“I never will understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish”
A bright light went out on Friday. It faded peacefully after a lifetime of shining; illuminating lives with joy and love and especially laughter, everywhere it glowed.
I knew this woman for only a weekend in my life. One would think that a weekend couldn’t make a lasting memory or touch a heart with such power or force as to render said heart bruised and aching at her passing.
One would be wrong.
I am privileged to count myself among the lucky ones who knew her. Even if my time was short, it was blessed with joy and honor and awe for such a woman.
In her nineties, she traveled from Hawaii to the Midwest just for a weekend, to witness the wedding of a nephew. She was an honored guest and seated at the head table during the rehearsal dinner, she joined in conversations with passion and conviction. Her smile and energy lit up the room.
She had fun. And her fun was contagious. Just the simple act of watching her take pleasure in the world around her, compelled you to take another look, see through her eyes, and take in the beauty as she saw it.
She enjoyed everything and everyone. Every time I glanced over at her table during the wedding, she was a beam of light glowing in her chair. Her effervescence bubbled up within me, like the finest champagne and I was drunk in her presence. Enchanted, enthralled.
I adored her.
It was hard for her to hear. Harder still for her to walk. I am told she tired easily. None of these things were apparent when you saw her. What you noticed was her smile. What you noticed was her glow. What you remembered was her gratitude and the love that poured out of her. Even for a stranger girl that she barely knew.
I can only hope that on my best day I will someday reach that level of…something.
I’m not even sure it’s tangible enough to put in writing. Perhaps it’s a combination of virtues that finally come together in a symphony of joy.
I would love to believe that I am on my way to my nineties learning how to achieve love, joy, peace, gratitude and forgiveness. She remembered to add in fun. I can be guilty of leaving that one out, being more familiar with the driven, task focused side of my nature. The side of me that is usually in charge is the one that was raised to think you don’t play until your work is done-and oh by the way, a woman’s work is never done. I actually have to make it a goal to relax and play.
I think I’m getting better. She has inspired me to want more for myself. To be more, to see more, enjoy more. I want to be a bright light that shines. A smile that glows. A person that has fun and enjoys life. I don’t want to look down at my funeral and hear them say “she worked too hard, she never had any fun.”
I want them to say “A bright light has gone out today…”
Monika Mundell says
This post touched my heart and in my eyes you perfectly captured the essence of – Being Alive! Greatly written so much so that I sat with this amazing being of light and saw her smile. 🙂
Daz Cox says
Me too. I took care of my grandmother in the last months of her life last year and it was an enlightening experience…
Daz, Sorry, I am working my down and missed this,
I am sure that was a bittersweet experience. sorry that you lost her, glad you were able to share so much precious time with her.
Thank you very much.
this has been a sad week. She is very much missed.
John Kelly says
Wendi, thank you so much for honoring my aunt so well. When I met her at the funeral of her husband, surprisingly I had the very same experience. That was over 20 years ago. I’ve cried twice about her passing, this was my third.
Your loving husband,
Eileen Carpenter says
Wendi, that is so beautiful!
I was sitting next to Mary at that dinner. What you may not have caught was how passionately she was discussing politics. At age 92, she still felt a strong mission to keep improving our country and our world.
You are very welcome. It is easy to honor someone so amazing that can touch a heart just by being in the same room. I will always be grateful that I had my moment of knowing her, just as I know that everyone of her family and friends are grateful for every day and every memory they will always have too.
She was and will always be- very well loved.
Hi! Thank you for leaving your comment and thank you for coming here. It is nice to be able to remember Mary with those that knew her.
I do remember that converstion very well. It actually stirred my blood and I had to swallow back a lump of pride in my throat when she started talking that night. I was so impressed with her passion to make the world a better place. She wasn’t done contributing, not by a long shot. She was amazing!
I will be thinking about you this upcoming week.
Ed Slavish says
Mahalo for the kind expression of love for mother. She was quite a lady. It is nice to hear it from others. Her greatest joys were her faith in God and her family, and the fact that in her lifetime an Irish Catholic Democrat was elected to the White House. She grew up in an era when job seekers found signs in employment offices saying “Irish need not apply”. She especially loved her 3 great grandsons, Kaimana, Iokepa and Kahiau.
She was continually amazed at how a Philadelphia girl could end up watching sun rises on Kaneohe Bay in the middle of the Pacific.
I hope you will visit the Slavish ohana in Hawaii someday soon. Mother enjoyed her time with the Kelly ohana.
Aloha nui loa
Dave Slavish says
It’s difficult to express the amount of gratitude I have for the beautiful comments about my mother. Yes, she was a glowing light and for me she still is. I’m packing my suitcase today and preparing for my flight to Honolulu for her services. A six hour flight will not be ample time to call back a life time of memories. Her love, kindness devotion to her God and her family are the hallmarks of her time with us. Her smile, wisdom and example are the gifts she gave to everyone. We will gather this week to honor her, but it’s the way we live our lives that is testement to the goodness of “Aunt Mary”.
Again, your kind words are so very much appreciated.
Gerry Walsh/Joyce Family says
Wendi, my name is Gerry Walsh and Aunt Mary was my Grandfather’s brothers daughter. God has truly blessed the Joyce/Slavish families. I remeber great memories of Aunt Mary and Uncle Pete on our visits to Pittsburgh and their visits to Pennsylvania. We were able to spend time with Aunt Mary at the funeral of our Uncle Joe and everything you wrote is what I experienced again about this truly wonderful lady. Thank you for putting into words what a truly wonderful person she was and I agree “A bright light has gone out…”
Jane Slavish-Kucharski says
I called this wonderful woman Aunt Mary also. I am her niece through Uncle Pete. My father was Uncle Pete’s brother.
I was thrilled to get re-aquainted with her at the Slavish family reunion and you hit it on the head with your observations. She will be missed, but remember how fortunate we are because we had her in our lives.
My prayers are with Ed,Jim,David and Kathy.