Friday, February 15, 2013

Channeling Catherine LeDuke

I have recently been confessing my invasion of mother’s privacy and rationalizing my actions as justified in order to do a proper job providing tribute to her.  I know she would not mind if I was only concentrating on James Neville.  But Miss Catherine would not approve of the attention I am attempting to rain down on her.  Her humility is one of her strengths; and she has many.

Like many people of advanced age and possessed of some kind of infirmity, mother has questioned the logic of the Good Lord for not calling her on Home.  It is a difficult discussion to engage in with our loved ones, but our family has been blessed to hear her rise during these rare bits of depression and repeat a bible verse we have heard her recite so often, Philippians 4:11 "in whatsoever state I am, there within to be content."  Her good son, Richard, told of her using this passage in a comment at the end of a (lost) post on this blog in 2009.

I believe the point that mother would make is that, while she appreciates our efforts to place her on a pedestal, she would rather not be forced to have to balance precariously on such a lofty perch.  She would insist that whatever gifts she has, whatever accomplishments she may have achieved, are all God-given and not in fact unique in our community.  We have been blessed in Lake County to have many, many examples of individuals as worthy of “pedestal sitting” as she.  While I would quite agree, I will continue in my tributes to her and risk a scolding.

I will, however, attempt to “channel” Miss Catherine by giving a short lecture of encouragement to everyone who might be checking in to the blog site.  Each of you have family members worthy of the kind of attention that I have been giving mother.  It doesn’t matter what form your tribute takes.  What counts is that each of you will gain so much from the experience of researching your intended honorees.  Granted, researching is somewhat of a euphemism for snooping, but the point is that you will be amazed by the information you will learn once you get started.

I would give anything if I had begun earlier to seek details of people, places, and events of Catherine and James Neville’s lives.  All of their letters, files, and treasure boxes have raised many more questions than I can ever have answered.  If only I had begun interviewing, in earnest, Aunts, Uncles, friends of family, and my parents themselves, I would have a much better written legacy for my own grandchildren and even their grandchildren.

The WWII letters on display
It will make no difference what form your tribute takes; video tapes, tape recordings, written interviews, complete published biographies, or a simple box labeled “Mama’s Past”.  Trust me, someone in your family will come along one day, stumble over that forgotten box, and thank you for eternity for gathering information of your family.  They will appreciate it then and you will gain so much for the experience now while you are “snooping.”

As I come out of “channeling” mode, let me strongly encourage each of you to not let too much time slip away before you “immortalize” that important person in your life.  Don’t find yourself in the position that I feel I am in; saying “if only I had asked about…….when I had the chance.”

Looks like Miss Catherine has given you one last homework assignment.  Completing your work is mandatory; handing it in is optional.     

Jimmy LeDuke
(I'd love to hear from you...feel free to comment below, or click HERE to send me an e-mail.)

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