Friday was a very sad day for us at the facility. Willie passed away during the night; slipping quietly away from us…… For those of you who follow my blog, you know Willie’s story. He had told us numerous times that he was done with life, having nothing left to accomplish and was wanting and waiting to die. Just last March, he lost Maggie, his beloved wife. Since then, Willie has waited…..and waited…..for nothing other than death. According to Willie, he had no family left. No one. Just himself. The court had appointed a guardian to oversee his affairs, which made Willie furious. I can still hear him yelling… ” I have served my Country for all of my life, served in wars, fought off evil and lived to tell about it and now they tell me I need somebody to take care of me? To hell with you all! ”
Willie was a strong-headed man, set in his own ways but yet determined to have the final say in all things, including his death. What he did not consider, was who would be the authority on what his wishes were; where he would be buried, service protocols and arrangements. The court appointed guardian’s ” appointment” ended upon death….so now what? We as a facility have no authority to make plans, give consent or anything else, so hmmmm. The local funeral home had told us they could not come to pick him up until someone had signed forms, contracts and agreements.
After a few hours of arguing on the phone with the former court appointed guardian, she agreed to contact the funeral home and have Willie picked up. We all watched as Willie departed the facility, feeling the pain of loss and the sting of death. He had become important to us, a man we loved and would miss…. I don’t know, maybe it was because we knew he didn’t have any family, so we rallied around him, becoming surrogate family to him….I just don’t know.
Leaving work Friday evening, I knew I had one more task of significance before I could go home. A little girl in our community had battled cancer since birth and had lost that battle earlier in the week. The ladies I play softball with felt that we as a ball club needed to go to the “viewing” since her mother also played softball at the same place as we did, So we all dressed in our jersey shirts and gathered in the parking lot.Once we entered into the funeral home, the crowd of people was overwhelming. I would guess 200 people easily, waiting to pay their respects to this family. As I stood in line with my group, I noticed countless jersey clad groups, some local, some from far away….all waiting …….I personally did not know the little girl, or her family….but yet, there I stood.
My thoughts suddenly were locked on Willie. The quiet chatter of those around me faded as my mind raced…” Willie is here too, somewhere. There is nothing anywhere signifying his existence, nor his death…..why???” My thoughts would not relent….” What will happen to him? Who will see that he is given a proper funeral?…Stop thinking like this, you are here for a seven year old girl, her life cut short….Willie was 92…he lived a full life………but grief does not see age. Willie mattered. These ball players could go see him too…..they didn’t know this little girl or her family either, yet they have come to show their support…..so why not…” My thoughts were interrupted…
” Isn’t this a beautiful celebration of Stacy’s life? She would have loved to have seen all these ball players here. Lord knows she loved to watch ya’ll play every Friday night. Each of you ,were her hero. She may not have known you, but she cheered for you as you ran the bases, sliding in the dirt and creating a dust storm. You see, my daughter couldn’t run because of the cancer…but on Friday nights, you were her legs. She cheered for both teams because it was YOU, the runner, that she loved. The running, the diving, the throwing of the gloves and the dust…oh that girl loved the dust ya’ll kicked up. She couldn’t play ball like her mama, but with each crack of the bat, she lived the moment. I loved my little girl so much and I want to say thank you to every ball player who allowed her to live out a little of her life through you.”
Wow. I was suddenly jarred from one reality into another. This family will never see their daughter graduate high school, college, get married….Will had seen the world, all on his own and lived out his life….Stacy lived hers through every person who had the ability to run, catch….slide….and spit inhaled dust……….
Death is a painful event, not considerate of age, time, place or date. But, life too, is an event. It does not yield to age, time, place or date either……..But we can be considerate of the life that each of us has been given and live it to the fullest. I never knew Stacy was in the crowd, cheering, yet there she was….living her short life out….through us. As we go through life, we should always remember that maybe we are living out someone else’s dreams…..Life is to be celebrated, lived and hey maybe we should cheer for both teams………….