It’s easy and I suppose natural to be swept up in the stirring reaches of history, the epic of the saints or the amazing feats of yesteryear. But we shouldn’t allow that to obscure tasks undertaken which are every bit as inspiring. Maybe more. Right next door.
Or eight tenths of a mile south on Main Street. In my daughter Susanne’s house where she, her wonderful loving husband David and their three beautiful children have been caring, for seventeen months, for my wife’s sister. Their Aunt Eileen. A woman who never forgot Susanne’s birthday or any birthday, Christmas, First Communion, Confirmation, graduation, marriage of her or her five brothers. Then later all those same events in the lives of Susanne’s children. Indeed who insisted upon hosting those same children, and their friends, any of their friends, at her retirement home in the Adirondacks for vacations for as long as they would stay.
But then in the words of the famous gospel song:
Some glad morning when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away. To that home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away.
And Eileen began that journey by contracting a horrible disease two years ago. And it followed that as her health faltered and in honor of her life my daughter took her into her tender arms and put her down in the front sunny room of her home. There for the next year and some Susanne and David fought like Trojans on the wall of their city trying to save her. Innumerable trips to therapy and testing, to second opinion thirds opinions and fourth. They fed her, washed her, made certain she could lay in bed and watch the baseball and football games which were her one vice. Above all they made certain that when the day came when she would leave them, if it did, she would fly away to that new home at home surrounded by her loving family, physically comfortable and comforted.
An effort which made it possible for my very busy wife her sister to visit daily, bring her little things, reassure her about her pets, pray with her indeed as the two of them did the night before passed – reciting The Chaplet Of Divine Mercy together in that peaceful and caring home of Susanne and David on Main Street in the Hamlet of Stone Ridge New York. A prayer which concludes:
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will…
I founder in awe before the two people who made that final prayer of those two sisters possible. I love them so much and I know God is in them, well pleased.
Which also means that if there is any eulogy for Eileen, their Aunt Eileen, which means anything lasting, it is that she had such a big part in raising people like them up.