|Mother in her favorite chair holding her wedding dress|
It was sheer coincidence Sue had made a decision to move back to Lake County that same summer of '77 that James Neville passed away. Mother, never one to sit and dwell over that which she has no control over, was accepting an invitation from Cousin Kathleen Downs to take a trip to Europe. Remember, Mother lived by one of her favorite bible verses found in Philippians 4:11: "For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." And Mother was content to go to Europe. So she asked Sue if she would mind doing a little "house sitting" since she had not yet settled on where she was going to live since her return to Tiptonville. Sue has been house sitting for over 38 years and we have encouraged her to continue in the place she has called home longer than any of us that hit the road after High School.
A week after Mother officially left this world for that far better place we all know she is now in, I find myself struggling with her favorite Philippians verse. I simply do not have her strength of character, her quiet resolve, her stoic demeanor. I am not yet "content" to be in this "state" where even the "shell" of Catherine LeDuke is no longer available to be with, to read poetry to and be amazed by her ability to recite many lines from deep within her functionally failed memory, to listen to her occasional chant: "Who am I, Where am I, What do I need to be doing next?" We miss being able to answer: "You are Catherine LeDuke; You are in your own living room in your favorite chair in the house you built with James Neville; And you don't have to do anything except sit and look pretty and be an inspiration to us all."
She can still be an inspiration to us all, but I fear that when I break out of my "funk" and resume rebuilding my driveway, cleaning out my storage shed, re-organizing my office, hauling bags of mulch for Marty to use in her new garden areas, and all the other mundane chores that say: "Life goes on!", the memory of Catherine LeDuke will begin to fade; the pain I feel at the "now" complete loss of her will subside, the tears that I occasionally shed because I have more of James Neville's emotional genes flowing in me than Catherine's strong, quiet, controlled ones will begin to dry up.
As many of my friends have told me in the last few weeks, Catherine LeDuke did not teach English and Latin; she taught Life. And "life" will go just as mother taught us, until it doesn't. And we must be content with whatsoever state we are in.
I know Mother is very content now. I just hope I can be soon.
Jimmy LeDuke (I'd love to hear from you...feel free to comment below, or click HERE to send me an e-mail.)