It was 1976. Michael and Joanne Wagner boarded a bus heading for the March for Life in D.C. Everything about them proclaimed God's gift of life. Joanne was carrying baby number 13.
Somewhere around midnight, while on the bus... head resting on her husband's shoulder, at the very young age of 39 - God called her home. She died silently in her sleep. Many years later, some who were on the bus that night reported the little boy kicking in her womb.
Burdened with an anguish I could never imagine, Michael returned home... loss of his unborn child, and the love of his life, an empty bed, an empty home, to face the demands of twelve children without a mom.
Michael made no more than $25,000 a year. He worked night shift. So many demands. How would he do the all-consuming, overwhelming "it"?
Somehow, beyond human understanding... though not without the usual travails of life- their life radiated the incomprehensible but evident light of God's abundant grace. As an anecdote, somehow they found a way to put each child through Catholic schools.
My wife, Stephanie, was number 11. She was only five years old at the time. She shares a touching story of her first day back at school. Not quite understanding everything, she knew her mom expected her to have her hair in piggy tails (or "honkers" because her brothers use to pull them!). Not having her there to do so, her dad rose to the occasion. He used common twisty ties.
While Michael has since been reunited with his wife, they remain great examples to me... for my children, of a life well lived... that radiated a providence beyond our poverty, a completion beyond our calculation. They gave us the great legacy of this simple but formidable truth: What God calls us to, He will provide for.
|Had to include a photo with youngest brother Keith|
Greg Schlueter and his wife, Stephanie, are parents to seven children (one in heaven) and lead Image Trinity, a Catholic family movement committed to engaging families in the great adventure of discovering our identity and living IT - we Image the Trinity. (Get IT?) Also see the person and parish transformation movement at MassImpact.us.