by Vera Grant AMMM Ireland 21.05.2022
I have known Sr. Jude Walsh since 2003 when I became an Associate with the MMMs. When I spoke of this decision to become an Associate Sr. Jude always said, ‘It’s Divine Intervention.’
Sr Jude saw God’s hand in all aspects of daily living and the use of words like ‘good luck, a coincidence, fortuitous, by chance were never in her vocabulary.
As Sr Jude approaches her 101st birthday in August she has been an inspiration. Her insight, her wisdom, her acceptance and her steadfast faith has been a wonderful motivator to all of us and especially the Associates.
Let me not forget her wonderful sense of humour and story-telling which I miss so much in these days when Covid forces isolation and restricts visits.
Let’s hope this too will pass as I feel I have so much more to learn from one of the best.
Now, let me tell you what happened….
We misread the signals. The not showing up, the arriving late, forgoing the car to walk and a sense of distance from reality.
We thought she was grieving following the death of her husband.
We thought she was maybe depressed.
We just didn’t know. That caused the irritation, the frustration, the discussions and the agreement that whilst we would continue to include her in our fourball bookings we had to let her get on with it and if she wanted to walk to golf then that was her choice.
There are four of us, Pamela, Annie, Martha and me who play golf every Tuesday and Thursday, weather permitting.
Annie in her absence had been the focus of all our conversations and when she did appear we were more subdued and less engaging in chit-chat. It was an awkward and awful time for us all.
One Tuesday Annie arrived too early and was invited to join another group. When she later saw us on the course she was visibly upset and rushed over to apologise for being in the wrong group. That was the day she admitted that she had been going for tests.
We were shocked and saddened but not surprised as we knew something was amiss.
Weeks passed, the tests were ongoing as it wasn’t just a one off test to make a diagnosis.
Annie, always a very private person slowly opened up about her forgetfulness, her uncertainty in driving and her loss of a sense of time.
On one of the many wet days when golf wasn’t an option we met up for coffee and it was on one of those days that it happened that there was just the two of us, me and Annie.
She seemed keen to talk and said how frustrated and annoyed she was with the endless tests and no results. There also had been chest pains and bowel problems which now too had to be investigated. It was one hospital visit after another and she felt like she was falling apart. She said she was at her wits end.
‘You know I don’t believe in God’ she said, ‘and all of this just confirms what I think’
Sitting across the table I thought to myself, what do I say here? At the same time Sr Jude’s words of strong faith and comfort sprung to mind. Those same words she had shared with me, when I like Annie, had found myself struggling.
I heard myself saying that life was full of ups and downs and everyone had some cross to bear and what if Annie was given the choice of exchanging her cross for another one? What cross would she choose?
Annie responded immediately, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about.’
I used Sr Jude’s imagery of a room full of many crosses, different sizes, different shapes, different colours and different heights and suggested that Annie imagine herself going into the room and being able to set her cross beside all the other ones before choosing a different one to take with her.
‘Which one will I pick?’ she asked and I answered, ‘That’s up to you to choose the one you think would maybe be easier.’
Annie looked totally bewildered and I tried to reassure her by saying that you don’t have to do it today, you can think about it and see which one you might want to choose.
A couple of days later there was a knock on the door and Annie said she had been passing and wanted to tell me her news. She seemed brighter and said she had been given the results the day before when she had been back at the hospital with her son.
The chest pains and bowel problems had been identified and were manageable but Alzheimers had been confirmed. However she had been assured her that she could live independently for another few years.
She added, ‘I can accept the Alzheimers now I don’t have to worry about the chest pains and my bowel. If that’s my cross I will keep it as I know what I am dealing with.’ She continued, ‘You know, maybe there is a God. I feel better in myself and I know I will cope’
‘Oh, my dear Jude,’ I thought. I could hear her saying, ‘It’s Divine Intervention’