Persons, places and things: Saints and souls


We publish this week’s edition of The Catholic Messenger on Nov. 1, All Saints Day, but my thoughts are focused on All Souls Day, Nov. 2. Friends, colleagues and my own family have lost love ones in 2012, underscoring the preciousness of life on earth and hopefully deepening our trust in Christ’s promise of eternal salvation.
While doing a little housework last weekend I found an Easter card from my husband Steve’s mom. No one else was in the house at that moment. I felt a tinge of sadness mingled with fond memories of “Grandma Bootsie,” who died Aug. 30 in the Twin Cities. My mother-in-law and I had our moments, but I know that we genuinely cared about each other. The card reminded me of her thoughtfulness. A member of our parish whose father died a few years ago sent Steve a sympathy card because, as she told me, “Once you lose a parent, you know how someone else feels in that situation.”
Today, I had a conversation with Terry Ball, whose beloved wife of 39 years, Mona, died Aug. 29. Terry, a retired school teacher, is a member of St. Joseph Parish in Hills and Deacon Class VII of the Diocese of Davenport. I met Mona when she accompanied Terry to his class at diocesan headquarters just a few weeks before she died. I told Terry I felt a connection to Mona. Their relationship inspired this excerpt for a reflection paper I wrote for a theology class:
I can’t help but think about a couple who participated in the first session for Deacon Class VII several weeks ago. Mona, the wife, had suffered from leukemia and wore a mask over her mouth to protect herself from germs. She chose to support her husband Terry in his discernment of a call to the diaconate as she worked at rebuilding her health. Two weeks later, we received notice that Mona’s illness has worsened; Terry chose to set aside his discernment process to concentrate on her needs. Earlier this year, Mona and Terry shared the story of their battle with leukemia in The Catholic Messenger. “We have a firm foundation and know we can make it through a crisis,” Terry said. “We’ve made it together.” While writing this reflection I learned that Mona has just passed away. Terry may or may not become a deacon, but the example he and Mona set spoke to the dying of self that is integral to a sacrament of vocation and models the love of Christ for his bride, the Church.
Terry told me he asked Mona shortly before she died whether she felt afraid of death. She answered that she just didn’t know what to expect; she’d never been through this before. He prayed her to heaven.
Mona left behind 12 pages of notes for Terry to be able to manage the household without her, including a detailed list of which cycles to use for various loads of laundry. He feels her presence keenly and wants to minister to others in the midst of pain. He offers a piece of advice for all couples. “Cherish every moment you have with your kids and your spouse. It’s just precious.”
I’ll take his advice now, and when our family lights a candle in honor of Steve’s mother during our parish’s celebration of All Souls Day.
Barb Arland-Fye

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