Live well, love much, laugh often
This sentiment is mounted over the door in Cousin Debbie's family room. It's an apropos message to send us off as we head over to St. Mary's Church for Eileen's funeral mass. "Music, backup music, Chapstick, backup Chapstick" Debbie murmured, as we headed out the door to the church. Once we arrived and were seated, Debbie turned around in her pew and asked if she could borrow my Chapstick. Her primary Chapstick had been tucked into her brassiere but somehow managed to escape. I have no idea where her backup Chapstick was located or what happened to it. I deigned to ask.
The mass was co-hosted (I suspect that's not the official term) by Father John Worster, an old family friend who returned to Soda Springs for the occasion, and the local parish priest. Father John opened the service welcoming people of all faiths to join in the service. Non-Catholics were encouraged to approach the altar with arms crossed for a blessing instead of accepting communion. He was very welcoming. When communion eventually rolled around, the parish priest stated clearly: "If you are not a Catholic, sit down. If you are Catholic but not 'in good grace,' then sit down too. All else are welcome." Not so welcoming.
Father John gave a memorable homily, focusing on how people rarely plan for "growing old" and probably shouldn't. Instead, one should expect to "wear out" eventually and plan accordingly. Along the way, one should be charitable and compassionate -- two traits that Eileen embodied daily. The mass ended with Father John reading memories of Eileen written by her grandchildren, children and husband. Those memories repeated the themes of charity and compassion, but also informed us all that Nanny taught her granddaughter Cheyenne how to "flip off" her older sister when the latter was being a pain. A deep, hearty laugh rippled through the church. We all recessed from the church to a symphonic version of "It's a Small World."
After the service, a reception was hosted at Tigert Middle School where Cousin Debbie is the principal. Following the reception, we all retired to Debbie and Jack's home to share wine, nachos, (literal) fish stories and other conversation into the evening.
As for the title of this post, there are large pieces of paper tacked to the walls entering the boys and girls restrooms at Debbie's school. They have "Positive Graffiti" written in large letters across the top and encourage students to leave some graffiti -- but positive messages only. I left a short message for her to discover...
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