I have bare witnessed to three people die; the first was an older man I would wave to everyday as he passed by our house when I was a child, the second was my granny over two years ago and the third was my mother three weeks ago.
Its the strangest, weirdest and extraordinary gift to be there the end of someone’s life. The older man was hit by a car in front of me. It was scary and there was a moment I knew he was ready to go. My granny was in her 80s and had reached the point of no return. There was such an ease at the end for her life. I felt her peace and serenity. I miss her greatly but I also know she lived a long full life. My mother, I supported her going but I didn’t want her to. Her passing was peaceful and fast. Like she couldn’t wait for the trip. After her passing I felt the break in my heart and a cut. As if I was tethered to my mother and that line snapped because where she was traveling to, I couldn’t follow. I couldn’t catch my breath.
Death is a part of life. I believe the best way we can honor those we love and keep their memory alive is to do what they would do. This I have found is also a helpful way to heal and make sense of death. Last week, I got up to speak at mother’s mass and celebration of her life. I’ve had people approach me to share the words of remembrance (Eulogy). So here goes nothing. I love you Mom.
Father, I have a question, how does one become a saint?
Do we need a petition signed, or perhaps a church filled with eye witnesses of someone’s good deeds will do?
My mother was a walking, talking, miracle. There were many miracles in her life, and I’m sure some people in this room could share ones even I don’t know about. Today, I would like to share with you just a few of them.
She was born a girl. To be born is a miracle in itself, regardless of gender. In my mother’s case, she was the first girl born within my grandfather's side of the family in over a 100 years.
My Granny (Ruth Ann Flanagan) would often recount the birth of my mother to me. “When Catherine was born Grandma Flanagan said ‘oh what a beautiful baby!’ then, snatch!” She took my mother for her own, and from there Grandma Flanagan and my mother had a special bond.
My mother was born with spina bifida. She had an opening at the bottom of her spine, which the doctors said would never close. Granny put St Jude oil on the opening every day, and to the shock and disbelief of the doctors, the opening did close.
Next miracle: the doctors said my mother would never walk. This is where my mother's "I'm not having it" will came into play. One day her childhood cat ran by, my mother grabbed hold of the cat’s tail and up she went. Not only did she walk but as some of you know, she had some smooth dance moves.
The doctors told my mother she shouldn't have kids. My mother was the type of person who loved having people tell her she couldn’t do something, just so she could prove them wrong. She went on to have not one but seven babies! Each one of us was a miracle and a gift being born to Catherine.
This is one of my favorite miracles. At the age of 44, Catherine’s doctors found 52 tumors in each lung. My mother was told she wouldn't live to see 45. Sure enough, that “I'm not having it” will power kicked in, and within a year the doctors didn't know how she was still walking let alone alive.
Every day I hear of great deeds my mother has done for other people. Some of which she tried to do anonymously but was often found out. Often times, someone needed her or something at the drop of a hat. She would find a way and figure out how to take care of it, even if it wasn’t her job. I think it’s safe to say, my mother has likely done something for every person in this room, whether you know it or not.
These past few weeks, I have felt her all around me. Truly God has moved her to a better vantage point, enabling her to continue to help when she is needed. Don’t forget to ask for her when you need something! We are able to carry on and in doing so, each and every one of us is able to honor my mother. I have made a list of ways we can honor Catherine in our lives every day . Pick one that sings to you and go forth. If you need a reminder, reach out. I am happy to share again.
1. Laugh. Find the humor in any situation you are able to. Laughter is a light and love energy. Laughter brings us closer to God. My mother loved to laugh and would often find the funny even in the most dire of situations. She loves hearing others laugh as well. I would sit with her in one room of the house and watch her laugh from listening to my dad laugh in the other room, “I just love his laugh!” She also loved listening to all of her children laughing together in her home. In those times, she knew we were happy, together and safe. Which is all she ever wanted for any of us.
2. Be of service to others, while expecting nothing in return. My mother didn’t help others for glory. She didn’t post a photo of her helping someone on social media, or tweet when she did someone a favor. She didn’t help to secure a place in heaven. She helped because God had given her gifts and blessings and helping was a part of her core makeup. She was a mother to many, not just my siblings. She offered prayers, advice, a shoulder to cry on, comforting words, a room to sleep in, a place at her table, saying “there’s always room for one more”, and so much more.
3. Have Faith. My mother’s faith was so strong. Raise your hand if you have ever received a Saint Joseph card from Catherine? She would hand those cards out like candy, even to those that didn’t believe in God. I once heard someone tell her they weren’t religious, and her response was “That’s ok. It still works.” She used the Saint Joseph cards as a way to spread God’s love. She would often say to me, Faith isn’t taught, it’s caught. If you don’t have a Saint Joseph card or you don’t know all the benefits, come talk to me.
4. Honor your family and your history. My mother was a wealth of information on any subject, but especially history and her family’s history. Much of why she loved being town clerk was because it allowed her to help others honor their families and honor history itself.
5. If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. My mother was a warrior for the people. She often went to battle for those that had no champion, and was often a champion where she wouldn't make any friends. She had her beliefs; power of the people, equality for all, freedoms we all deserve no matter your race, color, Creed or nationality. Abe Lincoln was a favorite of hers.
A little known fact was that my mother didn't need to run for her position after a certain amount of years in office. For some positions in town government, such as town clerk, someone secures their position after a designated number of years in office until they want to retire. She wanted to continue to run for Office in spite of that, because she wanted the choice to be in the hands of the community. She felt if the people believed she wasn’t doing her job, then they should have the power to say so.
6. Don’t play the victim, because you're not a victim. You are strong and capable. Things are not happening to you, they are happening for you. Make sure to ask for help when you need it. Allow God to guide you. Allow God to find a path where there is none. Say to yourself, "only good can come from this". When my brother Josiah died, my parents were heartbroken. She often said to me, you don’t get over losing a child, you learn to live with it. They turned that heartbreak into helping others that have lost their babies. Through that loss they also realized their true love, children. And went on to have four more.
7. Be generous with your resources- be it time, energy, money, gifts or talents. There are many examples of this, but my favorite would be The Singing Flanagans. This is how my mother, her siblings and their parents are known to many, and they would sing at countless funerals, weddings, restaurants, birthday parties and on and on. They never charged. They felt God gave them a gift and it should be shared.
8. Be true to yourself. Cultivate your oddness. Be weird. My mother gave me a gift, she was accepting and loving of who she was. It’s not an easy task to accept or love oneself. I’m sure we all struggle with this. She forged the way. At school sporting events, she could be spotted wearing a whale hat, moving up and down the sidelines, allowing the whale to look like it was swimming in the ocean. Other kids would have been embarrassed at such a show. Me, I was proud of my mother for not caring what people thought of her. And of course being known as Queen Catherine, a nickname she received from her friend Jennifer. She took to it, and would wear crowns. Being Queen really did suit her. Most of us want to have strength to step outside the house and be our weird selves, wear a crown around town, or a lifesized Campbells soup can as a judge at the Bartletts farm grilled cheese contest, but so often we are afraid of what others will think of us or if we will be accepted. My mother didn’t worry about that. She enjoyed her own company and if others wanted to join in, the more the merrier. If you don’t feel you have the inner strength to love and accept yourself, to go out into the world and be who you are, do it in honor of my mother. You’ll make her proud.
I will leave you with thoughts from my mother in her own words. It’s only right that my mother get the last word in.
I believe that I am always Divinely guided.
I believe that I will always take the Right turn in the Road.
I believe that God gave me the ability to think my way through any problem.
I believe that God will make a way where there is no way.
In in honor of my mother, I will be offering a weekly healing and prayers sign up. I did the first session last night. I began by writing down the person’s healing wish and prayer. Then used a healing pattern for discordant energy to be cleared for them so that they are open to receive healing, blessings and prayers. Next I infused their wishes with reiki. Then I prayed over them. Then I sent them the white light angels for 9pm Tuesday evening. Lastly, I put each person and intention under a powerful crystal surrounded by powerful healing stones and crystals so that the healing continue and they are shielded in love and light. I may change this up week to week.
I have to say, these healings and prayers was such an awesome feeling! For some people, I felt their healing strongly and I felt a release. I am really looking forward to next week. I’ll continue to pray for everyone over the next week as well. I understand on a deeper level how powerful prayer is.
If you have a healing wish and prayers, here’s the sign up page.
Peace, Love & Healing to you,