Sunday, February 12, 2006
My Aunt's Funeral
Thanks for the kind words online and off about the death of my aunt, Peggy Walpole. I just got back from Canada and the funeral. If you clicked on the items below, you got a brief idea of the charitable work Peggy has done her entire adult life -- helping women just out of prison or on the streets with a safe place (the shelter Street Haven) and a chance to learn the skills they need to survive and flourish. The funeral in Toronto included hundred and hundreds of mourners, five or so priests presiding and camera crews from the local TV station capturing it all. We might have expected even more people, until realizing that the women Peggy helped most -- street people, prostitutes, drug addicts and the like -- didn't usually have access to transportation. Nonetheless, the church was filled with people from all walks of life, from the clearly rich and powerful to homeless women who stumbled up the side aisles and battered women with fresh bruises on their faces receiving communion and offering their sympathies to us. Two more women asked for a ride to the graveside after the mass, one from El Salvador and both of them reminiscing about Peggy and her outer fraility (she dealt with an extraordinary number of illnesses, as the presiding priest said) and inner strength. She saved my life, they both said. It wasn't a turn of phrase or polite exaggeration. They meant it literally.