Editors note: On June 13, 2008, Camille Kathleen Waite was found in the backyard spa, unconscious and not breathing. She died two days later in the hospital.
On Sunday June 15, 2008, my three oldest little girls children, little girls ages 7, 5 and 2 filed into a hospital room where their youngest sister, aged 14 months, laid in a deep coma. Their sister’s body had begun shutting down and she would not live much longer. It was my duty as their mother to help them understand and accept that their baby sister would not be coming home to play anymore.
Never in my life had I been so grateful that I had taught my children so much about their ancestors. They knew my grandparents by name and had been told countless bedtime stories about their magical and loving Grandma Lucile, after whom my oldest was named.
They knew the strength and sacrifice of great-great grandma Ann Marie, my second child’s namesake, who lost everything she had emigrating to this country and following her beliefs. They had acted out her life at family reunions and read children’s books about her.
They knew the faith of courage of great-great aunt Elizabeth who sought out the truth about God and followed her heart. My third child bears her name. And they personally knew their grandmother Kathleen’s charitable heart and warmth, which her namesake laying on the hospital bed inherited.
So when I told my children where their little sister was going, they knew she was in good company with family who loved her and would take care of her.
In my family, it is our tradition to know our ancestors. We carry their blood in our veins. We have inherited their strengths and their faith. We tell their stories at bedtime, we visit the places where they lived, we remember their sacrifices for us. We know those from whence we came, and in knowing them we better know ourselves.