Jim O'Leary

Waverly Star

By Jim O'Leary

An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.

  May 17, 2004

A bit of beauty, love, and faith reflected in our hearts

Rest in peace Sister Rose Dulcina Fitzpatrick, C.S.J.

I heard from Maureen Tuma, the daughter of Raymond (Red) Fitzpatrick and Lois (Martinson) Fitzpatrick, and then, from Dan Herbst, Maureen's first cousin, that their Aunt Rose had passed away May 8. Dan wrote:

Today, Mary Kay called me to tell me about the death of Sister Rose Dulcina. I spent most of the rest of the day thinking about her.

Yesterday eve, when her time was coming to an end, Mary Kay, Virginia Padden, Corinne Fitzpatrick (Bernie's wife), and a few of Bernie's children, spent the last few hours with her. In effect, they prayed she would leave this earth since her body was struggling to stay, but, mentally, she had moved on.

The Good Lord answered their prayers and took her at about 3:30 this morning.

I spent the evening with a bottle of wine at sunset, and instead of getting down and crying, all I could think about was what a joy that lady was, and how much happiness and love she shared with all of us.

I am so glad I had so many occasions to visit with her at Bethany Convent, on the campus of St. Catherine's College. How I enjoyed each visit I had with her.

I took my daughter and my new granddaughter to see her this winter, and she went ballistic holding the little girl, Lauren, and showing her off to all the nuns at Bethany. She just held the little girl for over an hour, and the twinkle in her eyes I can still see this minute.

Sister was always so proud of Bethany, and she took me on many tours, including the kitchen, boiler room, and inner workings of the place. She gave me a tour like we were on a luxury liner.

It is an impressively run place, and does not have the make-up of a typical nursing home. It is spotless and bright. (The Men's Room off the lobby had a little sign that said, "Don't even think about smoking here." It brought back memories of the "Don'ts" from our days at St. Mary's. I have never smoked, but I was tempted to light up one just to see the blood pressure rise from some retired Mother Superior.)

Last fall, when I went to see her, everybody told me she wouldn't know who I was. Well, when I went to the lobby to meet her, she hollered out loud, "Danny boy!"

I brought her a large plant and some candy from my daughter in Switzerland. The next thing I knew, she towed me up to her third floor room, which was the same size as my wife's walk-in closet, and sat me down and told me the following:

"Dan, just look at my wonderful room. See the small window over the radiator? I get to see the sun rise every morning through that window. And, look, I have my own closet with four dresses, and blouses, and skirts, my own bed, and my own desk.

"How much more could anyone ask for? This is the most wonderful place in the world to spend the last few years of my life."

I couldn't help crying then, but I kept her from seeing me cry. But I'm crying now.

She next dug through her desk and pulled out many pictures of her mother, Grandma Katie, and the entire Fitzpatrick family. She told me, "Your own mother, Duly, and Grandma Katie came from a mold that was thrown out, and never to be recast."

Well, we are down to Bernie, Red and Colleen now in the Fitzpatrick clan. They are all unique and I hope we can have a lot more time with them. Sister Rose Dulcina was very, very special and I will miss her but now I know I have a direct link to the Big Dude upstairs.

Maureen Tuma, Red's daughter, had written to me earlier by email:

It is with great sadness that I tell you that Sister passed away at 3 a.m. She had experienced another stroke, and she went very peacefully. I didn't see a lot of Sister over the years, but she was never far from my thoughts.

"She lived and brought unto this earth a bit of beauty, love and faith, and now her life will ever be reflected in our hearts.

The forgotten war

Mrs. Don Smith (Gerry), had spearheaded the photo project for the veterans of World War II, which now contains hundreds of pictures, all framed and on display.

She is now trying to do the same for Korean War area veterans. Photos should be 3 inches by 5 inches and sent to Mrs. Gerry Smith, 1903 North Shore Drive, Waverly, MN 55390-5509. For more information, call (763) 658-4294.

Some very welcome email

Hi Jim. My name is Joe Decker, the son of Bob and Angie Decker, and Joe Decker's grandson. I'm printing out a pile of your old columns that I found on the Internet, to show to my mom and dad (they're not online. . . yet).

Reading about the parties out on Decker's Point brought back memories, even for me. In the mid ‘70s, they were still doing parties out there. I was only 6 or 7, but I used to wait at the gate, and open it for all the cars that came through. Many of them would give me a quarter as they went by, so it wasn't a bad place to hang out.

The singing was also one of my favorite parts. Usually, Clayton, Gerald and Don Borrell started it, with Bob Zeller, Vince Decker, Jerry Sexton, and a few others all joining in. I usually stayed in a camper on the farm, and was never happy when it was time for me to go to bed.

I still spend quite a bit of time out there. Although the houses next door put an end to the parties, I will always have those great memories.

More childhood memories

Fyodor Dostoyevsky said, "You must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome for life in the future, than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of home. People talk to you a great deal about education. But some good, sacred memory preserved from childhood is, perhaps, the best education. For if a man has only one good memory left in his heart, even that may keep him from evil. . . and if he carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe for the end of his days."

Jim Kemp subscribes to that idea. I just heard from him this week. He is now a happy, successful businessman, Korean War veteran, proud father, and devoted husband. Jim and I both believe "it takes a village to raise a child."

He attributes all his success to the memories he had of the men and women of Waverly who saw him through an impoverished childhood after he had lost his mother when he was only five years old. He has been forever grateful, as the following tribute he wrote demonstrates:

As you know, Jim, this past year I returned to my roots, after 60 years of being away, to the area of my early youth and birth place, just a few miles from Waverly, where so much kindness and caring was shown to me.

One of the many was Bob Decker and his family. He now is retired and lives one mile west of Waverly. I called him to invite his wife and himself to dine out with me at the favorite restaurant of their choice. Instead, he asked me to their house, along with Zip Zeller. It was a week before Christmas, and we had a very heavy snowfall that evening, with everything covered.

After a wonderful dinner, and reminiscing about all the Waverly kids of our time, an evening that went by far too fast, I left for home during another heavy snowfall. The flakes were what we, as kids, called ‘Dick Tracy flakes.' I headed into Waverly, away from Bob Decker's house. Going past the old public school I attended. I stopped the car, and then very slowly, got out and walked all alone, nobody in sight, up through Main Street.

The lights on Main Street were lonely beacons for me in the thick snowfall. Suddenly, there was a magic moment. I felt myself back in time, 60 years ago, with my faithful dog Pal, the most loyal and loving animal I was ever to know in my lifetime.

I walked past the priest's house and St. Mary's Church, both on my left; on the right, Martinson's Liquor Store; on the left, the intersection where Jimmy Hughes' store was; across the street, Henk's Drug Store, then the post office, Ogle's Cafe, the movie theater, Franske's store, the bank, Litfin's Barber Shop, the bowling alley. . . the tears were welling in my eyes. I walked all the way to Mumford's house before I turned around. My dog was gone by then.

God gave me a glimpse of what might be heaven for me that night. I will try to be faithful to Him so that all this comes true and I will, once again, see all the things, places and people I had grown to love.

For previous issues of the Waverly Star, see the web site at www.herald-journal.com/waverlystar.

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