tabernacle captured between their exchange of vows  ©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/professional

I love this one with the tabernacle captured between their exchange of vows
©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/professional (with cropping and effects by me in iPhoto)

Katie and Benjy102

Mr and Mrs Sung!
©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/professional

Brothers Peter and Bobby with Katie.
(Screen shot from wedding proofs from Derby Studio, http://www.derbystudios.com)

Katie and Benjy133

Traditional Chinese tea ceremony that welcomes the new couple into each extended family, as the new couple honors their elders.
©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/professional

After the tea ceremony, back into a bustled wedding dress -- plus sequined Sperry boat shoes for the bride & sequined Converse for the Mom! "A time to dance..." ©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/professional

After the tea ceremony, a change back into a bustled wedding dress — plus sequined Sperry boat shoes for the Bride & sequined Converse for the Mom!
“A time to dance…”
(Photo by a Facebook friend.)

First dance....  ©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/professional

First dance….
©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/professional

First dance... ©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/professional

First dance…
©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/

The big finish! ©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/professional

The big finish!
©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/

Father-Daughter dance (taken by a Facebook friend)

Father-Daughter dance
(taken by a Facebook friend)

Mother-Son Dance ©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/professional

Mother-Son Dance
©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/professional

Katie and Benjy196

Watching the Mother and Son — yes, I am a puddle.
©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/

Cake!  ©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/professional

©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/professional

Happy parents! At the Tea CeremonyL to R: Anita Sung, Pat Gohn, Bob Gohn, Francis Sung ©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/professional

Happy parents!
L to R: Anita Sung, Pat Gohn, Bob Gohn, Francis Sung
©Reinaldo Gutierrez Photography www.wix.com/reinaldogallery/professional



“Would that Wood Could Talk”, another in the series “Tales from the Empty Nest” at CatholicMom.com

“Would that Wood Could Talk”, another in the series “Tales from the Empty Nest” at CatholicMom.com

Today I’m over at Catholic Mom, with another installment in what I loosely call, “Tales from the Empty Nest” … a little ruminating about my passing on furniture to my daughter who is getting married very soon.

I’m busy repainting two pieces of furniture that have already served three generations of my family — a 3-drawer bureau and a tall dresser. Over thirty years ago I was getting married and in need of more storage space for my new home. My husband and I became the happy recipients of the bureau from my parents’ home, and the dresser, once part of a pair from my grandmother’s home. So there’s a little bit of history stored between those dove-tailed wooden drawers. And here I am looking at their empty gapes spread out around the room on a drop cloth. This is the third time in twenty-five years that the chore of repainting these two old companions has fallen to me.

photoSo I stand in old painting jeans, hair tied back, brush working in one hand, readying these drawer sets for a new purpose. I hum a little bit to the country music playing on the radio nearby, as memories float into view unbidden as I tackle the repetitive task. Back and forth, back and forth, dip, wipe, back and forth.

It’s a good way to do some thinking, and remembering.

The first time I painted these two relics was in preparation for the birth of my oldest child. Oh, the heavenly anticipation of getting a room ready for a newborn! I recall the joy as I painted — repurposing a piece of furniture and making it “new” for a baby — the start of a new kind of family life in a modest two-bedroom home.

My heart was set on the primary colors of childhood, and I made the three drawers of the bureau red, yellow, and blue, on a white chest. I added a changing table cushion on top and in the years that followed I changed the diapers and clothes of my small children on that bureau, and countless visiting babies. Not to mention seeing the drawer contents change over the years, from 0-3 month-sized onesies, to toddler overalls, to soccer jerseys. Meantime, the old tall dresser was still giving good service to my equally tall husband as a place to keep his socks and lanky jeans.

Three children later, we outgrew the little two-bedroom place, and despite the luxury of relocating to a 4-bedroom house, we were still a little strapped for cash for new furniture. So, out came the brush and paint cans again, and a re-shuffling of furniture against the needs of a growing, busy family.

This time, both the bureau and dresser were given to my only daughter for her new bedroom. Her own young fashion sense had outgrown the bureau’s primary colors and the ancient dark-stained dresser from generations of yore. I promised new coats of paint on both to match her new white headboard for her bed. I also remember going to the hardware aisle at the Home Depot to pick out shiny new ceramic knobs for updating this furniture, befitting a girl’s room. And that’s the way it stayed, even through her college years.

Now, it’s my daughter’s turn to marry and the soon-to-be newlyweds have just bought a small apartment-sized two-bedroom condo. It will have a few new things, and a few old things that they will bring from their single lives. My daughter gets to keep the bureau and dresser. And here I am painting again.

Read the rest over at CatholicMom.com.


Prom Mom’s Prayers — from my archives

Prom Mom’s Prayers — from my archives

Okay, just so you know, I’m praying for you, young man. Yes, you, the one escorting my daughter to the prom. You can expect no less from me, her cradle-Catholic mom, who prays about everything, but prays with increased fervor when it comes to family matters.

IMG_1177I know she will look radiant in the gown she spent hours picking out. Her hair and nails will reflect her special trip to the salon. But, despite the beauty preparations and the extra effort she is making, I want you to think about one thing: she chose you.

A prom hosted by an all-girls academy leads to “ladies choice” for such events, and she chose you. She thought it over carefully, and then, sweated out asking you to be her date. Thank you for responding graciously to her invitation.

She picked you with good reason. You have been her friend. She knows you and trusts you because you display Christian values. She has every confidence that you are not going to act like a fool or embarrass her, or flirt with her friends, or expect sexual favors. To her, you make the cut.

So, even though you are “just friends” who are going to the prom together, I’m praying that you really are worthy of her, and that you treat her right.

You might as well know that I’ve been praying for my daughter for years. That’s what mothers do. From the moment I found out I was expecting this child, I’ve been praying. Her pregnancy highlights include a 54-day novena. Through the years, thousands of prayers were raised on her behalf. Not because of worries—though, there were those—but prayers for guidance and in thanksgiving for all of the wonderful memories and milestones we have experienced. When I look at my daughter, I see seventeen years of life all at once: school days and sacraments, piano lessons and soccer games, camping trips and dance recitals, and so many moments like this one.

Certain events, like a prom, foreshadow the growing necessary separation between parent and child, and between childhood and adulthood.

As you might expect, I have been praying for my daughter and her future spouse for years…whomever that might be. And that includes every young man that she meets and, especially, every one she dates. So, you see, you receive the benefit of my prayers by default. (Of course I realize this is a prom and not a wedding, but in life’s broadest context, you represent the hope and dream of a someday-spouse.)

Today, seventeen years along in the maturity process, you will come dressed in your tuxedo to call for my daughter. We’ll watch her walk out the door in heels and a full-length dress that sparkles when she moves. To us, her parents, she is a confident, mature, young lady, brimming with exuberance and talent and a heart that beats with Christian passion and purity. She is a holy, cherished, treasure. We love her and only want God’s best for her.

Are you getting the picture, son?

Yes, it is just a prom, but she is our daughter. She deserves your respect, your best manners, your admiration and your sacrifice. Yes, your sacrifice—to live this night worthy of your high calling.

I’m praying for you, and especially for her, that she will honor you in a similar fashion as you both step out into the night.

©2007 Patricia W. Gohn



Many of you know the epilogue, do you not? This same young man is now my future son-in-law… with a summer wedding planned for July. More on the rest of the story coming soon. He’s a school teacher. She’s in executive recruitment. There’s a ring, a wedding date, and now a condo mortgage. Life is very real. Please keep the happy couple in your prayers: Katie and Benjy. And me and my Bob. Thanks.

Update: Here’s a post about the wedding.