Graduation weekend at Mount Saint Mary's. Baccalaureate Mass today. During the Mass, I was distracted by figuring out that I probably knew more members of this senior class than any other class I've ever had at the Mount. Because of the courses I teach... In these four years, I've had members of this class for Freshman Seminar, two rounds of Mod Civ, three rounds of Women of Faith, three rounds of Intro to Poetry, one round of Intro to Short Fiction, one round of Christian Spirituality, one round of Creative Writing, and one round of Poetry Writing. And that may not be an accurate count!
I have loved this class - just a great group of human beings. Very few grade grubbers or slackers.
Wish I had taken photos of them over the years, especially that group I had as Freshmen. They were spectacular.
Also, on this day, I heard from my family back in my home town: my cousin ( technically, my first cousin, once removed) contacted me to let me know that his aunt, my first cousin, died last night.
I hadn't even known she was sick.
She was diagnosed with leukemia on March 6, and died almost two months to the day. She died at home, on hospice. She was 71. This is the only photo I have of her, taken in 1984:
A vivid memory of her took place when she was in the eighth grade and I was in the first grade, at Saint Agnes School. I had sustained a wicked brush burn on my leg a few days before, and in the playground this particular day, while playing tag, I had knocked off the large scab and as a result had a lot of blood running down my leg. Someone - probably the sister on recess duty - carried me in to the eighth grade classroom and sat me on the large high window sill. This cousin - my cousin Barbie -was right there, taking care of me. I wasn't really very hurt, but the blood made it dramatic. I loved all the attention, especially hers.
I attended this woman's graduation from Cabrini College, her wedding, held her firstborn son in my arms when he was a few weeks old, and then became friends with that same son when he was a freshman in college at the Citadel in Charleston when I was one year into my mission time in that city. My care for that boy endeared me to Barbie, who always took me out to dinner with them when she and her husband visited their son. I also attended the wedding of Barbie's daughter sometime in the 1990'a. I also attended the funeral of this same son in 2000. I also stayed at her home a number of times over these years when my parents no longer lived in West Chester.
I hadn't seen her in about a year, and didn't even know she was sick. But she was like that ---kept things quiet. What a shock, and what a loss. Another large piece of my family history dies with her, too. Many other small get-togethers over the years - her mother and my mother and she and I spending a Saturday together at Cape May, for example.
This death has really hit me hard.