leaving a legacy

Returning home is often filled with old memories, distant dreams, renewed kinship, raucous laughter and even a few tears. For twenty-eight years we have been coming together to remember and to celebrate the lives of the two who gave us life. Each year my ten brothers and sisters and their families – four generations now – come together for a few days, to once again rekindle the close bond of family and to keep their memory fresh within our hearts. If everyone attended we would number over eighty; this year we saw fifty-four, of those only eighteen were alive before our parent’s tragic passing.

Their lives were cut short twenty-eight years ago but their memory and the legacy they left behind continue to surprise and humble those who remain. The lives that they touched and the impact they made on all who knew them go well beyond their immediate family. And those whom they touched still remember how much their own lives were changed for the better in knowing them. This year two of those whose lives were forever changed gave testimony to the gifts they had received nearly three decades ago.

The daughter of our next door neighbor surprised us with her presence. Although she now lives in Virginia she, along with her husband and three children, traveled across the country by car to Northeast Missouri, just to be with us. She brought her children so that they could have the opportunity to learn and see where she grew up and to meet the family of the two incredible people who had meant so much to her.

My youngest sister passed around a small handcrafted book of poetry and essays that had been given to her as a gift by a high school friend. Much of the content had been written by her friend when she was only fourteen; when because of after school activities, she often found herself at our home after school, and almost always staying for dinner. Even as a teenager, she felt a special kinship, a close and loving bond with my mother, and she had the gift and foresight to put her thoughts onto paper and kept them for over a quarter century.

The poetry and prose of a fourteen year-old were perhaps not on par with those more famous but they spoke volumes of the love and amazing gifts she had received from our mother. In reading what she wrote you knew that she had been touched by an Angel and that her life had been transformed. In her book she closed with a poem that, although she did not write it, expressed her feelings to near perfection. She could not find the poet, only the source, FamilyFriendPoems.com.

People come into our life disguised as angels,
and sometimes
Angels come into our life disguised as people.

It is possible to see God anywhere.
All it takes are open eyes and ears
and the willingness to see miracles.
They are everywhere.
God is as available as we are.

Having friends that inspire us
to rise to higher and greater levels
is an awesome gift.

Surround yourself with people
that inspire you to do better
and inspire your friends as well.

It is a profound truth
that the people we spend time with
shape the path that we travel.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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