Friday, January 23, 2015


I don’t know if the movie, “The Bucket List,” intended to change lives, but I can tell you it sure changed mine! Was it because the two main actors, Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, discover that “misery loves company” is true, and it helps to have someone walking by your side when a life threatening illness catches you by surprise? You cling to your life as strongly as you cling to your new found friend. Not just any friend will do at this tender time, but rather a friend who knows what it is like to “walk a mile in your new shoes!” Something inside urges you to trust them. Somehow sharing a hospital room together gets the message across. They do not have to say, “I know how you feel,” because they have the blisters on their feet to prove they have done the journey. They wear a genuine smile that says, “They gratefully arrived at the other side of that mountain.”  They are able to share the life lessons learned. Some lessons can only be taught in the crucible of suffering, sometimes changing lives forever.

I, like many viewers of “The Bucket List” decided to write my own bucket list of things I would like to do before I die. A church wedding was at the top of the list. I married Patrick Mongan on May 1, 1974 at sunset by the ocean in Key Biscayne, Florida. I’ll never forget the two words that the Justice of the Peace said whenever our paths crossed, “It took!”  Even though this family friend’s words were few, they spoke volumes. In this day and age when marriages don’t last, ours took! Pat and I actually married each other twice that spring. After a month long honeymoon in the West, we had our marriage blessed by a Catholic priest. You would think a wedding and a marriage blessing to the same man would be enough; however I wanted to have our marriage blessed in a church

This heart’s desire became a dream come true during our thirty fourth year of marriage. What was once a passing thought, grew into a reality and a memory that would last a lifetime. With help from our four daughters and my “triple A” personality, things got done in record time. Before we knew it, the bride dress was purchased, the date chosen, the flowers selected, the cake ordered, the photographer booked, and the reception hall selected. All we needed to do is get me to the church on time.

December 28, 2008 arrived before we could even take a breather from the Christmas celebration. Our seven children, three sons in laws, along with our seven grandchildren arrived. They flew in from all parts of the country to share in the occasion. Even though it was a “Renewal of Vows,” not a wedding, I still felt like a bride. The guests commented that I also looked like a bride. Probably the veil I wore gave that impression! It definitely was not the red shoes that I just had to have. Love filled the church as this middle-aged bride walked down the aisle to marry “The Man of her Dreams,” once again. I had already shared his bed, birthed his eight children, rejoiced in his joys, wept through his sorrows, and was his doting wife for thirty-four years. As we read our vows surrounded by family and friends, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the Church.

 As we exchanged our romantic kiss, I felt like that nineteen-year-old gal again who had just met, “the one!”  My heart did a “quantum leap,” as in a flashback, and I was back at our first meeting.  I, an Air Florida stewardess from the Midwest, met my roommate’s cousin, a twenty five year old, third year med student at the University of Miami. This distinguished older man, Patrick, smote me. Then one spring day, he knocked on the door of our apartment. I opened the door and before Patrick could even say a word, I blurted out, “Peggy is not here.” Smiling with a mysterious grin he answered, “I came to see you.” Those words were few in number but big in winning my heart forever. Maybe it was that grin that still takes my breath away. It says to me to this day, “I love you!”  We were a couple from that day forward. Even though we only dated half a year, he proposed to me that October. I guess you could say, “He had me at hello.” I never wanted him to say, “Goodbye.”

In the time it takes to say, “I do,” I was back in reality. Our vows were said but this time affirmed with the maturity of knowing what a lifelong commitment really means. We had lived them. Our kiss was passionate and familiar and came with a security we had developed over the years. Kisses were an outward sign of our intimate oneness. They always say, “I love you best, no matter what,” without exchanging any words. I was grateful I had chosen Patrick for my “Happily ever after.” Taking his arm, and walking down the aisle to exit the church, I knew that he would always be at my side.

Our love which began with a knock at the door of my heart had stood the test of time. We have lived our marriage vows. It has been a journey of good times as well as bad, walking together thru sickness, and in health. Renewing our vows daily for richer or for poorer, and committing to stay together, until death do we part. We have walked hand in hand whether we were climbing a mountainous trial, or sitting in the sunshine of blessings. It has been the adventure of a lifetime. I think that our vows say it best:

Dear Patrick,

You are the man with whom I have shared my bed, my joys, my sorrows, and my dreams.
Yes and even shared my money with for the past thirty-four years.
You are the man whose parents I welcomed into my life and loved through the years.
Then together we sadly said goodbye to.
You are the man who embraced my parents as your own.
Then you walked by my side, supporting me lovingly, as we said a final goodbye, to my dad.
You are the man, with whom I have borne eight children with.
We have poured our whole heart into training, loving and supporting them.
You are the man that I walked with through the valley of grief, as we gave our youngest son Zachary, back to God.
Yet not a moment too soon for us to love him with all our hearts
You are the man that I have built family, made treasured friends, and laid down our life with.
On May 1, 1974 we stood before God, family and friends, at sunset by the ocean, and I gave you my heart forever.
I meant it.
I did not think I could grow more in love with you, but I was wrong.
I did grow more in love with you.
I continue to grow more in love with you every day.
I love the way you grin at me with that twinkle in your eye.
It tells me that you love me alone.
I love the way we have grown from lovers, into best friends and lovers.
I love the way you are always there, no matter what.
I love the way you have chosen to serve God alone, with all you heart.
Yes, Pat the pagan, has become, Pat the preacher.

Our love has matured.
It has stood the test of time.
So once again, I take your hand and renew our vows, pledging to love you forever.
 I mean it!
I don’t think that I could love you more, but this time, I know that I am wrong.
I know I will!
As we walk through our life together hand in hand, I know that I will grow more in love each day.
Out of all the men God could have chosen to be my husband, I am glad He chose you for me.
It was a perfect match.
You will always be my husband, my lover, my best friend, and my Knight in Shining Armor.
I will love you always and forever.

            Your forever bride,

Almost 34 years ago we made our marriage vows.  Like every young couple we had no idea what that really meant for us. Sure we had examples around us, both good and bad, but that was their marriage, and this is ours. I want to reflect upon the traditional vows as they apply to us.
First, I believe I married you freely and without reservation. It is interesting to me, and I believe a grace from God, that I have always believed that marriage is “forever”.

You and I are complimentary in the ways we love and honor each other. You are the romantic and bring spice into our life. I am “practical Pat” who tries to serve you and provide for your financial needs (and wants). God knows that I have not always loved as you deserve and God wants me to.  So, with God’s grace and your prayers, I pledge to work harder in loving you as God would have me love you. Although my love is far from perfect, I have loved no other woman as much as I love you, even my mother.

We have stayed together for better or for worse and I hope you agree mostly for the better. We have stayed together through those times when we were poor in Spirit. Even in those times when we were both poor in Spirit and could not really support each other, God carried us through.
I thank God that neither of us have had a really serious physical illness, but I pledge to work harder at loving you and caring for you when you are sick. I pray that we can both be as gracious and loving as my parents were during their final days on this earth.

You have been amazing in embracing motherhood and I thank you for each of the children you have blessed us with. Thank you for pushing me to be open to more, and more, and more children.  You are truly the Heart of our Home. As our family has grown, you have embraced your son-in-laws as if they were your own sons. You are the creative spirit of God in Our home, always looking for ways to bless me, the children, family, and many others, including many here in the Church today.

I pray that we will both continue to grow in our love for the Lord and each other so that we can brings God’s love to family, and all those we meet. 

I pray that in the coming years that we will grow together in our service of the Lord and the building of his Kingdom. Finally, I pray that when the time comes to go to the Lord we will be at peace, and filled to overflowing with Faith, Hope and Love, but most of all Love.            

 I love you Ellen.

There has been a bucket full of grace on our marriage from the day we said, “I Do!”  I would love to proclaim that our marriage has been smooth sailing all along as we danced under the moonlight with wine, roses and a song, along with kisses that never ended. However it would not be true. The decision we made on the wedding day to love each other no matter what, has guided us through valleys of despair and to mountaintops of great joy. No matter what; we face life together. Patrick will always take my breath away! 

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