These reflections were offered at the funeral of Sr. Ann (Frances Ann) Stubbe, SNDdeN on February 8, 2019.
Frannie and I lived together in Redwood City, for a number of years, beginning in 1981 when she was the Director of St. Matthias Day care center, and have stayed very close friends since. There are so many things that could be said of her, and stories to tell…….but I really wanted to focus my comments on her favorite symbol….that of a heart. Having her funeral in the month of February is so appropriate, with hearts and valentines serving as reminders of her, all around us!
For her the heart was certainly a symbol of love, of friendship, of care and compassion. As I/we think of her, I think it also fits the many descriptions of her spirit…..generous, thoughtful, understanding, all qualities that fit a person full of gratitude. Overall, the heart symbolizes relationships, which were so vital to her spirit.
First- relationship with God…..she took this relationship very seriously and nourished it each day with her time of prayer and by deepening her understanding of God through the many books she read and pondered. Her relationship with God was strong and familiar. Her conversation with God when she broke her hip two weeks before her recent Jubilee was one when God was told she was not at all happy about this occurrence and she needed him to know she still wanted to be at the Jubilee and he needed to help make that happen.” She was at the Jubilee! In one of our last conversations she confidently said, “God promised he would be with us to the end—and I know he will be with me.”
Second- relationship with her wonderful family. She loved you beyond measure…followed your careers, many college endeavors, each of your growing families, and looked forward to being with you for holidays, graduations, and other family events. We can all rejoice as we look at the photo of the four generations who were together just a few weeks ago! What a joy this was! This photo was on the table over her bed and she took it into her hands to savor it many times over the last weeks,
Third- relationship with her students…Her love of her little students and their parents is well known. She truly believed and was dedicated to developing the potential of each child. I remember her sharing that at one of the first preschool parent meetings at the beginning of their first year in the school, she would ask each couple to bring one shoe belonging to their child. The shoes were put in a large circle in the middle of the room…and she guided the parents in reflecting on the uniqueness of each shoe—-and to realize and rejoice in that uniqueness of their own child….each was his/her own self and deserved respect as he/she grew into the person they were meant to be.
The fourth set of relationships Frannie enjoyed were those with her Sisters and her many friends, so many of whom are here today. We who lived with her over the years, knew her as a wonderful community person—her thoughtful, generous, positive spirit, coupled with a great sense of humor, made her a joy for any community and were the same qualities that made for an instant connection to people of all ages. She definitely saw the good in people and was able to bring out the best in each situation. All of these relationships were treasures, Frannie held close to her heart.
Coupled with this personality that could engage others and keep a positive spirit…..were some stories that caused other’s frustration, but still brought her joy. For many years, Frannie and I went camping every summer either to California State Parks, or in more recent years we graduated to a family cabin in Pinecrest. We both loved being out in nature and having time to be quiet, read, and share. I usually did the driving. We really got along well, except for a series of three years in a row when she locked the car keys in the car. The first time she got something out of the trunk, and closed the trunk with the keys inside. Pretty easy to do! The next year we went up to a small mountain lake near Mt. Shasta for the day and brought chairs down near the lake and were enjoying reading. Frannie decided to go up to the car to take a nap. When I gave her the keys, I reminded her that we were very far from AAA, this was before cell phones, there were only a few other cars around……’remember the keys’. Awhile later she came to tell me she had had a nice nap and had locked the keys in the car! I didn’t respond in a compassionate/understanding way, but basically said she’d have to figure it out. She went back to the car……and after about 20 minutes I was feeling guilty and inquisitive…so I went up to the car lot. There surrounding our car were 10-12 people, cheering on a fellow who had a fishing pole who was reaching in through the sliver of window that she had opened for air…..and was hooking the keys and eventually pulled them out! There was cheering and hugging and high 5’vs….relationships had formed, and joy pervaded the area! She was thrilled with herself. (Just remember, there was a year 3 also…….remind me to share it sometime!)
Flowing from the love that was in her heart ……was a deep seated GRATITUDE for all aspects of life. She was truly aware of and grateful for all her blessings. She always looked at the positive side/ she just didn’t allow herself to dwell on the negative things that happened. She acknowledged and spent time with them, but she didn’t stop there. She had many sufferings, especially with her health, but her overwhelming practice of gratitude allowed her to dig deep within herself……..have a good cry, a healing sleep, and wake up the next morning with an outlook that this was a new day to be enjoyed and appreciated. Even in her last weeks, the nurses would comment on how grateful she was for anything they did for her, and the Sisters living at Mercy Center knew of her gratitude for their faithfulness in stopping by to be with her. That wasn’t a trait acquired in those last days, but rather was one honed by how she lived her life…. each facet of it.
She offered us many lessons- especially how to accept and deal with illness and the awareness of her coming death…and yet continue to live graciously and gratefully, and therefore peacefully, to the end. That gift of peace is what she prayed for, and thankfully it is what she was given.
-Nancy O’Shea, SNDdeN
“How awesome is this place . . .It is none other than the house of God.” I have no doubt that Ann Stubbe’s spirit proclaimed this as she passed on to her new “home.”
I am Marylou Schoone. I had the privilege of being Ann’s spiritual companion for the past 10 years or so. I met Ann back in 2004 when she was beginning her journey through a diagnosis of cancer and its consequent chemo therapy regimen.
Our Notre Dame San Jose faculty was participating in a joint day of retreat with Notre Dame Belmont and I saw Ann there. She had a rather “catchy” 60’s type scarf tied around her head, was quite thin (but then, when wasn’t she!) and was smiling and enthusiastically talking with people as if she had this excess of energy. I thought to myself . . . this woman has chosen LIFE within the challenge she is now facing. It certainly didn’t look like it was holding her back. I would soon find that Ann would have her ups and downs, but she would keep that courage and spirit going forward.
Before I say more, one caveat. As my father was aging and others around him were passing on, he told his 6 children more than once, “When you eulogize me, be sure that people can recognize me from what you say!” He thought people were often canonized in eulogies. We assured him that would not happen!
My intention is not to canonize Ann (we know how long that process takes!) I have known Ann through walking with her on her spiritual journey. I did not know her in her younger years, I never lived in community with her, never worked with her. I leave the capturing of those years and stories appropriately to others. When I began sitting in conversation with Ann, she was roughly the age I am now – so she was already a wise woman! My hope is that what I share about the Ann Stubbe I know might serve as a testament to the truth that one can always grow in compassion, in wisdom, in trust, and in peace.
I so enjoyed meeting with Ann every month or so in the “sanctuary” in her room. She loved that corner of her room – where she looked out on trees, the creek, and feasted on birds flitting from branch to branch. The wisps of purple and red that danced in the early morning sky, and the sun and shadows reflecting through the trees, soothed her spirit and made her heart sing.
time went on, I noticed that Ann seemed to long for her “sitting time,” her more silent prayer time – always held in the presence of her gracious and loving God. She did not hesitate to share her dark moments, but those moments were always supported by a known PRESENCE that she put her trust in. I believe that everyone has a unique personality and spirituality – I like to call it “flavor” and “fervor.” Ann’s spirituality, her “fervor,” was one of simplicity, joy, trust, and gratitude. GRATITUDE was at the heart of her prayer.
Shortly after I moved to CA (1973), I was on a weekend retreat with a friend. In one of the sessions, we were asked, “If a movie were to be made of your life, what would the title be?” When it came to my turn, I said, “I have no home.” Before I could say anything else, someone said, “Oh, honey, how sad!” I said, “Oh, no, the rest of the title is . . . “Only a temple in which I live.” I have no home, only a temple in which I live.
I believe that this was a deep KNOWING WITHIN Ann. As the years moved on, and even amidst her recurring physical challenges, Ann’s inner spirit and inner strength grew increasingly peace-filled as she rested in that temple.
My experience of Ann is that she saw life as GOOD in its most simple and humble forms. She lived as one with the way life is. So even when cancer returned in recent months, she was able to rest in an abiding sense of peace and fulfillment – though still choosing life every moment until she received that final invitation.
Ann, Frannie, Pat? I knew her as Ann. In preparing for today, I remembered that my confirmation name was/is Ann (8th grade?) Maybe I fully ratified my confirmation through Ann – for her “walking the walk” confirmed my trust in a loving and gracious Godness who dwells in each of us, individually, and in community.
There is an appointed time for everything. .. . A time to be born and a time to die. Ann Stubbe was present to her living and present to her dying. Ann’s gift to us, I believe, is an invitation to approach every phase and challenge of life, including its ending, with AWARENESS and an ABIDING TRUST. For this, I am deeply grateful.
One last thought: When I taught in Ghana, West Africa, a student once said to me, “I met your absence when I went to your bungalow yesterday and you weren’t there.” And that is just how it is . . . we will meet Ann’s absence because we shared so deeply in her presence.