In David Isay's and Harvey Wang's 'holding On', I had actually admired each and every person's story, as they were unique in their very own way. The one I guess that stood out to me was Father Louis H. Greving's story. To me it had shown how dedicated and committed he was towards the work and mission of father Paul Dobberstein's vision of constructing the Grotto of Redemption. After Father Greving's ordination as a priest in 1946, he was sent to aid Father Dobberstein, who in 1890 immigrated to the United States to study priesthood in Wisconsin. Unfortunately for him, he became very sick as was hospitalized prior to graduating. He eventually had the chance to join his class and was ordained before returning back to the hospital in 1897. He was diagnosed with 'double-pneumonia'. But before he would let the sickness overcome him, he vowed to the Blessed Mother that 'sometime in his lifetime he would build a shrine in her honor'. This to me showed perseverance and how Father Dobberstein was a man of his word. In the year 1900 he began picking up rocks and keeping them in reserve. Then finally in 1912, he began building. When Father Greving took the reigns from dobberstein, he would finish the unfinished work of his predecessor, and would work with Father Dobberstein until his death, as his assistant for over 80 years ! He recieved the blessing from the bishop of his diocese to continue with the construction of the Grotto, Father Dobberstein's life-long plan. Father greving was inspired when he asked Dobberstein to let his bloody fingers heal, but instead was replied with, 'there isn't any redemption without a little bit of blood'. This to me shows that he did things for a purpose, and not in vain, truly a remarkably humble character. Nowadays, I really don't know if there would be anyone as committed as Father Greving and Dobberstein, who would dedicate their lives in obedience, humbleness, and discipline. This is a remnant of a generation way before technology and distractions that we have today.
In Scott Russell Sanders's story Under the Influence, what surprised me the most was how forthcoming and detailed he was of what alcohol has done to his father, family, and life. His sensory descriptions of his early childhood was spot-on and well worded. I guess what surprises me was the outcome. Usually we think about the saying like father like son, where the child has no example to follow in life and ends up living the disastrous life his father did. But, as we read further into the story, he took it as an example of a life he would never want to live, but live a life far exceedingly better than the one his father did. Sander's focuses on the addiction that his father had, what fueled it, and his hate for the people that supplied him with the 'drug' of his choice -liquor. He goes in great detail of how children of drunk parents find certain things very saddening. 'It is all great fun. But if in the audience you notice a few laughing faces turn grim when the drunk lurches on stage, don't be surprised, for these are the children of alcoholics. Over the grinning mask of Dionysus, the leering face of Bacchus, these children cannot help seeing the bloated features of their own parents. Instead of laughing, they wince, they mourn. Instead of celebrating the drunk as one freed from constraints, they pity him as one enslaved (Sanders 11). This goes on to say how the pain that the children endured of their parents' addictions was psychological. Forever in the memory of their parents', they will remember them from what had overtaken them, what possessed them from living a clean life and being themselves. Quite a sad and realistic vision seen from a child's perspective.
An honest question that I ask myself when reading these intriguing stories is, how many of them are still with us today? Who will be there to tell their stories and life experiences of times we ourselves will never know about before they vanish into thin air for good, as if it had never existed?