by Kerry Blair
As you can see, things haven't improved much around here kitten-wise. But that isn't the reason I've missed four blogs and and almost a hundred comments this week. I've been away from the computer because I've been down in Mesa with my sister-in-law and her family. Her mother went to the hospital over the weekend and passed her life-test early Tuesday morning.
Joyce Pirkey is one of my heroes. She is the kind of woman who was truly the heart and soul of her home. Late this afternoon, each of her six children will rise at her memorial service to call her blessed. Her grandchildren will be told anew the many, many stories of laughter and light and love that filled their parents' childhood. As they continue to hear the stories and participate in the many family traditions, the legacy left by this truly remarkable woman will bless her posterity through the ages.
Times like this, while heart-rending in the extreme, are a blessing to our souls. They shine a bright light on what is most important in life -- family, friends, faith -- and too often we see that those are the very things we take most for granted day-to-day. Today, nobody in the Pirkey family will think of the financial struggles they often endured. The petty squabbles that characterize every family on earth might never have happened to them. Their mother's long illness and the myriad of stresses and frustrations and fears that must need have come with it have already faded.
What then is left us when a loved one dies?
Remember the Hans Christian Andersen story of the Little Tin Soldier? I first heard it when I was very young and on the day my beloved grandfather was buried. I have deeply believed from that day to this that while his body has gone and his soul has sojourned somewhere I cannot see, the refiner's fire that was his life left a heart of solid gold. I thought of that story yesterday when I lifted the small box that holds Joyce's mortal remains. I knew absolutely what was inside it: a bright and golden heart, forged in joy and sorrow, trouble and triumph, because that is the life she led. That is the woman she is.