By Barb Arland-Fye
My brother Brian Arland posted a TV news clip on Facebook with the caption: “Jacque Racine Arland(’s) sister Lisa Racine made the news for all the right reasons!!!” The video tells the uplifting story of Lisa’s love for her dad, Harold, which inspired her to find a creative route to visiting him in his nursing home.
KARE11 TV news, based in the Twin Cities, published the story on March 2 about Lisa taking a second, part-time job at the Good Samaritan nursing home in Stillwater where her dad lives. Lisa told the KARE11 reporter, “One day I just was thinking, ‘How can I see my dad more?’” She answered her own question, “Hey, why don’t I get a job there?”
The nursing home had an opening and soon Lisa, who works full-time as a project engineer, was working some nights and weekends mopping floors, stacking trays and doing dishes. Harold told KARE11 that he was “dumbfounded” to see Lisa, the sixth of eight children he and his late wife raised, appear in his room at Good Samaritan. He described seeing Lisa as one of the happiest days in his life.
“I really believe she is keeping my dad alive,” Jacque, Lisa’s younger sister, told me. “My dad is a hugger and a kisser; not to have that has been really hard for him. Lisa walking into that room changed everything. We are so thankful for Lisa. She is the best.”
“My dad, I feel like he’s my hero,” Lisa told a reporter in a TODAY show interview that aired March 5. When her dad sees her, “He’s got a little sparkle back in his eye that I think was missing.” She said she doesn’t feel like a hero, but “I do feel like I’m showing some gratitude to him.”
Last month Jacque, who lives in Arizona, had the privilege of visiting her dad daily while he was hospitalized with kidney stones. “It was really hard to see him in so much pain, but he made it through. He’s a tough guy.” At age 87, “My dad’s still here, but he’s slipping away from us.”
Jacque and her siblings keep in touch by text message; they alert one another about how their dad is doing. “He’s tired and doesn’t really talk much on the phone. If one of us gets through, we let everyone else know. Family is everything,” adds Jacque, whose older brother Bob died at age 21, when she was 14. “When Bob died, we realized life was short.”
After watching the video clip, I reflected on how our church celebrates family and how Lisa’s sacrificial love serves as a concrete example of what it means to be family, especially during this time of COVID-19.
Pope Francis will inaugurate the Year “Amoris Laetitia Family” on March 19, the fifth anniversary of his apostolic exhortation on the joy and beauty of familial love. The Holy Father intends to exhort each person to be a witness of family love, according to Vatican News.
A brochure for the special year says, “A family that discovers and experiences the joy of having a gift, and of being a gift for the Church and society, ‘can become a light in the darkness of the world’” (Amoris laetitia, 66).
Thank you, Brian, for sharing some of that light in a world that needs it now.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at firstname.lastname@example.org)