It’s Saints and Scripture Sunday over at The Kennedy Adventures, and I’m grateful to Dianna for making me address something spiritual at least once a week. I’m probably breaking regs this week, but instead is focusing on a particular saint or scripture passage I want to share memories of a person who was inspiring to me spiritually. This is a picture of my mother-in-law, Pat, as a young woman. At the time this picture was taken she worked as the mayor’s secretary in Louisville, Kentucky. She was on the committee for the first Pegasus Parade and the first Crusade for Children. Every day she took her lunch hour and went to Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville. She was brilliant and beautiful, and probably the kindest person I’ve had the privilege of knowing. She had been raised and educated Catholic, and her religion was very much a part of her life. When Michael brought me to Louisville to meet his family for the first time I had no idea I would be meeting one of my very best friends in life, or that I would be the first non-Catholic to marry into the Ballard clan in many generations. At the time I met Pat she had fallen away from her faith as far as regular church attendance goes. After giving birth to four boys she had decided she did not see eye-to-eye with the Catholic Church on the birth control issue. I actually had the birth control discussion with a priest when I was going through RCIA and converting to Catholicism many years later, and we had to “agree to disagree”. I think if there’s a church that you can agree with whole-heartedly, join and be happy! But most of us have to compromise and find the church best-suited to our beliefs. Anyway, Pat was a real touchstone for me while she was with us. When Michael and I were dating we’d come to Louisville for weekends and she and I would head out for marathon thrift store shopping trips. This woman, after raising four boys on a butcher’s salary, could freakin’ SHOP! I bought designer suits for Michael, silk dresses for me . . . and the weekend Michael proposed Pat had a wedding dress and veil being held at one of her favorite consignment shops. Once Michael had proposed and I had accepted, Pat called the owners of the shop and they came over and opened up that night for me to get my wedding dress.
It was perfect. It needed no alterations, I felt beautiful in it, and I smile every time I see pictures from that day. I didn’t have as many years with Pat as I would have liked, but she saw us married and saw both our children born. She gave me excellent advice on raising boys and set a stellar example as a mother-in-law. But most of all, she shared her faith with me, making all the saints seem like friends you could call on the phone and chit-chat to in a time of need and prayer something you did throughout your day instead in just when you were in church or in desperate straits. Thank you, Pat, for being there for me and gently nudging me in the right direction when I needed it. I miss you every day!