“A small house can hold as much happiness as a big one.” This was the message our nephew recently got from a fortune cookie. It was timely that he shared this message because I had just experienced a powerful confirmation of this truth.
Our good friend’s 94-year-old mother passed on July 3. The funeral was last Saturday, and interment was out of town. This made it necessary to schedule the celebration of life gathering on Sunday at her house. It was the family home in which she and her husband raised their four children. They were married 60 years when he passed 12 years prior to her passing. Their tradition was to have the entire family there on Sundays for lunch. That tradition continued until 3 months before her passing. The house is 850 sq. ft. with one bath. It was all they needed!
The size of the family has grown from 4 to 40+: four children and their spouses, eight grandchildren and the spouses of those married, and 24 great grandchildren. A larger facility was considered for the gathering considering the numbers, but they all unanimously decided it had to be in the house in which so many great memories were created.
My wife and I were blessed because of our lifelong friendship with her son to participate in this event. There was certainly a sadness in their loss but also so much joy in sharing the “MGILY” stories that have impacted their lives. We just learned how she decided on that acronym as the name she chose as her grandparent name. Fr. Seelos always put those initials on the top of all his correspondence. When she saw that on his letters in visiting his shrine, she learned it meant “My God I Love You.” And she knew that said it all for the precious relationships with her grandchildren. She truly was such a positive inspirational person and she did indeed have a tremendous impact on the lives of her family. Her “way of living” will influence many generations. The following are just a few thoughts written by her grandchildren about her impact on them:
· “She always had a smile, never a negative word said about anything or anyone.”
· “She enjoyed sitting on her swing under the big oak trees and always thanked Jesus for sending a breeze.” (Ironically on the hot July day of the gathering at her house a cool breeze came through now and again as we sat outside to eat.)
· “I don’t think a day ever passed without her helping someone or praying for those in need.”
· “Nursing was her calling in life and it was a beautiful way for her to be of service to others.”
· “She was a woman who lived her life serving God by serving anyone who needed help.”
· “I would say she is the only person who resembles a Living Saint.”
· “What wisdom in her statement! It takes two to fight and she refused to be the second party.”
· “Those whom she nursed back to health said, ‘They were touched by an angel,’ an angel whom I had the pleasure to call my grandmother.”
Many years ago, we took a road trip with Vivian and her son. Every time we got into the car she would say a prayer “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John bless the wheels we’re rolling on.” We are still influenced to say that prayer every time we get into the car. Our grandchildren have said this prayer with us since they were toddlers. Our grandson came home from school this past year and said he got extra points on his third-grade religion test because he knew the author of the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. He told his teacher he knew that because that was the prayer we say every time we get into the car.
Yes, all this wisdom came to so many from a person living a very modest lifestyle. An ordinary person who truly lived and loved in a very extraordinary way. Adjectives such as positive, lifegiving, uplifting, grace-filled only touch the tip of all that was Vivian. MGILY’S energy and spirit was contagious and has influenced many beyond her immediate family. She has left the world a better place for all of us to enjoy.