by Father Mark Goldasich
Well, it was not meant to be a mystery, but it turned into one by mistake.
In the June 17 issue of The Leaven, our center spread on pages 8 and 9 featured a story about the Collins family. Entitled “Sheltered from the storm,” it brought to light the misfortunes of this family of seven, who found themselves suddenly homeless in Johnson County. The Collinses were hit by a perfect storm: the mom, Jamaica, got ill; husband Michael was laid off; they lost their home and totaled their car. Then, two of their sons were diagnosed with a neurological birth defect that required extensive surgeries.
Soon, the family was forced to put all their possessions into storage and live in shelters. In fact, things got so desperate that the family found itself visiting the storage unit every day to get things out. Why? “Just to eat, we were selling everything we owned,” said Jamaica.
Things hit rock bottom when the cello went. You see, Jamaica had played this instrument since she was 16; it was her most prized possession. “But we had to eat,” she said matter-of-factly.
It was at this point that our Leaven story began to turn into a mystery by mistake. Through the help of the Interfaith Hospitality Network, things were turning around for the Collins family: Michael was employed, the children were healthy and doing well in school, and finances were improving. Life was looking much brighter, so much so that the family was looking to eventually replace some treasured items.
In addition, the article said, Jamaica had another “little dream.”
And that’s, unfortunately, where The Leaven story ended. By mistake. There was one more seven-word line that brought everything to a touching conclusion. Of course, you didn’t see that ending. Hence, the mystery for you was: What was Jamaica’s “little dream”? The mystery to writer Jill Ragar Esfeld and all of us at The Leaven was: Hey, where did that last line go?
As you might suspect, many hands go into producing and polishing a story before you see it in print. I could have been the guilty party and knocked out the line when I was doing corrections to the article on the computer; Todd, the production manager, could have deleted the line as he further refined the look of the spread; our proofreaders might have been distracted by a phone call as they hit the end of the article and didn’t notice the line was missing; even the printers could have messed things up as they transferred things from the computer to their presses.
In any event, Jill was sad that her excellent article lacked that last “punchy” line that tied it all together; Anita, our managing editor, was sullen; and I was surly.
It did remind me once again that, as careful as we try to be, technology can be your undoing.
Naturally, things could have been worse. Take, for example, the priest who totally forgot about a prayer service that he was leading at the local funeral home for a parishioner named Edna, who had died. Because Edna had a good number of non-Catholic friends who would be in attendance, the pastor had intended to pass out a program so that all could follow and participate better.
Scrambling to his computer, he saw, to his delight, that he’d saved a copy of a wake service done just the week before for a woman named Mary. The priest diligently changed the name on the cover of the program, and then did a quick search and replace: Wherever the program said “Mary,” the priest had the computer replace it with “Edna.”
The pastor, after printing out copies, distributed them at the funeral home. All went well until the very end. There, in the program — in a paragraph noting Edna’s devotion to the Mother of God — all were encouraged to join in the special prayer honoring the Blessed Virgin Edna by saying, “Hail Edna, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. . . . Holy Edna, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” (It’s said the priest was never seen in public again.)
Happily, our recent Leaven error was not of this magnitude. But it was still embarrassing and maddening that that final line somehow disappeared.
I won’t hold you in suspense any longer. What was Jamaica’s little dream?
Here’s that missing sentence:
“I might try teaching cello,” she said.
But first — and there’s no mystery here — Jamaica obviously needs a cello, as she sold hers to provide food for her family. So, how about it? Any of our readers have a cello to give to Jamaica? Let’s see if we can’t make her little dream come true.
Not only would it bring some much needed income into the Collins’ new home; its beautiful music would soothe and lift their spirits as well.
And that’s something about which I’m certainly not mistaken.
To help, call The Leaven at (913) 721- 1570, ext. 136, or write Father Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org