Monday, March 03, 2008

To Elizabeth Edwards on Her Father's Passing

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:29-31

My condolences go out to Elizabeth Edwards and her family. Elizabeth's father Vince Anania passed away this past weekend. [NY Times]

My heart especially goes out to Mrs. Edwards' mother Elizabeth Thweatt Anania, who has lost her beloved husband of 60 years.

In her book "Saving Graces", Mrs.Edwards gave her father credit for teaching her to be like him in his natural ability and desire to reach out to others and make the kind of connections that too many others, most unfortunately, never learn how to make in their lives. We miss so much in life when we don't know how..or can't summon the spiritual strength to reach out to others in the extraordinary way that Elizabeth's father and mother did. In her words....

"...My father was doing something most of us do or want to do -- reaching for connections. Now, he was, and still is, an extreme example. And, probably as a consequence, so am I. I'm not likely to change either, because the connections I have made have enriched and sustained me; they have strengthened me by holding me up when I needed it, and they have strengthened me by letting me hold up my end when it was needed. My life is immeasurably better because I know that although we may say grace differently
[* This is a reference to an earlier story about how the Anania family took in a little girl for a week while her mother recovered after hearing the news of the little girl's father's death while serving our country], or not know how to say it at all, we still need one another."

"Because of the way I grew up, because time and again I had to walk into a classroom where everyone else knew one another [*A "Navy brat", young Elizabeth was always moving from base to base], I had to find a way to make enough connections to make my life work. I understood early in life that I needed them. So I thrust my hand out. Like my father had taught me. And I found out what they liked and talked about that. Like my mother had taught me. We just had to recognize the sameness among us and build on that for our community. We didn't have to be the same; we just had to recognize what a great blessing we could be to one another."

I'd like to give back some of the blessings that Elizabeth and her family have given me by their kindness, warmth, and their great example of leadership. At DailyKos yesterday, Elizabeth reached out to all who cared to send her their thoughts and prayers:

My father will be missed by all of us, and in particular by John, who stayed with Dad the night before he died, talking to him all night and alerting the rest of us that the end was near. They had a special bond.

It was wonderful to be able to tell him that we loved him, to sing his favorite songs and tell stories about the moments we remembered, about the splendid and silly pieces of his life. And it was a reminder that none of us should wait until the hours are numbered to tell those around us how much they mean to us.

Our hours are numbered, as much as we'd like to think otherwise (or avoid thinking about it altogether). Many of us believe, despite the darkness we sometimes experience here on Earth, because of the great and unconditional love of which we're capable of having for one another, that we can experience a bit of Heaven right here. And many of us believe, after we can no longer be seen by those who love us, that we become a new creation. There's a new creation today .. I imagine a new angel walking 'round Heaven reaching out his hand to all of the others.

Anita lives alone in a paper mill town
In a one room apartment at Sixth and Brown
She's got a steady job well its all right for now
She has plans for moving on if she can make it some how

Her brown hands are folded as she bows her head to pray
Over doughnuts and some coffee she made up yesterday
Her mind begins to travel, she gives thanks to the lord
And an angel stands beside her, points out to the door

And says, "Today you're going to soar like a eagle
You will run and never grow tired
You've become a new creation
For you have kept the faith of a child."

Lyrics from "Faith of a Child" by Bill Miller

Benny has a lovely posting and tribute at Benny's World.


MrWondrous said...

A beautiful tribute, Jude.

benny06 said...

Thanks for the shout out, Jude. Your words are comforting, and I hope the families will find them.