Its only a relatively short time that Angie was packing her bags and heading off to Spain. We offered Mass for her and there was a small reception in the parish hall for friends and parishioners. We were sad she was going…. she wasn’t. For her it was a dream to be going to a sunny a beautiful country, something that she had promised herself for many years. She was like a young thing going on her holiday, full of plans. There was no looking over her shoulder wondering whether she was doing the right thing. It was with a hop skip and jump she left us. The times she spent in Spain was good all that she hoped and she settled into life well, I am not sure how good her Spanish was – it was a mixture of English, Scots Italian and school girl Spanish – it was like the paella everything was thrown in. What she didn’t know, she just smiled and pointed, nothing really embarrassed her too much. Looking back those days were good days and everything she hoped for. But there were dark clouds to appear on the horizon, illness came and it was not just one of those small clouds that appear and by afternoon are gone. This was a scudding black cloud, one you don’t want to see in the skies above you. As time went by the news coming from Spain was not good and it was soon clear she would not recover from the illness. She made plans to return and to spend the last weeks with family.
All of the things at her funeral today were things that Angie wished for. All through her illness she was very clear minded and in the end knew clearly what lay ahead. She even prepared for this Mass today, choosing hymns and readings. The reading from the letter to the Corinthians was a much loved passage for her, in it St Paul teaches us about love – without love we are nothing. Its patient its kind is not boatful, its not vain, it doesn’t dishonour others, is not self seeking, it is not easy to anger, it doesn’t keep record of others faults, it doesn’t delight in wrong doing, it always protects, always trusts, always perseveres, always endures. Other gifts fail but love keeps going. I suspect in choosing these words the sentiments appealed to her very much. Who could say that we have kept to all these things, but these were the challenges that she placed on her own life, things to live up to, trying to live by Christ’s commandments and words. In choosing the words today she would wish that we all ponder It seems to me that sentence of St Paul says means much – without love we are nothing. Looking back on her life I want to simply say this abut Angie, her life was marked by love. A love that was often forgiving, a love that was selfless, a love that didn’t count the cost to herself, a love that protected others and cared for others, a love that was tested often but kept going.
In the last days of her life she was at the Hospice where she was very well looked after. She had been admitted there having stayed with the boys and having spent some time in hospital. The boys hoped for longer, as she did, but time was to be short. She was greatly consoled by the family and her friend Joan’s presence and by the awareness of many people’s good wishes and prayers. As mentioned yesterday up to the last she was wanting to have a smoke, she would be looking for her bag, but we knew she was really looking for those cigarettes. She was unrepentant.
There were moments of deep faith in these last days. She prayed hard and received the sacraments with great faith. I was able to be with her in those last days and she would shoo the others out the room so that we could talk. She wasn’t afraid, she didn’t fool herself that a miracle was coming down the line, she had weighed everything up and resolutely prepared for what was to come. I was able to re-assure her of many things not least the very considerable love and care that many had for her. She met these moments with great faith, she had a deep faith all of her life and that faith sustained her in this last part of the journey.
She was brought up in Hamilton and on one side of her family she was Scots Italian from a family that was well known in Hamilton, the café was legendary. They were a hardworking family and even from a young age Angie was expected to lend a hand. She was very bright at school but never got the chance to pursue that side of her life, which I think was a regret. She married Andy but in the last years of her life that marriage broke down. I always teased her, thinking she was slightly hippish, she quite liked that because I think she thought that of herself. She was a great family person and brought her sons Peter and Alex and Ricky and Robert up well – they meant everything to her. As they passed through school and parish life mum was there to support them. She had a kind of legendary status as a baker and would bake for school and parish events, so much so that on occasion she would bake. It wasn’t unusual for me or others to receive a cake out of the blue from her. She was blessed with one of those very helpful natures and would volunteer at the drop of the hat for things – readings here at Mass, tombola in the school hall, baking for coffee morning, leading and organizing parish trips to Lourdes. Some hold back but Angie was in there, it said something about her personality. Very often in lost days she would pitch up at McCallums café with her friends, one coffee would lead to another, she promised me that she never gossiped down there, but I had my doubts. It was one of the things she did in her last days to re-visit the café, it was emotional for her but also for her friends.
I always thought of her as a bit of a whirlwind, so much energy, so able to do anything at the drop of a hat. She would take ion things without fuss and was very self-effacing. No job was too small or too large for her. In the jobs that she did here she always gave me good advice and wise counsel and everything was always done to the highest standard.
We sometimes listen at Mass to that parable of the word which our Lord teaches in which the seed falls on different places. We recognise that the seed has fallen on rich soil in Angie’s life. The Lord’s words have taken root in her life, he has been welcomed into her life, he has found a home with her. No need for her to puzzle over questions just a simple loving faith was the mark of her life. And that seed took root, grew and bore a rich fruit and harvest in her life. Behold – it reached a rich harvest some twenty some thirty and some a hundredfold.
Like anybody else Angie had plenty of ups and downs in life. But her faith was a comfort to her, a strength to her and a compass for her to negotiate her way through life.
I always think about her she was always a good person. That good girl that her parents had known in Hamilton was always the good person she was for the rest of her life, transparently good.
She told me in those last days that everyone was to smile at her funeral. I reminded her of that song of the 1960s and 70’s its my party and I’ll cry of I want to. She won’t be able today to stop us crying but at the same time it’s easy to smile when we think of all the crazy things she did and said.
We think in our faith that its all our efforts but we forget to remember that God has his eye on us. God holds our hand. God is at our side. God walks with us. Along the way Angie never lost sight of this and in the end she never forget that is his all consuming desire that . we should be with him, for why would he allow his son to come into the world. For no other reason than he should lead us into heaven.