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Friday, June 30, 2006

Star Wars VI: The Return of the Jedi

Yeah, Mom and I watched all three of these movies back to back to back. Talk about good times...

This one is probably my favorite Star Wars movies. I used to be a sucker for the Ewoks, but they are not my selling point on this movie anymore. I still really like them, but my selling point in this is that Vader converted in the end. How cool is that? He gets to be a big bad character, scaring people, and in the end, he throws the Emperor down a plasma pit, or whatever was down there...

Han is still the man.

Oh, BTW, these three movies were the newer editions released before Episode 1 came out. I like them a lot. They are really fun, and the special effects add a lot to them. :)

Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes back

This is not my favorite Star Wars movie, but it is still a great movie. For me, I always just view this movie as the necessary step between Episode IV and VI. The visit to Yoda doesn't make a whole lot of sense, especially the test in the forest where he confronts Vader. That never really made sense to me. I can think of a couple possible explanations, but overall, nothing really stands out...

In any case, Leia and Luke are much better characters. I never liked Yoda much until I saw him use the force. Then Yoda became one of my favorite characters. Han is still the man...

Star Wars IV: A New Hope

Mom and I watched this movie together. I still love it. It's just an awesome movie.

I saw this movie years ago. My Godfather set me up with it. I remember being apprehensive about it, because it was so close to Star Trek in name, but Picard, Riker, Data and Worf weren't there. Therefore, it wasn't as cool. That's what I thought when the movie began. When the movie ended, all I could think was that it was really cool, but I didn't get it.

Since then, I've seen it many times, and every time, I love it. It's such a fun movie... :)

I don't particularly care for Princess Leia in this movie. She gets better in the other two. Is that wrong, to dislike the heroine?

Then again, there were only two characters I liked in the movie: Han and Chewie. Vader was interesting, but he was too dark for my young mind. Old Ben was cool, but he needed more time on the camera. Luke? HA!

Now that I'm older, I still have most of the same reactions towards the characters, except I really like Vader. He's just too awesome.

  • "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force."
  • "I find your lack of faith disturbing."
  • "I've been waiting for you Obi-Wan. We meet again, at last. The circle is now complete; when I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the master."
  • "Your powers are weak, old man."

  • Ahhhhh... {grins -- extends hand}

    I find your lack of faith disturbing...

    {looks like an idiot trying to use the force -- blushes}


    {dusts off clothes -- looks around -- scampers away}


    Tuesday, June 27, 2006


    The death of a loved one is a very tragic event. The day of the death is one of the worst days. You're filled with hope that it's not the last day, that all everyone needs is to go to sleep, and everything will be fine in the morning. Either that, or that you're already asleep and you'll wake up. You may wake up in a panic, but at least everything will be fine. This wasn't the case. The day was real, and the event was not something that a little sleep would fix.

    This is the second death that has really affected me that I recall. The first one was my Godfather's, Robert Michael Malone. He was the author of a few religious books, one of which was called The Apostolic Digest, but I think his most popular one is called the Only Begotten. Both are pretty huge works. Seeing him spend hours and hours in his office writing away was extremely admirable. It put a certain respect for the erudite class in me, although I never really wanted to be an author. This was not why I loved him as much as I did.

    Even though this was a big part of who he was if not the biggest, I remember him mostly for his antics. When I was younger, he was the funniest man in the whole world. There was absolutely no chance of anyone keeping a straight face around him. He knew so many stories, so many jokes, so many side-splitting facts that he could have any crowd, any time, anywhere laughing. The only other comedian I knew of was Bill Cosby, and Mike put him to shame. I always thought that one day, I'd turn on the TV and I'd see Mike and Bill together doing the Cosby Show, and that it would be one riot after another...

    When you're young, the crazy things you come up with, huh?

    When I was younger, doctors detected a cancerous growth in Mike somewhere, I believe it was on his neck. They got to it as soon as they could, and they successfully removed it. All I really remember from that is that one day Mike was fine, and the next day he was in the hospital getting operated on. I don't remember getting warning about his condition, although I'm sure I did. (I'm not well known for my memory.) He began to recover rather quickly, as I recall.

    In one of his followup visits, they discovered that they hadn't gotten to it in time. The cancer had spread all over his body. It was only a matter of time. And it was. A lot went on in a few years. He lived his life every day. He never stopped to cry for himself -- he had too much to do. His poor wife, Jane, had a stroke many years ago, and she had lost the use of her right side. She was slowly getting it back, but it would never be the same. He had to take care of her, as well as finish his books. They moved to San Antonio, TX (from the Dallas area), where he spent the rest of his life.

    My family went down to see him in the hospital. He had shrunk from 6'3", 250lb, down to a small man. But he was still the same. All the time that he had with us, he was always happy. We walked him out of his room, and spent as much time with him as we could.

    One of the things which he said that I've never forgotten was when he was in the hospital. He said that there was one nurse which was always very annoying, and he did not want to have to deal with her. Sadly, she was assigned to him. He did not ask for a replacement. The only thing he asked for was help from Our Lady. He could hear her coming from 30 seconds away, and if he was taken out and about, he always kept an eye out for her. Whenever he saw her from far away, or heard her coming, he said an Ave Maria, and from that point on, he never found her annoying. He always had the patience to deal with her. Even though I've never forgotten that, it's hard to apply that to my daily life...

    He passed away on October 7, 2000. The day he was buried was my first real experience seeing the death of a loved one and the reactions of the family. I was a pallbearer, so I got to be up front. I saw the military honor guard there, as well as the flag folding. They actually played taps on the bugle. Seeing Jane cry when she received the flag was very hard to deal with, because now she had no one to rely on who could be there for her all the time.

    When my grandfather passed away when I was five, I don't remember much, except that Mom went to Oregon for the funeral. Oh yeah, and when she returned a week later, we were all very glad to see her. Life -- and food -- just wasn't the same without her. It affected me, but I don't remember how much. Dad's mother passed away about nine months ago. Her death affected me. I prayed for her, and I got together some close friends of mine, and we chanted the Dies Irae for her.

    I have served a Requiem Mass or two, but in both cases, it was someone I did not know.

    My second really close-to-home experience (and my closest-to-home experience) is this one: my own dear Father. As I said already, I missed his actual death. There would have been absolutely nothing that I could have done anyway. There is no way to keep him here when God is calling, and even if I could have done so, I would not have wanted to.

    Dad was ready to go. Any effort on my part to restrain him would have been purely selfish on my part. My Father had a very full life on earth. He has three children, three grandchildren (with two more on the way), and a family who will miss him terribly. No one chose when he was to die. God decided his time, and when the Lord calls, you have no choice. To choose otherwise is to disobey the command of God.

    To any readers of this who don't know me, my statement about not wanting to hold my Father on earth should know that it is part of the fallen nature of man to die. God appoints the time and the circumstances. My unwillingness to save my Father's life is not some Michael vs. Terri Schiavo thing. Poor Terri was not ready to go: her time was chosen by her husband, not by the Author of Life. Dad's time was chosen by the Author of Life -- no one can prevent that.

    Not my will, but may God's Eternal, All-Knowing, and All-Holy Will be done. To Him be all honor and glory unto the ages of ages. Amen.

    Monday, June 26, 2006

    The Requiem Mass and the Burial

    I was resigned to the fact that my dear Father had passed away. After yesterday, I was feeling pretty good about things. I got up, and prepared myself mentally for the day ahead. Today was the day that Dad would attend his last Mass, and would be buried. In order to give him the best possible send-off, I steeled myself to sing all the Propers for a Requiem Mass. I love the Dies Irae, among many of the other Requiem Propers, but I didn't know if I would be able to sing them well for Dad. But I felt like I had to. He had only heard me chant twice: once at Sanger where it was me leading the group of men, and the second time at Christendom, where it was just a duet. He seemed pleased with it, so I wanted to make sure to assist in giving him the best Requiem Mass that could be done.

    Anyway, I put on my black suit, black shirt, black tie, and black vest, and Mom and I went to the Church. We got there about an hour early, so I went to confession, and spent some time praying in the Church. I went outside, was fitted with a pallbearer's flower, and then prayed for the strength to handle the casket.

    Ten minutes before Mass, the casket was brought out of the hearse. Dad was carried by James, Gilbert, Uncle Nelson, Mr. Janis, Soma, and me. We carried him from the hearse to the Church, and when we entered the Church, we were met with a cart, on which the casket was placed. During this time, from the minute we got the casket in our hands, my poor Uncle was crying. My uncle is a military man. He doesn't cry about stuff. The finality of the whole ordeal must have really sunk in. After we placed the casket on its cart, my Uncle really let it out.

    Mass was beautiful. I can't say my contribution was anything to write home about, so I guess it's a good thing I was home -- I didn't have to waste postage.

    After Mass, the pallbearers carried Dad back out to the hearse. The casket seemed heavier going out than coming in. Perhaps it was just me...

    The funeral procession to the graveyard was easy enough. The thing that really bothered me is that I remember back in the days when highways would stop for a funeral procession. Why? Out of respect for the deceased and their family and friends. What do they do now? You're lucky if you can get modern man to not cut into the line. They don't slow down -- they speed up. They don't pull over to the side unless forced over by a police officer. Hats are not doffed, but instead pulled down further over one's eyes to facilitate a pretense of noticing. Where is the respect in any of this? I, for one, plan to give and to continue giving as much respect as I can possibly give to funeral processions.

    Oh yeah, and a side note: turn on your hazards and/or your headlights, whatever the lead car is doing. It shows that you are a part of the procession.

    When we arrived at the cemetery, we were given instructions, and we continued following the hearse to it's final destination. The service was performed by the honor guard, the flag was folded, and Taps was played. All very well done. Father's part was also quite simple.

    After the final blessing for the deceased, the family stayed around and talked to people. I thanked Father for all his help in this ordeal. After that, I began getting caught up with a number of people I haven't seen or heard from in years.

    Mom and I invited a small group of people over to the house. Food was served, and there was plenty for everyone. Sarah H. and Joe P. were in town from Front Royal (they had arrived the previous night), and Kelly P. had come to the funeral, so they got to meet a number of close friends: Dominic C., Tim B., Soma, Mr. N., and Joe H. It was fun, at least for me...

    Later in the day, Liz, AJ, and Anya came by while everyone was still there. We all got to talk for a little while, and then the party broke up.

    I went to bed quite late -- perhaps too late, because I planned to work the next day.

    Sunday, June 25, 2006

    The Rosary and the Viewing

    Sunday was the viewing and the Rosary for Dad. After going to Mass near the funeral home, I arranged to sing with the choir for Dad's Requiem Mass, and then Mom and I headed over to the funeral home, followed by Elizabeth, James, and their kids.

    We got there shortly after 1:30PM. I walked up to the doors and entered the building. Straight ahead was the room where Dad was. I walked in, hoping to not see anyone. I didn't. My eyes quickly scanned the room from the back to the front. At the front was the open casket. I had to quickly turn away. I couldn't start crying at the back of the room -- I'd never be able to make it up to the front.

    Set up in the back, which is where my eyes fell, was a picture of Dad with his grandkids: AJ, Anya, and Hannah. He was smiling and holding Hannah. She couldn't have been more than two months old. In fact, I think that she was even less than one month old.

    I looked down at the ground, and proceeded to walk up to the front of the room, between the rows of pews. About half-way up the aisle, I looked up at the casket, and there was Dad's body. I knelt on the kneeler at the front of the room, and I stayed there. At first, I didn't get much of an urge to cry, but the tears came in their time. I didn't really care. I felt AJ and Anya come stand next to me, I felt different hands touch my shoulders, and I heard crying around me. I don't really remember who was where, except that Elizabeth stood next to me for a minute or two, and began crying, and had to leave.

    All at once, I didn't care that my family was around me. I didn't care that my sister and my mother were sitting in the first pew crying. I didn't care that AJ and Anya were crying. I didn't care that anyone else in the world needed anything. I only had one thought: I wasn't there for Dad when he died. His only son was over 1300 miles away at a party when he died. And it was at that moment that the tears really began to come.

    I just let the tears come. I didn't cry audibly, just visibly.

    I don't know how long I stayed there. Perhaps it was about 20 minutes. My eyes were frozen on the face of my Father who I would never see alive again until (hopefully) we are reunited in heaven. I looked up. Directly behind the casket was a large crucifix. I looked there for a couple minutes, and the tears ceased. I looked down again at my father, and I finally said a prayer.

    I stood up, and went to the opposite side of the church. I wanted to be alone. I wished that everyone else would just get up and go to lunch like they had been talking about doing before we got there. I wasn't hungry in the least, so I would just stay there until the Rosary.

    As I sat there for perhaps an hour, perhaps longer, I alternated between crying and not. Jane, my older sister, put her hand on my shoulder for a minute as she walked up to the casket, where she spent a couple moments. She asked me if I wanted to go get something to eat -- I said that I wasn't hungry. My Aunt Mary Jane came up behind me, hugged me and told me that she loved me. I was too choked up to respond in kind with anything more than a croak.

    Elizabeth and James stayed behind as well, while everyone else went to lunch. When they came back, I was still sitting there. I finally got up and started to look at the picture arrangements. After looking at all of them, I felt like I couldn't cry anymore -- not because I felt like I was running on empty, but because I felt like it is something that Dad would not want me to do. I am his son, and I shouldn't be crying like this. My family needs me, and I am not there for them, just like I wasn't there for Dad. With this in mind, I went and sat down with my family, and hugs and consolation went around.

    Jane, Soma, Mr. N. and I sang some very simple songs and hymns rather quietly up at the front of the room. We asked Elizabeth to join us, but she wasn't feeling up to it. Shortly after we finished up, visitors came to the funeral home. I walked up to the front and was talking to one of them about some of the pictures. I was feeling a lot better, especially after talking about Dad's life to some of the visitors.

    When my Uncle Nelson came from his hotel to the funeral home, he took it very hard. I walked outside with him, followed by Jane and Gilbert. We talked outside as other visitors came through. When Father Dennis S. showed up, I didn't recognize him. The last time I remember seeing him, I was twelve, I think. I knew who he was based on reactions, but I don't know if either one of us would have been able to pick out the other in a crowd.

    Father led the Rosary, which started almost right on time. After that, there were a couple moments of silence, and then people began filing out. I went outside with the crowd to thank them for coming. I missed some people, but I did manage to see a lot of faces that I hadn't seen in years.

    After everyone left and it was just the family, we came back into the room where Dad was. Jane, Elizabeth, and I said our final goodbyes to Dad, and each of us put a rose into his casket. We then closed his casket, and left.

    Mom and I drove back over to the church, where I practiced with the schola for the Mass the next day. After the practice was finished in about an hour, Mom and I headed back, making a quick detour at Sonic. I love Sonic. I wish we had them up here...

    But then again, if wishes were horses...

    Saturday, June 24, 2006

    One late night...

    ...my uncle, Dad's immediate younger brother, called me up. I guess that it would actually be last night -- tonight, considering that I still haven't gone to bed yet...

    After I found his hotel--which was a feat in and of itself--I went over to the bar, where he had been for some time. There we talked about Dad, about life, about religion, about him and his family, about me and my future, etc.

    After the last call, we both walked outside. We got to talking very briefly about Dad. It's obvious that he loved him very much. Seeing a big man like him cry for his older brother almost brought me to tears. However, it simply wouldn't do that two men cry at the same time, so I had to withhold the tears. Maybe later...

    Friday, June 23, 2006

    Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace

    Today, my Mom and I fired up Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace. She loved it because of Jar Jar Binks, and I have to admit, as annoying as he is, he was a big part of it. Personally speaking, I like Jar Jar, because he makes me feel smart -- something which is rather hard to do... ;)

    Mom and I are both in agreement that the movie pales in comparison the original Star Wars, and even the entire original Trilogy. But such is life. Good ol' George had to start it somehow. I'll give him credit: it's a fun movie. His imagination is still going. However, the dialogue in it is just nowhere of the same caliber that it was in the originals. Seriously. I'm not saying that the originals had the world's smartest dialogue...

    Princess Leia comes to mind: "Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope." Seriously. How much cooler would the movie have been if she had said something more ghetto like, "Hey, Oldie Man Kenobi! I need some backup up in here!" It wouldn't be? Ok, ok, fine! So I'm a market research analyst, not a screenplay writer. Sue me! On secodn thought, no, don't sue me. I can't afford that...

    But the originals did have a certain ... something to them that the new trilogy just didn't. Maybe it was the fact that no movie like them had ever been made, which helped make the oiginal dialogue seem better: "I find your lack of faith disturbing."

    In any case, it was fun. :)

    How the news got to me...

    On Tuesday, I was on my way out to Front Royal to celebrate a birthday of a good friend of mine, when I got a phone call from my older sister, Jane. She called to let me know that Dad wasn't doing too well, and she wanted to know how long it would take me to get on a plane to get home. I told her that I could be at Baltimore/Washington International airport (BWI) within three hours of her calling me. She told me that that moment was most likely now. I would probably have to get to BWI that night or early the next morning, because Dad was going to be gone sometime soon.

    She called me back about an hour later and let me know the sad news: Dad was gone. He lost all control of his body, and he passed away shortly thereafter. It took me a minute to let it all sink in, and then to run through a list of questions in my mind: Did he die peacefully? Was he ready to go? How could I have been a better son to him? Why didn't I get to him sooner?

    Then I realized that Jane was giving me flight information, and I needed to get that. After disconnecting with me, I called up John E., and he came to get me. He took me to the chapel, where I spent a few minutes praying. This was the biggest cry that I've had so far. It's been some time since I've cried about anything, so you can imagine that this one was impossible to hold in. The thing that really made me cry the most was wondering how my poor Mom was going to take this. Obviously, she had been there with him, and had held him when he died. My Mom wouldn't be anyplace else. This fact must be tearing her up, and I didn't know if I would be able to be strong at all if she started crying...

    John drove me back to Herndon. I-66 was a parking lot around exit 43-47. When we got back to the apartment, Josh agreed to take me to Baltimore/Washington International (BWI). Highway 28 was a parking lot. After we picked up my stuff at the office, we discovered that I-95 north was a parking lot, too.

    Nevertheless, we made it through the traffic, and he dropped me off at BWI. I got there at about 1AM, and slept there until about 3AM, when I couldn't sleep anymore. My first flight was at 06:50. The first stop was a quick stop in Chicago, and another one just as fast in St. Louis. I switched planes in Houston, and this was the only time that there was a chance that I wouldn't make it on the plane. This plane was booked solid...

    I landed in Dallas Love Field at 12:55 PM, right when I was supposed to land. Liz, Jane, Mom and I headed from the airport to the funeral home to make arrangements, and stopped for dinner afterwards.

    Today was the second day I cried. Mom was doing Dad's laundry. When she cried, I cried.

    Aside from that, I've been taking things one day at a time. It's late, and I have to get to bed.

    Wednesday, June 21, 2006

    My Father's Obituary (uncut)

    Eddie Alberto Smitha died of congestive heart failure at his home in Mesquite Tuesday, June 20th, 2006, one day shy of his 68th birthday.

    Funeral: 12:00 noon, Monday, June 26, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church, 3900 Scruggs Drive, North Richland Hills, followed by interment at Dallas/Fort Worth National Cemetary. Rosary will be at Lucas Funeral Home, on Sunday at 7PM. The address is 1321 Precinct Line Rd, Hurst, TX.

    He was born on June 21, 1938, in Jayuya, Puerto Rico, to mother Angelita de Jesus and father Pedro Sanchez Aponte. After his father's death, his mother relocated the family to Indiana, where she met and married Clarence Lee Smitha who loved and adopted her children.

    Eddie joined the United States Air Force, served for five years, often in London, England. He was honorably discharged in 1960.

    He married Kathleen Ellen Schlieski on September 29th, 1979, and established residence in Mesquite. He worked at the United States Post Office as a mechanic from 1980 to 2003. A strict father and staunch Catholic, he taught his children the values of the Catholic Faith, and was well known as a supporter of the dogmas of the Church.

    He was preceded in death by parents, Pedro Sanchez Aponte, Angelita de Jesus Smitha, and adopted father Clarence Smitha.

    He is survived by his wife Kathleen, and his three children, daughter Jane Elizabeth and her husband Gilbert Vidal, of Dallas; son Edward Anthony Smitha, of Herndon, Virginia; and daughter Elizabeth Ann and her husband, James Freiberg, of Mesquite. He is also survived by his brothers Nelson Eddie Smitha and his wife Lupe, San Antonio; and Ralph Edward Smitha, Valparaiso, Florida; his sisters Mary Jane Happek and her husband Hans, Alburquerque, New Mexico; and Carmen Gaddy and her husband Barry, Berryville, Virginia; three grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

    Memorials: In lieu of flowers, donations may be made the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Building fund, or the charity of your choice.

    My Father's Death

    The last time I wrote you all concerning my father, I wrote in thanksgiving for all of your prayers. I call upon your generosity in giving them once again, knowing that this will be the last time that I write you concerning my father's health, barring a miracle.

    On Sunday, June 18, 2006, Father's Day, I called home at about 6PM to wish him the best. He was not doing too well. He was struggling to speak clearly, even to speak at all. The humidity and his other activities had worn him completely out. After attending Mass in the morning, he was practically confined to one spot, because he was too weak to do anything else. We talked about the usual things: life, jobs, the Faith, family, and recent events. It was one of the shortest conversations that I've had with him in some time. The previous week, we talked about all of the above for about an hour. This week, the conversation barely lasted fifteen minutes.

    At 11PM the same day, he was taken to the hospital. He was light-headed on top of having shortness of breath. At first, we thought it may be pneumonia or bronchitis. He stayed there overnight, where he was hooked up to the machines, and he started to feel better. He got up and took a shower Monday afternoon, but the shower wore him out, so he went back to bed. He had made some slight improvements, but he was slurring his words more than ever. He was confused, and was otherwise in really bad shape. That afternoon, the doctor told Mom and Dad that there was nothing else that they could do. Dad was "living on borrowed time", as they put it, and all they could do was prolong the inevitable. From what I understand, they kept him in the hospital for one more night, and then released him the next morning. By the way, he had neither pneumonia nor bronchitis...

    Elizabeth, my twin, had called him in the morning, and he sounded strong. There was no cause for concern, as he was doing well. He was released from the hospital about 12:45 and returned home. He was able to walk from the car to the house and sat in his wheel chair. He was going to lay down as he was tired, but when he tried to lay down he said he felt like he could not breathe. He wanted to go out to the den. Some time ago, he had set up a shrine there, consisting of a crucifix, a picture of Our Lady, and a statue of St. Joseph. He sat there for a while to read and pray as he was able. He wanted to sit in his wheelchair because he could get much closer to the shrine.

    He lost control of his bodily functions and fell out of the chair. Mom tried to get him up by herself, but she couldn't so she called James, my twin sister's husband. He came right over with the kids, and they managed to get him up. They wanted to put him into his rocking chair, but he insisted upon going back into his wheelchair. He didn't stay there long, and he fell out again. Once again, they recommended that he sit in his rocking chair, but he wanted the wheelchair. He fell a third time, and a third time, he was put into the same place.

    Jane, my older sister, called me at about 6:00PM to let me know everything that had been going on, and she wanted to know how long it would take me to get to an airport.

    Meanwhile, James had A.J. and Anya there (my nephew and niece), so he had to deal with answering the phone, wondering why the kids were being so quiet, as well as keeping an eye on Dad. He was sitting near Dad, when he realized that he didn't hear him breathing. James called Dad's name, and he woke up as though he had been asleep. I don't know how many times this happened, but the last time it happened, Dad took one last deep breath, and that was all. He had stopped breathing. Mom and James called his name again and again, but to no avail. His pulse was gone, and he wasn't responding to any stimuli. This was at 6:15PM, Tuesday, June 20, 2006.

    Previously, Mom had been trying to get in touch with a priest. She finally had gotten in touch with Father Asher at about 5:00 PM, and he came as quickly as he could, but due to traffic, he didn't get there until 6:45PM. This was the second time that he had been called upon to administer Last Rites in two weeks. The poor priest was on vacation.

    Sometime around 6:15, Jane had called home to find out how Dad was doing. She said that she was hurrying as fast as she could. James told her that he didn't think it was necessary. She asked him why she shouldn't hurry, and he said that it wasn't necessary to hurry. Flustered, she wanted to speak to Mom, but James told her that she didn't want to talk to anyone. Finally, she asked him what was going on. So, in plain English, he told her the reason why she had no need to hurry.

    Since before he died, Mom and James had to hold Dad's body up in his wheelchair. He could not support himself. After he passed away, they continued to support him for Father Asher. The minute Fr. Asher was done administering Extreme Unction, he told them to call 911. Paramedics and police officers arrived at the house in minutes. At this point, Dad was clearly dead. They wanted to try to revive him, but Dad had made his final wishes clear: when he died, he does not want to be revived. If he came back to life, it would be by God's Will.

    Only Mom and James had been there for Dad in his final moments. Jane and her husband, Gilbert, and their baby girl Hannah, were fighting traffic to get there, as was Elizabeth. I was also absent, over twelve hundred miles away in Virginia.

    After Jane got off the phone with James, she called me, with flight arrangements. I was to leave from Baltimore/Washington International airport on Wednesday at 6:50AM and arrive in Dallas at about 1PM.

    Elizabeth finally arrived at the house just as Father Asher was beginning the Last Rites. Jane arrived after the Last Rites and since a paramedic was holding Dad in the chair at the time she asked if she could do that. Shortly after that the police restricted all access to Dad's body. James & Gilbert asked permission to move him from his wheelchair to lying on his back on a sheet on the ground. They wrapped him up until the coroner got there, at which point, they began examining the body. Jane had not gotten a chance to say goodbye to Dad, and the police were not allowing anyone into the room, but they made an exception, as long as she didn't touch his body.

    They finally took Dad's body away about 9:30. Jane and her family and Elizabeth and her family all left at the same time, because Mom wanted to be alone.

    Today, June 21, 2006, would have been his 68th birthday.

    + + +

    My Mom is a very strong woman. God has blessed her many times over in that regard. She is handling this sudden loss very well. Your prayers mean a lot for all of us. I know that some of you already know, and have already called me to let me know that you are praying, and I would like to thank you already. Without your prayers, I don't know how my family could be getting by after losing such a great man.

    God love and bless you all.

    Anthony Smitha

    Reqiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.
    Requiescat in pace. Amen.


    Monday, June 19, 2006

    Peter and Rachel's wedding

    Peter F. and Rachel P. got married this weekend. That was fun.

    Eric W., Ryan O., and I drove out to Kentucky at 11:45 PM on Friday night. The wedding was supposed to begin on Saturday at 11:00 AM Saturday morning. The drive took us about 8 hours, and the most confusing part was after we got into the city. I was later informed by many people that they were all worried that we weren't going to make it. I feel both loved (that we were missed) and slighted (because they didn't trust us)... ;)

    I should tell you that, at a request from someone who shall remain anonymous for now, I went out and bought Rachel some ... uh ... lingerie. Yeah. That's a good word for it. It was interesting walking into the women's department of Peebles and Sears, and deciding that what they had was not scandalous enough. My third and final stop was in Victoria's Secret. And let me tell you, I did not know that 90% of the stuff in that store existed. There's a reason that it's called Victoria's Secret...

    And, yes, I'm still a man. Trust me, guys, it can be done. If you ever have to do this, play it up. Make the clerks laugh. Be as loud as you can. The ladies in the store all looked at me, this big loud guy, dressed mostly in black, hat on backwards, unshaven, striding around the store, probably with one thought in their minds: "Pervert!" The clerks faces read, "Am I on Candid Camera?" ANYwho, that's a story for a different time. Call me if you want that one. I'll not relate it here. It wouldn't be prudent at this jucture...

    The wedding itelf was nice. I think that the priest forgot there was a choir, and recited a lot of the beginning of the Mass. The first thing sung was the Alleluia for the Gospel. Aside from that, the Mass seemed to go very smoothly.

    The reception was a lot of fun. Eric let me help him DJ, which was loads of fun for me. I haven't DJ'd anything in some time. I was feeling a bit nostalgic for it...

    During the meal and before the dances, I played classical music and soundtracks. I played a few dongs directed at people: the Snowman for TJ, and Aerith's Theme from Final Fantasy VII for Mike Eidem. I figured that the soundtrack themes were perfect for the meal, considering the couple. :)

    The first dance was for Peter and Rachel. Joe P., Mike P., Pat S., and I sang Ben E. King's Stand By Me in four-part a cappella. That was a lot of fun for me. I hope that I didn't break eardrums or spirits when I started my little croaking number. Unfortunately, in practicing for this, the four of us missed the garter toss. Oh, well. Eric got it, but he had to fight Ryan for it, just like the girls do for the bouquet.

    Mr. and Mrs. F. (Peter's parents) made my day. They were dancing so much and they looked like they were just having so much fun there. They danced the Virgina Reel quite well, but my favorite memory of them dancing was when we played Diamond Rio's version of Kiss the Girl.

    Aside from that, there was a lot of swing, slow and fast. We tried throwing in a waltz, but no one danced it at all.

    We went to the Sunday Vigil Mass. Attending that reminded me why I don't attend Sunday Vigil Masses. They are filled with people who don't care enough to get up early on Sunday to give God the first part of His day.

    Eric, Ryan, and I slept in until about 10AM the next morning, and then we made the eight-and-a-half hour drive back. On the way back, Ryan called his Dad, and then I called my Father to wish him a Happy Father's Day. He didn't sound too great, so I wanted to keep the conversation short, so that I didn't wear him out.

    When I got back to Front Royal, I loaded up my car, and TJ and I headed out. Before we left, we paid a visit to Amy G., and Sam P. Sam is a high school summer camp counselor at Christendom this year. I'm really glad for that. They couldn't have picked a better man for the job, especially since I'm not available for that... ;)

    TJ and I had a bite to eat in Manassas, and after that, I dropped him off at the Vienna Metro station, and headed back to the apartment.

    Monday, June 12, 2006

    Sunday, busy Sunday

    On Saturday, I worked all day until I couldn't take it anymore, and then watched Cars at 6:45PM and Over The Hedge at 9:30PM. I thoroughly enjoyed both of them, as you could tell. :)

    On Sunday, I sung with Draper W. at Father Lundberg's first Mass at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Old Town Alexandria. Before Mass, we both practiced the propers over and over again, making sure that we both knew them well.

    After this Mass, I went to Old St. Mary's and sung at the Solemn High Mass with the schola there.

    I fired up Be Cool, and a few minutes into that, Adrienne S. returned my call from earlier. I hadn't heard from her in some time, so it was good to get caught up with her. When I was done, I watched the rest of the movie.

    Aside from that, it was a slow weekend, which was great, because I have a presentation due tomorrow.

    Sunday, June 11, 2006

    Be Cool

    I remember enjoying this movie so much the first time that I saw it. I remember thinking to myself, "This movie is so funny," when I bought it. I watched it again. It had a couple moments, and the Rock really helped make the movie...

    ...but, aside from the Rock, I really don't remember why I liked this movie so much. I dunno. Maybe when I watch it again, it will come back to me.

    Saturday, June 10, 2006

    Over The Hedge

    Over the Hedge was AWESOME. Hands down. This was right up there with Toy Story 1 & 2, Monsters Inc., Bug's Life, and is otherwise right now one of my favorite movies. Go ahead. Check my profile. I dare you.

    Yeah, I copied that...

    Anyway, it really was a great movie. I love animated flicks, and this one really walks with the great ones.

    All I can say is that I loved the squirrel on caffeine. I wonder if caffeine would affect Adrienne the same way...? Justin? She's your sister. If she reads this, she'll probably scream and deny it. You, of course, being Justin, a lord in the great and all-powerful Triumvirate, know all things of this nature. Perhaps you could shed some drops of wisdom on this issue?


    Cars was AWESOME. Hands down. This was right up there with Toy Story 1 & 2, Monsters Inc., Bug's Life, and is otherwise right now one of my favorite movies. Go ahead. Check my profile. I dare you.

    Larry the Cable Guy cracks me up. I just couldn't place the voice up until I heard his signature "Heh, heh, git-r-done..." and "I don't care who you are -- that's funny!"

    Normally, I'm not a huge Owen Wilson fan. He's a great actor, don't get me wrong, but I generally don't like his movies. However, this movie changed my mind about him. Now that he's been the voice of a race car, he's cool.

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    Fun with Dick and Jane

    This movie was so awesome! I could not stop laughing -- such a great movie! It was clever in so many ways.

    I guess that my problem is that if you ask me to describe one way that it's clever, I couldn't do it. I loved the movie, and at the time I caught some subtle references, but I couldn't tell you what they were.

    My advice to you? Watch the movie for yourself and enjoy it. You won't regret it. If you do, you have my sympathy.

    Of course, if you don't like Jim Carrey, you won't like this movie, and you also really have my sympathy...

    The Break-Up

    Movie: Romantic comedy
    good -- no sex
    bad -- almost everything else

    Seriously. That's all I really have to say about the movie.

    ...OK, I guess I can say a little bit more about it. It was about a break-up. That's all. It was good in that it showed a break-up rather well. But it was not my favorite movie, and I will not be adding it to my collection.

    This weekend (again)

    This weekend was not a normal weekend for me. Rather odd, but fun, nevertheless.

    On Friday, Alex got in touch with me (He and MikeE were in California at Harrison and Mary's wedding). He needed me to go pick up my car so that when he gets back, he will have his car and doesn't have to make a trip to Front Royal. It's a doable request -- nothing too hard or far-fetched about it.

    I talked to Pat, and asked him if he was going down to Front Royal this weekend. He said that he could go, but that he had no set plans. I explained the situation to him, and he said that he could drive me down. So, Pat drove me down to pick up Alex's car.

    I should probably tell you that MikeE and Alex both have Hyundai Elantra's. There is one year difference between them, and MikeE's is pale green, while Alex's is a light tan. In the daytime, it's easy to tell them apart. At night...

    We pulled up to Sarah's house, where both cars had been left from the previous weekend. There was only one Hyundai Elantra there, and Pat dropped me off and drove away. I tried the handle of the door, only to discover that the car was locked. I tried to flag Pat down, but by this point, he was already gone, so it was pointless. I tried another car door, but the whole thing was locked. This was unusual for Alex, especially since he asked me to pick up his car, but then I remembered that this car has a tendency to lock itself. Just to make sure, I walked around to the front of the car. Alex's car has a small hole in the bumper where he was clipped by a passing car. This car is not Alex's but MikeE's.

    Just to make sure that I didn't miss it, I looked up and down the street. Alex's car was not there. Odd, because Alex said it would be. I call Pat to see if he was within range, but I only got his voicemail.

    I called Sarah next. She told me that the car hadn't been there all week. This was also news to me, and I'm sure to Alex. Well, after this phone conversation, she called back and told me to go inside. Christine and Carissa were on their way back -- they'd be back in a few minutes.

    I went inside, but I felt a little weird waiting in the girl's house without them in it. After a minute or so, I went back outside. I sat down on the stairs to wait for them.

    …There are days when one is just not operating at full capacity. This was one of those days for me. It was raining off-and-on, and what happens when it rains? The ground gets wet. Well, I realize my stupidity and stand up. Of course, my pants are pretty well soaked through. Being a little bit self conscious, I leaned against a dry part of the wall and wait for company.

    Sure enough, Christine and Carissa showed up in a couple minutes. They both seemed to have this look in their faces which says, "I know why you're here...", but they asked me anyway:
    "What are you doing here?"
    "I'm here to pick up Alex's car."
    The look came back to their faces.
    "Jordi has it."
    "Yeah, he's had it all week."
    "Really? That's news to me..."

    Anyway, we went inside. Christine showed me an Il Divo video, from them live in concert. We got to talking, and the girls asked me, "Why don't you take MikeE's back? It needs to get back anyway." It sounded like a reasonable idea to me, so I agreed to it. Carissa said that she would deliver it to me after she got the car inspected the next day.

    By this point, Pat arrived, and drove me to Guardian Angel. No one was awake. I was supposed to get in touch with Colin M. to give him my music hard drive. I called him, and explained the situation to him: I don't have a car, and besides that, I'm really kind of tired, so I'd just give him the hard drive first thing in the morning. He suggested St. Kevin's as a place to sleep, so I walked over there.

    As I said, I was rather tired. Just as I was walking out of the Guardian Angel parking lot, I looked at St. Kevin's in the distance. The walk from Guardian Angel to St. Kevin's seemed like it would take forever. I struck up a brisk pace to get the old blood circulating, and in the process, I almost bumped into a car. Come on, dude, wake up. When I arrived to St. Kevin's, I crashed.

    + + +

    On Saturday, I woke up "early" at 09:30, and I set my hard drives out upstairs. Colin and Mike were still asleep, so I put my music hard drive in the most conspicuous place that I can. I was scheduled to meet Dr. P. at Christendom at 09:45, so I started walking.

    I picked up the music books from Dr. Poterack, and as soon as I'm done there, Carissa called. She told me that Christine was going to Mass, and that I should look for her, because she would take me back to their house so I could get the car. This sounds good to me, so I call MikeE to let him know the plan. I left a voice message, and then went upstairs for Mass.

    After Mass, I turned my cell phone back on, and discovered that I had two voicemails: one from MikeE, and one from Carissa. MikeE said that the plan of me getting his car back to Herndon sounded just fine to him. Carissa said that she was on her way back to Christendom with the car. Christine ended up not going to Mass, so Carissa was going to pick me up. I drove Carissa back to her house, and then drove to Kevin's to get my stuff.

    I went to visit Colin M. and Mike P., and to get back my music hard drive. Sarah S. was also there, and I got to talking to them for a bit. They showed me a clip from their movie. It looks pretty darn cool. :) They loaned me Discretion, and I went to Guardian Angel to watch it.

    Imagine my surprise when I drove into Guardian Angel's parking lot and there, at the end of the lot, was Alex's car. It was the same car that I also bumped into the previous night. When I said, "Wake up, dude," I guess I really meant it...

    Anyway, I fired up Discretion, and five minutes into it, Emma F. called. Well, well, well! I put the movie on pause, and chat with her for a bit. All of a sudden, I realize the time. I need to get moving. My plans for the day included going to confession at St. Andrew's as well as returning the cars. It also hit me: how is singular me going to return two cars? Walk? I could. It would take a couple weeks, but it was feasible.

    I told Emma that I'd call her back, and I went to Eric W.'s apartment. I'd been hearing music pumping downstairs, so I knew that he was there. Eric said he would help drive the cars back, so we took MikeE and Alex's car's back to Herndon. On the way to drop the cars off, I called Emma back and we kept talking.

    We stopped at St. Andrew's where Eric and I went to confession. The plan from there was to drop MikeE's car off at the apartment, and then get Eric back to Herndon. As I pulled up to the apartment to get a parking tag for MikeE's car, I saw a very familiar-looking couple walking up to the apartment. It was Josh K. and Lesie. I drive alongside them for about 100 feet, just to be annoying, like I always am, and then parked really quickly, got upstairs and got the tag. I told them this story up until this point, and then went back to park MikeE's car.

    Eric and I decided to keep Alex's car, because it ran better than mine, so we parked MikeE's in the lot, and then went to get some food. We decided on Uno's Chicago pizza. The pizza was great! Major thumbs up! But we had a gay server -- major thumbs down.

    We went directly over to Regal Cinema's from Uno's, and checked out what they had playing. We decided to watch the Jennifer Aniston/Vince Vaughan movie, The Break-Up, partly because nothing else was playing any any better time, and also partly because it was on one of our "summer movie lists". Read that post for my thoughts on the matter.

    I called John E. to see about visiting for a while. He's up for it, but he also had to work in the morning, so we had to not go too late...

    Back at Guardian Angel, Eric showed me the introduction to Nintendo's newest game system: the Nintedo Wii. {insert choir here} Talk about simply amazing! I really want to play that when it comes out!!!

    I visited with John and Paul E., and we were soon joined by Jonny D. It was a fun visit, but it went much later than I had intended. I ended up leaving at 12:30 AM. I saw that I missed a phone call, and I checked my voicemail. Pat S. had called. He told me that the police were everywhere, and to be sure not to speed at all, because they were pulling everyone over. I collected my stuff and drove home. I arrived back at almost 2AM. I set my alarm for 6AM, because I had schola practice at Old St. Mary's at 8:00 AM.

    + + +

    On Sunday, I woke up to sunlight pouring into the room. It was 08:45, and I had slept through both of my alarms. Mass in DC started in 15 minutes. There was nothing I could do. It would take me forty-five minutes to an hour to get there, on top of the fact that I still had to shower and shave, etc. I would miss Mass if I went there. Instead, I opted to go to a local Mass. St. Veronica's had a 10AM Mass, which Pat S., Laura H., and I attended.

    It wasn't too bad. Some punk kids cried through the whole thing, and we all know what I have to say about crying kids: "Shut 'em up, or shut 'em down!"

    After Mass, we came back home. Pat and Laura made breakfast. It was really good. I helped with the dishes, which is about the only thing that I can do right in the kitchen. However, I'm not even perfect at that, because I overflowed sink all by myself -- ain't I clever? This is particularly ironic, because tha was the day that we chose to use the dishwasher, so the sink shouldn't have even been full, but I did it...

    After that, I went to the Mike M.'s house to visit with him and his family. He was in town for a couple days, and then he was flying back overseas again. We chatted for a while and had dinner with the family, which was awesome, as usual!

    At about 6PM, I headed back to the apartment. On the way, I called Mom and Dad, and had a good conversation with them.

    I got back home and tried calling Adrienne, but I could only get her voicemail. I used my espionage tactics to successfully locate and call Lizzie. Oh yeah. I'm just that good... ;)

    After that, I watched Fun with Dick and Jane, and after that, it was time to pick up Alex S. and MikeE from the airport.