The farm was my church. God was with us in the trees, the birds, the deer. I respected nature and admired the creations.
Paula and I raised our children to have a faith – we always said grace and reminded our kids that we need to be grateful and appreciate the things we had.
Paula always wanted to join a church, though. Her Dukabor heritage had introduced her to a different world than I was used to. He father, Michael Malloff, did not approve of the way the Russian community would cater to their spiritual leader – Peter Verigan (sorry about the spelling!) Michael was a hard worker and to him, it didn’t seem right that a man could become wealthy without doing the hard work. Michael withdrew his support for the Russian leader and although he remained a man of faith, he did not attend church.
Don’t get me wrong. Paula and I did spend some time at church – the first church we attended in Barrie was Burton Avenue Presbyterian. Paula taught Sunday school and Stacey was baptized there. But, when we left Barrie to move out to the farm at RR#1 we just seemed to be living in faith and didn’t feel the need for church.
Several months before she passed away, and I almost wonder if she knew it was coming, Paula joined Collier Street United Church with Stacey and her family. I wasn’t interested. I didn’t feel the need to advertise my faith or to be a church member. I didn’t see the benefit.
Paula would often attend church services to hear Dennis Posno preach. She’d come home feeling better – lighter – and sometimes Stacey would read Dennis’ sermons to me that had been posted on-line. I have to admit he was good. I enjoyed his sense of humour. He didn’t seem to take himself too seriously – and that was good enough for me.
It was November of 2010 when my world collapsed and I watched as paramedics took Paula away from me. I thought Paula was coming home – she always had come home before. She was strong. She had been a nurse. I was worried, but I felt that it was best for Paula. Stacey tried to bring her home where she had wanted to be – but on the morning she was to come back to me – she passed away. She made a journey that no one had really anticipated.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Paula – I see her in my dreams and I see her in my wake. I know I need to be with her – but for some reason the good Lord has decided that it is not my time.
I still have faith – and I am confident that I will be with Paula again one day in the House of the Good Lord.
For some time, I was able to go to church with Stacey and I really enjoyed hearing Dennis. He always made a point of coming over to me and asking me how I was doing. There were many others that did the same thing. I felt welcomed there at Collier. It made my road a little less “lonely” to walk down. I still missed Paula terribly but it gave me some comfort to know that the Minister had known Paula and had been the one to preside over her funeral. I joked that he was now presiding over my life – but not too much.
I feel grateful to Dennis for the gift he gave to my family and I. He must have sensed to “lay off” the preachy stuff and stick with the essence of Paula. He represented her life beautifully.
I think what I appreciated most about him was when he came to my home to gather stories about Paula – he sat with us and listened with an open heart for almost two hours. Okay – what I liked about him even more was that he joined us for a glass of wine. Wine, in my world, represents celebration. And I guess that night – we were celebrating and rejoicing in Paula’s life.
Between Ruth – who looked after Paula during her final moments and Ruth and Dennis – who continue to look after my family after Paula’s final moments – I have enough faith.
One day I will join Paula if I’m lucky enough – I know my family will be okay while they continue to accept the hand of our Good Lord. They will never walk alone.