By Barb Arland-Fye
Thirty years ago on a stinging cold December day I reluctantly headed out on an interview, never imagining it would change my life.
Memories of that day resurfaced last weekend when the subject of that long ago interview, while sorting through his files, found a newspaper clipping of that published story.
“Engineer knows trains, both large and small,” read the headline printed below a photograph of a curly-haired man posing next to a section of a model railroad.
At the time this story appeared I was a 25-year-old reporter reeling from a broken relationship, and determined not to date again.
Little did I know, God had decided the curly-haired man named Steve and I would travel this journey of life together. What an amazing journey God has guided us on!
Steve, a baptized Catholic, entered the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) during our courtship and received the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist during the Easter Vigil before our wedding day in 1985.
In the early years, Steve felt shy around cradle Catholics who knew instinctually the correct terms for rites and rituals, sacramentals and other aspects of Catholicism. He thought all ministers, Catholic or Protestant, were called priests. But by attending Mass regularly, he became more familiar with the Catholic faith and was encouraged to volunteer in our parish.
Together we experienced parenthood unlike our parents experienced it, raising one son, Colin, who has special needs and a second son, Patrick, who has assumed the role of older brother. Colin’s longtime doctor recently asked him, “Colin, do you love your life?” Colin looked directly at her, which is not typical for people with autism, and said, “I love my brother Patrick very much.”
“The bond between brothers is very strong,” the doctor observed. At that moment, I realized how blessed we are to witness love that endures beyond the frustrations and anxieties that can strain relationships.
Our travels on this journey of life include stops for prayer, which has and continues to be a great source of strength in our family. This past weekend, all four of us — Steve, Colin, Patrick and I — were together for dinner after Mass on Saturday night. The Advent candles in the center of our dining room table were lit, and I read the Advent prayer from our parish bulletin. Following the prayer was a question for reflection. At each one’s turn, I was asked to repeat the question. Our attentiveness to prayer remains a work in progress!
On Friday night, Steve and I watched the late-night movie “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” I’d never seen the drama and was saddened by the bitterness in the middle-aged protagonists’ marital relationship, and the meanness fueled by alcohol. God clearly was absent from that relationship, but Steve and I have relied on God from the start to help us with ours.
Re-reading the brief article I wrote about Steve and his model railroad club in December 1983, I was struck by its impersonal tone. It’s hard to imagine Steve was ever a stranger. I thank God for an interview that continues to unfold and gain depth 30 years later.