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  • Judy Mortellaro

Service

She comes to mind in moments of childhood memories. Like when my hair “squeaks” after washing it. Aunt Peg always told anyone who would listen how beautiful my hair was and how it was “squeaky clean” after she gave me my bath and washed my hair on Saturday nights. I was just a kid then. The eighth in a family of nine fortunate enough to have her in my life. Aunt Peg was always there for us. Actually, she was always there for my grandmother and all her family.

You see, Aunt Peg had scarlet fever as a child. It left her frail and essentially blind and deaf. She could see enough, however, to cook and clean. She could hear enough to take orders and follow instructions. I am not certain that she had much schooling other than that necessary to a life of servitude. Yes, she was essentially a servant. Protected from the outside world as a child, she knew the security of her family and repaid them, as she could, by cleaning, cooking, washing, sewing, and baking.

I knew Aunt Peg when she was much older and then living with my grandmother, aunt and uncle. Honestly, I am not certain they knew life without her. She was still living the life of a servant, although I never saw her in that way. I guess that’s because no one ever labeled her as such. Truly, I don’t think she did either. Moving through each day as rhythmically as the sun rises and sets, she never questioned what her soul journey was. For here, all her life was her spiritual life. One was not separate from the other. She knew what she needed to do and without trying, her “being” was, without question, who she was. There were no other hats to wear, no other roles to play. Each chore, each meal, every mending job was done with care as though she was the rightful single owner of the results of her actions. Indeed she was. Yet she never complained and never looked for recognition. A humble, loving servant for her entire life.

I took her for granted. I left home, moved on and never truly returned that which she so freely gave to all of us. I have considered my work as service work. It doesn’t hold a candle to my Aunt Peg’s. I only ask that I too can someday be of service to others with the unconditional love and reverence for life itself as she did. I honor the light within you dear Aunt Peg.

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