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Tom and his mother today
via cell phone picture
Last year four of us joined together to form a bowling team for a fundraiser. Since all of us had some experience with mental illnesses in our families and/or ourselves we decided to call our team “Next to Normal”. Next to Normal is the name of the rock musical about a mother who struggles with a worsening bipolar disorder, brain disease, and the effect that her illness has on her family.
What the other three had in common, besides experience with mental illnesses, was they were friends to me. Now they are friends to each other.
One of the members of that bowling team was Tom. I met Tom and his mother at our Catholic Church, Blessed Trinity that was closed by the Archdiocese last year and I am now I am writing about in an essay on the Catholic Church and the North Central Area. Tom and his brother who I had lunch with today were brought up in St. Nicholas parish in the northeast side of the North Central area. St. Nicholas was fairly well off parish with an excellent Catholic school, where Tom, his brother and siblings attended grade school, when it was asked in 1993 by the Catholic Archdiocese to merge with two other Catholic parishes on the edges of the North Central area. The churches resisted the merger but after being told, according to members of the Church, they would not be asked to merge again agreed. St. Nicholas was the most sustainable parish and should have been the location of the new merged Church but it was not to be. It was sold for a million and half dollars to an evangelical church. Now that the merged church, Blessed Trinity has closed, $220,000 of the million and half remains and is part of the 1.1 million dollars deposited in St. Catherine church accounts.
Tom, my friend, has his own issues with a brain disease, and lives in near poverty. His mother now is in nursing home for persons with dementia outside of Milwaukee. Today when his brother was down from Green Bay we three had lunch and then Tom and I went to visit his mother, Arlene.
Like St. Nicholas Church, Arlene has lost her power and prestige. But unlike St. Nicholas Arlene lives and remains a living inspiration, even with her present status, for us, at least her sons and daughter and her step son, me. Money can be diminished but the human spirit lives on.
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