Cherish – A Memoir of My Parents Incredible Marriage

Let me introduce you to my mom and dad, Mary Lou and Richard.

It’s a love story and more that inspired many who knew them during their 57 year marriage. For 46 of those years Mom used a wheelchair and Dad was her devoted caregiver.

They lived “every day is a beautiful day” no matter what life tossed their way, like children and family dramas.

For my parents, life was a daily renewal to achieve the impossible.

The stories and views in “Cherish – A Memoir of My Parents Incredible Marriage” are exclusively mine and some names have been changed to make it easier for readers.
Friends and family who experienced the truth of my parents unique and joyful marriage were thrilled I was willing to take on the challenge of presenting “Cherish” to the world.

Excerpt from a letter of Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb, 6/15/1988

God blessed me with the chance to visit Richard and Mary Lou in Cleveland as a result of a speaking commitment I made up there earlier this month.  We had about a half-hour together, one of the most joyful times I can remember.

This is the first time that I have ever really been in Mary Lou’s presence, so I cannot compare how she is now with what might have been previously.  I can only say that despite her disabilities, her personality comes through with such a charming and cheerful effectiveness that you do not notice the handicaps.  She has a great grace about the way she speaks, and what she speaks about.  Certainly, I felt better for the time we were able to spend together.  Richard is the perfect complement to her situation.  They both regaled us about some of the “life and times” of the Cleveland area, especially with pictures and stories about their ever expanding family.  It is beautiful to see how they count God’s blessings so forcefully and challenge for me to do the same.

I’m delighted to hear the archbishop thought he needed to follow Mom and Dad’s example to forcefully count his blessings.  That is SO the way Mom and Dad were, a force for blessings! 

Contact Therese Patrick via email  –  terri @ theresepatrick . com

Here are some interesting recourse links to review:

Check out mobility options with – Wheel to Walk Foundation: a non-profit organization that helps children and teens with disabilities obtain medical & adaptive equipment or therapy services not provided by insurance.

Use People First Language with – Disability is Natural for new ways of thinking and revolutionary common sense. Check out them apples!

My mom loved her CUSA family.  This unique writing group consisted of 10-15 people, each of who would write a two page letter to the group.  The letters were all kept together and continued in circle.  When Mom got her packet, after she read them all in a few days, we removed her old letter, attached her new one and mailed the packet to the next on the list.  There were pictures and drawings in these letters to the group and the bonds were strong with friendship.

Check it out at 

It is “An Apostolate for People with Chronic illness or with Disabilities” and is still known as CUSA which was at one time the acronym for “Catholics United for Spiritual Action” but is no longer limited to Catholics.  Mom really enjoyed writing and reading all the letters and building relationships all around the country.  

However, it needs to be shared that the CUSA acronym originally, or at least during my childhood, was short for “The Catholic Union of the Sick of America” – not IN America.  Regardless of that non-politically correct title, it’s a great program and Mom was always pleased when the CUSA envelope arrived.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Mom was instrumental in having the name changed to the more positive, “C’s United for Spiritual Action”.  

At one time she was in three different groups so was pretty sure to get a “Sick of America” packet (as us kids called it) of letters every few weeks. 
When I notified CUSA that I wanted to have their link on my website, here’s part of the response:

You may be interested to know that recently, because of getting so many appeals from others who thought our “..Spiritual Action” meant we were donating funds, we had a further name change.  We use “CUSA — An apostolate for the Sick and Disabled”. 
I had the pleasure of meeting your Mom & Dad one year when CUSA held a Day of Recollection in the Cleveland area, and I was able to attend it and meet the local area Cusans.

Thanks so much. 

God bless,

Anna Marie Sopko, CUSA