Until Death Do We Part

It’s been a roller-coaster kind of year so far, with thrilling highs, unexpected jolts and surprises. At the end of a roller-coaster ride after being yanked to and fro, it just seems to come to an abrupt stop and it’s time to get off. You are not quite sure if you want to ride again or run for the door. I guess I’m sort of feeling that way. Not knowing quite what to do, yet aware of the necessity to go on despite the unpredictability of what comes next.

2019 started out so hopeful, with the anticipated birth of a new grandson. On the day he came home and I would have held him in my arms, I began a rapid downward spiral which landed me in ICU. Fungal Meningitis was the culprit and I had almost delayed too long in seeking help. The recovery was slow and long, like the uphill trek of a roller coaster. Cranking along one link at a time, struggling and gasping as the summit draws closer.

Then, as if almost suspended in midair, a temporary pause, and with bated breath, the exhilaration of the descent. The anticipation and realization that what comes next, might not be what one expects.

The months continued with good news here and there, news of another grandchild, a vacation or two. Then the next unplanned turn came with my father’s hospitalization. I was able to spend time with him there, eventually bringing him home to recover. I didn’t expect the call from my mother.

We had gone to Mass and were bringing Communion when she called to let us know, he had died in the night. It is all inevitable, our passing, this I know. It is bittersweet, for he hurts no longer, and has entered time eternal.

Sixty-one years, they had been married. Sixty-one hard, lean, painful, fruitful, tumultuous, joyful yet unpredictable years. It wasn’t the life they had imagined for themselves. The paralysis came when he was just a young man of thirty-one, and survival of all that ensued for them was only made possible by constant prayer and abundant grace.

Their five children grew with the usual antics, making their lives a little more adventurous and sometimes frustrating. Soon there were marriages, one, two, three, four, five and then the grandbabies would begin to arrive. All the while they were working on their union, purifying it in the crucible of pain and suffering.

Some days were bad, others sad, but mostly good. The joy of their growing family soothed the weariness of life interrupted. Year by year, struggle through struggle, with laughter and fun sprinkled in, the seed of tenderness toward each other began to mature and ripen.

Forty and fifty, and sixty years passed. Many long ago thought the marriage would never last. But they didn’t know him, and they didn’t know her, and they didn’t know the tenacity, perseverance, and trust in the Lord each possessed in excess. Divorce was never an option. They had made a vow. And through this married life they were becoming saints somehow.

It takes a lifetime in marriage to learn how to love. To place first the other. To pray, and entrust all to the Lord above.

Their legacy grows with each passing year, almost twenty-one great grandkids, and were just getting started. His funeral was a testament to this, so many there, who loved him, or knew him, or members of his family.

Dad you will be missed, although I know you are not far. You lived out the truths of the faith and taught your children and grandchildren. Thank you for all that you shared with us, the good times and bad, and ever witnessing trust in God’s loving Providence.

May your legacy grow, as we embrace our own Crosses, living life, enjoying small treats, but ever mindful of the hereafter. You showed us what it means to remain faithful in marriage and give of yourself to the end. We love you and know that you are praying right there in heaven, being leaven, for your family and friends.

Barbara Lishko works full time as a Lay Catholic Marriage Minister. She and her husband Mark, an ordained Deacon, have been married for 35 years and are blessed with five young adult children, whose lives grow and expand through marriage and grandchildren.

Through the inspiration of her family, work in the Catholic Church and wacky life experiences her dream of writing was born. She is the recipient of the Diocese of Phoenix St Terese of Lisieux award. Barbara can be reached at blishko_58@yahoo.com