As we get older, death seems to be more present in our lives. Maybe it is because we have more relationships with more people. Maybe it is just because we become more observant as we realize that our lives have a finite number attached to them.
There are millions of deaths and births every day. It happens all around us, we know it is inevitable.
Sometimes age comes into focus. The longer a person lives, the more acceptable it is. Death that is.
I surmise the age at death is not so important.
I surmise the number of people you know is not so important.
I surmise the amount of money or toys you have is not so important
What is important… the number of people you have made a lasting impression on. The legacy you created. That is the most important thing friends and family can speak about when your death day has come.
Let me be clear, legacy is not about money or wealth or power…it is about impacting the lives around you, in any way you can.
Today, two people that have made a lasting impression on my life, both are being laid to rest.
The first passing was a Priest that has been a part of my life on and off for 35 years. My first memory of him, during fifth grade, he was in charge of the altar boy training program.
This priest was not like the other priest’s in our parish. First, he was in his mid-thirties, so unlike the rest of our parish at that time he was very young. Secondly, he was not afraid to crack jokes to get a laugh. Looking back, I think he wanted everyone around him to always be smiling.
One summer, for the parish variety show, he dressed up in tights, leotard, and headband to dance to a Jane Fonda work out routine. Until then, I didn’t realize that a priest could be seen without his black shirt and collar, LOL. I wish I could find the picture!
I have many more fond memories of Father Tom, as I called him.
Being a parish priest, you get moved around a bit. One summer he invited myself and couple other kids my age to help him move to a new parish. That day we got to know him better as a person, not a priest. From that point on I knew that if I never needed anything I could always reach out for help.
Father Tom, over the years, baptized multiple kids in our family, including Xandru. And He was also part of Confirmations, Weddings, Last Rites, Funerals and Burials for multiple people in the family. We joked that he was our family Priest, and it didn’t really matter what Parish he was currently assigned, he would come back to us for the occasion.
Tom, will always be remembered as a jovial guy, that would always make you laugh, that happened to be a priest. May Tom Rest in Peace.
This second person I only have direct contact with for about a year.
After Xandru was born, not having any family in NWI, we didn’t have anyone to watch him when Lisa was headed back to work. We didn’t want to put him in daycare that young.
A co-worker of Lisa’s at the time had an ‘Aunt Jeannie’ that was between jobs and would probably watch him…
Skeptical at first, Lisa met her and liked her, so we were going to “see how it goes” for a while.
Xandru was about 6 weeks old. This new caregiver had kids of her own, the youngest being in high school at the time. Would she be able to handle a little baby again?
Choosing to bring Xandru to a stranger’s house, was a big deal for me. After about a week, I knew we had made a great decision. It is one of those things that is hard to put into words.
While Xandru was being cared for by this stranger, he became one of her own. This was not a job for her, this was a chance to jump-start the development of a child, a stranger’s child. And have fun doing it.
Xandru was with Aunt Jeannie until he was about 14 months old.
After that initial year, we didn’t really stay in close contact but would see her occasionally and talk about ‘Aunt Jeannie’ to Xandru. A few years back we found out she had early onset Dementia, very sad news.
At Aunt Jeannie’s visitation, going through the line to say our condolences, we didn’t know if anyone would remember us. Once Lisa introduced herself to Jeannie’s daughter, her face lit up! She shared a story with us, about our son, that she remembered from that year she had a pseudo little brother.
Maybe Xandru being there for that year, made a small impact on Aunt Jennie’s life too… Because I know that one short year made an impact on my life. May Jeannie Rest in Peace.
Tom in his seventies, Jeannie sixty. Both touched many lives in their own way. Both remembered for who they were on the inside.
Two people in my life, one for 35 years and one for 1 year, both had an impact. Not life altering, not even quantifiable, but I will never forget Monsignor Thomas Bales and “Aunt” Jeannie Reder for how they touched my heart in their own way.