Father Mark Goldasich
Some stories just stick with you, like this one: At the local hospital, a man was slipping in and out of a coma for several weeks.
His wife was faithfully at his bedside every day.
One day, when he came to, he looked around the room, noticed his wife and motioned for her to come nearer. She gently sat on the bed and leaned in to hear him better.
The man, eyes full of tears, whispered, “You know what? You’ve been with me all through the bad times. When I got fired, you were there to support me. When my business failed, you were there. When I fell off the ladder painting the house, there you were. When we lost our home, you stayed by me. When my health started failing, you were still by my side. You know what?”
“What, dear?” his wife asked softly, stroking his hand.
The husband replied, “I think you’re bad luck!”
Oh, I would have loved to see the expression on that poor wife’s face. Sometimes we look at things and come up with the wrong conclusion. Take anniversaries, for example. I’ve just celebrated two in my life: a 40th and a 50th.
On May 5, the second-graders at my parish received their first Com- munion. As I was digging through old memorabilia, I discovered that I’d made my first Communion on that exact same date, way back in 1963! And last Sunday,
we honored the high school graduates from the parish. It was fun to watch their eyes widen as I told them that I, too, had been a high school senior sitting in a cap and gownastheywere…in1973.
Honestly, when I think that I’ve received Communion some 18,000 times in those intervening 50 years or that my perfectly preserved high school diploma is now 40 years old, it takes my breath away. How did that happen?
The temptation is to draw the wrong conclusions from all of this. I can lament that I’m no longer seven or 17 years old. I can look over photos from those events and cry at all of the people pictured there who are no longer on this earth. I can shake my head that my svelte shape is no longer, that I’d sure “fill out” that graduation gown today. I can long for those simpler days and rail against this modern world.
But in recalling those “good old days,” we can for- get that there were plenty of “bad old days” as well.
It seems to me that a better conclusion when it comes to anniversaries is to, first and foremost, rejoice that we’re still “alive and kicking” to even have them. Secondly, though, and more important- ly, anniversaries provide us with an opportunity to appreciate our history. We can relish our accomplishments and marvel at the wisdom we’ve gained from our experiences. Over these past few weeks, I’ve spent quite a bit of time viewing old pictures. I’m humbled at all of the people captured there who influenced my life. In pawing through the “holy clutter” that I’ve come across — my first Communion candle and prayer book, the tassels from various graduation caps, the speech that I gave at my 8th- grade graduation breakfast, some old report cards and Big Chief tablets — I’ve been reminded that I’ve never been alone in life, but have had many companions along the way.
Whether you’re celebrating a “significant” anniversary this year or not, haul out some of your life’s memorabilia in these next few weeks. Page through an old photo album or yearbook, make a list of your top 10 memories (so far), or plan to visit the graves on Memorial Day, if possible, of some of the “giants” in your life.
How true are the words of singer and comedian Joe E. Louis: “You only live once — but if you work it right, once is enough.“