Aug 192013

My groom and I returned to my home, Whitley County, in 1984 to be married. Though we lived in Florida, we wanted to get hitched in the same church where my parents wed in 1955.

From our wedding, we drove my grandmother’s luxury liner of a car back to Florida while she flew. Our wedding gifts filled the car’s large trunk.

Most of the pots and pans and small appliances are worn out, towels thin and faded, glassware broken after nearly three decades of daily use.

One gift is distinctive and hangs in the front entrance where we see it daily.

A simple embroidered sampler in a wooden frame reads “Life is fragile – handle it with prayer.”

In our first apartment – a one-bedroom walk-up with a view of a laundry room – the sampler hung prominently. The sampler moved from that apartment to a 2-bedroom in Tampa, then to a townhouse in Evansville, and ultimately to our home in Newburgh.

The simple message is always there, as a reminder about the fragility of life, and how prayer can be both a question and an answer.

The person who so carefully crafted the sampler for us as a wedding gift passed away last week, suddenly. Julia Gulyas, 67, was a lifelong resident of Union Township, Whitley County.

Julia and her husband, John were our youth group sponsors at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Kaiser Road in the early 1970s. They were young newlyweds; I remember thinking they were almost as old as my parents at the time (who just turned 40).

Our own aging changes perspective.  John and Julia were just a few years older than the teens they chaperoned.

They were terrific role models for us. Most teens are unwilling to accept the wisdom of the adults in their own homes. Yet, a young couple like the Gulyas’ can make a lasting, positive impact on their charges, and did. Though I was a bit player in their lives, their willingness to champion young adults and demonstrate faith through caring is a lesson that always remains.

I was fortunate to maintain a relationship with them, through correspondence with Julia.

She would be astonished that she is the subject of a column. She was a humble person, yet she was often an organizing force behind helping others. She possessed the gift of grace, along with wonderful skills in sewing, gardening, and being a faithful friend.

Julia was especially tender and supportive to my own parents as my mother went through a nearly decade-long illness and then passed away in 2012.  After my parents moved to West Lafayette from Whitley County, Julia, John and others often visited them which was a special gift.

To those who dearly loved her, please accept my condolences.  The world is a better place for her having been in it.

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