It Was Fascination…

stock_exchangeIn my sec­ond appoint­ment with Father Michael, he sur­prised me by talk­ing about the stock mar­ket. A long time before, I had told him that I’d inher­it­ed some mon­ey from my very spe­cial aunt. I explained that my inten­tion had been to stop work­ing at my very stress­ful job. I thought I’d take a break for a while and then try to find some­thing ‘ful­fill­ing’, non-stress­ful-and with­out a three to four hour round-trip com­mute.

Well, the econ­o­my and the stock mar­ket tanked. I felt uncom­fort­able con­sid­er­ing tak­ing a mod­est-salaried job from some­one who need­ed the mon­ey way more than I did. So I bus­ied myself with a few trips, some fam­i­ly wed­ding prepa­ra­tions and lots of genealog­i­cal research. I was amazed at times how quick­ly the days passed as I worked on the fam­i­ly tree. And so I explained all this to Father Michael.

We talked about my aunt, who was a true indi­vid­ual for her era. I explained how she some­times had worked three part time jobs, was fru­gal and saved. I told Father M how my aunt loved to swim in Lake Michi­gan and spent all her spare time on the beach in the sum­mer. She was able to con­vince one of her boss­es that she could do a full day’s work in four to five hours. She’d get to work at 6 AM and be at the lake­front by 11AM.….with her boss’s bless­ing. In the win­ter, she just went home ear­ly. This same boss was extreme­ly gen­er­ous with my aunt and gave her huge Christ­mas bonus­es. I remem­ber one for $6000 one year and $10,000 a few years lat­er. And this was in the ear­ly 60’s!  My aunt invest­ed in the mar­ket, with guid­ance from her boss. Father Michael remarked “the broth­ers and I often mar­vel at these amaz­ing women and the amount of mon­ey they amass.”  He was quite impressed. Inter­est­ing to me that rich women were the sub­ject of pri­o­ry dis­cus­sion.

Father M was also com­plete­ly intrigued by the stock mar­ket. He asked me some sur­pris­ing­ly blunt and,to be hon­est, nosy ques­tions. I answered most, but was tak­en aback by quite a few of them. One was about the approx­i­mate per­cent­age and dol­lar amount of prof­it I had earned the past year. There were more that were sim­i­lar to that; Father M was quite bold.He stared at me with those big eyes, look­ing com­plete­ly guile­less. I just stared back at him and didn’t answer. I very much had the feel­ing that he was try­ing to gauge exact­ly how much mon­ey I had in invest­ments. Per­haps I was wrong.….

Father Michael changed the sub­ject a bit and talked about his old­er brother’s loss­es in the mar­ket. He asked me what my broker’s new strat­e­gy was. I told him “Well, he’s always telling me ‘stay the course’”. Father Michael said that was what his broth­er was doing, but he hadn’t recov­ered all his loss­es. But he assured me that his brother’s busi­ness had con­tin­ued to do very well.  This con­ver­sa­tion just amazed me. I had nev­er expect­ed to dis­cuss this with Father.

Father M then admit­ted to being a lit­tle embar­rassed by his inter­est in finances. He relayed how he had been “prayer part­ners” with a lady in the parish,who had recent­ly passed away. He told me “You know I’d go over to her house and she would go over all her stocks and invest­ments and how they were doing. She knew I was fas­ci­nat­ed with them. But then it would be time for our prayer and I would find it dif­fi­cult to NOT think about those stocks!”  I admired his hon­esty in admit­ting that.

Fun­ny, now I remem­ber how I pur­chased some $20 instant tick­ets as a spe­cial treat for Father after the can­cer diag­no­sis. Father Michael was so excit­ed, but he put off scratch­ing the tick­ets till late in the evening. Lat­er he texted me that all he could think about dur­ing evening prayer was what he would do if he won a mil­lion dol­lars. So I’m think­ing “well, of course he’ll be help­ing the poor”. I was NOT expect­ing “Hey, I’ll be call­ing you from Hawaii”. Anoth­er time he told me “You know what hap­pens if I win, right?”  I said “No-what hap­pens?”  Father Michael: “I’m out­ta here!”

Father Michael — as he would say- “What a hoot !”

Karma, Lady Luck and Aquinas Institute

IllinoisLottery-Instant-Win

 

Father Michael loved lot­tery tick­ets, raf­fles and slot machines. I told him once about how my hus­band had ‘won big’ at a pen­ny slot machine at the casi­no. I felt a lit­tle embar­rassed admit­ting we liked casi­nos and the lot­tery. I explained to Father M that it kind of ‘runs’ in my fam­i­ly. Well, Father Michael was just entranced; I needn’t have wor­ried. He was a ‘gam­bler’ from way back. I had told him the big win sto­ry on the phone and a few days lat­er he was still think­ing about it and sent me this email:

I am blown away by the casi­no sto­ry. I have dreamed of a big win but it has nev­er hap­pened. When my dear moth­er was alive I would go with her and we’d have a ball. She would say ‘Fr Michael  let’s go to mass and then to the casi­no and we will come home and have a drink’. It was just per­fect. And I always laughed. She was much more of a win­ner than I  was.

One day we should sneak away and win a bun­dle!!!!

Bless­ings

Fr. Michael

Well, I was floored. Lat­er I found out that Father Michael also loved Instant Lot­tery tick­ets . He advised me too, that if he ever got a chance to buy any kind of raf­fle tick­ets, he always did. So that became a way that I gave small gifts to Father Michael-I’d buy him instant tick­ets! When there was a raf­fle tick­et avail­able, I got him one of those too. He was always so grate­ful -and sooooo excit­ed.

After Father’s can­cer diag­no­sis, I bought him some tick­ets every week. He would hold onto them for a few days before scratch­ing, savor­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties as long as he could. At one point, Father M con­fid­ed to me that he real­ly want­ed to win a mil­lion dol­lars for Aquinas Insti­tute of The­ol­o­gy in St Louis. Father Michael had so enjoyed serv­ing on the AI Board of Trustees for sev­er­al years. Gosh, I prayed that he’d win that mil­lion. He did win small amounts reg­u­lar­ly. A few times, he actu­al­ly won $100! He enjoyed treat­ing his broth­ers to piz­za with those wins.  But the ‘big win’ was not to be. I can recall some very fun­ny ‘rav­ings’ of Father Michael about the ’ low return’ rate of these tick­ets. Father M kept say­ing he was going to call up the gov­er­nor( a man with Domini­can ties) and take him to task about it. Father Michael was so fun­ny; he could get so per­turbed by los­ing. Once I had bought him sev­er­al extra tick­ets and lat­er asked how he’d done. “They were ALL DUDS!!!” he exclaimed, look­ing just like a deject­ed lit­tle boy.

Oh, yes we did go to a casi­no once. That was a trip. We had a snack ear­ly and then quick­ly got into the slots. I had brought a nice bankroll to share. I real­ly want­ed Father Michael to win some­thing sub­stan­tial. He was always so hope­ful. Well, we lost and lost! At one point I grabbed what I thought was $20 from my purse to give to Father Michael. It turned out to be two holy cards ! I laughed and start­ed to put them back , but Father M said “no, let me have them”. He read the prayers on the back first and then  pro­ceed­ed to tuck each holy card into the sides of his machine’s screen. Then he start­ed to rub the screen up and down as he remarked “I see all the old ladies do this”. The per­son sit­ting on the oth­er side of Father was watch­ing him, get­ting quite a kick out of  all the rit­u­al. THEN Father Michael rais­es his right hand and BLESSES the machine!!! I real­ly lost it then; I almost fell off the chair , I was laugh­ing so much. But Father Michael, as seri­ous as could be, was the pic­ture of devo­tion and determination—and HOPE ! We still lost. Nev­er got through my bankroll; Father Michael was anx­ious to get back to St Pius for prayer.

Father Michael loved to hear about my casi­no vis­its, espe­cial­ly as he became more home­bound. He’d often tell me ” You have good Kar­ma, I knew you’d do well”. I’d say ” we’re Catholics- should we even be using the word Kar­ma?” Father M would just smile. I’d often take a pic­ture of good hits at the casi­no and send them to Father Michael. He would always respond imme­di­ate­ly with a “Well done!”, “How much were you bet­ting?” or my per­son­al favorite, “YEAH!!!!”

Again these are some of the lit­tle things-cer­tain­ly world­ly-but I know all of them helped Father Michael in his can­cer bat­tle. Per­haps they were just dis­trac­tions from the pain and the dif­fi­cul­ties on the jour­ney. But Father Michael rev­eled in their sim­ple delights. On my last vis­it to Father Michael,  he told me “I sure would like to go to the casi­no with you again”.

FYI-if any­one would like to donate to Aquinas Insti­tute, here is a link to their online giv­ing page:

http://www.ai.edu/Online-Payments/Online-Payments-and-Donations

the Fr. Michael G. Kyte, O.P., Excel­lence in Preach­ing Fund, Domini­cans, 1910 S. Ash­land Ave, Chica­go, IL 60608. — See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/chicagotribune/obituary.aspx?n=michael-kyte&pid=170399841&fhid=6266#sthash.7K2dHOrY.dpuf

Also there is a new spe­cial fund ded­i­cat­ed to prepar­ing our future preach­ers study­ing at AI: The Father Michael G. Kyte, O.P. Excel­lence in Preach­ing Fund, 1910 S Ash­land Av, Chica­go IL 60608