Mad for…Barbara

A good deed is never lost. He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love. -St. Basil

Day 27 of 365.

Meet Barbara Schrader. She’s Tom’s aunt, the older sister of my father-in-law. I met her when I was a teenager, which feels now like a very long time ago. Barbara has been retired for some time now, but she spent many years as the principal at St. Mary’s Catholic School, which is at the Cathedral parish of the Diocese of Lafayette. I have absolutely no doubt that she was both wise and compassionate in that role.

For a number of years, she spent long stretches of time at her cottage in South Haven, Michigan, and it’s there that I got to know her best. Tom and I would sneak over together to visit when we were teenagers vacationing up there with his family, then later we did the same as a married couple with our young boys. She always greeted us with a warm smile and we’d begin the catching up and story telling. There was often ice cream or some other fabulousness offered– even if the house was already filled to brim with humans. She’s got a great sense of humor and her laugh is quite infectious. She’s a straight shooter who is unafraid to offer her two cents, and one would be wise to take her prudent advice. What I love most about her is that her faith and her fierce love for her large family have always shined brightly. Wow, does she love those children and grandchildren! I remember many, many sets of doll clothes sewn with great care for her granddaughters. I recall stories she loved to share about the sports exploits of her sons and grandsons. More than once, she asked me to pray for a specific family member who was struggling. She always, always inquired about my sister and my parents when she saw me. Also, she can be sassy, but I have never seen her be unkind.

When her brother became quite ill a few years back, I ended up spending some extended time with him (my father in law, Tom) up at the hospital in Michigan. Barbara and her husband, Jim, were very present during those long hours and we talked and simply tried to be present for him, together. Their gift of presence was enormously comforting to me as I did my best to watch over his care at the South Haven Hospital. She insisted I stop over and spend some time while we held this vigil for Grandpa Tom, and her friendliness and beautiful heart helped me to understand why she is beloved by so many people in Lafayette and beyond. Barbara is grace-filled and her entertaining stories always shed others in the best possible light. It’s so refreshing.

Presently, Barbara is mourning the recent loss of her amazing husband. This time of grief must be trying to bear, to put it mildly. She’s been on my mind and in my prayer. Please join me in asking God to fill her with the grace she needs. I hope she knows what an inspirational witness she is of what God intended a Catholic wife, mother and grandmother to be. She shines! God Bless Barbara!

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