Persons, places and things: it could have been worse!


By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

A small warning icon with an exclamation point appeared next to the tachometer in my new car, and even this mechanically clueless driver knew that meant trouble. I called my husband Steve and asked what he thought might be wrong. The symbol indicated low pressure in a tire. Check the tires, he advised. Sure enough, on the Friday evening of a predicted snowstorm, one of the tires had flattened.


By God’s grace, I detected the flat tire in the parking lot of diocesan headquarters, after returning from a reporting assignment in Clinton. AAA arrived less than a half-hour later and a mechanic removed the tire and replaced it with a spare. I drove home carefully that night before the weather got dicey. I said a prayer of thanksgiving when I pulled into the garage.

The major winter storm just glanced the Quad-Cities and the “suburbs” like LeClaire where I live, but it dealt a brutal blow elsewhere in Iowa and other parts of the country, particularly to the south. We worried about our younger son Patrick as he headed to work early Saturday morning in Davenport, but again, we felt blessed when he returned home safely that afternoon. That sense of gratitude did not last long after I discovered that the second of two short-term power outages caused some 30,000 precious files to vanish into the Ethernet. The printer deactivated, so I could not proofread hard copies of articles.


“Mom, you shouldn’t lose patience. It’s not the computer’s fault. You need to control your temper,” advised my son Colin, who was staying the weekend with us because of the predicated snowstorm. He has heard that advice often enough from his parents and other significant adults in his life when his autism causes him to melt down. I apologized and agreed that he was right.

The predicted storm also caused cancellation of Mass at our parish, another change in routine for Colin, which he handled marvelously. Another blessing from God! Our family made it to Mass the following morning at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, and felt grateful for the opportunity to be together and give thanks to God. Why is it so hard to sustain that gratitude when something or someone throws us a curve ball?

On Sunday night, Steve drove Colin home to his apartment and attempted to reconnect the Wi-Fi for our son’s iPad. Steve did not have the access code, and neither did Colin. Steve called home and in a frustrated voice asked me for assistance in trying to find the code! I did not have the answer.

Steve returned home, feeling discouraged because of the still-missing computer files, the disabled printer, the spare tire that needed to be replaced with a new, full-sized tire, and the iPad problem. Colin appeared to be coping OK, but would his coping skills last through the night?

My husband headed for bed and I turned on the late-night news. The top stories focused on devastating fires in Australia, the destruction that the winter storms caused in the U.S., the downing of the Ukrainian jetliner and a 4-year-old girl who lost her eyesight.

These stories served as a nudge from God, reminding me about gratitude and the blessings in my life. They ought to sustain me through the occasional exclamation points and warning lights that pop up in life.

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

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