For Alma

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Denali Natl. Park, AK 2012

The world lost a beautiful soul a week ago today.  A devout and holy woman, Mary “Alma” Smith, passed during heart surgery, and those of us who were fortunate enough to have known her will forever miss this gentile woman of God.

I first met Alma at St. Williams Catholic Church in Troy, NY.  She was sitting a row or two ahead of my family and me, near the front of church, rosary in hand quietly praying while waiting for Mass to begin.  Beginning slowly at first, with a simple handshake at the exchange of a “sign of peace” during Mass, our friendship grew steadily with each passing Sunday.   At first appearance Alma seemed to be a typical grey haired “senior citizen”. However, as we began to exchange greetings before, and small talk after, Mass and as our friendship grew I learned that she was anything but typical.

Alma was fond of New York’s Adirondack Mountain Region.  She was an experienced hiker and although to my knowledge not an “official 46’er” she had reached the summits of many of the Adirondacks highest peaks.  She was intimately familiar with “The Yorks” located in Downeast Maine, and told me stories of York Beach and “The Nubble” that I had not previously learned of in the fifty some years my family and I have spent vacationing in this little bit of heaven on the Atlantic coast. Alma was a kind and caring person and a woman of great faith who believed mightily in the power of prayer.  Each time my bride and I were about to embark on a trip she would always send us off with a promise to pray for us and our safe return.  Thanks be to God her prayers were always answered and we returned safely from each adventure with even more stories to share!

Alma had an adventurous spirit and loved to hear of our travels to Alaska, Sweden, Finland and China, or anywhere else we had been or were going to.  She listened with great interest to our tales of travels to Stockholm, The Great Wall of China, to South East Alaska and the famed “Inner Passage” or to Denali National Park.  She repeatedly asked me to bring photos of our latest trip to Alaska for her to see… Sadly, and despite my best intentions to do so, I never did bring those photos in for Alma to enjoy… Until today.

Alma, I hope you enjoy this image which I now dedicate to your memory.  Peace to you… good and faithful servant of the Lord.

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