Saturday, January 15, 2005

A light in the universe--people that change your life.

At my brother's baptism, my house was full of relatives on both sides of the family, many of which I didn't know, but I think my dad somehow expected me to remember from the Christmas party, a whole nine months earlier. I spent most of the morning wandering around, not really sure what to do, or who to be with. They were there, after all, to see my brother on his big day, and I was just that other kid who happened to live there. I remember Aunt Elenore wrapping her arm around me and kissing me. She always had the softest, fullest cheeks. And she handed me a box. Mom thought it was for my brother, and tried to take it off of me, but Elenore told her it was for me. I was kind of too shocked to tear it opened. My birthday wasn't for another two months. Mom had to unwrap it for me. I still remember it. A little blue sink with little plastic dishes, and it actually worked. Mom only let me play with it with water in it once or twice, but I thought it was the greatest thing I'd ever seen. Something that ran on batteries, and it was for me.

That was just the kind of lady Elenore was. She always made everyone feel welcome. Always. It was my brother's day but she didn't let me feel let out. I remember every time I've gone to her house, or a graduation party, or a funeral. She always had a smile and a kiss for me. Even at her brother, my grandfather's funeral. She asked how I was doing.

She visited us when my sister was sick, she cooked for us to lessen our load--Elenore, who had her own health issues, and her own life to take care of. It meant so much that she wanted to give to us, and it also made me feel guilty that I didn't have any way to repay her generosity and kindness. Sometimes recieving is so much harder than giving.

The last time I saw her was July and she was just as full of smiles and hugs as ever, though I could see she was slowing down. She hadn't put forth quite the hurculian effort she always does for those parties. She sat a lot, and I could tell her legs were causing her a lot of pain. Her husband Tim said that they moved out of the area and to a place that was on all one floor because of her health.

I was thinking to myself two days ago that I should call her. I just had one of those weird feelings. I didn't have her number handy, and I had an ADD moment and forgot. Then I was over dad's house watching the game when Tim called.

Ray was in the choir at St. Joes. When I first met him, I didn't 'get' him. He was always making jokes with me, a fairly shy kid, and slapping me on the back. I thought he was a weird old man. Week after week I discovered the sincerity in his cheerfulness and playful nature. Up until that point in my life I'd thought that "happy" people, who're happy with people they don't even know are liars and fakes.

When I met him he had cancer in his bones and trouble with his spine. It hurt him so bad that he had a cushion he sat on at choir practice. But came every week and sang his heart out for God. he was always cheerful. He always had a hug for me, and always had a joke for me. He won me over, and I was so sad when he died. I felt like a light had gone out in the universe. Or at least moved on to a place where I can no longer see it.

That's how I feel about Elenore. She certainly never hid her light under a bushal. She always included everyone.

I guess I only hope that I can one day have real joy like both of them and pass it on to others.


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