…can’t trust that day…
Normally I like Mondays because they signal the beginning of a new week. Everyone is back to work or school and my house is quiet again and it’s back to routine.
I love routine. It makes my world go ’round.
|Mrs. C with my kids, 2004|
Today was not a routine Monday. No one had work or school. Instead, Middle Sister and I had a funeral to attend (I know! Another one!!) This funeral was for the son of the lovely woman who babysat Middle Sister twice a week when she was 4 and I had a part-time teaching job. At the time, Mrs. C was mourning the loss of her husband, who’d had Alzheimer’s; she had cared for him at home for the better part of a decade. Middle Sister kept her company, learned to play Chinese checkers, took walks around the block with her, and discovered the magic of microwave pancakes thanks to Mrs. C. With her own grandparents living upwards of 75 miles away, Middle Sister adopted Mrs. C as an extra grandmother.
Today Middle Sister towered over her former babysitter, who had stayed with Big Brother and Middle Sister the night Little Brother was born. Today, as always, Middle Sister was quick to hug Mrs. C. And after we sat down in our pew, Middle Sister wondered if she might be needed as an altar server. Since the parish school closed, they haven’t had servers for funerals (that’s 8 years ago now.) Usually one of the deacons, or Mrs. Deacon, or a member of the Bereavement Committee does the job. But Middle Sister purposefully marched to the sacristy, high heels and all, and asked if she could help.
It was a full-court press on the altar today, with two priests (present and former pastors), one deacon, one server, and another deacon “behind the scenes” babysitting the incense.
The former pastor, whom I haven’t seen in almost 10 years, greeted me as he walked by my pew before Mass. “How are your kids?” he asked me. I replied that one of them was his altar server for the Mass. He looked puzzled until I mentioned her name. “OH MY GOD!!!!!!” was his response. He hadn’t seen her since kindergarten. She’s grown a bit in 10 years.
Being at that Mass today, listening to that former pastor pray and preach was healing for me. Some priests are good administrators. Others are good in ministry to the sick and the bereaved. This priest definitely falls into category “B.” Unfortunately, all of my dealings with him while he was our pastor were in category “A.” There was a lot of hurt that I’ve been carrying around for about 12 years now, hurt caused by administrative decisions this priest made that I took personally.
Middle Sister isn’t the only one who’s grown in the past 10 years.
I left that church carrying the burden of grief for Mrs. C, for her daughter-in-law, two grandchildren, and newborn great-granddaughter. I left behind the burden of hurt that I’d been carrying around, for no good reason, for more than a decade.
I had no idea, walking into that funeral, that once again I’d be made proud of the young woman my daughter is becoming, and that I’d be able to let go of something I didn’t need to lug around in the first place.
In your kindness, remember the C. family as they grieve, and pray for eternal rest for Tom, who made serving God through others his life’s work–and his life’s joy.