Mad for…Paulette

The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. -Helen Keller

Paulette Moody

Today, my mom was in a car accident. This one wasn’t a fender bender, but rather an axle-breaking, two vehicle doozy. I’m incredibly thankful that all the involved parties are doing fine. R.I.P. to Marilyn, Mom’s five year old minivan, but otherwise….whew!!

Here’s the thing about my mom. She’s never been in an accident. That adrenaline was still pumping rather significantly through her veins several hours later when she called to tell me about her day, despite the wine she’d been drinking in a very transparent attempt to calm the heck down.

Paulette Moody was Mom’s hero today. By the laws of transference, that makes her my hero too. You see, as Mom left the YMCA after her workout today, she was headed to meet Paulette. Fate landed one of my most favorite humans on the planet in a tangled mess in the middle of an intersection with a random guy driving a truck instead. After the fireman and the police got to the scene, Mom ended up walking to a nearby Jimmy Johns to calm down. She informed her friend, the former nurse with the heart of gold, that she wasn’t going to make it….and guess what Paulette did in response? She showed up. She stopped her day and went to sit beside Mom because that’s what Paulette does. Paulette went directly to my mother, and sat with her and chatted about anything she could think of discussing, right there at Jimmy Johns. They spoke about their children, their friends….just anything besides the accident. She looked after the well-being of her friend who was incredibly rattled.

It’s the identical choice she made when my grandmother died. She drove the two hours in the dead of winter across the state and she showed up. She spotted me and she wondered how her friend was doing. “No, really. How is she?” She showed up to the tiny little funeral home in Hartford City and she hugged my mom and she told her she was just sorry and that she loved her. She was present.

Thanks for being there today for Mom, Paulette. You just get it. Sometimes, it stinks for me living in a different city than my hometown. Knowing that Mom has friends like you who truly care means everything. I’m grateful for your example of how important it is to SHOW UP. Showing up is everything.

It is not necessary to teach others, to cure them or to improve them; it is only necessary to live among them, sharing the human condition and being present to them in love. –Charles de Foucauld

Mad for…Chris

It was the way you laughed…I knew I wanted that in my life. –R.M. Drake

For me, laughing is and I imagine will always be, the best form of therapy. On day 16 of my quest to feature 365 amazing people in 2019, I submit to you one Chris Schrader. I’ve had others complain about the photo I chose to run, but this is the first time I’ll own the accusation as fair. Next time I see you, Chris, the beer is on me.

Chris is the first cousin of my husband, Tom. He’s also the father to three pretty terrific grown children (Jacob, Marnie and Katie) and the husband to my tennis idol, Audie. I chose Chris today because I happened upon this photo which was taken I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE….but it made me laugh on an otherwise fairly dismal day.

Chris grins. He smiles. He is the very expression of friendliness toward all. I have yet to encounter this clown and not receive a big hug and his genuine grin. He’s this boisterous, entertaining kid at heart. He’s a clowning savant around whom everyone is welcome.

To me, Chris is grace filled for the way he can bring the spirit of laughter into a room. Several years ago, after a few beverages in South Haven, Michigan, I remember him saying, “Sometimes I try not to laugh at my own jokes but we all know I’m hilarious!” He just cackled and so did the rest of us. He’s a giver of joy and friendly to all.

I read today a quote by Victor Hugo that said, “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” I needed a scoop of that today, and I thought of you, Chris. I hope you’ll forgive me for the silly photo. It made my day, though, just like you always do when I encounter you.

THANK YOU for making the world a sunnier place.

Mad for…Tina

The greatest saints, those richest in grace and virtue will be the most assiduous in praying to the most Blessed Virgin, looking up to her as the perfect model to imitate and as a powerful helper to assist them. -St. Louis de Montfort

This is a beautiful photo of my friend, Tina Zimmerman. I ran into her this morning while I was at St. Vincent Hospital, where she is a chaplain. That was all the nudging I needed to realize I was meant to share a little about her today. I truly cannot think of a warmer and more faith-filled person for this compassionate hospital role, and I am absolutely certain that when the Lord called her to this position, she accepted the challenge out of obedience, with our Blessed Mother’s “yes” to the Lord as her guide. That’s simply how Tina rolls.

Tina is the mother of 6 fantastic grown children, and the wife of a pretty terrific guy named John. Also, she’s a grandma to some of the luckiest kiddos around. Loving, upright and constant in her love of the Lord, Tina is the person I know who most reminds me of our Blessed Mother, Mary. She oozes generosity of heart.

Writing about her goodness overwhelms me a bit and challenges my desire for a degree of brevity with these daily entries. Tina is witty and lively. Also, the distressingly long list of examples of the witness of faith she shares with all in her path make it burdensome to choose just a couple. She’s done so many things which inspire in MANY a desire to do more for others. For instance, she’s spent considerable time over the years taking in foster babies, newborns, for the first 60 days of life. Imagine volunteering over and over again to go sleepless for 2 months…long after your own children were well past this age? She’s been on countless mission trips to serve the needy in Brazil. She’s offered insane amounts of her time and talent at her parish, and she’s given counsel to many a friend in need. That includes yours truly.

When I was at the lowest time in my life, when I just really didn’t even know what to say to Jesus, and I was certain I just wasn’t enough, she encouraged me to pray repeatedly, “Jesus, I don’t know what I need, but You do, please help me.” Guess what? He did. I’ll always be grateful.

What makes Tina truly special is that her presence is a reminder to all just how much the Lord loves every one of us. God uses her, over and over, with her soft spoken voice, her quiet prayerfulness, and the works of mercy to inspire in others how beloved each of us is to Him.

Tina? I love you, friend. Today, my rosary was for you.

Faithful friends are beyond price; no amount can balance their worth. (Sir 6:15)

Mad for…Rex

The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. -Johann Sebastian Bach

Day 14 of 365

Meet Rex Rund. Conspicuously faithful and hugely talented, Rex is the Director of Music and Liturgy at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church in Carmel, Indiana.

For the sake of transparency, it’s only fair for me to share that I have only very briefly ever spoken to Rex. Here’s the thing, though. Wow, has our good and gracious God spoken to me through this man! Music has a way of reaching us interiorly, and Rex knows how to tap in. He’s an accomplished musician to be sure. His singing voice is elegant and engaging. What makes him estimable, though, is that he is a man giving his very best effort for the sake of the Lord. Every. Single. Day.

This guy is a liturgy crackerjack. He’s considerably beyond mere proficiency when it comes to understanding the solemn, ritual and sacramental significance of the Catholic Mass. The liturgy and it’s communal response to the sacred, is in my view, utterly enhanced by his loving musical direction at this parish.

Let me say this in a less formal way. At OLMC, people sing. It fills the sanctuary and my heart swells. I am certain I’m not the only one. Hearts are moved because the music is beautiful and chosen thoughtfully, and we all want in.

Rex, thanks for all the extra elbow grease. Your energy and effort every day is clearly aimed at glorifying the Lord, and it inspires me to want the same in my own life. I’m grateful!

Mad for…Gus

Dear young people, do not bury your talents, the gifts that God has given you! Do not be afraid to dream of great things! -Pope Francis

Gus Hartauer, AKA “Shot Doc”

Meet Gus Hartauer, otherwise known as “Shot Doc”. As you can see from his photo here, Gus digs black and gold. Unfortunately, this guy is a Hawkeye, so it’s not quite the right shade for us at the Thieme house. Based on my limited research, I have learned Gus received both his undergraduate degree and his PhD in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Iowa, though, so I’ll excuse it.

He sure sounds like a real smarty-pants based on that information, and I’m typically impressed by anyone with that kind of intellectual acumen. However, the real reason I wanted to offer this little shout out today is for the work Gus does with young people.

Gus has a talent for encouraging kids of all ages. His vehicle is the sport of basketball. He’s widely known as the “Shot Doc” for the workout sessions he has for young basketball players here in Hamilton County. He gives them many opportunities to learn something very important with his knowledge of the sport. He teaches them with his encouraging and positive demeanor that working hard pays off!

His consistent offering of time and talent for the benefit of young people is a terrific witness of what it means to serve others, too. I’d bet he doesn’t realize how many parents of his sharp shooters have noticed and truly appreciate his big heart. You see, Gus holds these workouts quite often and in a local parish gym. He makes very little if any money doing it. He’s always giving kids (who range in age from grade school through college) little prizes for their hard work. Our own 8th grader, Zach, seems particularly fond of the chocolate and he loves to take home a little something when he hits a half court shot too! The kids leave sweaty and smiling. What more could you want? My youngest son is quick to report on his successes and the little “atta boys” that he hears from Shot Doc. Do you know what else? He shows up for their games from time to time to give them a thumbs up, too, and let them know he is in their corner.

It means something to have someone believe you can– and say so!

Thanks, Gus, for reminding me how important it is to offer our time and our talent for the benefit of others. This community is better because of you and all you do for the kids! You, Shot Doc, are the real deal!

Want to know more about him? Follow Gus on Twitter @shotdoctorphd.

Mad for…Maggie

Kindness is like snow- it beautifies everything it covers. -Kahlil Gibran

Maggie Berger- Day 12 of 365

Central Indiana is covered in a blanket of white today. Haltingly, we inched our way this morning from our home in Hamilton County to the far south side of Indianapolis so our Z-man and Coach Dad could get to the last regular season CYO game at St. Barnabas. Our car was filled with exactly ZERO snow lovers. However, Zach pointed out that he knew one person would be very happy to see all the snow. That would be my pick for person of the day– Maggie Berger!

Lively and passionate, and with a heart of gold, Maggie has a certain zest for life that is magnetic! She’s an English teacher who loves all the kiddos like they are her own. St. Theodore Guerin has a famous quote which says, “Love the children first, then teach them.” That sums up Maggie’s professional life in a nutshell. It’s quite evident that Maggie knows innately that her students are both wise and capable, and this is why they respond to her with smiles and love. She has been known to sense the anxiety of middle schoolers and decide to turn down the lights and pray, asking the Lord to intervene for them all. Children who find themselves in her care are truly blessed. She is truly kind.

Maggie is an amazing mother of two sons, Patrick and Thomas and a loving daughter to a great gal named Peggy. She’s also the owner of a terrifically sarcastic sense of humor that makes me snicker at the sight of her. She’s been known to text me when certain old songs come on the radio that remind her of the times when our boys were much smaller and we sat at Skiles Test watching them have fun while we laughed and sang wholly inappropriate lyrics from the 3rd base line…until tears formed from the giggling.

My run-on sentences and lack of appropriate grammar in this entry will drive her slightly batty, but that’s my retribution for the snow you wished on us, Maggie. Ha?

I hope you know how much you are treasured. I know your faithful heart is certain that you are a beloved daughter of the most high God, Maggie, and that’s really all that matters. I guess I just want you to know that I love you too, friend!

Mad for…Donna

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship. -St. Thomas Aquinas

Day 11 of 365

The day I met her, my first day at a new job, was the same day her divorce was final. She was a bit of a hot mess, and I couldn’t help myself. I peeked my head in the office of a total stranger to see if she was okay. Clearly, she was not. I’m not sure in the 20+ years that have passed since then if have ever seen her cry again. She’s such a strong and steady person.

People like Donna are hard to find. She makes me smile, she wants the best for me, she’d let me move into her extra bedroom if I showed up at 4am, with no questions asked. Have you ever heard “a good friend will help you move, but only the best of friends will help you move a dead body?” HA HA!! I love her too much to drag her into criminal activity…but you get where I’m going with this. She’s a keeper.

What makes Donna really stand out is that she is so utterly selfless. She is the person I know who most closely resembles the version of love Mother Teresa explained when she shared this famous quote.

“Love, to be real, must empty us of self.” –Mother Teresa

Also, Donna is like the 007 of my friends. She’s the person least likely to have her identity stolen. She prides herself on having NO photos of herself on the internet. I speak of her often, but she’s largely unknown by most. She lurks in the background, though, where she lovingly cares for her elderly Dad, and spends herself in service to any friend who needs her near. She’s delivered Thanksgiving baskets with me, scooped my driveway free of snow when my knee was too swollen to do the task myself, she’s delivered meds from CVS straight to my bedroom post-surgery. She’s helped me out of binds I’d rather not admit to being in over the years, candidly. Also, you’ll note while I have chosen to honor her today on her birthday, I’ve given you zero idea of the year in which she was born. That would be identifying information, you see, and I’m pretty sure that would be a severe offense in her book.

Is she an imaginary friend? Does she really even exist? I half think she’d like you to wonder. She may be the “James Bond” of my friend group, but YOU BET she does exist. She’s the owner of the most beautiful heart who always makes sure I know she’s nearby and that she cares.

I love you, Donna. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Mad for…Laine

“She’s an old soul with young eyes, a vintage heart, and a beautiful mind.” Nicole Lyons

Laine Schwegman

Imaginative, musical, and engaging are three words that come to mind quickly when I think of this young lady. Meet Laine Schwegman! She’s a high school freshman who is mature beyond her years and simply more kind-hearted than most.

Laine is a talented musician with the most soulful, pleasing voice. She simply picks up a string instrument and seems to be playing almost any tune in short order, without any sheet music at all. Her guitar “jam sessions” with her Dad and Grandpa bring tears to my eyes. Love simply oozes out of her. She’s a fierce and gifted athlete too. I’ve watched her frustrate many batters with her accurate arm from the pitchers mound on the softball field. Those things all make her unique and special, but they aren’t the reasons I’ve chosen her today.

This young lady lives her life as a quiet and sometimes silly, yet faithful example to those around her…and WOW can we use as many folks like that as we can find. Am I right? Laine enjoys the little things, like whipping up a tasty recipe in the kitchen or goofing around with her brother, Ty. She seems to me to feel no need to be high maintenance. She’s empathetic and tries to understand from the perspective of others. These qualities make her a real life hero to her young cousins, Max and Lilah, with whom she is beautifully present…and to me! She has a gift with little ones, who are always such a good judge of authenticity.

Laine, thank you for always reminding me how important it is that we are true to ourselves. You are a light that glows brightly, sweet girl. Keep shining!

Mad for…Derek

“There are souls in this world which have the gift of finding joy everywhere and of leaving it behind them when they go.” –Frederick Faber

Derek Johnson (Day 9 of 365)

Here’s an outgoing, amicable face to brighten your day! Meet Derek Johnson. If you visit him at his place of work, don’t be thrown. His nametag says “Dee”. I asked his co-workers about that, and they all laughed like I was on the outside of a private joke. So, let’s just stick with calling him Derek for now?

Derek has the sunniest face I have ever seen behind a butcher shop meat counter. He works at Fresh Thyme, a small grocery store near my house. Because I unapologetically place a high value on good customer service, folks like Derek are absolute gems in my book.

Here’s the thing. This young man steps way past excellent service. He is a highlight in my day every time I see him. He reminds me of the old song “A Wink and a Smile”, owing to the fact that even when I pass right by him because I only came in for bananas or a gallon of milk, if he spots me, he never fails to give up a little wave….or a wink and a smile…even if from a distance. When Tom came with me to the store for the first time, Derek shined that big grin and said to me, “Ah, I see you brought your boyfriend today! Lucky guy!”

Cutting and packaging meat isn’t exactly a glamorous way to spend your day. Derek does his work joyfully. All the time.

When I asked him if I could take his picture and write about him, he replied, “Sure! But can you let me borrow your phone and take a selfie? I wanna look good!”

Trust me, Derek, with that genuine smile, it’s a sure thing! Thanks for making the day brighter for all around you and reminding me how important it is to always be generous with cheerfulness.

Mad for…Marv

marvdykhuizen

He’s a member of what Tom Brokaw rightly called “The Greatest Generation”.  Meet Marv Dykhuizen, age 97.  Actually, he’s Uncle Marv to me.  You’ll notice he’s wearing his World War II Army Air Corp hat in this photo.

Uncle Marv is a native of my hometown, Lafayette, Indiana and he played high school basketball for the Jefferson Bronchos.  He went on to join the Army Air Corp (the Air Force didn’t exist in WWII).  During that time, he was a navigator on a B29 in the Pacific.  He also married (my aunt) Pat Patton, who was from just east of Lafayette.  She attended Monitor High School.  They were married in Biloxi, Mississippi where he was stationed at a nearby Army Air Corp base.  According to multiple accounts (including some of his own), the tall, strapping blond Marv was not sore on the eyes as a young man.  All my life, he stood out for his totally bald head.

After the war, Uncle Marv went to Purdue and got a math degree.  He taught math at the university for three or four years before going to work at Alcoa in a management position. He retired from Alcoa.  He was one of 5 brothers (including my grandfather, Ralph) and he has 2 sons himself as well as six grandkids.  He lost his beloved Pat a few years ago.

Uncle Marv might be 97, but he’s sharp as a tack.  His eye sight isn’t what it once was, so he calls me every year when he gets my Christmas card to let me know how much he appreciates receiving it and to catch up on my family.  I always joke about enjoying the “audio Christmas card” from the oldest guy I know.

Uncle Marv is a character.  He can’t drive anymore, so he walks the 1/4 mile or so to the local Burger King to “meet the guys” for breakfast.  If the weather isn’t so hospitable, one of those gentlemen stops by to pick him up.  Keep in mind, “the guys” are all now mostly the age of my Dad, his nephew.  He likes the walk.  It’s good for him, he says.  He’s outlived all of his contemporaries.

Uncle Marv is a story teller, but then, wow has he got a story to tell!  If you see him wandering around on the north end of Lafayette, stop and say hello.  He’ll immediately begin to regale you with some entertaining tale.

Our country owes a lot to men like my great Uncle Marv.  Thanks for your phone calls, your beautiful witness of what a committed marriage looks like, your sense of humor…and your service to our great country.  Uncle Marv, you are a ornery Dutchman and a total treasure.