This is the eulogy given in August 2007 at the memorial service in memory of Agnes. The eulogy was given by Pastor John Lafreniere, the associate pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church, in Waterbury, CT. John was also one of Agnes’ Educator/Counselors and continues in 2008 working in the CSI family.
“Let your light shine. Shine within you so that it can shine on someone else. Let your light shine.” – Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine, January 2004
Agnes had a unique way of shining her light on all of us. Although she could not walk or talk, she was still able to shine her light upon all of us. Some would look at us and applaud us for how we took care of her, and yet for many of us Agnes took care of us by teaching us some very important life lessons.
The lesson of finding joy in the simple things of life
One of the things that Agnes loved and found joy in was eating. She would open her mouth each time that someone walked by with food. Agnes taught us that we need to look at the seemingly simple things to find joy. Agnes’ light shone on us and helped us appreciate life more.
The lesson that “I can still do it myself.”
Although Agnes was never able to walk, this by no means meant that she was immobile. She had a quiet way of maneuvering around her bed, and at an earlier time in life was able to get herself out of her bed onto a mat where she would move even more. Agnes refused to let her disability rob her from the joy of doing something by herself. How many times do we let our disabilities keep us from doing things by ourselves? Agnes’ light shone on us and motivated us.
The lesson of the power of wordless communication
Although Agnes could never talk, she was able to communicate quite clearly. Agnes would blow raspberries to tell us how she felt. When she was not very happy she would blow raspberries at a rapid, forceful, consistent pace. When she was happy and content, her raspberries would be calm and erratic. Agnes never said a first word, she never even made a phonetically correct blend, but many understood what she wanted them to know loud and clear. By the way, all of us who knew Agnes will never think of a raspberry the same. Agnes’ light shone upon us and demanded that we don’t limit communication to words.
The lesson of compassion
Agnes, despite all of her disabilities was still able to show compassion in her unique way. Agnes used to go up to staff and grab hold of their arms and hoist herself onto their lap. One of the most expressive forms of compassion is the power of human touch. Agnes could sense tension or sadness and this was her way of showing compassion. Agnes’ light shone upon us and showed us that there is no excuse for not being compassionate.