In the book of the prophet Daniel, which has been read from today at Mass, we have that image of the Archangel Michael standing up with his book in which everything in life is recorded and written down. The reading tells us that many will arise, some to everlasting life and others to everlasting disgrace. It continues, those who have instructed others in virtue will shine like stars for all eternity.
That lovely image we reflect on today when we think of Agnes. We think of her in these terms, a shining twinkling star in the night sky lighting the way. In the hearts of those who have known, loved and admired her good and virtuous life she will be, as the reading says, like a star shining for all eternity. A star which lights up the dark night sky, a light to guide the way, a star shining whose light does not die or fade away.
Today our faith gives us another thing to think of that lifts us from sadness. It says that there is another dimension to life, not just there and now, we believe that things in God do not die. It is his will that all might be saved and none might be lost. It’s his will that we pass from life to an eternal life. It’s his will that death is not the final thing, but the reality that we pass through to be with him. St Paul speaks about that today, nothing can come between us and the love of God, not death, no angel, nothing yet to come,
In a simple way all her life Agnes held to this. Even in the quietness of that room that she died her last words and prayers expressed that hope and faith that had been part of her life. In the end that faith had been deeply rooted in her life, from the start to the finish, as a young girl growing up in Glasgow to an old lady here in Cambuslang. If she had been asked to keep the faith in baptism she had done so right to the end, right to the very end.
She was born and brought in Partick in the west end of the city, she was always proud of her Glasgow roots. She was one of 3 children – the others being Nancy and Ellen. She was just a young girl at the time of the War and was evacuated to safer places, like many young children at the time - she went to Dumbarton. Her parents died young and she then lived in Larkhall with family. She worked as a seamstress at Dach Simpson, a major factory in the town. It was there that she met Spongy McGuire, she was quiet and he wasn’t. Somehow he managed to persuade her to go out and the rest is history. They married at St Cadoc’s on 21st July 1961. They moved to Haghill in the east of the end of the city and then moved to Springfield Rd, finally moving to the Circuit around 1970/71.
Many of you who are here will well remember her husband Spongy. I think we could day he was the life and soul of the party. He had a cheerful and happy and easy going nature. He saw the funny side of everything and was always the first to offer to sing should a party come along. Also when New Year came round, it was not a one day event, but stretched out a few days – all we can say was that Agnes was a patient woman. They were a very sociable couple and liked the company of other couples, Agnes could be persuaded to give a song herself. They were to enjoy time spent away at Burntisland on the east coast. In the last few years of his life her husband was ill and Agnes nursed him without any though for herself, day and night.
In her life she had 4 boys – Jim, Gerald, Brian and Drew. I suppose like any mother she wanted to see them up and settled. She was to get that prayer granted and was to live a long life and to see their children born and growing up too. She was very proud of her boys and I reckon that what they are today us what she made them. She never had very much but what she had she gave them; she worked hard for them, to feed, clothe ad set them on the proper road in life. I can imagine that it wasn’t easy bringing up 4 boys – on the way of it they often thought they were a step ahead of their mom, but this wily Glasgow woman was 2 steps ahead of them. She also had a good right hook They could easily have taken wrong roads but she was there to guide them. She used to say to me there was no feeding them, they could eat. They had great respect for her, they knew what she had given to them, and it was great to see the way that they honoured her and respected, just as the commandment teaches us to do. One of her sons Gerald remained in the house and never married, in recent years Gerald himself was to have ill health, again Agnes watched over him and as it turns out they were no to be separated, she was on one floor of the Home and he was in another.
She was as pleased as punch to see the grandchildren come along and just as she had 4 boys, it was to turn out that she had 4 girls as grandchildren Leah, Erin , Kerry & Gemma. It was always interesting to see them with her, they were glued to her. She was I think their wee granny. They were very fond of her and she was very fond of them.
In the neighbourhood she was greatly liked. People could easily see that there was no side to her. She was a kind and generous woman whom many people came to call their friend. In the way of it she raised her family along side others and in the neighbourhood shared the joys, sadnesses and difficulties of raising a family and being a good neighbour to others. later in life she particularly liked the club that she attended in the local hall at the Toll Pitch and made many friends there.
Over the time that I have been here I was able to visit her. I did notice when you went into the house there was always a fog of smoke, you had to cut you way in and cut your way out. We have to say she liked her cigarettes. It was always a pleasure to visit her, even although it felt that you had smoked 10 cigarettes, she always ,made you most welcome.
I suppose in life and through her life Agnes didn’t have very much. But she was very rich in other ways and in the ways that matter. She was honest, trustworthy, generous kind and faithful. She was a person of tremendous faith and prayer. She was a person who although small had a big heart for others, nothing she wouldn’t do for family, friends, neighbours and people in need.
The last few months of her life were spent at Flemington Home where she was very well looked after. It was kind of like an Indian summer of her life. She put behind her the illness which made it clear she was not able to cope any longer on her own. The nurses and staf of the Home said she was always apologizing for any trouble she caused them, very much in her character. Those last months were good months, she was happy and content and not worried.
When I think of Agnes today, I think of her as someone who didn’t keep anything for herself but gave everything selflessly to others. She didn’t really realise it in her life but people admired her very much.
Today marks the end of the journey, the final things are being set in motion. This mass, her funeral, her burial. She leaves us much the better for having her in our lives. Her shadow which has passed over our life has brought a blessing.
We believe that there is a reward at the end of life. We can only see that the reward will be waiting for her, how could it be otherwise.