Yesterday we had our final farewell to Jim Cornett. The context of my homily was a quote that I saw in his notes. It was his handwriting and it was ticked behind another sheet of paper in an album. It said, “No one can take away what the heart once owned.” I was pretty moved and motivated by those words and will not soon forget them. In Jim’s case, it was true. He had lost a lot of memory because of Alzheimer’s disease, yet even that could not take away what the heart once owned – that is who is was, the core of his being. Jim was (in no particular order) a storyteller, a writer, a singer, performer, husband, grandfather, friend, father, proud Windsorite, servant of God. All of that remained even though Jim could not recall all of it. The joy in his eyes and the love in his heart were evidence to the fact that “no one could take away what the heart once owned.” In Jim dying, we were also reminded that “no one could take away what the heart once owned.” Hettie and Dave and Jane and Tim have been saying goodbye to Jim for a while. Yesterday we had an opportunity to offer him a proper goodbye. We cried, and we laughed. We sang and we prayed. We told stories. We lived. We bore witness to all that Jim was to us, and in that we proved again those simple words scrawled on a piece of ripped paper in Jim’s Album – “No one can take away what the heart once owned.”
I was also conscious of the fact that yesterday was the anniversary of Catherinanne’s Grandmother’s death. It was our first year in St. Clair Beach, 1998. She was a tremendous woman and her dying was really hard for Catherinanne and her family. It was especially hard for Grandpa Foltz who had to say farewell to his sweetheart and his soul mate. I remember when Catherinanne and I were first dating and we made our first trip to Petoskey, MI to visit them. I was so impressed with the fact that they got up early together and went to daily Mass. They really did pray together. They in fact did a whole lot together and I found in them both loving caring Grandparents who I was and am happy to have in my life. We all miss Grandma a lot especially on weekends like this one. Grandpa’s birthday is actually January 2nd. On his birthday in 1998 he had to say goodbye to his wife Louise. Today we celebrated Grandpa Foltz’s 90th birthday. Clarence Foltz will be 90 come the second day of 2007! Today it was not lost on him or any of us there that Grandma is missed. Yet as we celebrated today, Jim Cornett’s words echoed in my ears. “No one can take away what the heart once owned.” While she has gone from us, her influence was with us today. Many of her family (The Beyer) came to give their best wishes. The influence that she had on her son Clarence Michael (my Father-in-law), and her daughters Regina, Meribeth, and Suzanne was evidenced today in the way they cared so tenderly for their father. Today’s events too will be added to the moments that our hearts now own. And no one can ever take that away.Happy Birthday Grandpa! You are a great man and you and Grandma have brought a lot of love to your family, your friends and to the world. You are a great witness to faith and I wish to have the faith that you own. May God Bless you with many more years of loving and laughing. You are a treasure to all of us.
Where ever you are tonight, what ever your plans, as you ready yourself for 2007, remember the words tat Jim placed on that note. We may all miss someone like Jim, or like Grandma Foltz. We may well be struggling with losing someone special. We may even be fighting a difficult battle. No matter – remember – “No one can take away what the heart once owned.”