Nothing Better Than Good Friends and a Good Ground Stroke (Part 2)
In the previous blog, I described how our weekly tennis lessons evolved. I noticed that I was not the only one enjoying them. At first one of my friends, Trish, was saying she only planned on continuing lessons until the weather got bad; she complained about the length of the drive. (You know we are whiners here if we complain about the drive. Where I live it takes 20 minutes tops to get anywhere.) She also thought the lessons were a bit expensive.
But slowly, those complaints started to fade. My other friend, Karla, who is almost at the empty nest phase and, I think enjoying the companionship, said openly how much fun she is having at our lessons. She would affectionately call out to our tennis pro Regis, “Now, Regis!” when he would give her a tough shot.
Then we got the email. Karla wouldn’t be able to make it to the next lesson. Her father had died.
I did not know the details, but was a little surprised. Karla’s parents attended my parish. I had seen her dad recently; he was a robust man. Karla’s mother and father did regular service at the parish. The couple was in charge of getting adorers for the Perpetual Adoration Chapel among other things.
Trish and I were able to attend the Rosary together, but we both had conflicts and couldn’t attend the funeral.
I was really glad we went.
It seems that whenever you attend a significant event in the life of a family, such as a funeral or Rosary, that you get a unique perspective into the family and sense of the impact of the event. I knew just from looking at Karla’s dad in the casket that something was wrong. It was obvious Karla was genuinely grateful we were there.
The next week, Karla came to our tennis lesson. Initially, we asked her how she was and how things went. Gradually, she poured out to us all of the emotions that had accumulated over the past month in dealing with the horrific ending to her father’s life: the too-little-too-late diagnoses, the botched and incompetent medical care that unnecessarily led to the premature ending of her father’s life, and the amplification of the family dysfunction during this stressful time.
The medical details of what happened to Karla’s father were so gruesome that our friend Trish had to sit down because she was afraid she would pass out. I could not get the image of him in the hospital out of my mind. I could not imagine the torture for Karla of being feet away from seeing her father in that state. No daughter should have that kind of final memory of her father.
Trish and I experienced firsthand one of the spiritual works of Mercy–to comfort those who mourn. Although it seemed like we did so little for Karla, we really did a lot. We were safe people to whom she could vent her frustrations and sufferings. I believe we gave her a little bit of comfort in an extremely difficult time.
And it never would have happened had we not all made the decision to take tennis lessons together.
Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip: Comfort someone in need today.