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A Woman’s Work and a Woman’s Worth?

This is a great question and an even more haunting song by Kate Bush.  It’s been a few weeks since my friend and mentor Melodie Winters passed and I have had time to reflect on her life, love and passion.  I have resisted reaching out to her husband Fred because I know he is still mourning and hurting so much inside and that he will forever have this deep void.  However I can’t help but to remember what my Uncle Bob once told me when my beloved Grandmother died.  He congratulated me and my father for having such an awesome person in our life and told us we should be happy because now she is home!  I always thought my Uncle Bob had a screw or two loose.  After all, this is a man who not only went to Notre Dame, but considers himself an actual scout for the school.  But his passion didn’t end there, oh no.  Uncle Bob and my father use to go to a Notre Dame game every fall for nearly 30 years.  We would get so excited and hopped up on adrenaline before the games.  The night before the games however Uncle Bob would quiet the dinner table and remind all of us that the game starts at 1:00 pm but mass in the cathedral starts at 4:30 so as soon as the game was over we had to quickly leave the celebrating fans in the stands and briskly walk over to the cathedral to be at mass.  My father would often get agitated by his insistence on this (apparently since the 1960’s uncle Bob pushed him like this) but he would always stand firm and tell my father “John, if your not in church you are missing the whole reason for us being out here”…My Dad would nod silently, mumble under his breath and the next day after a big victory over USC we were running to church while all the drunken Notre Dame fans got to storm the field in jubilation.


I’m not sure when or where it happened, but during one of these trips to South Bend we all decided to stop at the famed grotto for our lady.  It’s a serene and sacred place with candles, people praying, kneeling and saying the rosary.    Some are deep in meditation, while some are crying for reasons only known to them.  As I sat there with my Uncle Bob and my dad and several of his friends I was swept up in emotion looking at the statue of this woman, our mother.  Her sacrifice, her work and her pain for all of mankind is always revered but sometimes taken for granted.  We seem to only pray to her when things get rough or life gets grim.  As I sat there a wave of emotion came up through me and I was fighting a lump in my throat and hoping not to cry in front of my father and his friends because young teenage boys are never ever supposed to show emotion.  My dad came over and sat down next to me and in a whisper explained to me the significance of the grotto.  In 1965 he went to South Bend with Uncle Bob while my mother was nearly 3 months pregnant.  It was no secret that despite my fathers love for my two older sisters he wanted to have a son.  While they were out at Notre Dame my father and Bob stopped off at the grotto and my uncle took to his knees, lit a candle and said a prayer.  When they returned home a few days later he took my mother and father aside and told them “I prayed to the blessed mother and lit a candle for your new son John”.  My parents didn’t even know the sex of the baby let alone a name but he was insistent that his prayer to the mother would be answered.  There was no reservation, hedging or anything to indicate he wasn’t 100% sure that a son would be born and his name would be John.  On April 25th 1966 John Brian Busacca was born in Brooklyn, New York and they chose to make Bob Parnell his Godfather and thus “Uncle Bob” was born.


Through the years the trust and faith that Uncle Bob placed in the lord has always inspired me and sometimes puzzled me.  He was actually congratulating my father and me that our Grandmother now gets to go be with God and meet Jesus.  This was no act by the way, this was genuine and certain.  I have never met another man like uncle Bob to this day; however the passing of Melodie reminded me of him so much.  Her certainty and trust in not just the Lord but the Holy Spirit was always puzzling to me.  When things would occur and there were hardships or obstacles of even the most menial nature her and Fred would kind of shrug their shoulders and say “It’s up to God” or “its Gods plan”.  With her passing I had time to reflect, and despite my wife and I being obviously upset at losing our friend, a strange calm came over me.  All I could think was how lucky we were to have met someone like this.  We go through life seeing hundreds of people every day and meeting thousands of people in our life but how many can you point to and say “that right there is a Christ like person”?


We were blessed to have spent the last several years in the presence of Fred and Melodie and to give countless Marriage Encounter weekends with them.  As her illness became increasingly worse she and Fred did not want to discuss it or take a break because there was the Lord’s work to be done.  I remember some weekends being scared that she would not be able to finish the weekend but they both persevered forward much like our Blessed mother and carried out the Lords will.  This got me thinking of Mary not as our mother but as a woman.  Mary was not a dumb woman and was a very religious woman as we all know.  When told by the Angel of God’s desire she accepted it and loved and nurtured her son Jesus, all the while knowing what the scriptures had said.  She had to of known that her beloved son would be crucified by the same mankind the lord was trying to save.  She didn’t say “I want out” or “I can’t go through with this Lord”…she simply put her trust into the lord and said “let thy will be done”.  Despite absolute physical pain and illness, Melodie along with her husband Fred continued to encounter hundreds of married couples and saved countless numbers of marriages.  When we would get in a tough spot with a couple I would always think to myself “WWWD” which stands for What Would Winters Do?  A  calm would come over me and despite my misgivings things always seemed to work out.  The trust they placed in the lord was inspiring and the love they had for Marriage Encounter was amazing.  They were true apostles of God but not in today’s sense.  They remind me of the type of Apostle Jesus wanted when he walked this earth. A would be follower told Jesus he would follow him anywhere and when Jesus told him to “come follow me now” he replied he needed three days to bury his father.  Jesus replied to him “let the dead bury the dead but your duty is to go and proclaim the kingdom of God” There is no doubt in my mind that Melodie would want me to go and proclaim the Kingdom of God instead of writing about her.  And so I will.


It is very rare in life to come across a person the caliber of Melodie, yet I have been blessed to come across dozens of people like this but I just haven’t taken the time to realize it.  So today I think I will stop mourning for Melodie and take a queue from my dear old uncle Bob and celebrate the fact that Melodie has received her greatest wish and is with the Lord and standing next to our blessed mother and marveling at all the work she did for thousands of couples throughout the world.  Her work is finally over but her worth will never be replaced nor can it be calculated.  She gave so much of herself for the sake of others and it will never be forgotten.  On a side note, in 2000 I went back to Notre Dame with my Dad and Mom and Uncle Bob while Jeanny was pregnant with our second child.  I sat with my mom and dad at the grotto of our Lady and my mother quietly told me the same story that my father did so I got up, lit a candle and said a prayer for my unborn child named John Mark Busacca who was born several months later in December 2000.  I intend to go back to Notre Dame this October with my mother to spread my fathers ashes on the lawn looking up to the ‘touch down Jesus’ sign and I intend to light a candle for my father and for Melodie at the grotto and thank them for their work and their worth to me.


As for me, I’ve decide to call my Uncle Bob and catch up.  We haven’t spoken since my father died.  In fact since my dad died I haven’t talked much to anyone including my wife and have been stuck in mud for much of the last 7 months.  I think its time to stop mourning my father and ask myself “ WWWD”?



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July 30th, 2012




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