Monday, February 15, 2016
Pray it Off - 2/11/16 Words of Remembrance - Anne Mary McIntyre
Anne Mary McIntyre Words of Remembrance By Ellen M. McCauley I first met Anne fifteen years ago when Clairrissa and my youngest son Vincent were in pre-k together at Holy Family School. I arrived early to pick him up one day and Anne was standing outside the classroom and introduced herself. A few minutes later I knew her whole life history! That’s the way she was. Then I saw her frequently at concerts, other school functions and at mass. We always spoke. I liked her. Eight years ago I started a group here at Holy Family called “Pray it Off.” On paper it’s a weight loss group but, through the grace of God, it’s evolved, over time, to be so much more than that. It’s become a place where those of us with addictions can go and feel safe, understood, accepted and loved. It’s a place where we repeatedly tell each other that God doesn’t say, “I will love you when you’re not fat anymore.” Or I will love you when you stop smoking, exercise more, get out of jail, stop sinning, gambling, swearing etc.” God loves us right where we are. Anne desperately needed that message, don’t we all? When she called me to join the group I impressed upon her that she would have to read the Bible, keep a food journal, attend weekly meetings and try to eat less and move more. She gulped, paused, and then said she would try and try she did. Each member has to sit at the same table every week and discuss the topic of the night with their fellow, nine or 10, tablemates. The first night Anne joined; she came to me after the meeting and said she wanted to move to another table. Concerned, I asked her, “Why?” She said, she didn’t feel at ease where she was and didn’t know the people or feel comfortable there. I asked her if she could just give it a couple more weeks and then we could revisit it. She never brought it up again but after a month or so, I said, “Okay, Anne, I’m moving you to another table.” With a panicked look, she asked why. I said, “I thought you wanted to move” and she said, “Oh no, I like it right where I am.” Through the years, those tablemates became her friends and confidantes. She loved them and they loved her. Each week a different table speaks about the Bible verse. We talk about it for five minutes and how it relates to our weight loss journey. When it was Anne’s table’s turn, she always spoke up and I was impressed and moved by her observations. Just two weeks ago she received an award for losing thirty pounds; she was so happy and we were so proud of her. We have a lot of laughs at Pray it Off. What a sense of humor Anne had. If I close my eyes I can see her smile and hear her laugh. Anne always said, “Thank you.” If I gave her a card or a gift, or called her, she would always acknowledge the gesture with sincere gratitude. She also intently listened. Often she would call me after the meeting and comment on something I said that night, like; “Hey, Ellen, you said you didn’t eat raisins, why?” And we would start with raisins and an hour later be still talking about everything under the sun. Members have to call if they miss a meeting and give me a valid excuse. I should have known something was wrong last Thursday when Anne wasn’t there and didn’t call. She always called. When she had problems a few months ago she shared them with me and the group. Her table and I tried to listen, offer advice, and make suggestions. When I got the call that she had died, I felt like I could have done more. I turned my eyes to heaven and said, “Lord, forgive me; I should have been a better friend.” Then I asked Him what was I to do now? And in my heart I heard, “Be merciful.” I thought about those two words. I mean I really prayed about them, asking God to show me the way. Then I knew what He wanted and I promised Him that the Jubilee Year of Mercy would not end in 2016 for me. I promised to memorize the works of mercy (feed the hungry, pray for the living and the dead, visit the imprisoned – all fourteen of them) and each day, of how many more years He gives me, I would strive to incorporate mercy into my life in Anne’s memory. Today, I invite you to join me; for what are we to do with this book entitled Anne Mary McIntyre? Do we close the cover, bemoan the tragic ending, put it on a shelf and never read it again or together, do we pick up our pens and continue writing and finish Anne’s story by filling the pages with acts of kindness, love and mercy.