It Was Only 2 Years Ago at CMC … and I knew I was dying


Anyone on a board hosting a convention knows they will muck something up at some time. But not ME!! I was on the board, helping to bring break food in, since they hadn’t a large allowance. The meetings were to begin one day earlier … But I got totally lost at the airport. Was there 8 hours looking for where I was supposed to be, finally rebooked. I fibbed that my flight was canceled. It was the 4th time this had happened. So frustrating. How could this happen to ME??!!

And when I finally arrived, a board member said in front of my boss, “Well, Vicki, if you are sincere about being president you should probably have been here.” My boss looked at me. And before I could say anything, the other party said “And lying about a canceled flight won’t help.” And then I wanted to crawl in a hole as my boss, stunned, looked at me for a long time.

I was up for election as president of Catholic Academy, something I had dreamed of for 8 years. But why stop there?? I had a booth I needed to be at when I wasn’t in a meeting. Not a problem, juggled multi-tasking all my life.

Then my good friend came by – as the aisles and booths were filled to overflowing – and said “Vicki, will you do the invocation for today’s luncheon?” “Not a problem, if you have it written out,” I responded. She flung over her shoulder, “I don’t have anything. You can wing it!”

Omg. I could not wing it. My brain just closed down. I had 5 minutes to prepare. Our booth was, luckily, on the route to the Ladies Room. Not a lot of eye contact, but the traffic was good. For 3 days I’d escorted ladies – with no obligation to my product – into the Ladies Room and showed them the quiet back exit.

Something happened when I was told to extemporaneously do the ‘invocation’. My favorite author, Mary Higgins Clark was there to honor those attending. But she couldn’t make it, but her lovely daughter took her place. We were honoring Cardinal Foley and the best Editor/Writer, Fr. Jeremy, from St. Anthony Messenger Press. A BIG luncheon, to say the least. The MC and his counterpart had rehearsed. When I heard there was no script for me, I just shut down.

Since my booth was the entrance to the ladies room, I ran to my comfort zone for 5 minutes. However, as I rested on the red lounge, 3 men suggested I might like the Ladies Room better. ???? I looked around and sure enough, men were at urinals and I had fled to the wrong restroom.

I fled, with one note scrawled large “God, help me!!”

Friends said I was funny, but I don’t remember. All I remember was an out of body experience, looking down at someone I loved, floundering, grasping for any words to fill the silence. I remember thanking the men in the men’s room … and near the end, promoting Mary Higgins Clark to a saint.

To this day I am very vulnerable about what people say I said to Cardinal Foley, Fr. Jeremy OFM, and everyone assembled there. I have no recollection of what happened. But after this embarrassing 15 (!!) minutes of infamy, I can recite what everyone said: “Say Amen, Vicki, next time just say Amen.”

That was the first time (after getting lost for a full day in the airport) and blabbing about why I should be Catholic Academy’s president, that I knew something was wrong.

I had never heard of FTD/Picks as an early onset dementia (I was in my 50s) with the shortest lifespan, no medication, no cure, the fastest killer of adults between 20 – 50. I only knew I was ashamed of what I presented to Catholic Academy and as the awful world’s longest invocation …

Humility has become my angel’s wings, wrapping herself around me. I have days I cannot speak at all (where was FTD/Picks when I needed it???!!). But most days I can write. And my long term memory brings out times of crushing embarrassment.

I had such simple, humble plans for CA … but now I have the same ideas about how long I will live and make sense when I write for others who have lost their voice and their words.

I pray that the Catholic Media Conference bears great fruit. How I would love to join you, but likely, I would probably forget the words, or the voice to speak with you, were I there amongst you.

Love to you all. Don’t stop being open to new ideas. The worst you can do is have dementia …

xo Vicki

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    • colette hankins on April 11, 2010 at 10:22 am
    • Reply

    you remember your mess ups. i don’t even remember mine. i have entered a time of not talking very much and i’m really sorry Vicki. i will talk as much as possible. hopefully it’s just part of the cycle (that is what jimmy say’s) and even though i get angry at him at times; overall he is a wonderful caretaker and very observant.

    i love you.


    • freda on April 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm
    • Reply

    You are a great advocate Vicki for those who cannot explain.

    Some of those people at the conference may now have extra knowledge and understanding, which may, in turn, benefit someone else.

    I am proud of you and thankful for you.

    Hugs and blessings freda

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