Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 15, 2008
Marriage overcomes barriers erected by family, friends
Holy Spirit brings unlikely couple together from across a continent
Austin and Catherine Mardon overcame obstacles in order to launch a beautiful marriage.
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
When people meet my wife, after hearing her Dixie accent, they are curious how we met. On retreat, a monk suggested she join Ave Maria Singles. That led to the unconventional way we met.
Catherine is physically disabled and didn't think marriage was a possibility, but decided to turn it over to the Holy Spirit. She didn't know where Alberta was at first. I asked why she picked me out of the 100+ men who met her requirements for a suitor. She said anyone who listed The Quiet Man as his favourite movie was worth a glance.
I was afraid to tell her I had schizophrenia. I knew she was disabled, so finally found the courage. Her comment was, "That's interesting, so what?"
I didn't know Catherine had vast experience with the mentally ill. I tried explaining what schizophrenia meant, and in exasperation she said, "If you are trying to scare me, you'll have to try harder. I don't scare easily."
I sat crying that God had brought a woman into my life with the capacity for unconditional love.
We are in an age of communication. Without the Internet, I would never have met Catherine. One advantage of a long-distance relationship is without the tension of the temptation of a physical relationship, we had to talk to each other.
We spent hours on the phone. She sent over 400 pages of emails, which I know because Immigration made us print them out.
If we were to have a future, she would have to move to Edmonton, so a long visit seemed prudent. Before she came, she ran a background check and I had to find an appropriate place for her to stay.
Her bus was late and I nervously paced clutching flowers. A woman from church was with me and wondered if Catherine was a figment of my imagination.
When she finally came through the door, I was afraid to say the wrong thing. She was exhausted, but her playful smile calmed my fears.
I introduced her to my friends. Most asked if she had schizophrenia. She began introducing herself with, "No I don't have schizophrenia, but I have fallen on my head."
Months later, we discovered those who didn't ask assumed and were shocked to find out otherwise. They couldn't understand how a normal woman could fall in love with me.
Some friends have disappeared from my life. I guess she represented something they didn't think they could have and found it difficult to be around.
She made me so happy. I forgot our families would have serious concerns about how we met. Her family was in shock. I had people trying to convince me she must be hiding something.
Some were convinced she was a criminal, and passing FBI, RCMP and CSIS background checks for Immigration didn't help.
My family acted happy but was actively trying to break us up. When you're disabled, family can become overprotective and forget you're an adult.
Catherine's immigration was delayed because of interference. Our pastor postponed our wedding three days beforehand due to their concerns.
I was besieged by comments that she was marrying me for my money or just so she could immigrate. When I got upset, she told me that in five years, no one would care how we met and she'd live with me under a bridge if necessary.
AS GOD INTENDED
Eventually, the wedding was rescheduled, immigration was approved and our relationship was stronger for having survived. When I became angry, Catherine would tell me they loved me and were trying to look after my best interests. She has faith that things will work out as God intends.
Last spring, she became very ill. Doctors thought she was having a heart attack. When I came back from phoning her family and our priest, she was so calm. She said when you have eternal life in Christ, there is nothing to fear.
I was so afraid of losing her, when the cardiologist told me she was fine, it didn't sink in for hours. It made me realize how important she is to me.
She gets homesick, but throws herself into church activities. I made one extra promise when we married, that I would take my medicine. She said all she expected from me is to be as happy and as healthy as I am capable of. Anything else, she'll leave to God to help us through.
Having two disabled individuals in a marriage adds to the challenges. The most important thing we decided from the beginning was that divorce would never be an option.
When you start from that point, you know whatever comes up will have to be dealt with together. Having God as the glue that brought us together and holds us together doesn't hurt either.