My mother-in-law, Concetta, passed away on Mother's Day, just 20 days shy of her 98th birthday. She had been in a hospice situation at our home and she passed away peacefully with my wife at her side.
She was a wonderful woman, who I have known for 50 years, and has lived in our home for the past 20 years. As a natural part of our family, Coungy, as she was known, was loved by all. She took care of most everyone she was around and was the most industrious person I have ever met. She always wanted to be busy, and even in the last months of her hospice, she wanted to fold towels and shopping bags, or help however she might.
I am honored to do her eulogy at the funeral mass, and as I have been preparing, the reflections have been powerful. I have done many eulogies, including both my mom and dad, but am always vexed by the challenge of summarizing a long, and full life, in the short 5 minutes allotted for eulogy. In a way this challenge does get you to focus on the essence of life, the most important things you want to remember, the legacy we want to leave.
In thinking about Coungy's life, I was drawn to a wonderful quote by Albert Schweitzer that really sums up this notion of legacy. He says, "What we do with our lives, individually, is not what determines whether we are a success. What determines our success is how we affect the lives of others."
I love this quote because it brings us back to the most important variable of life- our relationships and behavior with other people. In this measure, though she wasn't wealthy, or held any big titles, or wielded power, Coungy's life was profoundly successful. She loved, nurtured, made time, and tended to everyone she met. She made other people's lives better. Nothing could be more important.
And so, Coungy's final gift to our family, is this simple reflection. What matters most is how we touch others.
So how do you want to be remembered!