I've edited this so it is a blog entry instead, simply to say it, have it said, and have it out there.
Her funeral was nice. I'm not a big fan of Catholic funerals. I always feel the Priest is a supply staffer who doesn't know the family, the family maybe on the whole doesn't really BELIEVE any of this Catholic stuff. The service is always long, weird and disjointed for me. The Priest doing this service was very young (maybe in his early 30s?) and Filipino. At first his accent was a little hard to get past, but I have to say as far as these things go, where my perception is the Priest is a borderline stranger, he did a tremendous job. He told the story of how he met Marie 6 weeks ago when her son called the parish and asked for someone to come pray with his mom. By the sounds of it he had the opportunity to spend quality time with her and her family. He may not have been her pastor for long, but he certainly "got" her, the family, and the friends. So... hats off to him. Well done, sir.
So, here's what I would have delivered, maybe.
If you are a Boy Scout, scout leader, former Boy Scout, or even if you just know the words please rise, and Scout Salute. A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
Please be seated. You may be wondering why I opened my comments this morning with the Scout Law.
For weeks now when I have been thinking about Marie I reflect on how she was all of these things and lived the Scout Law in her life daily.
I’d like to say she was the best Boy Scout I ever knew, gender roles, rank advancement, and merit badge completions aside.
For those of you who do not know me,I served on the BSA Troop 87 Committee with Marie, and several years ago she encouraged me to be the Troop Chaplain. Hopefully no one is offended in stating the Scout Law in church, but for me each of those items trace back to Biblical principles, straight out of scripture. So I’m comfortable saying these things, and feel they have a place in this space.
As the Troop Chaplain, it isn’t my job to convert anyone to anything. It is primarily to set a spiritual tone in the Troop, which I think I do when I’m not being excessively silly. Chaplaincy guidelines are less about trying to tell someone what you think they should believe than they are exercising compassion in action, providing care, encouragement and love. Acts which in and of themselves are spiritual in nature. It is an honor for me to be the Troop Chaplain. But I'm not just that for the Scouts, but to the adults in Marie’s life and to her family. And I especially feel compelled to be here and share with you today because of Marie’s love for me.
Marie was an excellent role model. When my son came into Troop 87 in 2007 after receiving his Arrow of Light, Marie and Jim (the Scoutmaster) welcomed us in with open arms. My husband and I knew that for Geoff to have a successful transition into BSA from the Cub Pack, we would have to be involved. Doug went on camp outs and off to summer camp as an adult leader, and I joined the committee.
I remember going to a committee members training with Marie a few years back. There was a NH Troop committee chair who basically said that she was the committee chair, treasurer, and the committee along with her one scoutmaster and assistant scoutmaster. She looked at the four of us and was jealous that we had four people on the troop committee. We sheepishly let her know that we actually had a lot more than four … and we had a lot more scoutmasters than two. She asked me how we motivated parents to be involved. I thought about it and told her that we just have incredibly committed parents, but the truth of the matter was that we had an incredibly committed committee chairwoman.
What I have gotten out of this experience the most since our son joined the troop is that as a parent, I’m not just invested in the success of my son in scouting - I’m invested in the success of the other boys in scouting. Marie set forth an example of what a scouting parent should be. She let us know that it’s not just about “get your kid to Eagle,” but … get all boys to enjoy themselves. Build a quality program with excellent activities. Sure, monitor their advancement and their achievements in merit badges and encourage that … but also encourage their growth in relationship with one another and their joy in the troop.
And in doing so, you connect with the families, the parents, the siblings, and the community.
As you know, this past Saturday was (our town) Day. For the last five years I’ve coordinated the details for the Boy Scout Troop. Marie were my right-hand man in this, and starting in April or May each year she’d start touching base with me about what was arranged. To be honest, our vendors didn’t want to hear from us in April. But I’d always have everything ready to go and wait another month or so before I started reaching out for the donations.
The most important day leading up to (our town) Day for me was always the Thursday BSA Troop meeting right before the event.
This past Thursday, I was out at the trailer with Thane, Stan and Stephen, moving stuff around, loading up coolers into the three vehicles that were going to go get ice. I could hear her voice… “is there enough charcoal? Are the coolers clean? Do we have trash barrels? Recycle bins? Is there enough shade cover? How many paper plates do you have?” She always thought of something that I was missing or asked me about a detail that I’d accidentally overlooked.
Some people probably don’t like having someone double checking their plans or their work but for me, her shadowing was indispensable. I don’t have ADD, but there are times that even with lists, spreadsheets and checking things off I’m discombobulated and I miss things. In working with Pattie, our new committee chair, this year, Pattie certainly rose to that task, serving as external checklist, walking the plot plan of the field with Kathy and myself on that Thursday.
I love Pattie dearly, but that particular Thursday was always the Marie Day for me and I missed her voice, her cocking her head to the side and asking me about detail a, b, c, d, r, x, z…
After the meeting on Thursday I wanted to go to her bedside and sit next to her, and tell her that everything was all set for the big day. My big concern was ice and keeping the meat cool without using all of our coolers and our ice to do so. Gotta keep the customers food safe.
I wanted her to assure me that I didn’t need to panic, that we’d planned right. She would know and double check and count every year. This year I knew she wouldn't be able to respond to me, but I just wanted her to know.
I didn’t want to make myself sad, and so I didn’t go Thursday night. Instead, I promised myself that I would come visit on Saturday night, tired and sweaty, to let her know how it all went. But she left us on Friday night, a little earlier than I wanted.
Well, I know you can hear me, Marie. So. Here’s how we did, honey:
Marie, it was awesome. This year, we had everything down. The only thing we missed was a detail for one item newly introduced to our set up in the form of a hand washing station courtesy of the Board of Health. I didn’t buy soap, and we didn’t have enough paper towels. (Note to self: add hand soap and paper towels to the shopping list for Sam’s club next year.)
Marie, you would have been so proud to see so many boys out there helping customers and cleaning up. You would have been proud of the dads, Scoutmasters, and older Scouts working on the grill. A couple first timers on the Wok were rocking the peppers and onions, tempting the masses with delicious smells. And I was so pleased that some of the older Scouts truly love to use the Wok as well. You would have loved to have seen Thane’s grill tops in action. They were awesome. You would have loved to see how many parents there working, early shift, later shift.
We ran out of hot dogs and sausages, which I didn’t expect because we had so many left over last year. Luckily we live close to Market Basket and we had willing parents to brave the parking situation and run out to grab what we needed. And this is always why you monitored what I did, because it’s always something. And we learn.
You would have loved it. And in some ways I felt your presence with us. And will always feel your presence with us.Thank you. Long may you run.
Thank you everyone for letting me share this with you. Marie was a great Scout. You be a great Scout, even if you’re not a Boy Scout. Do your best. On your honor.