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by Jim McGovern

She had a four-wheel walker, and she was moving in super slow motion. ‘It’s a bit chilly, I need my sweater,’ she said sort of to me. But she declined my offer to help. She fussed with it for a while, but she did get it on. My bet is she is over 90. Seems that what she still can do, she wants to be sure she still does.

8:30 AM on a Saturday morn at the St Joseph’s Villa, the home for retired St Joseph nuns and a smattering of other ‘lay’ folk.

I was picking up a nun from my St. Malachy’s parish to take her over to a benefit 5k run at Valley Green not that far away. There was more activity this day as a funeral was on tap. The hearse out front, the serious yet friendly guys with the dark suits from the Funeral parlor. (I’m sure they have a more ‘politically correct’ name for them now, but I’m not sure what it is.) For sure in a retirement community such as this, funeral’s are part of the everyday flow of life and in a lot of cases, it is likely more happy than sad that the end did arrive.

The Villa really is a lot better than most of these places I have been. Cleaner and brighter for sure, but the main difference is in the attitude/behavior of the residents themselves. It would seem that these ladies, who have dedicated their lives towards serving the Lord in whatever capacity, are rewarded with a more positive and peaceful attitude as they head towards that final leg of that race we call a lifetime. Quite literally, God knows they deserve it.

I guess the major difference between these sisters and the heartbreakingly sad and lonely souls I usually see darkening the hallways in a secular rest home, is that sense of purpose and that peace of mind. Frequently ignored by their families, staring at your eyes as you walk by – longing to be noticed, to be looked at, to realize that they do and they did matter…

So, the race was run. Due to the cloudy weather and the even cloudier predictions the attendance was not great. But, everyone there seemed to have a great time. A personal friend of mine won the prize for the age 50-60 bracket. His daughter won the teenage one.

As snow showers came down, they got through the formalities and prize giving with enough dispatch that my ‘passenger’ was going to be able to make it back to the Villa, for the 10:30 funeral mass. I’ve taken her to enough places that we are getting the process down pretty well…although I usually have to wait a spell past the appointed pick-up time. Having had to do that earlier, I was able to see the old gal with the 4-wheeler shuffling back to the lobby as we loaded my sister in the car. Seems she was not going anywhere. Just taking a morning ‘constitutional’, likely to improve her health and mobility. I see very few folk there that seem to be lying around waiting to die. Would seem to me that our real Destiny is about staying alive as long as we can to do as much good as we can. I wonder about the worlds of prayer that get uttered out of that hallowed hall each day. I was not kidding when I asked my passenger for her prayers as I am struggling mightily even keeping my head afloat these days, let alone doing as my Creator wills. I know she’ll make good on her promise to do so.

Alas, this Saturday afternoon winds down. The second load of wash is in the washer and the house is cleaned up a bit. Up at the villa, there was a singing or dancing troupe scheduled this afternoon. They stay real busy up there. I really did try and try again to bring a poetry workshop up there, but the program director was too busy to get back to me. Maybe I’ll try again.

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