Without a word, he stretched his long arm behind her frame, which seemed particularly petite standing side by side with him. Gently his open palm came to rest on the small of her back.
Sensing his touch, she leaned in, just slightly, toward his broad shoulder. They didn’t speak in audible tones. Their attention was directed forward as mine should have been, but for some reason I was captivated by the tenderness of their moment.
For what felt like a long while, I scanned back and forth across their adjoining seats counting the stair-steps of heads. Each child’s face seemed the perfect marriage of their parents’ attractive features.
Like a spy, who thinks she’s detected some concealed treasure, I studied the details.
The Last, Lasting Memory
I suppose at the time I already knew that danger lay ahead for them, but still I never dreamed that less than two years later that snapshot I’d developed in my mind would become a cherished keepsake (a last, lasting memory).
Our paths had crossed before over the years at local home schooling events, but we really met Joe and Nancy for the first time, it seemed, when our families were assigned to neighboring cabins for the Craig Spring’s pilgrimage.
Our big church-sized vans parked side by side in the field, our families criss-crossed tracks throughout the weekend. Saturday night after all of our littlest ones were tucked into their bunks, the four of us forged a friendship as we traded stories, shared thoughts and solved the world’s problem over handfuls of salty, fresh, air-popped corn.
Returning home, we didn’t exactly live in close proximity so our times together would be few and far between, but the times we spent in their company always left a deep impression.
Together they made a concerted effort to raise their six children in the faith, leading always by example. Never brash or overly conspicuous, they seemed a right balance for each other.
A Living Picture of Faithfulness
I guess that’s why I spent part of my Sunday Mass distracted by them. Not because they were a distraction in the negative sense, but because they were a living picture of what it means to be faithful and faith-filled.
So much sweeter is that mental snapshot now because this coming Friday, I’ll watch as Joe lays his hand across the wood of the coffin that holds his beloved wife.
I’ll try my hardest to stifle the torrent of tears as that image of their stair steps gets overlaid with scenes of her mourning children. Indeed, they will once again garner my whole attention as I strive to make sense of the too-soon death of this admirable wife and mother.
Masterpiece of Living
Like the threads of a spider’s silk are
the words we speak and the movements we make.
Each one casts out into the expanse.
Some reach their intended target
while others drift on the wind
until they touch some less intended catch.
To the spider’s eyes it all seems like busy work,
necessary every day toil.
But to the distant observer,
who sees the delicate intricacies and broad reach of the web,
her work is a masterpiece. -T. Brelinsky
Nancy’s life was just such a masterpiece.
written in loving memory of
Nancy Bernadette Mack
wife to Joseph
mother to Claire, Liam, Cecilia, Dominic, Gianna and John Paul