That Friday night in early February, Frank Stevens stopped on the long drive home after work to put in a call to his wife, Norma. He was on his way, he told her. It was just a matter of that three hour stretch of highway. But he’d be there. Another week was over.
How the next call came in at the Stevens household in Albuquerque, I don’t know, but it was from a stranger somewhere near Alamogordo, where the family used to live—not anywhere near the neighborhood they now called home. The announcement, so unexpected, must have left more questions than answers. And so that long first evening began unraveling.
Of course, by the next morning, the local papers had carried the awful news. Somehow, neighbors got the word, as well as the church. Everyone was so supportive, so sorry to hear, so wishing they could do something to make things better, to make things…just go away. But it wouldn’t go away, this fact that someone was never coming home again.
By the following day, the two Albuquerque newspapers carried the obituary announcement:
Francis X. Stevens, 41, of 2800 Cuervo Dr. NE, died Friday night north of Tularosa as a result of an auto accident. He is survived by….
There was a mention of his wife, his four children still at home, his four brothers—two in California, and two still in the Stevens home town of Chicago along with their mother and sister.
That too-brief rehearsal of his pertinent associations followed:
He was a member of the Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, and was a past Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus in Alamogordo. He came to Albuquerque three years ago. He had been the manager of El Paso Sonotone. He also was a retired senior master sergeant in the USAF.
In the blur, the routines of custom and liturgy provided structure to support mourning hearts.
STEVENS--Rosary for Francis X. Stevens will be recited this evening at 7:30 in Fern Chapel of Strong-Thorne Mortuary. Funeral Mass will be celebrated Tuesday morning at 9 at the Queen of Heaven Church. Interment in National Cemetery at Santa Fe at 11:30 a.m. with Father Paul M. Baca officiating. Pallbearers: Members of the Knights of Columbus Lodge.