Posted by: L. E. Barnes | July 23, 2010

Lady in the Mirror

Today I’ll simply pass along a beautiful and touching post that fellow blogger “Argent by the Tiber” put on her site the other day:

Twelve words. That was all there were. Terse. Impersonal and veiling what must have been an intense life lived. Dying just weeks short of her 91st birthday, this obscenely short obituary seemed to mock her. In a world that glorifies self in the living, and oftentimes after death, the eulogizing/canonization that is part and parcel of funerals, this notice in the newspaper indeed was perplexing.

She was not unknown to our parish. Our pastor visited her as one of the sheep in the fold to which he is entrusted; the Legion of Mary members visited her as part of the spiritual work of mercy to which they dedicated themselves.

To me, she was the lady in the mirror. She never failed to draw my attention, sitting as I was on the organ bench with my back to the altar, her actions reflected in the mirror on the organ console. The mirror is necessary for me to know where Father is at all times in the liturgy. My object is to see Father, but, dressed as she always was in white, she became part of my pre-Mass preparations.

On Sundays, ten minutes before the Principal Mass, she would enter the side door, push her walker across the front aisle, and stand in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary. Slowly, she would light a votive candle, pause in silence, then make her way back to the Joseph and Epistle side of the church to sit in the front row. Her perfectly coiffed white head occupying the bottom third of my organ mirror. At the Readings, she would turn her body toward the Lay Reader, and at the Gospel, she would struggle to rise to her feet, but rise she did. And at Holy Communion, Father would head toward her on the front row to feed her Christ’s Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. And by virtue of her being on the front row, everyone else on that row received Jesus, everyone in the church in silence, in reverence, awaiting for his turn to receive. The only sounds that accompanied her reception, was the schola chanting the Communion verse, and sometimes, a fussy baby’s pleas.

Once, after most everyone had left the church after Mass, she was standing on the ramp waiting for the nursing home’s bus to pick her up. For whatever reason, it was late and there she stood, alone, seemingly fragile. The neighborhood where our church is, is not exactly safe.

A friend and I decided to stay and wait with her. What followed was a fascinating conversation wherein her life story emerged…not particular details, but the tenor and shape of it. What we heard was a life of estrangement from a family that was not particularly devoted to her, children that were in conflict with each other. Her daily existence was punctuated by battles with health insurance. But I learned what an iron will she had, what a feisty spirit she had and to whom one could really say, she suffers not fools.

When Father called me to plan her funeral, the first thing he noted was that the family did not care what the liturgy should be like….

Read the full post here.

Thank you, Argent, for this wonderful reminder to take notice of others and seek ways to help, even if just a small gesture such as keeping an elderly person company while they wait for their ride.



  1. […] Lady in the Mirror […]

  2. The most interesting people hide amongst us. All it takes is a little effort to learn their stories.

    • You’re absolutely right! Getting to know people can really open new doors for you.

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