January 6, the calendar date for the feast of the Epiphany, was different for our family this year. It was the date on which our brother-in-law completed his earth-journey and moved into the fullness of light.
I pondered the ways in which I came to know him better, and recognized a delightful pattern as the fullness of who he was emerged. There was always the hallmark of unwavering loyalty and generous support for those he knew and loved. There was the ready, “Sure I can do that,” whenever a helping hand was needed. That’s why his involvement in the Knights of Columbus and support of Catholic education always was at the top of his activities list. He even created a cribbage culture by monthly teaching school children the game and bringing his cribbage-elders with him as mentors.
Layers of tenderness emerged with the birth of his son and the arrival of a granddaughter and grandson. He kept discovering new ways to delight and encourage them. And as his days of hospice went on, every person that came to see him was greeted with a gently spoken “thank you” even when he had no strength left to say another word.
The words of Rainer Marie Rilke’s poem [Sonnets to Orpheus, Part two, XII] felt like it was written to describe the tender human he became. “Everything shines as it disappears.” And now as my sister goes forward, gratefully remembering all this transformation and the end of his cancer pain, she likely can relate to the words with which the sonnet ends, “Every happiness is the child of a separation it did not think it could survive.”
Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB