It all starts with a loving family, and that was her blessing and privilege. Grandparents, loving and hardworking parents, and the good old-fashioned Irish neighborhood of Chicago’s Austin Boulevard cement her values and outlook on life. Her Irish girlfriends went to church faithfully, and Marysue always tagged along.
My mother personified Jesus with her unconditional love for both her older brother William and me, Marysue. As I stood in front of a large picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which she inherited from her grandmother, I understood her devotion to Jesus and that the picture was a stable factor in her upbringing. It hung in a prominent spot in the living room. The picture tag revealed it was purchased at Marshall Field’s, and it is believed to have been a wedding gift to her grandmother in the early 1920s.
“Grampa was an image of God to me growing up. He was a beautiful man, kind, gentle and intelligent. And rich!” Wrapping her hands around a large mug of tea, Marysue explained that he had a delivery business that allowed him to build a large house and carriage house on the property. Marysue and her family lived in the carriage house, but the children spent most of their time in the Big house. After the crash in 1929, Grampa lost most of his wealth and kept food on the table by keeping the church and the school clean. He was a janitor, and for Marysue, that was great, because she would see him during the day at school…
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Note from Alice: Marysue may be short-statured, standing 4’5” tall, but she is nowhere short on her love of Jesus. Asked “What’s new with you and Jesus?” she admitted that she really didn’t know where to start. Marysue has seven surviving adult children. Never forgetting the death of her firstborn, it is eight children in her mind. A mother’s love is endless, and it shows explicitly with Marysue. You won’t find much space left on her walls or shelves because plaques, pictures and statues reveal important messages about her love for Jesus. As I listened to her story, I glanced repeatedly at the “Love is patient, Love is kind” psalm. Stand in front of her refrigerator, and you will spend a good 10 minutes staring at her scraps of paper, sticky notes and reminders. One highlighted in pink reads, “I will not have my life defined by the behavior of someone else. It is a growing passion in my heart to choose love, to abide in the place of unfailing love.” For Marysue, that means rendering all to Jesus.
Biblical Note: “For I know the plan I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)