Serendopeity

The faculty of making stupid discoveries by accident. The name of my first Fantasy Football Team. Neither of which have anything to do with this blog. I just like the word. Deal with it !!!!!!

When the Saints…

In 1982 I travelled to Nova Scotia with Mom and Dad to visit Uncle Jerry who was vacationing there.  On the way home we went via the US, crossing over from New Brunswick, stopping at the famous LLBeans store in Freeport Maine and then heading to Portland Maine.  In Portland we stopped at a Holiday Inn to have some breakfast and to make a reservation at another Holiday Inn in  Burlington, Vermont  for that night.

While sitting in the Dining Room having breakfast there was a table behind us with a group of people having a very spirited conversation.  By spirited I mean loud but not obnoxious, a conversation that one could not help but overhear.  There was also a voice that I will never forget – one that could be heard above all the rest.  She was lamenting that the donations were not coming in as fast as she would like and therefore it was time to “get off their asses” and get the “money  coming in”.  I looked over at the table and knew immediately who the voice belonged to.  I had been a Kennedy follower for many years, since my Grade 12 American History class taught by Phil Sharp at PCI.  However my fascination with America’s “Royal Family” was limited to the political side and mainly JFK  (who, to this day, I swear I remember watching his funeral and seeing JFK Jr., salute the cassion as it went by even though I was the same age as John-John.) But I had seen enough Kennedy Family photos to know that the woman who was speaking was Eunice Kennedy  Shriver.  What I didn’t know at the time was her passion and devotion to the Special Olympics and many other charities involved with making the world a better place for everyone.

I didn’t know that until today when I watched her funeral.  I wish that in 1982 at the young age of 22 that I had had more of a social conscience than I do today, that I had listened more carefully to her as she spoke and that I had taken the time to introduce myself and tell her what an awesome woman she was.  But, back then I didn’t know what awesome women were nor that there were so many people less fortunate than I was.  I didn’t know that I was “priviledged”, not by money or social stature but by the mere luck of being born female and caucasion and “normal”  in a country as diversified as Canada.  Hell, I didn’t even know what diversified was – we were all Canadian’s and that’s what I knew.

That was then and this is now.  And I as I watched her daughter Maria speak about her “Mummy” and as I listened to the many many things that Eunice Kennedy Shriver had accomplished in her life I finally understood what it truly meant to “Celebrate” a life.  If there ever was a life to celebrate it was this one. 

Later in my life I became a Special Olympics volunteer.  My neice Maggie and I volunteered to teach Autistic children to swim.  It wasn’t until today that I found out that I had Eunice Shriver to thank for that opportunity.  And it was an opportunity; one that taught me humanity and compassion and how, as humans we are not really all that “different” no matter what label has been placed upon us.  I am just sorry that it took 40 years of my life to realize something she had so much earlier in hers.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver is one woman I will never forget.  One woman who made such a difference in so many lives.  One woman who’s legacy will live on in her children and their children and the lives she touched.

Rest in Peace Mrs. Shriver, you have earned it.

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