Yesterday, I went through the family rituals of saying goodbye to an aunt at her funeral. She led a very difficult life. She bore four children, the last two having significant developmental disabilities.
Rather than complain about the burden of caring for two severely disabled children, it was an observation pointed out during her funeral that she received her children as gifts from God, and that all she did for her who life was demonstrate her love for her children and all others.
I listened to the Priest during the funeral, and thought: “you know, he’s right. Every single time I visited my aunt, I could tell that her children required a lot of help and attention. She calmly, quietly, and consistently did whatever she needed to do, and she always did it with a smile and genuine loving care.”
She never once said, “see what I’m doing” or “woe is me.” She just loved her children every single day. She helped them learn and re-learn simple tasks to be able to function. She worked with them to help them develop into good, loving, people, as limited as they are in mental functions. My aunt among all of my father’s 21 siblings was, I think, number one in showing what love really meant, and was the epitome of someone with a caring heart.
I am sad that my aunt died, but we are all relieved. Her last nine years were very difficult, with many medical setbacks, pain, and suffering. But never once did she complain. She loved and loved and loved, and we loved her back. Warmly, calmly, quietly. She served as our family’s inspiration, and we always remember that.
I guess she noticed, because she left a note to request who her pallbearers should be, and in her note she said, “I want [BHD] to serve as one of my pallbearers, because his love, caring, and compassion is so evident. That’s who I want to carry me into the Church, and carry me Home.” Man, I cried so hard… I didn’t know she noticed.
Life is short: show those you love that you love them. May my aunt rest in peace.