The Feast of Guadalupe (December 12) also marked the twentieth anniversary of the death of our grandfather, Donald Byrne, Sr. He was a soldier and a postmaster and a lover of life. He had an easy way with everyone, even the Blessed Mother, whose rosary he said regularly--but when he fell asleep on her, he was sure "she finishes it for me." Oh, the way he packed boxes for Christmas! "He made his heart last until he had wrapped and loaded off to the post office three big boxes of Christmas gifts and cookies; I had to step around those big boxes to take the phone call from Mary Lou telling me that he had died," Don II wrote. "He was a wide and happy man, slow to take offense."
He also had a special, secret, and lasting spirituality. The elders die, but they stay. We keep hearing about the elders dying (our cousins' grandfather) and the babies being born (our Annville neighbors' grandchild), and at Christmas we think of this more. Have you ever read The Clown of God by Tomie de Paolo? A heartstopping Christmas book that captures the feel.
And here is more: Clare inherited Don Sr.'s wallet and this is the poem folded up inside.--JEB
Sound glittering in the wind.
The rough spring storm
Nudges rudely at the little clown
Clapping together his white ceramic hands,
Causing his brown clay boots
To tap and clatter in a lyrical dance,
His flat smiling clown face swinging
Wildly from its porch nail.
Let me be God's clown in the wind,
Feel his Spirit blow through my soul
Causing my hands to clap at his Word,
Making my feet of clay sparkle and dance.
Then I shall swing wildly, joyfully,
Through the storms of spring,
Caught in the rampant winds of his love
With the open, funny face of a clown.
America Magazine, November 26, 1983