Today I am grateful for the life of Mary Louise Burckhart.
Back in November, 2004: That's her in the pink sweater...isn't she cute?
Mary Louise and her brother, Fr. Bill (standing in the photo) have been like surrogate grandparents to me. Fr. Bill was the priest who "married" (what's the correct word here?) my parents, and then baptized all of their 6 children. When we grew up, he "married" us to our spouses, and then baptised about 90% of all of our babies.
Wherever Fr. Bill went, Mary Louise would go along. Although they were brother and sister, they were more like a sweet old married couple. They got along well, he physically took care of her (as she had Osteogenesis Imperfecta), and they lived in a small handicapped-accessible house.
Mary Louise was a beautiful, funny, and feisty lady. She would tell you how lovely you were in one breath, and then in the next, joke about how fat you were getting! She was a devout Catholic, and offered up all of her physical suffering. Even though she had many reasons to be depressed or angry with her state in life, I have never known her to be anything but joyful. She used to love to take the little kids on rides in her motorized wheelchair!
Probably my biggest memory of Mary Louise was that she always wanted to be the first to hold the newly baptized baby, since she knew she could never have children of her own. And we were all happy to let a living saint like her hold our child on their Baptism Day.
Mary Louise passed away on December 23, 2009 just in time to spend Christmas with Our Lord. The doctors said she wouldn't live past the age of eight, and I'm sure she's laughing at them now!
We will miss her, but rest assured that she is enjoying her new and perfect body in Heaven. I am a better person just to have known her, and for that, I am thankful.
What are you grateful for today?