“These are the words of
him who is holy and true…
What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts
no one can open.”
Revelation 3:7 (NIV)
Doors have opened and closed in my life in ways that only make sense in the context of faith—a faith in God and a belief that things happen for reasons we often don’t readily understand.
I wasn’t much of a student in school. I wasn’t dumb, but I never really cared one way or the other, so when one college accepted my application, my dad suggested that I take it because it might be the only one that would come along (Door #1).
During my first week at college, I met a classmate who became a lifelong friend and opened my mind to public service. Upon graduation, I decided to stay in Dubuque and received my first job (Door #2).
Within five months, I met and fell in love with my future wife Suzanne (Door #3).
In the fall of 1968, at the ripe old age of twenty-two, I was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives (Door #4). Our twin daughters were born in May of 1969, a life changing event in anyone’s mind.
By 1972, I’d been elected to the Iowa State Senate, and in 1974, elected to the U. S. House of Representatives. In the fall of 1978, a door slammed in my face when I lost my re-election bid. My wife and I accepted positions in the Carter administration (Door #5).
When Carter lost his re-election bid, within months, Suzanne became the business manager of a community action agency, and I became an administrator at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids (Door #6).
Later that first year, at the suggestion of friends, we entered the program for the Permanent Diaconate in the Catholic Church. After four years of formation and education, I was ordained (Door #7).
An offer came to head up the economic development program at the Chamber of Commerce in the fall of 1987, opening a door to a new career in public service that lasted twenty-four years (Door #8).
At one point, I felt the call to run for governor—a call that turned out to be a wrong number. Shortly thereafter, two life-altering events changed everything: I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and Suzanne with early stage Alzheimer’s disease. We moved back to Dubuque. Suzanne was offered the job she’d always hoped for, Pastoral Administrator of two Catholic parishes (Door #9).
Within months, her short-term memory worsened significantly. By the end of a year, she had to resign. We moved to take advantage of the services available in Naples (Door #10). I tried to take care of Suzanne myself, but eventually had to place her in an assisted living facility that specialized in memory care where she spent her last three years.
People call Alzheimer’s disease “The Long Goodbye.” It took eight years for us to say goodbye to our forty-nine years together. As painful as that was, it too led to another door opening (Door #11).
In grief support group, I met a wonderful woman whose husband had died of a different type of dementia a few years earlier. We found mutual comfort in each other’s company and gradually found love in each other’s arms. This latest door opened to both of us on December 30, 2017 when we were married at St John’s.
Our lives are a series of ever-closing, ever-opening doors swung by the hand of God, each an invitation into His Holy Presence. My prayer is that we accept what lies ahead as lovingly as we hope our Creator will accept us at the end of our days. Michael Blouin