Thou Art Dust

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It isn’t always easy preparing for the inevitable, but I have always tried to be prepared for things in life. We prepare for birthdays, holidays, we even pack lunches ahead of time. Some of us are last minute planners, but that always freaked me out.So with a new diagnosis of perhaps six months of life left, I am moving into high gear.

I planned my funeral mass about a month or so after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in April of 2016. Why leave that decision or task, if you prefer that term, to someone who is grieving? I picked readings with the help of my priest and told her what songs I preferred. My husband thought I was crazy. “Why are you in such a hurry?,” he wanted to know. Maybe it’s because I am more practical? I didn’t see any point in waiting? I know it is going to happen and sooner than I had ever imagined. We all die some time. Isn’t that what life is about? And besides, my husband has enough trouble finding his way in the prayer book already. And let’s be honest here; men don’t ask for directions, so why let a man direct my funeral?

I discovered a long time ago, when I attended a grief counseling session with my mother, that death is always hardest for those who are left behind. The dying usually realize their death is coming and find a way to accept it. My mother had lost a daughter, my sister, who was only 21 years of age, and then she lost her husband and rock, my father, in a construction accident ten years later when he was only 62. I saw the pain she went through even with her five other children around to help her through it all. I do not want to add to my husband’s grief by requiring that he sit down and prepare for a funeral during one of the worst times in his life.

I want my funeral to be a celebration of my life. I know that it is difficult for some people to talk about dying. It is even difficult for me at times, and the reason is the same. I might accept the fact that I am dying, but it’s painful to be witness to another person’s reaction to it. I know that I was shocked the first time hospice was suggested to me. All I could think of was SIX MONTHS left to live! It was worse than the day I received my diagnosis. Not a day goes by without the thought of a looming deadline. I sometimes feel as if I am still working and trying to make the midnight filing deadline for a patent application. There is always the chance that I could plateau and hang around longer, but no one can tell. ALS is not predictable like so many other diseases.

So just to forewarn you, I am going to prepare you for my inevitable end. I am going to be cremated. There will be no wake or viewing. I’m here now if you want a view. My funeral mass will be followed by the interment of my ashes on church property and a memorial service. It will be a trifecta of sorts. I want you to wear whatever you want and feel comfortable. Bring your noise makers, funny hats, or Mouse ears and be prepared to march on over to the tree near the pond. That is where I intend to have my ashes buried. Don’t be bashful or worry about what others will think. Tell them this noise, your outfit, and your happy attitude were my requests to y’all. See a tiger (that would be me) can change its stripes when it moves south.

 

 

Most importantly, feel welcome in my church because you truly are. God loves you no matter what. I may not always have practiced what I preach, but I believe in a loving and forgiving God.

So if you don’t get to visit me before I leave this earth, drop by the pond and throw in a line. You can join my husband in one of his favorite hobbies, fishing. I will be there too, waiting and watching for you under the tree. Say a prayer, share a memory, or pay it forward and do a good deed. Oh, and if you forget your fishing pole, there are some already there prepared for you.

,… for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. 
 Genesis, 3:19

17 thoughts on “Thou Art Dust

  1. Marilyn Brenneman says:

    Truly thoughtful and moving reflection. I am a bit behind you and not as spiritual perhaps but same feelings nonetheless. Sail on sweet spirit .

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  2. Margaret and Richard Ventimiglia says:

    Kathryn, we’ve had our differences but I think of all the fun times we shared! Like racing those guys on Sunrise Hwy or getting stuck and having to call you dad at 2 am cause the gas station guy wouldn’t help us! Or when we dressed up for Halloween, yes we did some crazy things in our younger days and that is what I’ll always remember the fun, the laughs and the good times!! You will be missed! You are a strong person and may the rest of your time here on earth be peaceful and know God will be there to greet you. Also know we are here if you need anything. All our love and prayers.💜💜

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    • Kathryn Manginelli says:

      Good thing Dad isn’t reading this. I remember it was cold and he was towing us to your house when the tow rope broke in the middle of the intersection! And that fight we were supposed to have in Roosevelt where we were outnumbered 2 to a billion. Only the two of us showed up! TG
      And your mom making us search for the lost toll ticket on the NYS thruway!

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      • Margaret Ventimiglia says:

        Yes those were the days! Nothing to really think or worry about! Just having fun! They just went by all to fast! Remember when Eileen would take us out for ice cream with that guy from Great Eastern cause she really didn’t want to go! I think is name was Ralf but we called him Alfie?

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  3. Paul Curtis says:

    Kathryn Kathryn Kathryn, you surely are one strong person. I know that personally, first ✋.You Know , Barbara ,Dad , and Mom will be there waiting for you. ♥️💕I’ll see you July 17 I Love You and I’ll be praying for you.

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  4. Jenkins says:

    I live next to Nancy and Jerry at the end of the cul-de-sac. I watch you bravely navigate the ride down the hill and back. Keep trucking along for however long that is. God will blessed to have such a brave women in his home. Deb and Sherry

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  5. Aleta Bourdo says:

    Kathryn, your strength is an inspiration to many. Thank you for giving us all light thru your journey. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless

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  6. Joanne Harper says:

    Kathryn, I’m so glad You brought Susan and I to the church. It’s such a special place in a beautiful setting. You are a beautiful person, my friend. I hope that we can visit again soon. You’re always in my heart.💗

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  7. Priscilla Webster-Williams says:

    Thank you for your words which I experienced as profound, insightful, beautiful, and true. My mother planned her own funeral, that was a great help to me when her time came. I didn’t have to wonder what she might have wanted. It was a pleasure to meet you yesterday and hear your inspiring words. God bless you on your journey.

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