by Jaime Castle
From an email dated April 15, 2017 at 11:32 AM:
Following up on Rev Leslie’s story a few weeks ago, and preparing for tomorrow’s service, I have to say the loaves and fishes WORK! (or should it be works?)
I agreed to Bill’s request to provide daffodils, since the service will include our congregation’s very own daffodil / Easter story. Well, my daffodils tend to be on the early side of the season, and apparently so do most others’ gardens.
SO, I sent out the request just the same, and what came back was….most are gone, but you are welcome to what’s there.
Also, several of you are away, but gave me permission to ‘go pick’ anyway. I have a very full bucket of probably a dozen or more varieties!
Five from one garden, six from another, and so it went.
And tomorrow morning while choir is rehearsing, I will be in heaven while I play with flowers from your gardens and your generous hearts.
The above passage was the last email message that I received from Connie. I tend to forage for reminders of people: voice messages, text messages, or emails from them when they pass and when I’m missing them. When my beloved Aunt passed in 2012, I listened to a voicemail message from her over and over until my newer edition phone came along and it was lost. I wanted to engrain her voice to my memory. There is so much that will keep Connie in my memory.
My first memories of Connie go way back to when she led a Sunday service that was also a singing circle. She held rehearsals on Thursdays before choir met, just for an hour, weeks ahead of that service. I couldn’t join the choir at the time as my schedule with young Lucy at home made it hard. This was a perfect way for me to get out and sing. Connie was so welcoming and nurturing. We sang: “Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true” and “Doors opening, doors closing,” and also one that ended with “Be here now.” Showing up and being a part of this service did open doors for me at Heritage and I felt like it was after joining in on this that I started making connections. Music was a strong connector for Connie and me. I remember the night of the Italian themed fundraising party at the Lyons’ house that a bunch of us were hanging out singing bluegrass and folk songs together late into the night after most guests had left. Connie was there belting along and could have kept on going, but poor Bill finally, nicely, kicked us all out. Lol!
Another thing that connected Connie and I was sewing and she would tell me about things that she had made. She would show great interest in the projects that I took on. She would come to me if there was a fix that she couldn’t quite figure out on a garment needing mending. During one of my visits to her this fall, she had her wedding dress out. She told me about how her grandmother and her had made it. She had hand sewn on the lace appliques and was so proud of it. It was beautiful and elegant. She asked me to take it with me. She had asked me years ago if I had wanted it. I had used wedding dresses before to convert them into Flower Girl, Baptism, or First Communion dresses. She had heard of wedding dresses being made into Angel Gowns – beautiful handmade burial dresses and garments as gifts to the grieving families of babies that tragically die soon after birth. I had forgotten that she had asked me about it before and this time it seemed very heavy to take it from her after hearing her story and memories of it. It is in safe keeping for now. I do not have the strength to cut into it yet.
The emails I have from her all have to do with the gardening team that she guided. I have a good-sized yard and wanted to learn more about plants so Lucy and I would help along when we could. Connie walked me all around the grounds at Heritage teaching me about the flowers and plants that she planted. The giant Azalea bush in the front by our sign when in full bloom is my favorite! She would dig up perennials for me that there were enough of and tell me to go plant them at home. I learned a lot from her and now I have herb gardens, a vegetable garden, and flower gardens. I love to garden so much and I know that my space is only going to get better as I tend to it. I would have loved to show it to her.
Rev. Leslie’s version of the loaves and fishes goes something like this: Maybe Jesus didn’t miraculously create enough bread and fish for all the people that came to hear him that day. Maybe people combined their resources and took care of each other and that is why there was enough for everyone. Even the latter explanation is a miracle in its own way—humanity showing itself as innately good.
Our hearts still are hurting and our buckets are empty right now. Like the early daffodils, Connie is gone in body. But we have our memories of her and her presence is all around us. We need to help each other out, combine our resources, and slowly fill back up our buckets. Five from one garden, six from another, and so it goes.
She is in heaven. She is playing with the flowers that she has collected from our gardens – our generous hearts.
You’re Welcome Connie! And thank you for your generous heart!