When I think of family members as well as close friends who have died I am filled with many happy memories of our times together. When mourning a loved one I think it is so important to keep those memories alive. When Travis died, his mom, my sister Cathy, gave me an article about remembering those who have died. I thought it might be helpful to you or to someone you know.
Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that, we still are. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference in your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Pray, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name ever be a household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without affect, without the trace of a shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind, because I am out of sight? I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well… by Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918) Canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral
My sister Cathy was only a year and 4 days younger than my sister Sharon. As the oldest two of my siblings they shared many memories together before I came on the scene. Cathy shared some of those memories with Sharon in a letter right before Sharon died. I was touched by her sharing those memories especially since some of them were before I was born. They helped me see more clearly the bond between my sisters and their connection with other family members. The following are the memories Cathy shared with Sharon up to the point when I was born.
“Of course, I have known you all my life. You were my first playmate and my first teacher. You were responsible for me on the way to school at St. Mary’s. I missed you when you started school and I was still at home. After I started first grade, I would make up reasons to have to tell you something and Sister Nolasco would let me go to see you! You, of course, were embarrassed to see me come in!
Weren’t we lucky to have had so many doting aunts when we were young? Doris and Auddie lived with us and played with us. They even made us our first doll house. Mimi and Kay sewed for us. We had so many outfits alike some people thought we were twins!
Didn’t we have fun in the neighborhood? On Hudson St. we had lots of playmates and spent lots of time outside. We had those difficult roller skates with the key that tightened them. We learned hopscotch and jump rope. We walked everywhere as there was no family car. We sledded down a nearby street that the police dept. closed off for us. We sat on dirt piles and watched the post WW2 houses go up behind ours. We welcomed our baby brother, David.
We moved to West Oneonta around the time Bill was born. It was also a fun place to live. We had a great hill for sledding. We all played hide and seek until dark. We made May baskets for the neighbors and got our first pet cat, Shadow. We visited Mary Cook on her farm and saw chickens raised across the street. We took the bus by ourselves to do Christmas shopping at Newberrys and Woolworths in Oneonta. We also rode the bus in to take swimming lessons at Wilbur Park and spent the day there at the pool. We were lucky to have grandparents nearby and we always had lunch at their house while attending St. Mary’s.”
Whenever I celebrate funerals I encourage families to share the memories of their departed loved one, especially, with the younger children in the family who have not shared in those experiences. Cathy’s sharing her memories was a great blessing for me. I encourage you to share your memories with the younger members of your families. It can help to strengthen our connectedness with one another. And remember one doesn’t have to die before we begin to share our precious memories.
+God’s blessings and peace, Father Bill