Couple Experiences Joy, Confidence

Today’s Thanksgiving column, which first ran in 2021, has excerpts from my 2021 eulogy for Mrs. Elf and is in thankfulness for our marriage:

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Once when you, My HilaryLove, came to visit, you shared strategy for five-card draw.

Including this: When you have nothing in your hand, keep your highest card and draw four.

So for one hand, I drew four.

You drew one card and had a straight.

I had four kings.

In utter astonishment, you said, “But you drew four cards.”

Yes, you dealt me one king, and I drew three.

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In the way that brings everyone here today, we–and particularly you, Mrs. Elf–didn’t draw cards like that.

But in many other ways, we did.

Standing at this altar on our wedding day we heard the blessing that we “delight in each other and grow in holy love until (our) life’s end.” …

In many ways, you, Mrs. Elf, have shown how fortunate I am.

This was never more obvious than when your cancer returned just before our wedding and you offered to stand down and help me find somebody else, because, in your words, “I love you too much to put you through this.”

As I’ve often said to you or others, that’s the most loving thing anyone will ever say to me.

You were characteristically thinking of someone else, not yourself.

You did the same after our wedding when the current pandemic hit. You told me for most of that time to stay home and not bring you the corona virus. Why? Because you didn’t want me to have to live with the knowledge that I had given you what killed you.

As the two of us have often said, we’re blessed with a bond that we’re convinced some couples never have.

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In early 2021, you conveyed that you wanted me to tell today part of the story of how we met.

Well, the obituary was done entirely your way, and today’s service and its participants are entirely at your direction. You have similarly specific directions–some of them in the obituary–for your memorial Mass, your committal service, their participants, and your entombment.

So here’s the part of the story: Those who introduced us asked what each of us couldn’t live without. I named a nationwide radio program. That was true in this sense: What I was trying to do with that answer was prevent fundamental incompatibility. Well, for you the answer was completely compatible.

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Years later, in celebration of all that we share, we put together a wedding and a reception at which guests and others continue to marvel.

The video of the processional shows the joy on your face and the confidence on mine.

This marriage and this union are so right.

This bond between us, this joy, and this confidence have allowed the two of us together to transcend every challenge we’ve faced, including the one that ended your earthly life decades too soon. …

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Our joy and our confidence are shared by many. For that, we’re grateful beyond measure.

Today, all of us here honor you and celebrate an earthly life extraordinarily well lived, including in transcending challenges. …

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As we celebrate your entry into the Church Triumphant … all of us here today recall the words of Isaiah from both our wedding and today’s service.

For an earthly life extraordinarily well lived–extraordinarily well lived–you, My Love, “shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field (–all the trees of the field–) shall clap their hands.”

For you, Mrs. Elf. For you.

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When I proposed to you as the sun set on a Carlsbad, California, beach, I spoke of being with you for this lifetime and for eternity.

Although for you eternity has come decades too soon, all of us here today thank Almighty God for your earthly life, and I reaffirm that I will always love you, Hilary.

I will always love you.


Hilary Elf passed from earthly life to eternal life on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 11, 2021, the third anniversary of her and Randy Elf’s engagement (#KurtzElfWedding). The full 2021 eulogy, delivered in Jamestown, is at https://works.bepress.com/elf/100 (video) and https://works.bepress.com/elf/101 (text).



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