Another profile in courage

  • Thursday, May 22, 2014

In speaking of the Pulitzer Prize winning book Profiles in Courage by the late President John F. Kennedy, Fr. Dennis Hadberg said the work mentioned such well-known and notable people as John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster and Sam Houston.

He continued, “I would add one more name this morning, not nearly as well known as the others, but more than equally worthy . . . the name of Louise Taylor.”

Fr. Dennis was reflecting on Louise’s life as he spoke at her memorial Mass of Resurrection last weekend at St. John the Beloved Catholic Church. Louise died last month, leaving her body to medical science so more could be learned about the beast we call cancer that she lived with for over a dozen years.

Noting that she battled the disease with great courage and grace, Fr. Dennis said she made the choice “to live and go forward bravely and with a smile no matter how difficult it was at times.”

Thirteen years ago Louise was given three months to live. Treatment worked and she was in remission until a new cancer invaded her with even more fury. She was a devoted member of St. John’s, dedicated to doing everything she could from serving on the altar to visiting the sick. Those of us who knew and admired her, watched her go from a vibrant woman who strode up the aisle to one who moved slowly and with a faulty step.

But she kept moving.

When chemotherapy took her hair, she got a light blonde wig or wore a fetching cap. When she could no longer manage to serve on the altar, she still came to church, until she just flat was not able to move. Fr. Dennis said whenever he visited Louise “she never complained about her illness and before you could inquire about how she was, she was always the first to ask how you were doing.”

He also noted that “she always tried to find the positive and the good. And I know she would have summed it all up by simply saying: ‘God was so good to me’”

The music at her service was as upbeat as she was and included: “Here I Am Lord,” “The Lord Is My Shepard,” “Ave Maria,” and “Let There be Peace on Earth.” The Mass souvenir booklet contained the poem “I’m Free,” author unknown, which ends with a stanza which could have been written by Louise herself to express her faith, philosophy and consolation:

“Perhaps my time seemed all too brief

Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.

Lift up your hearts and peace to thee

God wanted me now; He set me free.”

She also had a good sense of humor – both about herself and her friends. When I complimented her new wig, she whipped it off and said “Well, I think I’m just as good lookin’ without it, don’t you?”

She loved to tease Jim about his passion for fishing. “Used the wrong lure, did you?” if he came home empty handed or with a smallish bass. A five-pounder elicited the query “Is that the best you could do?”

Louise was more than worthy. One of the last times we saw her in church, bracing on the pews as she crept along, Jim looked at me, teared up, and said, “You know, she’s always going to be my hero.”

Mine too.

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