And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His hand.
– Fr. Michael Joncas
These lyrics, part of a much-loved devotional song titled “On Eagle’s Wings,” written by Father Michael Joncas for the funeral service of a friend’s father, was also a favorite song of Kathy Wolcott, wife of Marti’s brother, Mark, and “Aunt Kathy” to our children. At Kathy’s insistence, we all stood up at the funeral service of Mark and Marti’s mother and led the congregation of mostly retired people in Naples, Florida, in the singing of this song. All in all it was a lively service. We made sure of it, unwilling as we were to have Mom’s memory turned into a dirge. As a result, these older people were surprisingly jovial after the service, and there were so many requests for us to “do” their funerals, that we later joked that we should go into business as Eagle’s Wings Funeral Services.
Eagles’ Wings Funeral Services has lost its strongest proponent in that Aunt Kathy died yesterday in her sleep, the result of a massive stroke. She leaves behind two excellent sons — one, a Navy Seal, and the other a successful businessman, husband and father of two grandchildren — and Marti’s brother, who ironically is still recovering from a stroke of his own. All attention for so long has been with Mark. No one ever thought we would lose Kathy, so full of life and love, with seemingly an endless supply of selfless energy.
This will be hard. Kathy was the strong one, quietly holding everyone and everything together. She’s the one you can’t shock. She’s the one with the emotional and spiritual strength to listen, take in your problems, and somehow hand them back to you somewhat lighter. She was always behind the scenes, smiling and enjoying everyone else’s joy. She would be tough on the kids, and then wink at them when she knew they were up to something. Aunt Kathy had their respect.
She’s the last one any of us expected to go.
We will all be floundering for a while, convinced that the wrong person was chosen to go first. Our prayers will be full of questions. The sons will take it the hardest. Dan is already on his way back to Florida from Afghanistan. We will have to figure out what to do.
This is when, deep down inside, you know faith is there — reasons are there — you just can’t touch them. This is when you need some assistance. I’ve dialed up Eagle’s Wings Funeral Services a couple times, but there’s no answer.