Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Truly Gentle Man: Joseph Francis Geiger

Seeing Joseph (Joe) and his wife Kay Marie together always touched my heart very deeply. I don’t know that I’ve seen many other married couples who have shared such a profound love, tenderness, compassion, and gentleness as the two of them did.
The last time I saw Joe and Kay Marie was soon after he was recovering from surgery. When I showed up at the hospital, Kay Marie was right by his side, as per usual. They were both paying close attention to the speech therapist who’d come to teach them the exercises that Joe would need to do in hopes to regain his ability to eat and drink again.
Not wanting to disrupt or distract from this important lesson, I stood at the end of his bed and acted out the exercises he was supposed to do as the speech therapist described them and had him try to do them, too. Joe did the best he could with each one, and then with a smile admitted he didn’t feel that it wasn’t right for him to be sticking his tongue out at ladies.
Joe and Kay Marie possessed the rare, deeply cherished gift of being loving, gentle, truly present listeners. They made you feel as if you were the only person in the room when you talked with them. Their compassion and love for one another spilled over onto each person who came to them. Such tangible acceptance and openness to others made them such powerful witnesses to Christ’s self-sacrificing love.
They were always so humble and unassuming, warm and inviting. Looking at them, I could just tell that God loves them both so dearly. His presence is so strong at work in and through them. Their marriage was such a sacred witness to the vocation and Sacrament God has always intended it to be.
Saturday morning, October 29, 2011, Kevin and I attended Joe’s funeral Mass held at Church of the Epiphany. The Memorial Mass was truly a celebration of Joe’s life, his strong Catholic faith, his Christian values, and the legacy of love he has left behind.
A number of family members and friends had gathered for the Mass, including seven priests. (Former Epiphany pastor, Monsignor Shreve, who led the ceremony when Kevin and I married there Sept. 4, 2004, was one of the many priests in attendance.) Joe and Kay Marie had worked closely with a number of priests as they headed up the Rachel’s Vineyard post-abortion healing retreats in the area for many, many years. Because of their work in this ministry, I found myself smiling at the funeral, thinking of how many babies would be in heaven ready to greet him when he arrived. A number of mothers and fathers who had abortions over the years found a great deal of Christ’s healing in their lives when they encountered the loving presence of Joe and Kay Marie.
Joe and Kay Marie have been two people that have deeply touched my life and many others. I joined others in praying for the repose of Joe’s soul at the same time feeling that God would surely welcome such a kind, gentle, Christ-like son into Heaven with open arms.
To read Joseph Francis Geiger’s obituary, click here.
Lord, thank You for the gift of Joe Geiger. Have mercy on his precious soul and wrap Kay Marie, his daughters, and all the loved ones mourning his loss in Your love as You bring peace which passes all understanding to all in Your role as Holy Comforter. Amen.
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