Wednesday, February 9, 2011


 I asked Steve to call our parish to have one of the priests come and visit Rick while he was sick.  We were both raised Catholic and this is what a person did.  Three weeks went by and we didn't hear back from them.  Finally, someone called to make an appointment with us for the following day.

Getting Rick ready was no small feat.  He was 6’1” and weighed about 210.  It was a long, arduous process that required about an hour of time.  We really couldn’t go fast with anything. When Rick was ready he sat in the living room in his recliner and waited and waited and waited and waited for the priest to come.  After a half hour of waiting past his appointment, we gave up and moved him back into the family room.

Do I have to beg them to come and see him? What is the deal? Where are the faithful?  How am I supposed to have faith at one of the most trying times of my life when I am being abandoned?

In the meantime, Karen's and Paul's parish sent a Eucharistic Minister to give him communion and to pray with him.  They were lovely.  However, this was not our parish supporting us.  Each week at mass at their church Rick would be remembered in the prayer for the sick.  Back at our parish, five weeks went by; I asked Steve to call again.  We finally heard from one of the priests; he would come and give Rick communion the next day.

Father Joe came by one afternoon and seemed very uncomfortable.  He was the associate pastor at the church.  I left the two of them in the living room talking about the Redskins after he had given us communion.  Actually, he only talked about the Redskins; he never talked with Rick about his illness, death, making his peace with God, nothing.

I was raised Catholic, taught Catholic school and always participated in church.  This wasn't exactly what I envisioned for me or my husband.  I was so disappointed. I thought the Church would be there for us or at least reach out to us.  With each passing day, I felt as if the wind was let out my sails.  Our church had let us down.  It was bewildering.

The boys had settled down into a routine and seemed calmer in general.  Although we still had to be careful with germs and washing hands constantly, the boys could come closer to Rick and get their love.  Rick was set up in the den to watch TV which meant he could watch cartoons and other kids’ shows with the boys.  I was able to go back to school too. 

My principal asked the staff not to discuss Rick’s illness with me at my request. My emotions and nerves were raw and I couldn’t go through the details over and over again.  I needed to concentrate on getting through the day.  Everyone was very concerned for me but I didn’t have the energy for all their concern.  I was completely wiped out.

I had just ordered about $28,000 worth of books for the book room.  All of the books needed to be leveled, labeled, stamped and color-coded.  It was great timing for me; I could dive into the pile of books and get buried there.  Processing books is a mindless task and a mindless task was exactly what I needed to get through this.  When I was at school, I took care of books and read with children.  I am sure the tear stains can still be found on the books.


  1. How sad! Rick must have felt horrible when the priest no showed for his visit. In his time of need, he desperately needed the love and comfort of his church.

    Then we have Father Joe, the coward. He didn't even talk to Rick about what was important and on his mind. Seriously, do you think he gave a hoot about the Redskins? He was dying. The discussion should have been about how Rick was feeling spiritually during this difficult time. Can the man with cancer (and his wife) get some reassurance from their church? This whole thing just really burns me. It must have been devastating to you and Rick.

    The picture of Rick with his boys watching cartoons is just so dear. The principal clearing the path of "well wishers" was especially kind and considerate. Thank goodness for small blessings.

  2. It is so sad to consider the lack of empathy shown by your church. Thankfully your family and friends were so close, supportive and vigilant.
    Day in and day out, you were able to be strong for your husband, your children, and your family - I am amazed at your strength and and presence of mind in such trying times.