By Barb Arland-Fye
For our 24th wedding anniversary, my husband Steve accompanied me to Memorial Day Mass at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Davenport.
What a great way to start our anniversary day, celebrating Mass with 300 people, the bishop, priests, deacons, Knights of Columbus, Boy Scouts and a choir.
Of course, Steve sat alone while I snapped photographs and scribbled notes for a story for The Catholic Messenger. Afterward, while I was interviewing people, Steve kept himself occupied reading grave stones in the Priests Circle where Mass was held. Finishing up, I walked toward Steve and thanked him for waiting for me.
We met 25-1/2 years ago when I was on a reporting assignment for the newspaper I worked at then. Steve was my interviewee. He knew what he was getting into from the start – life with a journalist absorbed in her work — and he never looked back.
Steve had been baptized as an infant in the Catholic Church, but did not attend church growing up. He chose to complete the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults so that he could share in the faith that is an integral part of my life. He was timid about church in earlier years, thinking he wasn’t as knowledgeable or faithful as the lifelong Catholics.
Later, the challenges we faced as first-time parents of a child with a disability and no family nearby to lend a hand tested our faith and our love. But somehow, God made us stronger and bonded us more tightly.
When an opportunity came for me to return to the main newsroom of my newspaper — 53 miles from our home — Steve encouraged me to accept the position and willingly took on extra responsibilities in caring for our first son, Colin. Rarely did Steve complain about the long hours I was away from home. He sensed it was a way for me to escape grief.
We experienced immense joy mixed with apprehension upon learning we would be parents again, nearly eight years after the birth of Colin. Would this son have autism, too? How would Colin adjust to sharing our time with a new baby brother?
Our prayers were answered. Our younger son, Patrick, does not have autism, and Colin loved him from the first time he held his newborn brother in his arms.
Both Steve and I continued our careers, but sometimes it seemed as if we were on a relay team, passing the baton. Daycare and baby sitters were difficult to come by given our situation.
At times, I asked Steve whether I should quit my job. But he knew I needed the creative outlet of my work and encouraged me not to give up.
Attending Mass could be stressful, too, because of the disruptive behavior of our older son, which had an influence on the younger one. We persevered through prayer and the support of parishioners who befriended us. Now we look forward to Mass each week.
Through the years Steve has become more confident in his faith and in getting involved in the parish and the work of the church.
We’ve grown into our roles as spouses who support and affirm one another, pray together, enjoy each other’s company and make each other laugh.
I’ve waited for him when he’s been gone on the road, operating a locomotive. And he waits for me when I’m writing or editing. God is knitting us together in faith and marriage.