I have a client — I’ll call her Joanne — who is a devout Christian. Joanne periodically contacts me and asks for my opinion about a faith-based issue she is struggling with. She recently asked me if I think she has an obligation to assist her husband’s mother — I’ll call her Frances — with her basic personal, healthcare, and financial needs.
A few years ago, I did something that was very unusual. At my daughter Christine’s wedding reception, I got up and told our guests what my five requirements were for a man who wanted to marry one of my daughters. Before I share my five requirements with you, I need to give you some background information.
I’ve written before about Fr. Clair Bourdereaux, a Franciscan priest who was assigned to Sacred Heart Church in downtown Peoria in 1976. He remained there for 19 years, until his death in January 1995. Fr. Clair had all the qualities of a great counselor. He was holy, smart, wise, gentle, diplomatic, compassionate, and understanding. He had the unique ability to connect with people on their level and set them on a path toward holiness and happiness.
Last week, in an article I wrote about the death of my Aunt Honeybee, I shared some experiences I had with her while I was growing up. After her funeral, some of my relatives who had read the article told me that they never knew about the affection I had toward her. At first, I was surprised by what they said. I had not anticipated that reaction from anyone. The comments prompted me to question why I really felt the way I did about her. If you didn’t have a chance to read what I wrote, you can read it here.
The champion of our family neighborhood died last week. I’ve written before about how I grew up in a family neighborhood that included seven families. My grandparents, Tom and Effie Williams, lived next door to my parents. All the other families in the neighborhood were made up of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. While all the women in the neighborhood were generous, loving, hardworking Catholic women who did a magnificent job of managing their households and raising their children, there was one woman who stood out among all of them. To me, she was the champion of the neighborhood.
I graduated from high school in 1975 (45 years ago). The school I attended was in a rural area of Peoria County. Most of the students in the school were from families in which at least one parent worked in a blue-collar job, such as manufacturing or the building trades. I came from one of those families.