Saturday, February 9, 2008

A review of the week and preview of coming attractions

This is a few days overdue.

First, a very heartfelt and sincere thank you to those who expressed condolonces, offered prayers, and showed some type of sympathy at the death of my grandmother. They were all very much appreciated.

Grandma's funeral was a good celebration of her life. The visitation period was not very busy, as she had been out of the loop for the last few years while she battled with the Alzheimer's, so there was a chance to spend a bit more time with each visitor/caller than some other funerals that I have been to. It was nice to catch up with folks and relatives that I had not seen in quite a while. It seems like these are the only times that we get together, sadly.

For her funeral, Grandma would have been very pleased and honored that there were six priests present, especially one who was her grandson. I firmly believe that most of them would have still been there had I not been a priest, as priests always held a special place for her. I know that there were more who wanted to attend, but were unable to because of other commitments. Thanks to all my brother priests who offered prayers and Masses for her.

The other aspect that was nice, at least for me, was that this was not an automatic canonization funeral, either. It was certainly hope-filled, and the good things that Grandma did in this life were extolled, but there were also discussions about her struggles, her failings, and pleadings that her generosity outshine her human weaknesses. This is what funerals should be.

Fr. Pat's (pastor at my home parish) homily was really quite excellent. He focuses on a key word or two that embody who that person was. He nailed it with 'abundance.' My mother was always mad at the holidays when there would be one dessert per person, and Grandma would cook enough food for 50 people, instead of the 15 or so that would actually show up. Yes, abundant indeed.

Her abundance was not limited to the groaning of the dinner table at the holidays, either. She was very generous to a number of charities, especially the local chapter of St. Vincent dePaul. She was Grandpa's primary care giver as he died of cancer 9 years ago. She rarely met a stranger, and had a huge gathering of friends with whom she would converse often.

Yet, the lasting image I have of Grandma and Grandpa is them, sitting together on their back porch at Indian Lake, watching the water and boats go past, listening to Marty and Joe call the Red's games. For someone who missed the last few years because of her struggle with Alzheimer's, this is a tranquil and peaceful image that will be with me for quite the while. It is a memory of my youth, of the guidance and wisdom that they shared with us, and the joys of keeping a simple life in the midst of a chaotic world.

God Bless, Grandma, may the angels and saints lead you to your heavenly home.

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