Wednesday 13 November 2013

The Story of A Life

Wow, emotional day here. It seems life just keeps handing them out. I literally just walked in the door.  My hands are even now shaking madly while I try to type this post. I know, go have a break and a cup of hot tea (+John Litzenburg) but truly I wanted to write this post while everything was still fresh in my oh so cluttered brain.  Did I ever tell you that I am a card carrying member of the CWL? OK, it's not that big of deal I guess but I do have one of the fancy plastic cards not the flimsy paper kind that the casual members get. Today we stood as honour guards at the funeral of a women that inspired me immensely. Helen Mary Callaghan...could you get a more Catholic name.  Helen passed away on Saturday in her 93rd year of life. Until her heart started to fail her earlier this year she attended Mass every Sunday with her special needs son whom she cared for until she could no longer stay at home, again earlier this year. I remember vividly the day she fell ill. We were all singing during Mass when suddenly Helen drooped forward, the parlour of her skin a dusty white. Immediately the entire congregation dropped to the kneelers and began to pray. The silence enveloping the church I will never forget. After about 20 mins of this deafening silence I saw Helen gesture to her daughter. Preparing myself to hear Helen's final words being relayed to the priest I waited. Father Dale nodded and announced to the congregation that Helen said to get going with the Mass. What fortitude. As the paramedics rushed into the back of the church I saw Helen's children arrive and silently take their place in the pew behind their mother.  That was the last time I saw her alive. The CWL doesn't really call on me anymore. Its pretty well know in my community that there is something wrong with me. Something they politely overlook me when assigning tasks. When I heard Saturday that Helen was gone I needed to be there to don the CWL stole and stand guard for this amazing woman. At 90 years of age she was still the very active President of our League. She was even still driving at 90 (which I think if she had lived anywhere other than Read the police would have wrestled her license away). Whenever she wanted your attention she had a way of just walking up beside you and taking your arm. She pretended to use it for support but really she used it to hold you in place until she had finished what she wanted. She was truly a Matriarch of our community. When I thought about attending the funeral I started thinking of course about having social anxiety. How it limits my interaction in the world and how it sort of isolates me from being too close to the world. Safe...that's what I call my house. My safe spot. My sanctuary. Less outsiders to care about means less opportunity to feel the pain of the loss.  The absolute sorrow in that church today and the funeral home last night was palpable. I think I cried more for the hurt of the ones left behind then the woman we were there to celebrate. Her work was done. Her reward in hand. But oh the legacy that stood there today. 8 children, 10 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. All loved with her every breath and best of all...they knew it. She showed them all how to love without reserve, how to serve others with to live their faith. As I said, what a legacy. So I my house my safe place...or is it my hiding place. If the worst of my anxieties came true and some catastrophe occurred that took my life or worse still my family, is that chance any worse than the world I miss out on hiding behind my window? My thoughts and Prayers are with you all and especially the loved ones of Mrs. Helen Mary Callaghan.

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