By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
My husband Steve inherited his late father Bill’s hard-working attitude and his concern for others. When Steve retired at 62 in December 2015, I knew he wouldn’t be loafing around. By early May he was already knee deep in gardening, taking Communion to a nursing home and volunteering at the Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire. He was also serving as Grand Knight for the Knights of Columbus at Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire.
Then, his left leg started to hurt when he walked. Despite the pain, he decided to go on a bike ride with me along the Mississippi River and enjoyed the outing immensely. The leg pain seemed to have vanished. But when we returned home and he put the bikes up on the rack in the garage, he felt a sharp, stabbing pain in his back. That pain subsided, but the aching pain in his leg returned and persisted.
Steve gradually had to give up his volunteer activities, except for his Grand Knight duties, because of the intense pain that sometimes left him writhing on the floor of the family room. After he had exhausted all non-surgery options, he underwent back surgery in October. The surgeon advised Steve that his recovery could be a long process but, truly, we feel blessed that Steve is recovering.
The healing process has been gradual and filled with grace, when we reflect on it. For me, it’s been like watching spring blossom, waiting for the trees and flowers to bloom. I eagerly watched for the first buds on the trees and bushes, but it seemed to happen while I was sleeping.
The same is true with Steve’s recovery. A parishioner invited Steve to water exercise classes and then the Buffalo Bill Museum called, asking if Steve was interested in volunteering again. He’s attending daily Mass and taking Communion to a couple from our parish that set an example on how to deal with sickness and suffering with faith and a sense of humor. Steve looks forward to planting produce in the garden, and is baking up a storm for fundraisers, potlucks and other events. He’s started a “Baby Bottle” fundraising campaign in our parish for Pregnancy Resources. Steve said he’s learned to pace himself, but just the other day he was up on the roof checking the gutters. (I told him to get down!)
Last weekend Steve and I rode our bicycles on the same Mississippi River recreational trail that we traveled last year. He had to turn around sooner, but I was grateful he could ride at all. Steve still walks with a limp (I do, too, at times) when he is feeling fatigued.
Steve’s dad never gave up his desire to live an active, busy life, even as cancer overtook him. In his final years Bill embraced the Catholic faith he had fallen away from as a young man. Steve admired his dad for the rich faith life he enjoyed and how it provided internal healing that Bill needed. Like his dad, Steve remains committed to an active busy life, and to a faith that heals within and without. Happy 64th birthday today, Steve.
(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at email@example.com.)