I shed a few tears at a funeral today. Or to give it the proper name the Requiem Mass for the Repose of the Soul and in Thanksgiving for the Life of Cathy Cunnigham 7th January 1926 – 3rd September 2015, St Bartholomew’s Coatbridge. That’s a lot of capital letter to live up to, but I’m sure she managed it. God knows, funerals can be boring. And with a son Brian a priest and so many fellow celebrants also priest, with a sprinkling of nuns, you can usually multiply that by ten. ‘Suffering Jesus my old man used to say from the back pew, just hurry up and get on with it.’ Dying is not for the living, but faith she believed takes you a long way between the pains of the two.
Aunty Cathy’s husband died in 1975 and she had to bring up a family of ten for almost forty years in Coatbridge on the faith of soup and potatoes, two sittings at dinnertime, with the eldest eating first at the table. No seconds, just be grateful you had firsts. Faith was a big part of Auntie Cathy’s life.
Aunty Cathy’s prayer was reproduced in the missal for the celebratory mass. ‘Most loving father, strengthen my trust in you. Help me to bear patiently everything that your holy will asks of me.’
The secret of Aunty Cathy’s faith was love. She loved her family
But her heart was a cathedral in which she allowed others to shelter. Including mine. When her wee sister (my mum) developed dementia, Aunty Cathy visited more frequently and stayed for the weekend. Unhurried, she calmed mum. Old stories such as the time my Aunty Phyllis visited her in Aitkenhead Street trailing two wains up the wrong close and berated Aunty Cathy with ‘you must have changed the curtains’ remains family folklore. Aunty Cathy’s presence soothed my mum and she gave her the precious gift of time. Aunty Cathy’s time was not her own, it was for whoever needed it most.
It was good to see my cousins. On bended knee I paid homage to this great lady. If there were more like her it would indeed be paradise on earth. God bless. And if He needs telling I’m sure you’ll have a quite word in His ear.