Sitting at dinner tonight in a quaint Italian restaurant on Cape Cod with my beloved dad and sister, it occurred to me how blessed we are as a family. The three of us spent much time talking about the grandchildren in our family and how each them brought something special to the celebration of mom’s life. Looking back just 2 weeks, it is amazing to think about how these young people stepped up to honor their beloved Nona in such a profound way.
We asked: How did they did they do it? I mean, they are young, close to Nona and filled with grief themselves. We called upon them to assume leadership roles in the Mass and not one of them from age 20 to 8 cringed at our request. Then it made sense – LOVE. You can only give what you’ve received and Nona’s grandchildren have received unconditional love from her and Papa their entire lives, so when called upon to give back, they were more than ready.
The older girls, Grace and Emma, who read the first and second readings at Mass, mentored the middle girls, Tasha and Bella. Grace told Tasha and Bella, who read the Prayers of the Faithful to “hold your hand up high” so the folks in the back will see you and know when to join in. As it turns out, this was good advice as a friend told me that she was sitting in the back and could not see due to the crowds but saw the girls raise their hand high thus knew when to respond and felt connected and included in the service.
I like to think that Nona inspired Grace to give this good advice because Nona always liked everyone to feel connected and join together in community. Imagine how Nona felt watching from heaven when her granddaughters clearly read the Prayers of the Faithful and then had the entire congregation join together in prayer to God by “raising their hands up high.” She must have been so proud.
This may seem like an insignificant point but I don’t think it is. Nona knew that you could not give what you don’t have. So she made sure to spread love to everyone – no matter the person or circumstance. If a person experiences love, then they have something to give back to others and can “raise their hand high.”
Loving unconditionally is a simple thing and Nona knew that. She did it when she was feeling good and when she was feeling low. She did it always. That is why the list of thank you notes for flowers, Mass cards, meals and gifts for her is extremely long. Folks are giving back because they received Nona’s love – always.
My sister, dad and I are privileged to respond to all of this kindness in Nona’s memory. I invite you to think about someone in your life who needs love today. Don’t delay. “Hold you hand up high” and reach out – you will make an impact and the result will be life changing, as the life of my mom has been for so many!