Role Models in the Back Yard

Recently, an old friend buried her mother, a stalwart member of our parish.  It was a blow in no small measure because this was the sort of woman we all need in our lives and so few have.

My friend’s mother was first and foremost a woman of faith who prayed morning, noon and night, as her kids said, and worshiped before the Lord daily.  We saw it every day when we were kids and daily Mass was required in school.  This woman cared for family and her friends and neighbors far more than anything of the political, social or cultural bent.  If any of our mothers were not available, this woman was.  She’d get up in the middle of the night to stay with the neighbor’s kids when a new one was entering the world.  She gave up a career to stay at home and raise a family only to start a side business to help young mothers in need.  Her generosity was legendary.  It didn’t matter what the event was – Mission Carnival, bake sale to buy new playground equipment, dish for a funeral lunch – some homemade sweet came from her kitchen.  She did all of this while more or less living her own Purgatory on Earth with health issues and family members with addictions and deadly disease.

This woman always knew her convictions and spoke her mind, whether she was “right” or not.  If she wasn’t, it was usually out of ignorance in the truest sense of the word.  She was loyal to a fault and used virtue to guide her words and actions.  She was always happy to see people and once greeted me with a huge hug after I made a debut with a local music group.  This was why we all envied my friend, except that envy is a deadly sin, and my friend’s mom would advise – okay, yell at us – not to.

As I looked around the church at her funeral and saw so many faces of my childhood, many of whom survive their spouses, and realized that people were there from every walk of life, every social stratum, every decade of her life – it came to me that this is what a role model should be.  Someone who lives by faith and lets no one get in the way of doing what is right.  It’s not just Abby Johnson, Sarah Palin, Mother Teresa, Margaret Thatcher, and the various other trailblazers that are what we women should emulate, but the everyday ladies we all should know who do what they do out of love.

There are role models in everyone’s back yard.  Do we know them when we see them?

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