There is this friend of mine named Guy. And over the course of about 5 years, I have watched him evolve into a most excellent husband, father, and friend. I remember that he used to have an e-mail address that read "Guy is happy". When I first met him, he was happy, but not to the expectation of the e-mail address. He was a somewhat happy man but today, he's a shining example of those three words that describe him to others.
Back in Smock, I remember that when our parish priest used to go on his annual vacation, we'd get this guy from St. Mary's in Uniontown named Father Drab. Yep, I'm not kidding. And Father Drab lived up to his name in many ways. The clearest example I recall is when, at the Preface in the Mass, he'd turn to the people (this was when the altar was against the back wall of the sanctuary) and say in his middle-European voice "De Lard be wit choo". English has just taken over from the Latin but it hadn't quite taken over Father Drab. Then he'd say "Leeft up yore hearts" in the most somber, dour tones imaginable. Like as if someone just ran over his dog. SO sad. And even as a kid, I used to think HEY, isn't "Leeft up yore hearts" supposed to mean "be HAPPY????"
One of my friends totally insisted that Jesus never smiled. He would have bet his life on that. And when I'd ask him if what we may be eating was good, he'd always answer "It's all right". WHAT? Commit!!! Be more emphatic. Say it like you mean it. But I was one of the few people in Smock that could make him smile. Or laugh out loud. I usually had to do something stupid, but he'd laugh until he lost his breath. And that WAS great.
I often wondered what Johnny Sims, who would broadcast the Polka Party from Latrobe, used to mean when he'd say "Happy music for happy people" when everyone around me acted in some ways like they were just handed their airline ticket to hell.
Legend has it that after the great flood, Noah's relatives scattered to the far corners of the Earth. And God (Bo'je) asked each of them what they wanted, which was granted to them. When they got to the Slovak people, God said that he ran out of "stuff" and said "I'll give you a language that when spoken, will sound like a song and a place to live in the shadow of the Tatra Mountains." I would have said "HEY, where's the holupki and the happy music for happy people?" which would have guaranteed me a First Class ticket on that airplane to hell.
Those of you that know me also know that times have been more than "interesting" in a rather negative way. But thanks to God's timing and intervention, things actually appear to be changing, which is what boys and girls from Smock pray for. My changes are coming through knowing someone named Debbie who hails from exotic Steubenville, Ohio. And the changes haven't gotten me a job, but they have allowed me to better understand my station in life and what absolute bliss may be in store.
So to the children of Smock, do not be dismayed. There is hope, but you may have to wait 60 years to find it. But when you do, life will be so much sweeter. Johnny Sims' will not have any static or interference on the radio, every day will be like Sunday after the Forty Hours we had in May at St. Hedwig's, and God's graces will literally overwhelm you. For THAT is the gift that is reserved for those little urchins that roamed the streets in Smock so long ago. That's your reward because you're minds aren't cluttered with great piles of garbage. Father Drab used to say "Wait...your reward is coming." Well, mine just pulled up driving a grey Ford Windstar.
Leeft up yore hearts? Absolutely.