As the years rolled by we took Camille to the Air Force Band concert, where she stood proudly when they played the march from her branch of the armed forces. Camille was a tiny mite so even when she stood as tall as possible, she was dwarfed by other service people. But she had served her country with pride and honor and was the first to stand when the music played "her" song.
We have fabulous memories of countless meals with our wonderful friend. Asparagus and mashed potatoes were her absolute favorites so that was often on the menu. Camille gloried in preparing Italian food for us. She was Italian through and through; her "gravy"-aka spaghetti sauce-was superior to any other we have ever tasted. Besides, sitting around her kitchen table for a meal or just having coffee together was always an EVENT. We discussed world affairs; we talked til we were hoarse; we laughed til we hurt; and she and Norm reminisced about their adventures in real estate.
It was such a joy to hear Camille's parish priest recount all the service she had rendered to
Father Ryan recounted the time Camille had left the food pantry and after
Before the start of the Resurrection Mass for Camille, Father Ryan announced that the parish food pantry had been renamed. It will now be known as "Camille's Cupboard." What a fitting tribute to a lovely, loving woman. I was deeply moved to hear this because, of course, Camille and I had often shared our work with food pantries and how we could promote them throughout our communities.
As we made our way to the funeral lunch, we spotted a man we know who is in his late 90's. He was helping scrub pots in the kitchen of the parish hall. We got his attention so we could ask him if he and his bride are still square dancing. No, but he is still walking along the Platte River every day. He averages 2 miles but he wishes he had the time to go for FIVE. It was such a joy to visit with Clarence.
We got into line to go to the serving table and got visiting with the couple ahead of us. It was so wonderful to learn of their connection to Camille and get acquainted. I whispered a prayer of thanks to God for Camille's bringing us together.
Someone from our church family came to our lunch table to bring us up to speed on our former church family. It was great to connect with Carol, because she knows people in our current little Maple Grove church family.
As our conversation wound down, I looked for Norm. He was visiting with a woman I had not met. She and Norm, I learned, worked together on a number of projects together which involved making life better for people with special needs. We realized we had a great number of people and situations in common. In just a few minutes I felt as if I had known Gladys forever. It felt good.
As I looked over Camille's funeral card I read the names of the pall bearers. It was stunning to me to see David Gnewuch's name on that list. I watched David grow up when his family was our neighbor; later he delivered our mail for years and years. David was Camille's next door neighbor. What a small and wonderful world!
Being present for a sad occasion and experiencing such joy all around was inspirational and served as a balm to my soul. I am grateful to my core.
We all will miss Camille very much and we all remember what a bright light she was in the world. It would be very good if we can all find wonderful ways to keep Camille's memory alive forever. A gift or service to any food pantry would be a great way to begin that process.
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