A few years after the Civil War, the Irish, Italians and Germans of Columbus, Ohio came together to build a picturesque church just west of downtown in the historic area known as Franklinton.
Residents in the area would open their windows and listen as the large church bells pealed every Sunday morning precisely at 8:30 a.m., and the Holy Family Church began a unique service that drew people from throughout Ohio. The priest celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass, the old form of worship for centuries within the Catholic Church.
Brenda and I decided to make a trip to Columbus one Sunday to attend Mass at Holy Family. The classic hymns, liturgy and tradition, heartwarming and uplifting, harkened back to a time when churches were full, and the difference between right and wrong was straightforward.
After the service, Brenda mentioned we needed to stop at a grocery store to pick up a few items for lunch. We pulled into a Kroger store parking lot and Brenda entered the store.
A few minutes later, I decided to join her. “I’m going to get a few items from the bakery,” she said, walking toward a glass case.
A grocer was stacking some boxes and we were making small talk about the Columbus Clippers baseball team and the warm weather we were enjoying.
As we talked, a young woman dressed in a nurse’s uniform rolled an elderly woman in a wheelchair toward us. The nurse maneuvered the lady closely to where we were standing and said, “I’ll be right back,” as she picked up a basket and headed toward the meat counter.
“How are you, young man?” the elderly woman asked, with a large smile that consumed her entire face. “Isn’t the weather beautiful?”
I asked her if she liked baseball. She said that she and her husband both enjoyed the game but didn’t get out to the ballpark as much as they would like.
“John, my husband, is still quite active, but I have slowed down a bit. I need this buggy to get around, as you can see,” she said.
She was quite talkative and went on to say how much she and her husband loved Columbus and how they had recently opened an office at Ohio State.
“What does your husband do?” I asked.
“He gives advice. But I don’t always listen,” she said with a hearty laugh.
Within a few minutes, the nurse returned and told the elderly lady she was ready for them to leave. With that, the elderly woman smiled at me and said kindly, “Thanks for talking with me. You made my day!” as she waved goodbye.
The grocer shook her hand, and although she was a stranger, I did, too. She was a nice lady who seemed to genuinely enjoy chatting with us.
“Do you who know that is?” the grocer asked, after the ladies left the store. “That’s Annie Glenn. John is sitting in the car. They live across the street in an apartment.”
“I had no idea,” I said, as I rushed out of the store. I saw Annie and her nurse, but John wasn’t there.
Apparently, he had become tired of waiting and walked across the street to their residence.
Sadly, Annie Glenn passed away on May 19, 2020 at the age of 100. She had died from COVID-19 complications while living in a nursing home in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Another nice woman, not as famous as Annie Glenn, passed away on March 27, 2020 at her home in Wilmington. The nice lady, Betty Miller, was an equally caring person.
On April 18, 2018, I had written a column for the Wilmington News Journal about the crash of the “Flying Boxcars” that had occurred in Clinton County near the Nial Henry farm on Saturday, April 18, 1964.
I mentioned Nial and Susan had attended a folk music Hootenanny concert featuring Steve Miller and Terry Moffitt, billed as the Buffalo Boys, at the Wilmington Junior High School the night of the crash.
Two days after the column appeared, I received a touching letter from Betty Miller.
“Dear Mr. Haley,” it began. “I had to catch my breath when I read your column on April 18 and saw your reference to Steve Miller and the Buffalo Boys. Steve is my son and his birthday is the 18th. The air crash occurred on his 17th birthday. The day I read your column would have been his 71st birthday. Steve passed away unexpectedly in August 2012. Many will call this a coincidence. I do not. This was a spiritual moment for me.”
Mrs. Miller went on to say, “Events that take place in my life happen for a reason. God has a plan for us all,” she said. “He decided to give me a special gift, your column, on Steve’s birthday. Thank you.”
Sometimes we touch people without touching them. We touch them with words, and they in turn, touch us with their kindness.
Pat Haley is a Clinton County native and former county sheriff and commissioner.