A space for keeping family and friends near: pictures, thoughts, archives of some of my written work and a passionate witness to Catholic homeschool family life.
Friday, March 04, 2016
New piece on Catholic365
It was wonderful to write about my beloved auntie... as I have been sending her weekly letters since the fall, I did send her the text. Here is a more recent photo of her!
Far away in South America, in a land untouched by the ravages of winter, lives my dearest aunt. My mother's only sister, she never married and was often at our large family home, giving my mother a hand with her numerous offspring. I was one of the youngest, and I remember my aunt’s presence and guidance at many of my childhood milestones. She would come over to help us make birthday cakes, complete chores, finish homework, and more. I will never forget a Mother’s Day speech I was chosen to write and give at school: without her help, I could not have done it! I absolutely adored her, and everyone used to comment on how similar she and I were. We had the same temperament and personality. More than once, she helped dry my tears in her own loving, creative ways. She was an artist and a storyteller, and I spent hours listening to her or watching her work, many times for the sheer pleasure of being in her company.
One of the greatest sorrows in my life is that as a mother and throughout my married life, I was far away from my relatives. I especially missed my dearest aunt who would have been such a beautiful presence in my children’s lives. It was with her that I learned so many things, and I painfully wish my kids could have learned from her as well: the importance of daily prayers, the reading of classic stories, the intelligent conversation over historical events, even the building of a good campfire outside. Hers was the nativity scene I set up here at home every Christmas, and I can never help remembering how her display was so much better than ours is.
During this time of Lent--the weeks of preparation before the celebration of Easter--there is a call for spiritual growth through prayer, fasting, and works of charity. This year I began volunteering through my parish with the elderly in my community. I visit them in two different facilities, I pray the Rosary in one, and stay to chat a while with them; in the other I take Holy Communion every other Sunday. I find myself looking forward to my time with them! I am amazed at how this work has enriched me so far. I love to listen to their life stories, and they love to tell them. Their stories are fascinating. Their worlds were so different from my own, and I enjoy learning about them. Their peaceful and cheerful presence does not betray all they have gone through in life. Their friendships, their achievements and losses, their families and tragic events. We pray together, and their prayer intentions bring to mind their celebrations, sorrows, and hopes. I feel privileged to be a part of it.
When I talk to people about the reasons behind this type of volunteer work, I tell them of my dear aunt. She has been immobile for many years now, and many are the people who volunteer their time to work alongside her, providing care, attention, and love. My own older brother reads to her daily, and parish ministers visit her on Sunday, bringing Communion and prayer. Unfortunately, I am not there to provide any of these services to someone I so dearly love, and am so grateful for. I feel that by doing the same thing here in my community, I am in a way saying “thank you” to all of those volunteers.
If you have never thought of volunteering with the elderly, you may want to consider it. Like me, you just may fall in love with it.
This blog is dedicated to my Mother and Father, who taught me of God and of Art--and to Saint Teresa Benedicta de la Croce, our youngest child's patron saint, and about whom Husband and I learned together.