Mad for…Rita

The greatest marriages are built on teamwork…a mutual respect, a healthy dose of admiration and a never ending portion of love and grace. (F. Weaver)

This week, a really special couple, Rita and Danny O’Malia, celebrated 50 years of marriage. I’m almost halfway there, since Tom and I will reach the 25 year mark this coming October, so I think I am just beginning to realize what makes a marriage great. Folks like my own parents, my in-laws and the O’Malias have all given me great clues about how to get there from here. Several days ago, I wrote about Danny O’Malia and today I’d like to say a few words about his amazing bride, Rita.

Rita is the mom and grandmother to a large and amazing group of folks, many of whom are close friends. I consider her a friend, too, actually. She’s sassy, thoughtful, and incredibly upbeat. She makes the world brighter with her sunny face and warmth. It seems to me that as one half of a terrific couple, Rita knows interiorly that a successful, long marriage isn’t about being perfect but accepting with love and grace the flaws of one another. I kind of adore the witness of both she and Danny on this point and have tried to remember that in my own marriage.

Straightforward, forthright and outspoken, Rita is stunningly generous with her love and her time. She’s nearly always had a grandchild under toe when I’ve seen her in the years I’ve known her, and she’s got the gift of hospitality without a doubt! She’s genuine and utterly unafraid to tell it like it is! Nothing appeals to me much more than authenticity, so this is probably one of the reasons I most respect her.

Rita is a faith-filled woman who always seems to be busy helping others. She fiercely loves, generously forgives, and her heart is beautiful. She’s a blessing to all and an example to everyone who knows her when it comes to perseverance through traumatic crisis. I cannot imagine as a mother myself conducting myself with the grace that Rita has displayed after the loss of a child. She’s the example of living our faith, trusting that God’s grace is sufficient, even when our hearts are pierced to inconsolable.

I want you to know, Rita, that I miss Shannon too. I continue to pray for you and your husband, Con and Danny, Jan, Colleen and all the rest of your clan. You honor Shan’s incredible memory by the way you live your life, by your frequently offered smile, and especially by the way you treat others kindly. CONGRATULATIONS on your 50th Anniversary! You are a fantastic human and I have mad respect for you!

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