Thursday, January 24, 2008

Give it up!

When they told me she had ALS I didn't know what it was. I later discovered that Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrigs Disease was the culprit. She had just turned 70 and had been a vibrant, healthy, retiree who was actively involved in volunteering for various causes between 40 and 50 hours a week; yes a retiree! She spent many days feeding the hungry and homebound.

She had a terrific resume if that was what anyone wanted to judge her by, she had her masters degree and had been an educator for 32 years of her life. But from what I heard and saw at her memorial service, she was more than well educated; she was a woman to be reckoned with. Not only was she a volunteer for all of those hours weekly, but in her spare time, yes spare time, she was an advocate for the cure of Alzheimer's and held many awards for her participation in sporting events!

This was a woman who did not let anything keep her down, she was concerned with giving, plain and simple giving and gave of herself until she was no longer physically able. According to her family, her ALS came upon her fast and furious and within just a few short months she had lost all of her muscle, eventually was unable to swallow anything on her own; she died rather quickly considering the cause.

She will be cremated however the request was for a "complete" funeral sans the cemetery. She was embalmed, laid in a casket wearing her finest clothing and a couple of her favorite rings, her hair was done and what was left of this woman looked beautiful. She had three children all living in different states and she and her husband had just celebrated 50 years of marriage; they hadn't been in the area too long yet you would think she was here forever by the turnout of people to honor her.

It's times like these that I wish I had been able to know the deceased people I take care of. To maybe absorb some of their kindness by osmosis instead of just being awed by it...but...perhaps just knowing of her, knowing that there are people like this in our filthy world might be enough to make the slightest difference in me causing me to want to give more. I hope so.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Funny how people touch our lives in life and in death. I can imagine that funerals will differ greatly and this story touched my heart. When people are not afraid of acknowledging that death is - that is its inevitable and has no exceptions - they prepare for their death in very individual ways.

To leave in the way she wished to be remembered was important to her and your own reaction to it very touching.