Today is the 50th Wedding Anniversary of my Parents, Charles and Nancy Pope. Both of them have passed away, my mother in 2005 and my Father in 2007. When I consider my parent’s marriage I have come to know that I witnessed a miracle.
Their marriage was far from ideal in terms of the unrealistic notions of marriage the world dreams of. One of their children, Mary Ann my sister, was mentally ill and died tragically in 1991. My parents also had many personal struggles of their own and these placed great strains on their marriage. Years later my mother hinted that there were thoughts of divorce when they were both in their 40s but events and family duties intervened. (Praise the Lord). Yet over the years my parents grew to love one another quite intensely. They were seldom apart in their last 15 years. They traveled frequently and loved cruises. My Father had a conversion in 1989 (My mother had prayed years for that) and they went to daily Mass, almost never missed a day. My Father often said he had some Masses to make up for missed masses of his wayward years!
Shortly after my sister’s death in 1991, my mother, who was broken-hearted, suffered many set backs with her alcoholism. She struggled mightily to stay sober and most days she won, but there were stretches of great pain for her and all of us. Through it all my father stood steadfastly by her. He kept his eye on her strove never to leave her side when she got sore afflicted. He had struggled earlier in the marriage with alcohol and she had stood by him. Now it was his turn and he never gave up.
Sadly my mother lost her battle in 2005 and died as a result of her alcoholism. My Father never really recovered. How can you live when half of you is gone? Within two years he was also dead. He died of a broken heart, literally and figuratively. Congestive heart failure and other complications along with renal failure was the medical cause but by now you know the truer cause.
Why do I tell you all this? Because I saw a miracle in my parents. God took two people and made them one. And it was not easy work, but God did it. In their latter years they showed a miraculous love, loyalty and unity. Grace can do that. My mother’s prayer and love brought my Father’s conversion back to the faith by God’s grace. My Father’s love and faith helped him stand by my mother and care for her in an illness that causes many to walk away.
Marriage isn’t always easy, but it is holy because God is its author. And God can take two people, two struggling and imperfect people and make them one. I saw him do that with my parents. I saw a miracle. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad, Rest in peace with God.