By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
“It was SO GOOD to see you at Mayo Clinic,” Teresa Mottet wrote in a letter to me dated Jan. 27. I had spotted her halfway across the immense lobby of the Mayo Building in Rochester, Minn., earlier that month. Her bright red blazer and snow-white bob hairstyle drew my attention immediately. We hugged each other tightly, and she introduced me to her daughter Jean and son-in-law Terry. Then we launched into a conversation, laughing in spite of health challenges. It was our last “reunion” here on earth. Teresa died April 7, and I’m sad that I didn’t get another letter sent to her.
Teresa, a longtime subscriber and letter writer for The Catholic Messenger, grew to become a friend over the years. She sent personal letters to me as well as letters to the editor. The personal letters often referred to a “Persons, places and things” column I had written in the Messenger. Newspaper and magazine clippings on topics ranging from autism to Catholic-Lutheran dialogue often accompanied the letters written in graceful cursive.
Her letters to the editor were typewritten, taken to a local business in Fairfield and transmitted by fax to The Catholic Messenger office. Teresa, a member of St. Mary Parish in Fairfield, loved the Catholic Church, which was reflected in her thoughtful letters. Like a good mother, she offered wisdom intended to help the church flourish and constructive criticism when she thought that was necessary. In a Letter to the Editor dated Aug. 3, 2017, Teresa wrote:
“Kudos for printing the editorial ‘Why do we remain Catholic?’ from the Catholic Anchor, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska. It was all very good, especially the paragraph that read, “This begins with how each sacrament is presented and celebrated. For better or worse, people are less inclined than prior generations to participate in the sacraments unless they see and feel the difference. If it’s merely ritual with no
life, don’t expect long confessional lines or full pews on Sunday mornings.’
“In my 88 years of Catholic life I’ve experienced a variety of ways the sacraments were celebrated and that paragraph rings true with my observation. There was a time when I was about to leave the church for that very reason. Thank you for sharing that with us. Teresa Mottet, Fairfield.”
Teresa’s prolific letter writing (including for other publications) and enthusiasm for the Messenger, led our staff to designate her as one of our ambassadors. I’m hoping she’ll continue to put in a good word for us with the Author of Life!
Four years ago, after she learned about the spiral fracture I sustained in my right leg, she hand-stitched an apron with multiple pockets and sent it in the mail. She explained in the accompanying letter that I could stuff all kinds of things in the apron pockets to free up my hands and arms for maneuvering on crutches. She was right. The apron came in handy at home and at work!
Every Christmas, the Messenger staff received a Christmas card with a single-space-typed letter of her family’s adventures during that past year. She’d throw in a line about a health challenge, but only as way of explanation about why she might have missed a meeting, seminar or activity that kept her busy.
In her last letter to me she enclosed a clipping from The Fairfield Ledger about weighted blankets for the use of individuals with autism. “I thought of you and Colin (my son with autism),” she wrote. “I have no idea what weighted blankets are or how they can be helpful to people with autism. Have you ever heard of them?”
My posthumous response: “Yes, I have heard of weighted blankets and think they can be of help. I am grateful, as always, for your thoughtfulness.”
(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at email@example.com.)