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Listening is an apostolate, and it begins at home

Blog | 03.11.2021

By Peggy Mellon ’63

Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year! I pray that you and your loved ones are in good health and good spirits.

2020 was a challenge for the world in so many ways. My little corner of the world reminds me of how we are so connected to all of God’s children. 

At the beginning of the quarantine in California, Pat and I made an altar of our dining room table where we said a rosary each day praying for those who were being directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19 and other medical conditions as in our age group friends, there are many.  

Listening has become our new apostolate. After reading our pope’s new book, I discovered that listening to others can actually be an apostolate. I remember balking with a professor while in graduate school about having to take a course titled “Listening Skills.” I was later amazed at how much I learned in that class. After being married 56 years, we have to admit that it is often harder to listen to each other than it is to a stranger. Yet, there we were together 24 hours a day.

We started our own happy hour each evening where I would prepare special appetizers, and Pat would prepare a special cocktail. We would sit on the patio while listening to CDs that we found in a box while we were reorganizing — which was another activity we did during quarantine. I have often said that Pat stopped listening to music after Karen Carpenter died. Of course, like most of our friends, we watched old movies and streamed series we never knew existed. We were okay praying for those who were not okay.

Then in early fall, Pat was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. He was in the hospital for 10 days and then in a transitional center for 13 days. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, I was not permitted at either place even though his tests were negative. Sepsis and a torn rotator cuff, a dual diagnosis for an 80-year-old man, which was life threatening. I regretted my above remark about finding it hard to listen to him. After the transitional center, he received occupational therapy for the torn rotator cuff.

His goal was to walk our dog. He now does every day. His next goal was to play golf. Tomorrow, he plans on playing his first game. 

The prayer life that I very slowly learned while in sodality is what kept us spiritually and emotionally connected while we were separated for 23 days. Each evening, we would say a Memorare together. We both cried a lot during a time we couldn’t be with each other at a time when it was so important to be. I realize that for those who were hospitalized with COVID-19 were in the same situation with their loved ones. Yet, many of them died alone. This happened to my grandson’s “other grandmother.”  

I am writing to you as a friend but if you choose to share my letter with my other Woodsies, please feel free to do so. Pope Francis is so right about listening being an apostolate, but I have to remember that my apostolate begins at home. 

There is another Woodsie who is in need of our prayers. Joan Kroll Sadlowski ’63 had a stroke, and she is slowly improving according to her sweet husband, Ron. The last time I called, I spoke to Joan which was for the first time since her stroke. Most often, I speak to Ron. Once again, texts and short notes are our way of staying in touch. Joan was in the back seat of Pat’s car hiding under a blanket when Pat asked me to marry him. As he gave me the ring, she popped up and said, “Smile, you are on candid camera!” I am still smiling, Peggy.

2 Comments

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Rosemary Schmid '63 | 05.17.2021 at 2:02pm
I'm just scrolling through the blog entries this May afternoon. Peggy's reflection touched us, her classmates, very much. The friendships formed at The Woods are long-lasting, and important. Finding the good in the horrors, tragedies, and selfishness of some people during the pandemic is "easier," I think, because of what we learned together at S.M.W.C.
Jennifer Heimberg Beikes | 03.11.2021 at 9:17pm
Wonderful post, thank you for sharing!