Today -my day didn't get off to the best of starts!
Began with a phone call from one of my former neighbor's nieces. Her sister had been married to my ex-brother-in-law and her parents had been the daughter and son-in-law who had bought the old homestead next door from the patriarch/matriarch of the family back in the early 70s. So I grew up next door to this young woman's mother and her siblings and my kids grew up with the next generation of that family. (I still miss that there isn't some member of that family living beside me even though the house was sold to someone outside of the family back in the mid-to-late 80s!)
Patti -the young woman who called was wanting more information about the accident though as she had been close friends of the mother of the young woman who was killed. (The same person who had babysat for my kids 30 plus years ago -as had Patti and her older sister, Tina, too!) She was unbelieving at first that this could possibly be her friend's daughter, asking me was I absolutely sure.
Well, to the best of my detective abilities, yes, I was as sure as I could be then.
Less than two minutes after hanging up from that phone call, I got a call then from Patti's cousin -Charmaine -who used to be my daughter Mandy's boss for the four plus years that Mandy worked at the restaurant Charmaine and her husband had here. Charmaine was calling to tell me that her uncle, Micheal, had left this world this morning and moved on to the next life.
Now, I know that this was what we all would consider to have been a blessing for him -put him out of the terrible suffering he had to endure for the past 15 months or better as the cancer ate away at him. But still and all, it doesn't take away the grief one does feel when you say goodbye.
Mandy had taken Kurtis to State College for a dental appointment and then had a bunch of errands she had to run but when she got home she was all worked up.
Seems she had seen the sister of the young man who died and they had talked. She knew the time and place for the funeral plus the fact that the families were going to have a meal after the funeral and this was going to be held at our fire hall here in town in order to have a place large enough to accommodate the extended and very large families involved from both sides. She had asked the sister if there was anything we could do, did they need anything and the sister had said simply, "Yes, FOOD -for the dinner!" They are expecting between 200-250 people will be attending the dinner so that's a whole heck of a lot of food that would be needed for two grieving families -no matter how big they are -to try to pull together!
Mandy asked me if I thought it might be alright to contact some folks in our neighborhood, from our church, to see if they might be willing to help, to donate food for the dinner -which is how our church handles dinners when there is a death in our church family.
I told Mandy that although -in my opinion -that would be the right thing to do, because neither family was affiliated with our church directly or even indirectly, I wasn't sure if that would be within the boundaries of protocol. So I told her to call our minister, Pastor Carrie and see what she had to say about that idea.
Pastor Carrie's response was "Definitely!" That she felt exactly as Mandy and I did and that it was our responsibility to try to help in whatever manner we found possible.
So, after that, I contacted two women I know from the Catholic Church here in the village and by late afternoon, found myself working, hand-in-hand, with one of those two ladies to try to get a coordinated effort going to request food donations from people within at least these two churches in our area.
I spent then the rest of the afternoon and almost the entire evening then, calling members of our church, explaining what was going on, as well as explaining to many who didn't recognize the names of the deceased individuals, to explain to them whose daughter the young woman had been, whose granddaughter too that she had been.
And trust me here, when I tell you this, I ended this evening with such a wonderful feeling inside me based solely on the responses I received from those from our church as they opened up their hearts and offered their hands to make something, anything -salads, casseroles, cakes, etc. -anything -that we can have to help feed those coming to the fire hall after the funeral on Thursday!
Because things have been changing in the community over the past 30 some years now -changes that should never have been necessary had people not been so bigoted, prejudiced a century ago here based on ethnicity and religion -but these days, rarely is there a funeral in our church or in the Catholic church here in town that doesn't touch members of the other churches around because the community had finally begun to open up to each others ethnic or religious group.
As I spoke to the two women from the Catholic Church, I mentioned about that to them and that perhaps it would be a nice idea if we set up some type of group from each of the local church women's groups to see to it that in the future, we all work together to help our neighbors not just our church family, church neighbors but the entire community to help bring the healing process to bereaved families in the community regardless of that family's religion or anything else!
I'm going to bring this idea up too at the next meeting of the Women's group at our church to see if we can't make some kind of move on doing something like this in the future.
As Mandy said to me tonight, "We are after all, all God's children, aren't we? And as such, aren't we supposed to help and comfort one another?"
My answer to that is a very emphatic, YES! Indeed, we are!
How far the idea will go - well, that still does remain to be seen but those that I mentioned this to today seemed to believe the same as I do on this matter.
Maybe, just maybe, we can then finally put the ignorance, the bias, the nasty words and name calling that so often permeated the area for many years well behind us for once and for all!
I sure do hope so anyway!
And finally - just wanted to thank those of you who sent prayers to the families of these two young people as well as to the family -immediate and extended -of my dear friend, Michael. I appreciated very much all the thoughtfulness expressed by so many of you, my blogger friends and I believe that some how, some way, those who have lost these loved ones now felt some modicum of comfort come over them too!
That, I also believe very much too! The power of prayer is truly never-ending!