Published August 28, 2012
|Yolanda Colin, September 1962 – August 2012|
In “As Befits a Man,” Langston Hughes wrote
I don’t mind dying—
But I’d hate to die all alone!
The pew sitters were shoulder to shoulder Saturday. Ushers brought out extra chairs and still people filled the back of the church, two and three people deep.
Certainly, Yolanda Colin didn’t die alone.
I was honored to be a pallbearer at her Aug. 25 funeral. I like being a pallbearer. It is the last time I can help a friend. It is one small way I can help deliver them to their final place of rest.
At that point, I developed a profound fascination with the floor. Hand to God, I never stared so intently at my shoes and the floor then in those moments. I had just moved from New Hampshire and I can tell you how many times men at my former parishes had been called to the front of the faith community for a blessing. Zero.
And at this point I should say, I am white. Most folks in the parish are not. St. Anthony is home to a vibrant black Catholic community.
So, to review: Altar calls were not something I did. Ever. I was new. I was conscious that I would be the only white person amongst the two-dozen men.
She persisted. Certainly, she must have me mistaken for someone else, I thought in my mind.
But gently, with a whisper to go and a small wave with her hand, she got me out of my pew. I joined the group.
St. Anthony since that fall day has been my home.
I treasure that memory of how this woman kindly reached out and made me take a step I never would have taken on my own.
We visited last on Sunday, Aug. 19, as she rested in hospice. I thanked her. We smiled over the memory. I showed her pictures of my newborn. She told me to plant a kiss on the youngster’s big toe. So said, so done.
Archbishop Oscar Romero, of El Salvador, is said to have paraphrased St. John of the Cross, in his words:
“In the evening of life you will be judged on love.”