Friday, April 20, 2018

Of Lives and Fishes

Written by  Jim Nakoneshny

It’s been a few years now since my Mom passed away. She was quite excited with my role in the design and construction of the Cathedral as volunteer Chair of the Building Committee. Sadly, she never got to see the finished building. I actually interviewed for my position here as Facilities Manager a few days after her funeral.

She died in 2011 at the age of 89, some 6 years after Dad, who had lived to 92. Like many other young women of that depression/wartime generation, she trained as a school teacher after leaving home. Through her position in a one-room country schoolhouse, she met and subsequently married my father. They raised 8 kids while farming 3 quarter-sections of land - practically a hobby farm by today's standards.

Although we certainly didn't live extravagantly, we didn't knowingly want for much growing up. Maybe we just had low expectations. Still, Dad always bought new cars every decade or so and purchased new (if small) farm machinery. Our folks even managed to provide all of us kids with a good post-secondary education. Eventually they retired to a house they had built in town.

Throughout everything, a key aspect of their lives was their love of - and devotion to - the Church. They were heavily involved with our small country Ukrainian church, as well as, in later years, the Roman Catholic parish in town. The Church loomed large in our lives and was central to many things that we did. Whether for feast days, holidays or gatherings of the local community, it seems life always revolved around the Church. 

Our home was often frequented by family friends or relatives dropping in for a visit on their travels. It also seemed to be an unofficial waypoint for travelling Religious on the Yellowhead highway. As a kid, I often remember coming home from school to find a strange car in the driveway and an assortment of nuns and/or priests gathered around our kitchen table for coffee. That close relationship, both with the Church and with the greater community, was always there.

My folks weren’t scared of hard work to be sure, but they also trusted implicitly that God would provide, and He always did. In the end there was always enough to go around and plenty left over to share with others.

In modern society the final tally of one's fiscal balance sheet has come to represent the measure of success or failure in life (whoever dies with the most toys wins). But we know that’s rarely true. When Mom's estate was settled, the cheques each of us received weren’t large. But by far, the most valuable part of our parents’ legacy was the example of lives lived trusting that God would provide, proven by a lifetime’s worth of baskets of leftover loaves and fishes.

That's a lesson I could do well to remember more often.

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