The Christopers: Finding Joy Despite Suffering
Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M.,
The Christophers’ Board of Directors
I recently read about a man named John Scott who had just passed away. His story had been written-up by his uncle, who cared for him for many years due to the tragic circumstances of his life. When John was just a baby, he lost his father in a horrible accident during a hurricane. And when he was six years old, John suffered a terrible accident himself. He was walking on a sidewalk when a speeding drunk driver swerved off the road and struck him, leaving him with broken bones and a severe brain injury.
In the aftermath of the accident, a cast was left on John’s leg for too long, leaving him with an open wound in his left foot that would never fully heal. John came to rely on his mother in his efforts at rehabilitation, and she taught him how to speak all over again. But then, when he was just 11 years old, his mother died of a heart attack. Thereafter, John and his sister were raised by their grandmother in Niagara Falls, NY. After graduating from high school, John got a job with Good Will Industries and later with Tops International. His work ethic was so good that he once walked seven miles in a snowstorm to get to work when the roads were so bad that public transportation had shut down.
But eventually, another tragedy struck. John was walking to the library with his aunt, and they were hit by a speeding car that ran a red light. Recalling the aftermath of that incident, John’s uncle writes, “He was 21 days in a coma. The doctors said he would never walk again. I then brought John and my sister here to live with us so my wife and I could care for them. That was 25 years ago. John arrived in a wheelchair, but with his strong will power and determination and after many falls, he was able to walk again—first with a walker and then with a cane.”
Through all of John’s suffering, his joyful nature became legendary. Everyone knew him wherever he went, giving him hugs and stopping to chat. Yet another trial came when the wound in John’s foot since childhood became cancerous and his leg needed to be amputated. John’s uncle writes, “The doctors were amazed at how well he took this tragedy, not complaining or crying about it, but being so upbeat, that they asked him if he would volunteer to be on call to speak to any patient they had who was extremely distressed at the prospect of having an amputation. John readily agreed.”
This calling to visit the sick came to define John Scott. He became a third order Carmelite, and, in addition to his work with prospective amputees, he undertook an informal ministry to nursing home patients, where he had a real knack with the elderly. John’s uncle writes, “If there were some who refused to eat, John could convince them easily. If there was one depressed, he could have them talking and laughing. And he always said, ‘I pray for you,’ to each one, and he would not forget to do so.”
John’s final days were marked by tremendous suffering, and he spent hours offering prayers for the intentions of friends, many of whom claimed those prayers were answered. May John Scott, who suffered so much, be a saint in heaven now, so that he might continue to intercede for friends, loved ones, and all those in need.
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