Filed Under:  Columns, Opinion

A Rose signs with nine choirs of angels

16th December 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
Contributing Columnist

Among the thousands uprooted from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Horace Charles Bynum, Sr. and his wife Ethel settled in Haltom City, a suburb of Fort Worth, Texas. He and his devoted daughter-in-law Rose quickly found their way to Our Mother of Mercy Church where they discovered a spiritual home with an embracing extended family.

They grew to like the area and Texas living. When they found us here at Our Mother of Mercy Church in Fort Worth, a brief introduction at our Sunday Gospel Mass was all they needed. They had found their aerie where they liked us as much we liked them. It did not hurt that I had come to know most of the Bynum family when I was in New Orleans.

Dr. Bynum celebrated his 91st birthday November 2, 2008. We simply claimed him all the more and grew more fond of him. However, what the hurricane giveth something else taketh away. For health reasons, the Bynum children wanted their parents back at home.

Torn by his new love of his roost in Haltom City, his attachment for us here at Our Mother of Mercy and his hesitancy to uproot once more as a nonagenarian, Horace debated sadly back and forth. Finally, the die was cast to allow his kids to assist him. Leaving Rose, he and Ethel would return to New Orleans, thus repeating a frequent post-storm drama.

The latter uprooting and return is often nearly as wrenching as the initial flight. But about three dozen church members celebrated anyway, roosting soon after Sunday Mass in Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen off the West Freeway. Horace and Ethel were beaming as we said “Au revoir!” through the powerful song, “God be with you till we meet again!”

Resonating clear timber in church, Rose’s voice stood out among the many other beautiful voices surrounding her. Her mien and demeanor told everyone that she could not only sing with clarity and beauty, but that she thoroughly enjoyed chiming in with everyone.

One Sunday, after she had belted out the music with those formidable pipes, I told her how much we appreciated her beautiful singing. “Well, I did sing professionally for a while,” she said pensively. “Anyway, the first time I came here to Our Mother Of Mercy Church with Dr. Horace Bynum, my father-in-law, I knew that I had found a family and a home.”

To look at her, one knew that Rose had indeed found a home. She was always the picture of contentment, always watching the celebrant of the Mass and nearby members of the congregation with interest and a trace smile. Then there were the moments when her trace smile broadened into full-blown, unfettered enjoyment of the prayers and songs of praise.

Although he was Rose’s father-in-law, no father could have been closer to her than Dr. Horace Bynum. He was her heart and she his. As long as Dr. Bynum remained in Haltom City, he and Rose were a constant tandem at the 10:00 a.m. Gospel/Jazz Mass. The split was painful for both Rose and him when he had to return to New Orleans for health reasons.

Thus, he preceded his beloved daughter-in-law’s return to the Big Easy by five years. There, his children, all of whom still live in New Orleans, were always at hand to help him in his declining days until he went home to God at the wonderful age of 94 on April 7, 2011.

Mother of Tina Bynum Green (Alfred), Angie Bynum and Adolph Bynum, Jr. (Kimbley), sister of Constance Spencer, the late Wilfred Robinson, Jr. and Marie Permillion, grandmother of Megan Green, Christian Bynum and Cahryn Bynum, Rose had won in mortal combat with cancer 10 years ago. This time, the cancer was more persistent, even though it went into remission for a spell. All the while, she was a brave soldier bearing up with faith.

Finally, the malignancy returned with a vengeance, attacking her liver and kidneys.
“I’m scared,” she admitted several times with a troubled face. “I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to disobey God. I want his will to be done in my life at all times.”

The malignant attack against Rose eventually reached the point where she could no longer move about freely. In need of 24-hour help for daily living, Rose flew back to New Orleans accompanied by her daughter-in-law Kim in September 2013 to live on a permanent basis. With most of her close family members living nearby to rotate if necessary, Rose would be able to receive round-the-clock assistance in her struggle against cancer.

Soon she was placed in Chateau de Notre Dame, a faith-based retirement community in New Orleans that offers a continuum of care including independent living apartments, assisted living apartments, skilled nursing care and rehabilitation services. Family and friends like Deborah Graham, Mary Ann DuCre’ and me were free to visit her at most times.

Abruptly, Rose was put in Passages Hospice for a day, until, at the relatively young age of 73, Jesus called her home. As a devoted mother, grandmother and daughter-in-law, she had run her race, she had finished the course with flying colors, with faith and love.

This article originally published in the December 16, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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