"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Reconcilable Differences - 4

Reconcilable Differences - 4 (Carol - 2)

      Mike Bishop is a goal-oriented person. When we all went on trips, he made sure the SUV was gassed up, the kids had been to the bathroom and there was plenty of food and a huge cooler of drinks on board. Carol was a process person. She more or less floated through life, enjoying every bit of it but enjoying too reminiscing about the past or about the Lord as she walked or drove, her cup of tea, complete with tea bag, always in hand.
     She was afraid of two things. One was the breast cancer that had taken her mother's life. She was afraid to have mammograms, put off going in for check-ups. While they were still at Creighton and early in their marriage, she and Mike had watched all four of their parents die and later her beloved brother and only sibling would also pre-decease them. When Carol finally got the diagnosis that she had cancer, it wasn't breast cancer after all. It was ovarian cancer. She fought it with radiation and chemo. Her hair fell out and she would greet us at the door bald, still outwardly relaxed and amiable. She was ready to die but she didn't want to leave her family.
     Her second fear was of flying. Yet she overcame that fear to fly with her family to Rome and step down into the waters at Lourdes. She battled cancer for seven years but Rick was diagnosed with cancer after four of those years and beat her to the finish. They prayed their Catholic prayers for healing, we prayed our Protestant prayers for healing--and neither of them was healed in this life.
     During treatments her doctors told her she had to give up, or at least water down, her beloved cups of tea. Tea was her trademark. It didn't surprise me, when I got into figuring out anagrams, that "Carol Elizabeth Bishop" was a "tea czar."

     I was with Carol a lot toward the end. For all her knowledge of theology, she was clinging to the simplicity of the gospel. She would tell me she was just asking Jesus to "take care of His little lamb."
     After she passed into the presence of her Lord--I was at her hospital bedside when she did--there was no reason for Mike and me to socialize anymore. The darkroom became a catch-all for things like Christmas presents which needed to be hidden and wrapped and clean laundry that needed to be folded. Digital photography, which Rick would have disdained, was coming in and we couldn't even sell his view camera or the Beseler/Minolta 45A enlarger with a 4x5 condenser head, the Rodenstock Apo-Rodagon and Schneider Apo-Companon lenses, the Saunders easel or the drymount press.
     But when I started dating Jerry I called Mike and set up a time when the three of us could eat out. Somehow I felt like I needed his approval. It was the first time I had noticed that either of the men had a moustache.
      I started this post to discuss Catholicism but have been wandering down paths of nostalgia, just as Carol would have.
     After Carol left this life, I wanted very much to be a mother figure for Mike and Carol's daughter Julianne. We did get together a couple of times to cook a meal. I cooked one for Jerry while she cooked the same thing to take home for her dad and brother. But Julie rapidly passed me in the cooking department and the absence of her mother was always bittersweet in the background, contributing to our feeling tongue-tied and shy together. Then, too, Jerry and I were busy with our own lives and travels.
     Still, I want to develop that friendship. For one thing, in spite of the fact Julie was adopted, she is very much like her mother. She is bright and articulate, really committed to the Catholic faith, and has considered seminary and a religious vocation. I enjoy our discussions, iron sharpening iron. The last time we parted after meeting for lunch and having an in-depth discussion of Matthew 16:13-20, I think we both headed for our Bible concordances and Greek lexicons when we got home, like the Bereans of Acts 17:11, to "examine the Scriptures and see whether these things were so."

     I hope, whatever our differences in doctrine, Carol and I end up at the same place.

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