The title above is an axiom that Cyndi coined several years ago and repeated often. For years it was inevitable that my beloved bride of nearly 33 years was living on borrowed time. She had escaped death numerous times throughout her life with an immune system that made her susceptible to so many infections, and where she had contracted pneumonia 60 times during her 65 years, seven months and eight days on this fleeting planet. Yet, through it all she was a fighter because she knew God wasn't finished with her yet. She suffered throughout her life. Yet she was not a victim of circumstance and seldom ever complained, for she was a victim soul who willingly offered up whatever God chose for her. She did it not for herself, but for her family, for those dear to her both near and far, for those who would request prayers as well as for the most abandoned soul in Purgatory and the souls most trapped on this earth by the snares of the world, the flesh and the devil. Her loving soulmate, husband, father of her sons, and editor of this publication wants to share how special Cyndi was in showing how she lived and how she died. Nobly and in total peace of mind, heart and soul. Though this is a long tribute, it will give you a much better sense of just who this saintly lady was, where, when, what, how and why God chose this weakened vessel to fulfill His mission in keeping the true Faith alive throughout the hills and valleys of her life. I can attest with tears in my eyes, that this beautiful mom truly lived the Beatitudes.
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth."
At approximately 3:33 on the morning of April 8 during Passion Week, the Bridegroom came for my bride of nearly 33 years. I'm happy to tell you, Cyndi had her lamp lit and was well received into our Lord's arms. Other than the human sadness of her passing for my sons Kevin Michael and Kellin Joseph, and my own chagrin that my soulmate will no longer be there to encourage me, to pray with me, to share so many things, the spiritual side of me is rejoicing at the way she went.
We pray constantly to St. Joseph to die a happy death. That is the way Cyndi went. Father Gerard McKee, CMRI had just brought her the Sacraments on First Saturday (April 5) and, when I realized she was gone, I discovered, as always, that she was clutching in her hands her trusty, blessed Rosary. She was also wearing her Brown Scapular and Miraculous Medal, all of which were buried with her on Spy Wednesday, April 16 following a magnificent Requiem High Mass by Fr. Gerard to usher her into eternity.
We are so grateful to the priests of the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen for they have been there to administer the Sacraments to us throughout the last twelve years. Father Brendan Hughes, CMRI administered the Sacrament of Extreme Unction for my dad Lowell Cain in 2007 and Cyndi had numerous Last Rites throughout the past twelve years as she came so close to death numerous times.
This is borne out in the various posts on these pages when we were truly afraid she was near death, but God had other plans. As Cyndi would say frequently, "He's not done with me yet, evidently He has more for me to do."
It's also a fact of faith that God will never give one any cross greater than one can handle. Cyndi bore up under all the crosses she willingly accepted, but in these last few years we could see that it was getting harder and harder for her to endure the pain as she struggled to breathe. That coupled with severe headaches, a disintegrating spine, and her fibromyalgia began to take its toll. She knew she was slipping. Yet she hung in there to the end.
In September last year she had renal failure and was rushed to the hospital where she spent several weeks. When push came to shove, the hospital, believing there was nothing more they could do and that she was about to die, wanted to shove her out. She had two choices we had to make: transfer to an assisted living home or home hospice care. That was a no-brainer for both of us. Home it was, because that was her refuge where she had peace and quiet. The transfer home made a world of difference and she astounded the medical profession by lasting seven months.
I can't thank God enough for those precious months for it brought us closer together than ever before. With a dispensation from the CMRI, I was charged - or rather given - the great blessing of staying with her 24-7. It was something I was used to since nearly 24 years of our 33 years together were spent 24-7 and any major arguments we had over those three decades plus I can literally count on two hands, and maybe one finger - the one wagged at each other once in a while in placing blame on each other for something trivial that, after a cooling off period, would always be resolved and would only strengthen the bonds of our love.
Were it not for our love for and faith in God, who knows where we would have wound up. Truly, there for the grace of God went we as the path throughout our marriage grew narrower by choice, and happier by the year, so convinced that, though it was a lonely path in losing many friends and benefactors over the years as we researched more and more our Catholic faith, we realized as we connected the dots in receiving the grace to see, truly see, that it was the only path to assure salvation.
Cyndi's Early Life
In the thriving post-World War II year of September 3, 1948, Dolores and Leonard Joseph Kreke beamed with joy at the arrival of their new daughter Cynthia Adele in Cincinnati's Good Samaritan Hospital. Cyndi's mother, a devout cradle Catholic, devoted Cyndi to the Blessed Virgin Mary at birth, dressing her only in blue and white for the first seven years of her life. There was something special about this tiny bundle of joy they carried home, but few knew.
Early on, the doctors detected that Cyndi had a weak immune system. Whether that was from birth or exposure to River Valley Fever in the Ohio River basin, no one really knew. But from that point on, if she contracted a cold, it was likely to turn into pneumonia. In fact, of her 65 years on this earth, she contracted pneumonia 60 times. Each time it would break her resistance a bit more and further weaken her immune system. This affected her from that point on, so much so that, for Cyndi's health, her dad, an administrator for HUD, requested a transfer to the west coast in 1968.
An interesting side note is that yours truly also arrived in San Diego a month before her when transferred from Sioux City Air Force Base to Mount Laguna Air Force Site east of San Diego while I was serving in the USAF as a non-com Information Officer at the radar site, since dismantled.
The healing salt air for she who was the salt of the earth
But back to my soul mate in life: The salt air did wonders for her health for a while. She was hired as a teacher at the School of the Magdalen, but left after a few years disillusioned by all the changes wrought by Vatican II that de-emphasized so much of what she had been taught. Possessing the skill to type 130 words per minute, she became a Kelly Girl Executive Secretary, though her first love was spending time in the Library. She read voraciously. That created the writing acumen she acquired and she published three novels, all romantic fiction and most period pieces, but she realized there was more to life than worldly honors.
She attended Mass daily at St. Joseph's Cathedral downtown. The irony here is that I also attended, but I would go to the evening mass at 5 p.m. immediately after work, while she went to the morning mass. Keep in mind that they still said the Latin Mass until the mid 70's. It was when the Latin Mass was phased out and the vulgar Novus Ordo mandated that I personally began to go less and less, until I fell away for a while. I admit I was lost and sowing my oats. Keep in mind I had spent seven years in the seminary with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate where everything was traditional as it gets. Now with the 70's and the crazy fashions and fads, it was a confusing time. Still I clung to a vestige of the faith through association with the CYO where I would attend the monthly functions to meet eligible young Catholic ladies. There were a few I dated, but nothing lasting. Most had bought into the freedom that Vatican 2 had rendered, where now what was formerly wrong was okay. Believe me more than a few took that inch and turned it into a mile.
Without yet meeting, both Cyndi and I had become disillusioned and were ready to give up on CYO. Strange, that in all the functions, we had not met earlier. God had a reason. The title of this tribute are Cyndi's own words she repeated so often. In fact, both of us were at the Vatican Pavilion during the same hour on the same day in July of 1965 to see Michelangelo's Pieta on loan from Rome for the New York World's Fair. We didn't meet. Later, I worked in Mission Valley as a consultant for the Baras Foundation in the late 70's and she was working just across the driveway as a Kelly Girl. We didn't meet, though she told me she admired the blue Toyota Supra parked there. Little did she know that was mine. So many instances, so close, yet so far. It wasn't God's time yet.
The Beginning of a Beautiful Relationship
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God."
No, that came on January 18, 1981 at exactly 9:45 p.m. at the Hanalei Hotel Ballroom in Mission Valley. Cyndi had not wanted to come. She was ready to just forget the whole thing, but a girl friend had urged her to give it one more try. Reluctantly she said yes. I thanked God every day she did. As for me that day, I played touch football on Mission Bay with a group of guys and was pretty worn out, but I said to myself after a nice long shower, awh, what the heck. Why not go? Who knows? Maybe I might meet someone special.
So I dressed in my suit and vest, (remember it was the age of disco where everyone dressed to the nines) and headed out, making sure I would be fashionably late. It was a tactic guys in the know used to survey the field, if you will when one walked in. It was never good to be the first one there. Yet, I've always been a stickler for punctuality so that advice contradicts my own behavior, but remember these were my single days. I've mellowed so much since.
As I entered the spacious ballroom, tables had been arranged in rows where guys and gals were already sitting. At the far end was this beautiful lady with a gardenia in her hair, wearing a Japanese high neck dress with a rose belt around her thin waist. Hmm, she's cute I thought, but another fellow was sitting at the end of the table. I alerted a few who had just arrived with me, "let's get some more tables and abut them up to the other tables to lengthen the row." They agreed, chairs were already lined along the wall. So we lifted a few tables and I made sure the table I was helping carry would position me where I would swing it around so I was next to her table, forcing the fellow sitting on the end to move to the other side. As I set the table in place and grabbed a chair from the wall behind me and scooted it up to the table, I asked Cyndi "Is this chair taken?" She nodded no, please sit down.
Little did I realize until a few dates later, that she knew I was the one she would spend the rest of her days with the second I walked in. Why? Our Lady told her. More on that shortly. We danced into the night. I frightened her briefly as I held her in my arms and whispered to her that I had five "kids". I could feel her sigh and slink away. Being Irish, it was the blarney in me. I quickly added, "Oh, did I forget to tell you they have feathers?" You see, I had five parakeets at home in my apartment. No cats or dogs allowed, but birds were fine, so I had a huge cage of the little chirpers named Muffet, Puffet, Tuffet, McDuffet, and Stuffet. She came to love those birds who often flew freely through the home and even when I would take a few to work, they'd fly through the hall. Totally trained. I would wear a special coat where they'd land on my shoulder. I could even take a few of them outside and they'd stay on my shoulder. We would add three more to litter after we were married and before a home robbery where the thieves opened the outdoor avery, allowing them to fly the coop. But back to Cyndi.
As the night grew late, the gal who had brought Cyndi with her needed to leave. Cyndi hesitated and stalled for time. The dunce-one here, not wanting to blow it, kept silent. She hinted, finally I realized if I didn't speak up then it was now or never. "Uh, if you want I can take you home" I said. "That would be wonderful," she gushed. We left shortly after that and spent two hours talking in the car outside her home before giving her a chaste kiss goodnight. She closed her parents' door behind her, hoping my last words weren't in vain, "I'll call you in the morning." I did, and the rest is history. Our first date was at Balboa Park to celebrate Ronald Reagan's freeing the hostages from Iran. A new era was beginning. Cyndi was in love. I was close, but uncommitted.
My realizing she was the one didn't occur until over the Presidents' Day weekend. I had already committed to a trip to the wilderness in Baja Mexico as a consultant with a group from Doctors Without Borders. They wanted to develop a marketing campaign and my firm Can Do Concepts of which I was the CEO, had been selected. On Valentines night we had attended a hockey game between the San Diego Gulls alumni team and a group of priests called the Canadian Padres. It was a charity event and I noticed she wasn't feeling very well, so we left early and dropped her home. I would pick her up in morning and drop her off at my apartment where she agreed to stay while I was gone to take care of the parakeets. By the way, she also cleaned my closet which, if anyone nostalgically familiar way back when in the radio days of "Fibber Magee and Molly" would realize how big a mess she tackled. LOL.
While on my off-road trip, we roughed it with sleeping bags and imbibed a bit. Not being a beer or wine drinker, I had an itching for pina colada back then. So I had brought a huge pre-mixed bottle of rum & pina with me. I had a few shots, but the bottle was still four-fifths full, as our group settled in on a pristine deserted beach right on the Gulf of California south of San Jose in Baja on the night of February 16 into the 17th. The six in the group had spread out their sleeping bags about 100 feet apart. I was closest to the brush area as I had stashed the base of the bottle into the sand next to my shoes as I snuggled into my sleeping bag under a full moon and quickly fell asleep.
A short while later, I heard a clink-clink and, as one is want to do in waking from sleep, I was slow to respond. As I turned to see what was going on I could see clearly in the moonlight about four yards away from me the hind end of a coyote. Glistening in the moonlight was the bottle of rum sticking out from his jaws as he had the neck of the bottle firmly in his teeth. Thank God he was heading away and not towards me. He disappeared into the brush about 40 yards away. Needless to say, I stayed awake that entire night fearing he might return.
All I could think about, as I looked at the stars in the heavens and prayed, was Cyndi. By the end of the night as the pelicans ushered in the day and the sun rose in the east, I knew she was the one. I would ask her to marry me.
Upon arriving back home, I discovered that she was deathly sick. I rushed her to a doctor (back then they were available to see at a moment's notice) and notified her parents. Bottom line, she had contracted a case of meningitis, a mild case mind you, yet still very serious and harmful if not treated. We discovered it was from an open canister of bacteria that had been left out by one of the chemists in analyzing soil samples for an ecology report where she was working at RECON near the University of San Diego. Turns out, most at her work and I, as well as her parents, all had to get shots. Several from her work also came down with the same affliction.
Her dad was working and her mom at that time had just had a mild stroke and did not have the wherewithal to take care of Cyndi, so I asked permission of her parents if she could stay at my apartment and I would care for her, promising them she could have the bed and I would take the couch in the living room. As parents are wont to do, they hesitated at first since they rightfully didn't think it right that an unmarried couple should be living together. However, under the circumstances and trusting us both, they agreed it would be for the best.
So you see, our relationship began with me taking care of her and it ended with me doing the same. And you 'll never hear a complaint out of me, for it was always a labor of love.
And Two Shall Become One "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven."
By March 15 she was well enough to accompany me to mass (yes, it was the Novus Ordo) and I felt the timing was right. Thus, at the Kiss of Peace (I know, I know, that was in our more ignorant days) I asked her if I could ask her a special question. She thought it was if we could go back and watch the NCAA Tournament...you know, March Madness. No, I asked her then and there at All Hallows Church atop Mt. Soledad overlooking the blue Pacific if she would marry me. She couldn't say "yes" fast enough.
Because of finances and that we'd already been exposed to the Cana Conferences via CYO, we decided to forego an expensive wedding and as a special gift to our own mothers, get married on Mother's Day, May 10, 1981 with only a few friends and relatives present. To any young couple planning to get married, I strongly advise doing the same. Save your money. Weddings have become an expensive industry at the expense of the couple and their parents. It's a loadstone that can often become too much of a load, like student loans. You're paying them off forever.
If anything, Cyndi was fertile. She conceived on our wedding night in our new apartment we moved into after a short five hour trip to Julian to celebrate and then back to our new home on Nutmeg in San Diego beneath the flight path into Lindbergh, but with a fantastic view of the Bay. Unfortunately, three months into her pregnancy she miscarried. Not knowing for sure, but an inner voice told her it was a girl and we named her Angel. Cyndi conditionally baptized the child in the ambiotic water within her as she realized she was losing the very life within her. A few months later she was pregnant again and we were so excited. But again, at the trimester problems arose and again we prayed and sweated through many a night. This time I rushed her to the hospital. On the way she conditionally baptized this second child whom she named Dawn. I fully believe both are in Limbo, if not Heaven, and that we will someday see our beautiful two unborns in all their beauty. I say that for they have communicated to Cyndi each time she was near death, which was several times.
The doctors told us that Cyndi would not be able to bring a child to full term. We were chagrinned. The doctor asked if I wanted a vasectomy or should he tie her tubes. We knew that was against God's will as was contraception and it was His will that if we were meant to have children, He would provide. If not, He would provide.
In March of 1982, Cyndi broke the news that she was with child again. We really sweated this one out. We got past the first trimester and had a sonogram taken at Doctors' Hospital on Elm Street. Tears flooded our eyes when we saw it. I took extra precautions to make sure Cyndi had plenty of rest and nothing strenuous. The happiest day of my life, after our wedding day, was when Kevin Michael was born on a Monday evening of November 22, 1982. The Doctors said it couldn't be done, but God writes straight with crooked lines and we had a son. Deo gratias!
For the next few years we were consumed with caring for our son and practiced abstinence as difficult as that was at times. Yes, that is true love, Hollywood. In the summer of 1984, fresh off a successful campaign to land San Diego's first Super Bowl, in which I had played a significant part in designing all the collateral to sell San Diego's ability to the NFL owners to host the game, and winning awards for my HomePort San Diego corporate campaign to attract more cruise ships to San Diego, we were riding high and decided to try again.
Our little redhead Kellin Joseph was conceived and born the next year on April 28, the day of my own baptism and the wedding anniversary of Cyndi's parents. Also the feast of St. Paul of the Cross and St. Louis Marie de Montfort, who was so dedicated to and beloved by the Blessed Mother. (Note: this year it is overshadowed by the feast of the holy Apostle St. Mark, transferred from Easter Week to the first Monday after Low Sunday).
The Journey from the Wide Path to the Narrow Path Begins via All Kinds of Crooked Lines "Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
Unfortunately, complications set in after Kellin's birth and a week after we rushed her back to the hospital where she actually hemorrhaged to death. That is when she first heard the voices of Angel and Dawn, say "Not yet, Mommy, you have many more years." The doctors verified that her heart had flatlined for a few minutes. There was another miracle. She resuscitated. However, this time the doctors consulted with me that if she conceived again it would kill her and that for the sake of Cyndi's life they needed to do a tubal ligation. As much as I abhorred the idea, I realized her life was at stake and Kellin was already born and safe. I reluctantly agreed as did Cyndi when I notified her before the procedure.
While it was one of the happiest times of our life in raising two young sons, it was also sad because we knew that was it. We had so wanted a large family for we believed strongly in populating Heaven and the whole reason for marriage is procreation. But evidently God had other plans. If we could someday adopt, we would. Unfortunately, we never were able to make enough to afford to adopt.
Over the years we became more and more disillusioned with what was happening in the Church. It was not recognizable to us anymore. The nuns had removed their garments of grace for regular dresses. The veils and wimples were removed. Who knew they had hair? Now they were wearing make-up. What had this world come to?
We fell away from the Church with all its new-fangled novelties once we moved to Los Angeles. The world beckoned. You see we had optioned a screenplay with the help of a dear friend Irv Cooper, a former script supervisor during the golden years of Hollywood, who passed away several years ago on Christmas Day. I might add that one of my great joys was receiving permission from he and his wife Helen to baptize him on his deathbed in the hospital.
Warner Brothers had loved the script "Oh, God! Here and Now!" It was a sequel for George Burns and his agent had given it the green light. In a nutshell it dealt with the Supreme Court deciding if God exists. Keep in mind this was 1986. Fast forward to today and we seem to be heading in the same direction. As Cyndi always said, we're ahead of our time.
Anticipating fame and fortune (yes, the world had grabbed us before it spit us out - or was it we who expectorated the world?), we sold our Mission Village home above Qualcomm Stadium and moved to the Los Angeles area. Unfortunately, once there we realized how big a mistake we had made. There was a corporate coup at WB soon after and those who took over shelved all projects and brought in new people and scripts. Our "Oh, God," screenplay was tossed to the side and as the years went by it became evident that George's health wasn't strong enough to do it. Because it had been optioned, we were not able to shop it to other producers or studios. Such are the pitfalls in the film industry.
While living in Toluca Lake, Cyndi was working for Cannon Films as an Executive Secretary and I had left the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau after five highly successful years to take a higher paying position as a Creative Director at the Insider Advertising Agency in Van Nuys. I was happy during my time at the Bureau, our family was content. Not so in LA. Kevin was attending the Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse and I would drop Kellin off at a daycare mother's home in North Hollywood each day. The commute would take us from Toluca Lake to Century City back to Hollywood then North Hollywood to Van Nuys in the morning and reverse each night after work. I would drop Cyndi off first at 6 a.m. then Kevin at 6:30, Kellin at 7:30 and I'd be to work by 8 a.m. At night it was much longer. Anyone familiar with Los Angeles knows how difficult it is driving both the freeways and even the main streets, especially since there is a lack of left turn signal lights. The commute at night would take two and a half to three hours. By the time we got home and had dinner, it was time for bed. Oh, we cherished the weekends.
But it nagged at us how little family time we had. Was this rat race worth it?
Guess we needed some prodding and Our Lady communicated to Cyndi that if we would try to return to "the Church of our youth", the Blessed Mother would do the rest. Little did we realize the exact words - for the Church of our youth was that of Pope Pius XII. To get us up and moving on our journey to return full circle, God reminded us with a 1988 October earthquake in LA that prompted us to put in our notice on our rented home in Toluca Lake. That was the final straw. We wanted out of LA. We pulled Kevin out of school, said sayonara to Kellin's daycare provider, and drove the boys down to her parents in San Diego to stay while Cyndi and I wrapped things up in LA, and looked for a place in San Diego.
We decided Cyndi was a mom first and foremost, and should be with her sons. So I convinced her to stay with them while I drove back to LA to fulfill my two-week notice at the ad agency. I've never left anyone in the lurch and felt a loyalty to finish up what I started and help break in my assistant as the new Creative Director. The young lady said she would be eternally grateful for the opportunity. I hope she still is. I was only too happy to help her so I could escape LA as soon as possible.
On the weekends Cyndi and I would search for a new home. Not sure exactly what we would do, we decided to rent and chose a house with two acres of grass, an abundance of trees in the country just north of Vista on Beverly Drive. It was a difference of night and day. After the smog of LA, to know we would have fresh air again and be back in San Diego County was such a boost. The boys would be free to run and romp safely and they'd have mom home with them. What could be better?
What could be worse was the moving episode from LA back to San Diego. We had rented a truck to transport our furniture and belongings. Two friends from work helped us load the truck as a cold rain descended on Toluca Lake. To make matters more bizarre, we couldn't close the tailgate. Therefore we couldn't drive it on the highway until we got it fixed. The problem: the truck rental place was closed until Monday morning and this was Saturday night. Keep in mind we had made the bone-headed mistake of packing the checkbook and my credit cards in the dresser which was one of the first items loaded. Ergo, we couldn't get to it. Between us we had $2.35 and no furniture in the home. The heat and electricity had been turned off. We walked to a Wendy's and bought one burger and fries and shared that. It was a cold, long night but we had each other. What more could one want?
Fortunately, the rental place had received our S.O.S. and someone showed up Sunday morning to fix the gate. Thankfully only two chairs and a couch had been soaked. It was windy as heck as I maneuvered the truck through the rain slogged freeways. Cyndi prayed because the wind and rain were pelting at us sideways and steering was a bear. We both did a "Te Deum" that it was Sunday and not a regular day when there'd be so much traffic on the perennially clogged LA freeways. Thank God, San Diego learned from LA's mistakes when they constructed their freeway system.
My brothers Pat and Tony were waiting at the new house when we rumbled up the driveway and helped unload and set up everything. It was such a good feeling to be back. We told each other we'd never move again. Oh, as Cyndi reminded me often, "never say never".
Having returned to what we thought was the Catholic Church at St. Francis in Vista, we immersed ourselves in the parish. I was invited to join the Knights of Columbus and soon was a third-degree Knight, nominated for the parish council, and became a "Eucharistic minister". I know, I know now, but that was then.
Kevin was a vivacious first grader at the parish school and Kellin stayed home with mom, while I resurrected my corporate image consultant agency Can Do Concepts and landed contracts with the Vista Economic Development Agency (VEDA) and the Vista Chamber of Commerce as well as various other clients. With the VEDA account I was responsible for marketing the new business park that today is a multi-billion business with one of the first tenants being a congressman you may have heard of - Darrel Issa. Oh, to have had just one tenth of one tenth of a commission on everything in that business park today!!!
Yet, Cyndi and I realized that money was not our motivation. Several subsequent events brought that point home. My mom Donna died of a brain aneurism on September of 1988 and Cyndi was at her side throughout the last several hours of her life to comfort her. Two months later her younger brother Jeffrey was killed in a car accident. It devastated her parents.
We had saved enough and received part of my mother's inheritance that we decided to take all on a cruise - her mom and dad, my dad, my Uncle Bob and Aunt Ruth from Minneapolis. We planned a Disney vacation to Disneyworld, Epcot Center and the Bahamas. We felt it would be a healing time for her parents and indeed it was.
The Odyssey of Crooked Lines Continues
It would take us ten years to finally find the answers as we went through an odyssey that few would believe. It began when we debarked from the ship. I had been offered a lucrative position as Creative Director for an ad agency that had been promised a large piece of the Disney account as well as a few cruise ships. With my background it was a natural. We found a home with a swimming pool at an affordable price (anything was affordable compared to California real estate). We decided to move. We put down a $10,000 deposit, then I put Cyndi and the boys on a plane to Cincinnati to be with her mom and dad, who had flown there after the cruise to visit Cyndi's dear cousin Marilyn and her husband Paul. Meanwhile, I stayed behind in central Florida to work out the details and set up the utilities, insurance, etc. before flying to the Queen City to join my family. Cyndi took us on a nostalgic tour of where she had grown up in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. A few days later we flew back home to San Diego where we began to pack up for the move from one coast to another.
Remember the mistake made in moving to LA? Thank God, He threw a monkey wrench into our move to Florida. It all started when we were notified that the home would not close at the time we had anticipated. That news came after we had everything packed and the moving company enroute to Florida. A friend at Disney, whom we'd gotten to know that year, offered to house us for a couple of months so that we could get the boys enrolled in school in time. It was late in July of 1989 when we once again said goodbye to our favorite city as we drove a brand new Ford Aerostar van with 8 miles on the odometer off the showroom floor and headed towards Florida via the southern route through Tucson to El Paso to San Antonio.
It was in the town famous for the Alamo that we were in search of a Sunday Mass. Having been in the seminary with the O.M.I.'s, I remembered the Oblates had a Lourdes Shrine in San Antonio and so we set out to attend Mass. However, the schedule was an old one and instead of starting a Mass at 10:00, it started at 9:30 a.m. We realized it would be wrong to come in late so we set out in search of another. As Providence would have it, we stumbled upon St. Joseph's Church with Mass starting at 10:30. We parked and entered to find they were praying the Rosary. How wonderful. It only got better when Father exited the sacristy and entered the sanctuary wearing a biretta while the altar boys were in full cassock and surplice. It was then I realized we were at a Latin Mass, the first time in years. I was in ecstasy and hugged my sons, telling them this is what your mom and dad grew up with. After Mass, we were invited back for coffee and donuts. Everyone was so friendly. I remarked how blessed they were that their diocesan bishop allowed them to have a Latin Mass. They chuckled and pointed out that their Bishop was His Excellency Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
Here's where it got interesting. As much at home as I felt, that old "obedience" bug bugged at us. Because he had been excommunicated in 1988 (which I had no idea that the SSPX even existed at the time and in later years would eventually realize the "excommunicaton" was totally bogus), we could not stay. I remember as we drove off asking how it could be so wrong when it was so right for 2000 years. Yet we felt if the 'Pope' had said it was wrong, then we had to obey. Oh, little did we know. But the seed had been planted to start to find out.
So off we headed to Florida through New Orleans where Cyndi fell very sick and we spent twelve hours at a hospital, not sure if we could go on. She recovered and we headed along the Gulf Coast. To Cyndi the memories of it were a blur.
Shortly after arriving and settling in with our friends Gayle and I.J. near Apopka, I discovered the ad agency still had not landed the promised account and everything was still in Limbo. The delay was not something I had counted on. To make matters worse, the day before the new home was to close we discovered that there was a utility easement right through the house and pool and that anytime in the future the city could put a lien on the house and tear it up. That wasn't in the original contract and the thought of the consequences seriously scared us off. We immediately consulted a real estate lawyer that afternoon and he said we had a air-tight case if we wanted to bow out, but it would take time before we'd get our deposit back because the sellers would stall. Our Lady conveyed to Cyndi that we'd get the full amount back but it wouldn't be until we really needed it. True to her word, that's exactly what happened.
Disillusioned with Florida, we decided to head back west, but we'd make a vacation of it by driving up the eastern seaboard past the recent hurricane damage and to Washington D.C. to see our nation's Capitol. We thought it would be a thrill for the boys. It was. As a side note, I've driven in Rome, Mexico City, you name it, but the only city I've ever gotten lost in was D.C. The roads are really screwed up - one ways that don't seem to have return one ways, circles everywhere and we had a devil of a time trying to find the National Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. After seeing the sites we headed out through Gettysburg to the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton where one of our California licence plates was stolen (guess Ohioans cherish such a souvenir). From there to Chicago through Wisconsin Dells into Minneapolis to see my dad, my sister as well as my aunt and uncle, who was one of the first back in the 70's to claim we were in the Great Apostasy and that the Church had gone to the devil. Of course, our first reaction back then was to say, "right, Uncle Bob, right. Get back to us later". We dismissed his rants. Oh, if only we had listened then. But it wasn't our time to be open to the graces to truly see what was happening in the Church.
While there, my younger sister Marie challenged us to look at houses in the Twin Cities area. Since it was not our intention to buy after our experience in Orlando, and I had long ago left Minneapolis for California, we agreed in order to please her. Wouldn't you know it, the third house her real estate friend showed us the bells went off. We fell in love with a four-level three bedroom home with a large yard in suburban Burnsville. The positives of the boys growing up in the same area I had grown up in with the same Midwest values Cyndi and I had been weaned on, seemed enticing. What was even more advantageous was the price and that we could move in immediately for it was an assumable loan and we qualified. We sat down that evening to make the decision and went for it. We redirected the moving van to Minnesota and, as Cyndi said as I carried her over the threshold, "I'm not leaving here until my children have grandchildren".
But, you guessed it, God had other plans. After a bitterly cold winter with little snow, but plenty of ice, Cyndi slipped on black ice one morning getting the newspaper and that triggered her fibromyalgia which she suffered greatly with for the rest of her life. Then, after exemplification ceremonies for my becoming a Fourth Degree Knight, Cyndi received a call on Ascension Thursday. After Mass at St. Mary Magdalen, her dad had a stroke and dropped dead. She was devastated. I put her on a plane the next day and she headed back to San Diego to comfort her grief-stricken mother.
After the funeral, Cyndi stayed with her mother to help take care of all the details surrounding a death; something I understand only too clearly now in covering all the bases with Cyndi's passing. She flew back in June with her mom because we wanted her to stay with us since, after all, we're family. But we had a four level home with steps and that wasn't copacetic with her mom who missed San Diego. There was only one thing to do: sell our home and move in with her mother back in San Diego.
On July 3, 1990 the phone rang just as we were heading out to mass at our parish St. John the Baptist Church in Savage, Minnesota. As it was ringing, Cyndi said to me. "That's the buyers." Mind you, we had just placed a three line ad in the paper that morning. Me, being the doubting Thomas, figured it'd take months to sell the home because it was not a seller's market at the time. Sure enough they were the buyers and they made a reasonable offer. Why should I doubt whatever Cyndi told me? She was always right because she had a special line to Heaven. That was proved right up to her death this month.
We decided to keep a third of our furniture, sell on consignment a third and give away the other third because we were moving back to her mom's home on Tecolate Canyon in San Diego. I flew Cyndi and her mom back to San Diego, and then packed up the van and with the boys in tow, headed back west, stopping to show them where I had spent six years in the seminary at Our Lady of the Ozarks in Carthage, Missouri and then on to the Grand Canyon where I aged ten years when young Kellin, who definitely does not have vertigo, went beyond the rail to perch himself on the edge of a ledge to look down into the canyon. Thankfully, he then retreated back to the safe confines of my arms, which were still shaking. When I relayed the story to Cyndi once reunited in San Diego, she scolded me for not being more attentive to keeping an eye and leash on our little wanderers. Point well-taken. It wouldn't happen again.
We enrolled the boys in the Magdalen School, the same one where Cyndi had taught for a while. We thought how great it would be for the boys. That is until we went to the first PTA meeting. Absent in all the classrooms were the crucifixes. We asked about it and were told by the principal that they'd taken them all out because it would be "too traumatic for the kids". That was too much. We immediately withdrew them and began homeschooling both boys.
On the Solemnity of the Assumption, Cyndi received a message from the Blessed Mother to begin a lay apostolate to help confused souls and allowed us to choose a name. We settled on MIR-A-CALL Center, which was the Croatian word for Peace and a play on Miracle for, yes, we were enraptured by the Medjugorje phenomena back then. Thus, on the feast of St. Michael the Archangel we published the first issue - volume one of A CALL TO PEACE and distributed them to every parish in San Diego County. That was the beginning of a publication that would eventually expand to a 24-page tabloid quarterly and then monthly newspaper with over 40,000 subscribers for the next seven years.
That same year, on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we both made a vow of poverty to assure that this ministry undertaken would not be a profit-making venture but that we'd place it under the protection of the Mother of God as a non-profit in an effort to reach souls. We have kept that vow, doing this publication - being the Daily Catholic since 1997 - for it has been and continues to be a labor of love.
In 1991, Cyndi's mom passed away after an extended illness. Unfortunately there was a glitch in her dad's will about the estate that her mother had not transferred to her name. Thus, after she passed the home was held in estate and had to be sold to to cover her medical costs and her dad's funeral expenses. Thus we had to move...again. We headed east, not knowing where we'd end up, but confident God would show us the way. Yes, we cast out in faith and sure enough as we reached eastern Oklahoma our sons saw it first. Three distinct crosses in the sky formed by clouds that were guiding us in the same manner as the wisemen followed the star of Bethlehem. As corny as that sounds, what other explanation is possible?
Following God's Will No Matter the Consequences
"Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven."
We ended up in Bella Vista, Arkansas where good friends from our former parish in Minnesota Don and Mary Lou Geronime welcomed us with open arms. Within a day we found a townhome right on the golf course with a creek running through it. To us it was a castle. A three bedroom two story home overlooking the first green with a northern exposure for the price of $425. A month. We settled in and joined St. Bernard's Church in Bella Vista where the pastor Father Enderlin was an old-school priest ordained in the early 50's who, though he said the Novus Ordo in English, still said the exact words as in the Latin Mass. It was here where Kellin received his First Communion after Kevin had received his at St. Catherine Labouré parish in San Diego a few years before from also a priest ordained before Vatican 2.
It was in Bella Vista that Cyndi was charged to share her messages from Our Lady with the world. Mind you, we still were very much conservative, but did not realize the Traditional Latin Mass was still in existence anywhere except for the SSPX, and, of course they had been "excommunicated". Oh, horrors.
As we published the messages under the belief that Paul VI had lifted any embargo on private revelation, Cyndi became in demand as a speaker. It became a headache as we found out for while Cyndi wanted them to hear the message, it was the messenger they searched out.
Keep in mind that Cyndi has always been a shy person, more contemplative than anything and the last thing she felt like doing was to speak to groups of people publicly. But more invites came in and we decided that we'd keep the family together by purchasing a motor home and traveling the country. You've heard the idiom about buying a boat? The second best day of one's life is the day one buys the boat, and the best day is the day one sells it. Well ditto for a motor home as our dear friend of the past twelve years Dr. Thomas A. Droleskey would second that after his humorous accounts of his days on the road that he chronicled many times on his christorchaos.com site.
Long story short, as if that's happening in this tome, (LOL) we covered all but five states during five years on the road. There were times when I had to play bad cop to keep people from mobbing my bride. Other times people treated her like she was a divining rod. Such a situation occurred in a trip we made to Moodus, Connecticut where she was given a schedule and what to speak on. Cyndi tried to tell them that she could only speak when Our Lady wanted her to, and this time Mary was silent. I ended up speaking to a disappointed standing only crowd who had come to hear my wife and ended up with me. It was a lesson learned that one doesn't tell the Blessed Mother what to do.
During this time, Cyndi was asked to transcribe a rule for a new order of nuns that would be called the Institute of Divine Mercy. While this may have seemed to be after Sister Faustina, it really was nothing like the modern notion pushed by John Paul II. Rather, Our Lady had instructed Cyndi to write out the rule where the divine office and Masses would be in Latin with strict observance of all the pre-Vatican 2 practices. Cyndi was instructed to share this with a true Franciscan priest, Fr. Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv. Who had been her spiritual confessor and was helping set up a refuge to be called Our Lady of Refuge after we had purchased 152 acres near Sulphur Springs, Arkansas.
The Immaculate Heart had instructed that this refuge would be blessed if her words were carried out where the first thing built would be a chapel where Mass would be said in Latin on an altar, not a table. Then in a concentric circle surrounding the chapel would be a monastery for the nuns. Yes, you would think it was called a convent, but Our Lady specifically communicated the word monastery to Cyndi. Then, and only then after the first two complexes had been built, could homes for those living on the refuge and contributing to the sisters' well-being be put up. If it were carried out as Our Lady wished, she promised all would have unending spring water from the aquifer to sustain all in the refuge.
Unfortunately, those who were attracted to it had other ideas. Being the trusting souls we were, we turned over the finances to a committee approved by Father so that we could continue Cyndi's speaking tour. Unbeknownst to us, while we were traveling the committee members - three families - had conspired to use the money (well over $150,000 to use most of that to purchase three modular homes and move them to the top of the hill with the best locations before the first shovel was turned for the chapel. They even went so far as to drill for water once settled. What they got was sulphur water. So much for following Our Lady's advice.
It was on the morning of April that Cyndi woke with a shock and shared with me a dream she had had for the third time in a row. The dream was that there was only $19,031. In the refuge bank account. I thought she was crazy because the last I had seen it was the amount previously noted. When I went to the bank, sure enough to the penny Cyndi was right. We called a meeting to inquire and that's when we discovered there was a coup underway to take over. They were madder than hell that they had struck sulphur water and tried to demean Cyndi that she had mislead them. Cyndi calmly told them it wasn't her, it was Our Lady who instructed her and all to build it exactly as Heaven desired. Similar to Moses striking the stone twice, so also here. We discovered that they had been lying to Fr. Valenta who had been back east in upper New York most of the time. We decided to shut everything down right then and there. Yes, it was a tremendous financial hit and yes, there were all kinds of invectives and smear campaigns against us, but when you're innocent, why worry?
Had we been in it for the money, we could have sued or gone along to cover up the embarrassment and reconciled with the rascals, but that was not God's will and I can say without compunction that in everything we've done throughout our marriage, we always strived to do God's holy will no matter the circumstances. Having shut down all operations, we heard that the Bishop of Dallas was open to housing the Institute.
Thus, the Big D was our next destination where we found a home on the outskirts of Dallas almost to Mesquite. The Institute was established with the great help of our dear friend and attorney Marty Sweeney in a beautiful converted home in a quiet section of North Dallas where an FSSP priest and another priest Fr. Mendoza from the Philippines would offer the Latin Mass on a regular basis. Cyndi had become quite sick through all this and the Bishop had given permission for us to have a chapel in our home so that the FSSP priest would have a place to say Mass. For us it was a blessing. Again, we were still conservative Novus Ordo, but every Mass said in our home was in Latin.
It was discovered that Cyndi had a cyst on her uterus and needed a hysterectomy which she had done at St. Paul's Medical Center in Dallas. She was suffering greatly in Dallas for the dust coming off the plains was greatly affecting her breathing. Thus, it was that we realized we needed to get back to salt air and where else but San Diego?!
With this decided, I took Kellin with me and we flew back to San Diego in 1998 to look for a place. We found a fantastic two bedroom home in the Shadowridge community of Vista that was ideal and the price for a four year lease was ideal. With that secured, we took a day at Disneyland for father and son to bond, then flew back to Dallas, beaming as we packed up to head west once again.
We put our home on the market and turned it over to a real estate agent. As a side note of interest, one of the potential buyers was a young man who had taken up cycling. Though he didn't buy our home, he was interested in it. That man? Lance Armstrong. We traded in our well-worn Aerostar for a 1995 Lexus that zipped. We made the trip in two days and Cyndi loved the new home. We were back and the ocean breezes wafting through the Carlsbad canyons reminded us how much the salt air helped after the dry, windy dust that swirled so in North Texas.
We had homeschooled the boys for most of their grade school days, but now high school beckoned and at that time there were no available homeschool courses in the higher grades. Thus, Kevin was enrolled in Rancho Buena Vista as a Freshman, where he had longed to attend since he was a Kindergartener, while Kellin still had a few years of homeschool.
We had published our last issue of A Call To Peace in October of 1997 and had been on the internet with the Catholic-Internet.org for a year. It was on November 1, 1997 that we introduced the Daily Catholic on the web. The costs for printing had escalated along with Second Class mailing charges, not to mention color seps and typesetting. That is why the web was the new medium and print was not long for this world. I saw the writing on the wall, if you will. Of course, not printing left us with no subscribers and thus I forfeited my monthly salary stipend of $2000 for it was not available any more. That was okay, after all we had taken the vow of poverty. From that point on it truly became a labor of love. But we trusted that God would provide and He has through the generosity of the few benefactors we have had over the years. We can't thank them enough for their loyalty in caring and sharing. We would acknowledge them by name, but they've requested anonymity in the spirit of the Gospels. God knows and that's what really counts.
The Healing of Body, Mind and Soul
"Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied."
In the year 2000 we were able to muster up a pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, Lourdes and Paris. It was quite an eye-opener for us and a healing of body, mind, and soul, especially when we reached Lourdes. I had walked a lot while we were in Rome, getting permission to go where few go - behind St. Peter's to the Vatican Gardens and other regions not open to the normal tourist. I had also walked the entire Castle Sant'Angelo in research for a novel and screenplay we had written to update it. By the time I returned to our hotel, Cyndi could see my leg was throbbing and I had a blood clot. She called for a doctor immediately and, believe it or not, one showed up at our hotel. I was told I should either go to the hospital or fly back home immediately to get it taken care of. Both in stubbornness and having faith that if I could make it to Lourdes, it would be healed, I respectfully refused the doctor's advice and put my feet up in the back of the bus as we motored to Assisi and then on to the French Riviera before heading into the Pyrenees Mountains and to the village of Lourdes.
Once there we discovered that we had arrived during International Military Week where soldiers from all over the world had gathered. It was quite a sight and, following the candle procession, the military bands played well into the night, and, I might add - due to our lack of sleep - well into the early morning.
Finally, the day arrived for the baths and I was wheeled in one of the wheel chairs available to the handicapped. My left leg was throbbing. I entered the baths. Yes, it's cold at first, but then you don't feel it and once you emerge from the waters, you are actually dry by the time you redress. I'm happy to say I walked out of there and never saw another wheel chair until bringing Cyndi home from the hospital this past September where she was wheel-chair bound from that point on most of the time.
What was even more miraculous were two other incidents. Cyndi had taken with her an envelope of letters and special requests from friends and relatives to be blessed at Lourdes. Contrary to common sense, one doesn't take paper into water or you know the result. Soggy, shredded wet paper that is not recoverable. However, Cyndi somehow knew that it would be preserved and so she clutched the envelope in her hands as she submerged in the baths and when she came out, the envelope was dry! Yes, dry! On top of that, what we didn't realize until we returned home was that we both had another healing where the scales were removed from our minds and eyes to see what was really wrong in the Church.
It had begun the day before when word reached us that they had announced the Third Secret of Fatima and what it contained. That day after our healing, we read the message in the English speaking newspaper and knew it was bogus. We knew they were covering up the real Third Secret. How? We just knew. It prompted us to go back to basics once we returned home. We studied all the Papal Decrees and Councils prior to Vatican 2. We could see the latter was the antithesis of all that had preceded it. We decided to shut down the site for awhile by putting up a longer edition while we continued to study and pray.
Slowly, but surely we began connecting the dots and it was during this time that we discovered the CMRI had a weekly Mass in Chula Vista. We thought nothing of driving nearly 90 miles round trip each Sunday to assist at the True Mass. In fact, the first Sunday we attended we availed ourselves of the confessional. After Mass, Cyndi assured me we were home. This was right and proper. Our Lady had confirmed it to her with a little jab like, "what took you so long?"
From that point on we attended only the CMRI Masses. In 2002 our lease in Shadowridge was up and we were in for a shock. The new lease called for a doubling of our monthly rent. No way we could afford that nor anything else at that time in San Diego as the going rates for real estate and rents were going through the roof. Cyndi was feeling stronger and we decided to return to the Ozarks, this time near Branson which was a wholesome community that would also afford employment opportunities for our sons.
Once again I flew out to look for a home, Cyndi confiding what to look for since Our Lady had already picked it out. Sure enough on the third day of looking, I discovered a fabulous home at the highest peak on a peninsula overlooking majestic Table Rock Lake with a view to the lights of Branson to the east. There were only two homes on the street named Hummingbird Lane. Could it get any more poetic? Yes, because it was in the Mark Twain National Forest with nothing but trees below us to the lake. Deer would roam free in our yard and there was a well-fed rotund groundhog who would scoot by our picture window every day. Birds flocked to our bird feeder and we fended off the pesky squirrels with our trusty Shih-Tsus Sir Smidgens and Lady Siena.
Things were going swimmingly until the Fall of 2003 when Cyndi contracted triple pneumonia - viral, bacterial, and fungal. Turns out the lakes and rivers in the region had the same properties as the Ohio River Valley. I rushed her to the hospital where she was admitted into the ICU and remained there for nearly three weeks. She came so close to death several times during her stay there and one of the reasons she was able to recover was due to a little known powder that our friend Mario Derksen had recommended. It was called Ambitrose and did wonders over the ensuing months after her release. Keep in mind the doctors to a man didn't think she'd leave the hospital alive, let alone live much longer if she did leave.
But once again, God had further plans for my loving bride who suffered so much most of her life. Once again she actually did stop breathing and that caused a madhouse in the hospital with a Code Blue. She attested to the beautiful light and again the voices of Angel and Dawn saying, "not yet, mommy. God isn't done with you yet." This may sound far-fetched to many, but if you truly knew Cyndi she never lied in her life and everything she foretold via Our Lady, has come true to date - both the good and the bad. That's a pretty good argument that Cyndi truly was gifted with the grace and gift of prophesy just as the Scriptures say.
Many look askance at anyone who says they hear Our Lord or Our Lady or some of the saints, even those in Purgatory at times. But think about it. We, as fallible humans can speak to God any time. What makes anyone think God can't speak to us through His heavenly creatures? When put that way it makes perfect sense. One merely needs to be open to the graces and the whispers of the Holy Ghost. One way Cyndi always tested the voices within her was to ask if they would bow down and adore Jesus. The devil cannot say yes to that. Oh, the demons tried to intercept and distract, but that little trick always exposed satan.
Our Lady had confided in Cyndi in 1990 when she gave her the name of the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart that she would suffer in body, mind, and soul. She revealed this to me and to our spiritual director at that time, Fr. Aloysius Svobodny, OMI. In retrospect, little did we realize how true that was and how it would play out over the ensuing 24 years.
Cyndi had always said she'd be "happy living in a shoe box on the beach" and it was close to that when we realized we had to declare medical bankruptcy in 2004 because of the bills accrued from three weeks in the hospital. We lost our beautiful home, but again these are temporal things. We were blessed to find a single wide mobile home in Mead, Washington through a friend who attended Mount Saint Michael's in Spokane. We had heard about the Mount but had no idea what was in store for us.
We had been able to work out payments to purchase the single wide for $2000 and it turned out that the next three years from 2004 to 2007 would be akin to spiritual bootcamp, so to speak, for we were indeed home with the CMRI and the beautiful church on the Mount's campus. To walk into that church is to leave the world behind. It is the closest thing to Heaven we've found and though we weren't fond of the two seasons in Spokane of either freeze or fry, it was truly a haven of refuge for us spiritually where we could assist at daily Mass. In fact, I was able to serve the Requiem Mass the pastor Father Casimir Puskorius, CMRI said at the Mount for my dad on the same day of his funeral back in Minneapolis.
Again, Cyndi's health weakened and she was once more rushed to Holy Family Hospital in Spokane where Fr. Gerard administered Extreme Unction with our good friends and caring gentlemen Dave Fuire and Tom Gilbrough in attendance in the ICU. The grace of the Sacrament helped pull her through and after a few more bouts with pneumonia and having 95% of her large intestines removed, we realized there was only one place for her to be: back in San Diego.
Back Home For the Final Leg of Our Journey
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."
Therefore, after three wonderful spiritually uplifting years, we deeded our single wide to my oldest son Kevin and flew non-stop with Lady Siena in tow back home. It took only two hours on Jet Express which is no longer in business. One reason could be the inexpensive airfares they charged and the fact passengers could bring extra luggage with them, in our case two huge bins packed to the brim and sealed. The rest of our things that we needed would be brought by Dave and Bill Magurl a few months later.
Again, we launched out not knowing where we would live in San Diego County, but confident God would guide us. I had reserved three nights at a hotel right on the beach in Imperial Beach that has since been torn down and rebuilt into a swanky timeshare resort, but in 2007 it was affordable as we arrived on the feast of St. Michael and, in effect, had our second honeymoon on the beach.
As the third day arrived, we had not really found anything viable and since the hotel was booked after our last day we had to look for another hotel. As I began to check into a hotel in Chula Vista, a kind gentleman mentioned a senior apartment complex nearby that allowed dogs. He gave us the address and I walked out of that hotel and we drove to the complex where, sure enough we found a cozy apartment for the two of us with Lady Siena. It was the first time since before Kevin's birth that we were just the two of us again.
Another interesting side note is that after we moved, Fr. James McGilloway, CMRI found an apartment there and now Fr. Gerard lives there. Because Kellin had moved back to San Diego and his living arrangements with a group of guys had turned bad since they were quite rowdy and there was suspicion of drugs, which he didn't want any part of, he moved in with us. However, that wasn't going to work very well since we had a one bedroom and it was a seniors only complex. Therefore KJ - abbreviation for Kellin Joseph - found on New Year's Eve in 2010 a two bedroom apartment on the first floor because neither of us were fond of stairs anymore. Low and behold this new two bedroom apartment that accepted dogs at the Summit at Mission Bay was just off Clairemont Drive and Cowley Way, the same street Cyndi lived on when I met her. It afforded the gentle ocean breeze above Mission Bay on the west side of Tecolate Canyon.
We signed a two year lease and were comfortable as one could be. Again, God had other plans a few years later when a new company bought the entire four block complex, changed the name and hiked the rents up considerably. It was more than we could afford and, with Kellin moving out, once again we began the search for a new place to live.
Coming Full Circle To the Finish Line
"Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."
In early November we had looked at a mobile home in Linda Vista Village and were waiting for a real estate agent to see another one when we decided to bide our time by driving through the quiet court to see what else might be available in this very inviting, well-kept manufactured homes village. We saw one for sale at space 111 and wrote down the number and called to set up a time when the agent could show us the home. Then we scurried back to the original one where the real estate agent met us and ushered us into this newer mobile home that had all the bells and whistles, but no bells and whistles went off in our heads. No wonder. The price was $109,000.
Discouraged, we still waited until the agent Randy Keller showed up to show the home at space 111. We weren't in the door ten seconds when, for both Cyndi and I, the bells were ringing off the hook. This was it. We loved it. It was affordable at $40,000. That's a steal for anything in San Diego and this home has 1500 square feet of well designed space overlooking the northeast side of Tecolate Canyon with a northern exposure so the sun does not beat down on the home. There is a cool ocean breeze that wafts through the canyon.
We said to each other then and there. This was it and it was going to be our last home. We were not moving anymore. One little problem remained. The seller wanted $10,000 down. Yeah, that was a problem. A bigger problem was that, even though we qualified credit-wise, no bank or credit union would grant a loan for an older mobile home and this was a 1976 model in excellent shape, but pre-HUD and therefore not eligible to qualify for a loan.
As the weeks groaned on, I became more pessimistic that we wouldn't be able to get the home since Randy had said there were a few others who had expressed interest in the home. Normally you would think that was a typical salesman's ploy, but in this case Randy is as honest as the day is long and he wanted us to have it. So much so that he confided to the seller that this couple (us) would take good care of her home and were good Christians. Yeah, that was one of his selling points to the lady who was selling the home.
Remember the doubting Thomas here? Well, Cyndi assured me not to worry that we would get the home and we wouldn't need to put any money down. I really put her and Our Lady to the test here because I told her that truly would be a miracle. Christmas came and went. The New Year arrived. Our lease was up and we had one month to get out of our apartment.
Then the miraculous occurred just as Cyndi said. The date was January 6, 2012. We got a call from Randy that the lady would accept our offer and that we did not have to put anything down and she would carry the loan. I was flabbergasted. This was truly a gift from God. Oh, you'll note the date was the feast of the Epiphany and kings bearing gifts? Well, here's another kicker for you: The lady's name was Noel.
To add to this we signed the papers on 1-11 for space 111 with the zip code of 92111. 111 is the ideal number for the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, just as 333 is a Triune number. More about that shortly.
Over the two years and four months in our home here, we've been blessed. Yes, Cyndi's health deteriorated and that is why God directed us to this home where she could maneuver her wheel chair with a wide hallway, a large bathroom and master bedroom and a kitchen with low shelves. It was ideal. God just knew. I guess I have to kick myself and ask, why would I ever have doubted my bride of nearly 33 years. She had a special connection with Heaven and practically everything that she foretold has come to pass, including her death.
She had said that she would know three days before she died. She knew and hinted as much to me on Saturday night when we spent a wonderful evening reminiscing over our 33 years together. The dense one here didn't pick up on her gist. We have a large digital clock and as we were setting the alarm, we talked about how many times she had awakened over the years at exactly 3:33 a.m. and resumed praying her Rosary before falling asleep again.
Shortly after midnight we decided to pray the Mass and listen to an inspiring sermon by Fr. Benedict Hughes, CMRI. She always loved that. Afterwards, we talked for a while and fell asleep around 3 a.m. We slept in and when I went to wake her around noon I couldn't. She was not responsive and I immediately called 911. The paramedics could not revive her and they raced her to Sharp Memorial Hospital just a few miles away. I called both my sons to alert them for they'd hold me personally responsible if I did not always inform them. Kevin and his lovely girl friend Erica arrived at the hospital while I kept Kellin and his devoted girl friend B.J. abreast by cell phone. In fact, with Kevin and Erica with her in the ER, I stepped out to get Kellin's call and grab a quick smoke. Yeah, I know, but I've been hooked since 1959 when everyone smoked. If I quit it would kill me faster. I realize it is the the only sin left in the world of political correctness but I have vowed that I'll quit smoking when they quit killing babies in the womb.
But back to Cyndi. While I was out, Kevin placed his phone by Cyndi's ear at approximately 3:30 p.m. and played a song mom and son had bonded over in the past. It was called "Journey" and at exactly 3:33 she awoke. To show she had a special affinity with her sons, shortly after she was released from the hospital in September she fell into a coma and none of us could revive her until Kellin arrived and just whispered in her ear, "I love you, mom." She awoke.
Now fast forward to April 6 at Sharp. I returned about 3:35 to find her feisty and wanting to go home. "If I'm going to die I want to die in my own bed" she exclaimed, determined to quit the hospital as soon as she could. Needless to say, she was surprised to find out where she was. Within half an hour they released her and I quickly drove her home and devoted the rest of the day and night to her. The next day PACE's Doctor Steven Oppenheim visited her at home along with the Mission Hospice nurse Stephanie to discuss what had happened the day before.
Cyndi admitted she was slipping fast and knew her time was short. All could see it. She kept a good front but I could see she was in pain and weakening. Later that day she had a couple pieces of toast and cream cheese and announced she was tired and wanted to go back to bed. I helped her back and made sure she was comfortable and asked if she needed anything else. She couldn't find her Rosary and asked where it was. We searched and found it between the covers. She clasped it her hand and wrapped it around her wrist so she wouldn't lose it.
I went back to finish on the computer and then retired for the night letting her sleep a while as I caught up on some reading and watched a replay of the Padres game earlier. About 11 p.m. I reached over to bless her as we did every night of our marriage. She was hot to the touch and I called Kevin in to help as we placed cool washcloths on her head and arms. She was really tired and mumbling incoherently so I made sure she was as comfortable as possible. I laid down and shortly fell asleep. I heard her mumbling around 3:10 a.m. and reached over to stroke her cheek and tell her I loved her and see if the fever had broken. She was still hot and so I refreshed the washcloths and fell asleep a few minutes later. When I awoke at 5:30 a.m. I reached over to see if the fever had broken and she was ice cold. I mean ice cold. It was then that I realized she had breathed her last. I called the PACE nurse Kelly to inform her because a nurse has to verify death. Unfortunately Kelly relayed that no one would be available from Mission Hospice until 8 a.m. So for the next two plus hours I just prayed for her soul.
Kevin had already left for work for his shift at Pro Flowers at 5:15 so he didn't know.
When the Mission Hospice nurse arrived shortly after 8 it was confirmed. I asked her how long it would take for a person to go from a fever to ice cold and she said no less than two hours or so. Considering that I was awake until 3:15 and discovered her body at 5:30 I did some subtracting and knowing how God has worked in her life, deducted the only time she could have died was 3:33 a.m. Anything else would not be fitting considering all of the Godincidences in her life.
I then had the burden of informing my sons. Fortunately they both understood and knew it was coming. It's just that when it does it's still a shock. They both expressed regrets that they didn't get to say goodbye and I corrected them that they did, many times and that mom couldn't have gone a better way. While my heart was sobbing, my soul was soaring for her soul. I truly believe that if she wasn't expressed into Heaven immediately, she will be shortly. Yet, satan constantly assailed her that she wouldn't even make Purgatory and to just give up and she wouldn't have to suffer any more. You know, similar to what the old devil said to Christ in the desert.
As a failsafe, Cyndi wanted to make sure that in her humanness she would not presume that she had salvation locked up. Therefore in her will she expressly asked for Thirty Gregorian Masses be said for her as well as one Holy Mass said a month for a year. I've told my sons that if mom is in Heaven, the Masses will not be in vain because they will be transferred to another soul more in need. That was Cyndi's wish all through her life as a victim soul, offering herself up for others in truly living the Beatitudes. In fact, that is what I decided to place on her grave stone that will be available in a few months: "Beautiful mom who lived the Beatitudes".
And so I end this long tribute to my soul mate. If you have stuck with me this far, God bless you. Writing this has also been cathartic for me to share what we shared. Hopefully it will be somewhat cathartic for our sons. I can only hope and pray.
I hope to be able to thank everyone who has sent condolences but with the computer problems I'm currently facing, I don't know if I'll be able to. Just know that I am so grateful for everyone's caring and extending their sympathy. I truly appreciate it as do our sons.
Now the Daily Catholic must continue even though the devil is doing everything he can to foul things up. Not only with my computer, but also with her death the
$531.00 for her Social Security she was receiving monthly as her only means of income means it will be that much tighter since now all I have is my Social Security income of $1200.00 a month to cover all our expenses, not to mention her past medical bills and funeral expenses. In all sincerity, I humbly ask that if you can help keep Cyndi's legacy fresh, and help me continue the Daily Catholic in whatever way possible, I will be truly grateful as will Cyndi from above. Please do it in her memory by sending a tax-deductible donation to Cyndi's Angels, a non-profit division of SANCTUS.
Looking back on our life together, I can take great consolation and encouragement that the axiom Cyndi came up with is more appropriate every day. She coined the phrase and our life together bears it out in having come full circle, because she always knew that "God writes straight with crooked lines".
Cyndi's loving husband and editor, DailyCatholic
Absólve quæsumus, Dómine, ániman fámulæ Tuæ Cynthiæ ab omni vínculo delictórum: ut in resurrectónis glória, inter Sanctos et eléctos Tuos resuscitáta respiret. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum Amen. Réquiem ætérnam dona ei, Dómine. Et lux perpétua lúceat ei. Requiéscat in pace. Amen. Ánima ejus, et ánimæ ómnium fidélium defunctórum per misericórdiam Dei requiéscant in pace. Amen.
Tribute to Cyndi
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