November 18, 2022

Amid the pain, woman savors the joys and surprises of life

Pat and Larry Browne share a moment of joy from their 56 years of marriage. (Submitted photo)

Pat and Larry Browne share a moment of joy from their 56 years of marriage. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

Some memories have a way of making our spirits soar in gratitude.

Pat Browne has that feeling whenever she recalls the uplifting surprise that her husband Larry once gave her for her birthday.

“He loved to surprise me,” says Browne, a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Indianapolis. “He once told me when to be ready, but he refused to say where we were going.”

On that day, Larry drove her to a location in an open field north of Indianapolis where she suddenly saw one of her dreams rising before her—the inflating of a hot air balloon that would take them on a ride above the countryside.

“I remember the takeoff being exhilarating as we sailed up from the ground,” she recalls. “The early evening trip lasted for about an hour, and we coasted over Cicero and Morse Reservoir. We went up pretty high traveling toward the reservoir, but we were in the treetops along the lake at times, waving at people on their second-story decks. The ride was mostly calm and peaceful until we started descending and looking for a place to set down.

“We eventually set down in someone’s front yard in a spacious addition where some folks came out to greet their surprise, after-dinner, hot-air-balloon visitors. It was definitely one of Larry’s best surprises and a birthday present to remember.”

It’s a gift that still fills Pat with joy, one of the many gifts from their 56 years of marriage. She’s grateful for every one of those gifts and every one of their years together. And her gratitude continues even after Larry’s death about five years ago.

“My life changed abruptly when my husband of 56 years died after a difficult battle with kidney disease,” she says. “The grief I feel in this loss lingers, but the joy I feel for his release from suffering is its counterbalance. Because he loved Jesus so much, I know where he is. The veil between us is thinnest when I receive Communion and envision him standing face to face with Jesus. I am most thankful for this blessed assurance.”

She is also thankful for all the support she has received during these past five years—from their three children, from other people, from God.

“Since that day in late February of 2018, I have had to make many adjustments. I’ve had to ask for help and recognize my limitations. Through this, I’ve become aware of how blessed I am to have physical, emotional and spiritual support from a cadre of friends, family, Church and community that is beyond belief. I am grateful that I have all that I need. I’m grateful that I have this circle of love and support.

“I’m grateful for faith in the world to come. Life is full of good things even in the face of pain and loss. Thank you, Lord, for opening my heart to receive all this and more.” †

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