Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In Memory of Sr. Diane

Yesterday afternoon I attended the funeral of my 8th grade teacher, Sr. Mary Diane, O.P. As everything out at the St. Cecilia Motherhouse, it was beautiful. I had the pleasure of being taught by this sister at St. Henry School, the same school my children now attend, 37 or so years ago and reuniting with her through St. Mary's Bookstore and becoming good friends over the past 20 years.
I met Lisa at the front of the convent and we went toward the Chapel. In the foyer before entering the Chapel, the sisters and Sr. Diane's family were all gathered around her open casket talking and celebrating her life. As Fr. approached, Mother Ann Marie pulled Sr. Diane's scapular up over her face. The sister standing next to me explained that upon first vows they lay prostrate with the veil over their face symbolizing the beginning of their vows and at their death the same action is repeated to symbolize the end of their vows. All of the sisters then processed through to the Chapel, almost in order of oldest to youngest, and we followed. Sitting in the back throughout the funeral allowed me to drink in not only the beauty of the Chapel but also the feeling of complete peace and joy. Fr.'s homily was somewhat lighthearted as was Sr. Diane. He said as he was called to give Sr. Diane Viaticum in her last week of life, he informed her that she was on the last of her road and she informed him that he was not too far from the last of the road himself. She was just that way and that is one reason we were good friends. At the end of the service in the chapel, Fr. read the farewell prayer and suddenly the entire chapel filled with light from the sun and I mean an overpowering bright light. I looked over at Lisa as she spun her head to me and her eyes were wide and a smile came across both our faces. Whata moment!
At the cemetery right their at the Motherhouse, one of the sisters asked if I had any Sr. Diane stories and I just laughed and said probably nothing I could repeat but truly I have many stories and they are all filled with times of laughter and happiness. She had a good time and I had a good time with her. In 8th grade, I was always in trouble and she made us copy dictionary words as we sat in from recess or were denied time on the back hill just basking in the sun with the others from our class. She loved taking us outside on that hill. We got caught lifting her desk onto the back cabinets on April Fool's day and mimicking her with her pointer at the blackboard and the only time she really got angry was when we turned her Blessed Mother statue backwards. She could take fun and games but not disrespect and I held that lesson close all these years. She was tough on me. Cranky and quick with sarcasm. She called the store occasionally and asked, "When ya comin to visit me? What's going on with you right now? How's your poor husband?" Finally, a couple of weeks ago, when I got a call from the infirmary about a crucifix they needed, I asked, "How's Sr. Diane?" "Not good." "I should come see her." "Better make it quick." Thank our good God I went the next day. She was in a bed but talkative and sassy just the way I loved her. We talked about the old days and about the store and my kids and of course, my poor husband. She struggled with her breathing but seemed to enjoy our last time together.
Sr. Diane was always teaching me, always challenging me, always pushing me whether with sharp comments or cold, blank stares. She wanted me to give and to get something more and we understood one another. She was bold and brass and didn't hold back on what she thought. She taught me off and on for 37 years in and out of the classroom and I couldn't be more grateful for the times we were together. She made me laugh and I will truly miss her.
May her soul rest in peace.

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