Bill’s Blog Journal

Testing 123….

I thought I should post a quick note to be sure that my Spiritual Hat Trick posts will now appear on my personal Facebook page. With my trip only a few weeks away I am working to simplify everything in my life. It is interesting to observe that this is a huge part of a pilgrimage. Letting go of life burdens, material and otherwise. So I am prepaying some bills, setting up auto pay on others and tending to hundreds of small details, personal and business related, to clean the slate before I leave.

I have my gear assembled with only a few minor modificatons left to me made. You can see my little IO Bear buddy is on board for the duration and looking forward to many photo-ops as we trek accross Europe.

If you are in the CT area on September 10th I hope you will be able to attend the my sendoff being hosted by the wonderful folks at The Stand BBQ in Branford. (see my event posting for details or contact me directly for details) . If you are unable to attend I hope you will please help support the work of The Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation. Donations 

Thank you all for your friendship & support.

Bill

Counting down….

Today makes the one month point prior to boarding the plane, September 12th, to France. I am very close to being prepared, however the todo list seems to be getting longer! Yikes! I have done a good job of  maintaining neutral emotions about what lays ahead. But now the reality of the countdown is here. I have a number of work related items to wrap up plus two cars to deliver to Florida to pick up a couple of extra dollars before departure. Then there are all the personal and household details such as mail, bills, the yard, etc.

I hope I have done enough physical conditioning to get me started on the right foot (sorry I couldn’t resist!) I am getting close to having my backpack list complete and weighing in near the 15 lbs target.

The last important item is the fundraising for the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation Donations . I have scheduled on September 10th a going away/fundraiser at a local BBQ place The Stand who will not only be hosting but also donating a portion of the day’s receipts. More details on this soon.

Thanks for your love & support.

O I Foundation Visit


I enjoyed a warm welcome today when I stopped by the Maryland headquarters of the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation to pick up some literature and signs for the September 10th fundraiser. (More detail on this soon)  Samantha and team gave me a lot of information about their work with NIH. And some insight into the wonderful work the do providing support to IO families.  Thank you 🙏

Happy Birthday 1st Charlotte Grace 🎂

Hard to believe that a year has gone by so quickly. I’ve received numerous reports on the festivities going on from San Diego & Disneyland and wonderful photos. 

It is beautiful to see such joy! We are blessed 🙏 so sorry I couldn’t be there i person. (The cake looks delicious)

I have to insert a note to say what amazing parents Janine & Eric have become in their one year crash course! It has been very impressive even from across the country. 

Fatima Connection…

Perhaps my being “called” to end my “spiritual Hat Trick” with a visit to Fatima is not such surprise after all.  A recent phone call from my cousin, Sharon, reminded me of a long forgotten family connection to Fatima.

The story goes… My uncle Joe, 4/21/1902-10/16/1952, struggled much of his life with alcoholism.  I grew up being told that “Joe was a wonderful guy that everybody loved. Only he drank a bit too much.”   He reportedly enjoyed a 7 year period of sobriety but ultimately lost the battle. During this period of sobriety he got it in his head to write to Sister Lucy, the the last of the sisters, who witnessed the Virgin Mary when she appeared to them in Fatima.  Though we do not have his letter it would appear that Joe wrote in 1947 asking for prayers on behalf of his wife and himself.  Remarkably Sister Lucy was good enough to find time to write a reply.  She enlited another nun to translate and handwrite for her reply in English.  The original of the letter and “small pictures” have been handed down on my mothers side of the family.  My cousin Leslie now has the original and kindly provided me with a copy.  I will be carrying this copy with me on my pilgrimage in order to complete a symbolic circle.

I have to imagine that this connection was, in large part what, inspired my mother, father, and Aunt Helen to visit Fatima on their one and only visit to Portugal in 1964.

Below is the text of the letter:

18th October 1947

Dear Mr. Brennan,

     I am replying to your kind letter to Sister Lucy. You will readily understand that she does not know the English language and cannot write herself.

     All your intentions have been commended to her and she will pray to Our Blessed Lady of Fatima for you and your dear wife’s health. Let us hope she will speedily recover and that you will get rid of your rheumatism. It is such a painful disease. However if you offer up all your sufferings to the Divine Heart in reparation you will surely obtain a great reward in Eternal Life,

     Do not allow yourself to be upset with fear and insecurity. Place all your trust in the Immaculate Heart of Mary. If you make an effort to please her, she will be your guide and counselor throughout life and sure refuge at the hour of death.

     I am enclosing two small pictures of you and your wife. They were touched on the miraculous statue in the Shrine of Fatima.

          May God bless you.

          Sincerely yours in J.C.

          Sister Mary King

 

 

Lourdes in Litchfield 


Steve suggested I join him for a long hike in the hills of Litchfield as part of my pre- Camino conditioning routine. This seemed a good opportunity to avail myself of Father Bills kind offer to stay at the Montfort Fathers Retreat House.  I’ve known Steve & Bill less than a year yet they have significantly altered the course of my journey. Steve is my link to walking the Camino, first through the blogs he posted during his pilgrimage a year ago. He also introduced me to Fr Bill and this beautiful retreat center. A former Montfort Brother took it upon himself 50 years ago to create an on-site a reproduction of the grotto & shrine of Lourdes. My first visit here triggered the thought that were I to decide to walk the Camino I should begin my pilgrimage from Lourdes France. 


It has been wonderful to have some have some quiet time to catch up on reading and to reflect on my journey leading to all this walking. Our 16 mile walk yesterday was through some lovely woodlands for 7 hours providing time to reflect and for Steve & I to learn a bit more about each other. And fortunately the mornings brief shower stopped prior to our setting out and did not return until we were back safely in our car at the end of the day’s hike. 

To my great delight I discovered that the Dutch Epicure Shop, which I last visited in 1974, was still in business. Having just burned up better than 2000 calories I just had to buy some of their amazing pastries. I can happily report that they are just as good as I remembered. To relieve some of my glutinous guilt I brought back a delious pear tort for the others at the retreat house to enjoy. 

Before leaving Fr Bill gave me a copy of the Pilgrims Prayer to take with me along with his blessing for my journey. 

I stopped st the Grotto as I was leaving to pray for a few minutes and was treated to an impromptu concert in Spanish by some visiting pilgrims and nuns. 

I do indeed feel blessed….

Personal Appeal – Please

It is becoming real with less that 3 months to go unit I depart September 12 on my “Pilgrimage” to walk 650 miles through the Pyrenees and on the Camino de Santiago.

Also real is that I am dedicating my walk to raise funds for the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation.  I am learning that to do this I have to ASK you to, please, make a donation by simply clicking the link at the bottom of this page. It will take you directly to the OI website.

img_3430   CHARLOTTE GRACE LUDWIG

I have to admit that at this juncture the magnitude of my walk is becoming “real.”  I find myself  fighting off moments of self-doubt and struggling to have faith that my joints will hold together.  So, I am stepping up (pardon the pun) my conditioning to include one 10-15 mile hike with a pack each week in addition to 20 mile bike rides, my weekly squash match and stair workout. This will modify as the weeks go by.

The reason for this update is not to bore you with my exercise routine but to ask you for your support. I am dedicating my walk to the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation.  This is a cause which has great significance to my family.  Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) is a genetic bone disorder characterized by fragile bones that break easily. It is also known as “brittle bone disease.”  These genes affect how the body makes collagen, a protein that helps strengthen bones.  The condition can be mild, with only a few fractures during a person’s lifetime.  In more severe cases, it can involve hundreds of fractures that occur without any apparent cause.  Treatments include bone-strengthening medications, physical therapy, and orthopedic surgery.

My nephew Eric, who was born 43 years ago with OI, has been an inspiration to me his entire life.  I’ve watched him grow up facing  the many unique challenges of his life with grace and humor.  He has become a successful attorney, husband, and recently a father.  He and his wife Janine welcomed Charlotte Grace into the family July 12th 2016.  She inherited IO.  However, due to the research and efforts supported by the OI Foundation, new treatments have been developed. Because of these discoveries, Charlotte has commenced a treatment program that promises to enhance her quality of life and reduce the many of the challenges that Eric faced.

I will be walking more than 650 miles, 1000 kilometers, or 1,300,000 steps. Choose to donate per mile, kilo, or step. Whatever formula you use your donation will be helping improve the quality of life for many young people like Eric and Charlotte. Thank you.

(this link will take you directly to the OI website. I have no contact with your donations. )

Donate to O I Click Here