Our dad passed away last Thursday peacefully in our home surrounded by four of us kids plus our mom. Here's what I read at the rosary on Sunday evening before his funeral:
Two weeks ago, we all received calls saying our Dad had been hospitalized for chest pain which later made known increased fluid around his heart and a touch of pneumonia. We were used to getting calls like this one as our dad had battled with a progressive case of diabetes with all the ramifications of that illness. We saw him go from an active father and grandfather, apostle and evangelizer to a tired, man who was fighting to stay strongly alive for all of us. When we finally were faced with the decision to have him begin dialisys two years ago, we didn't know what to think or what his options were. He said that even our oldest brother, Ruben Jr., knew then that he didn't want to undergo dialysis sessions three times a week. But he did it. He decided to give it a go and try to see if his quality of life would improve. It went well for a while, but slowly his eyesight started to fail and his knees worsened until two weeks ago he made the decision with all of us to discontinue dialysis.
With all of us spread out all over the country, he had one last lesson to teach us....compassion. Did we have the capacity to be compassionate? Did we have the strength shored up to endure the inevitable. These days almost nothing can surprise you. With the internet and social media, cell phones and ipads we'd become so interconnected and yet widely dispersed. Now our dad was calling us to him.....to take time out of our busy schedules to be instead of do. And yet we tried to "do". Some of us flew and some of us drove, we cried and prayed and sat and laughed. We spent days and a good solid week with him. We dug up old hurts and tucked away feelings just to honor him and his wishes to let go and let God. And finally, we had to sit and be with him. We watched him, held vigil with him, ate our food at his bedside, and prayed for peace. We administered medication to him until he could swallow no more. And we finally prayed for ourselves to see him slip away. Slowly he slipped out of our arms into the arms of Jesus.
The following is a handwriting exercise that was done by my oldest daughter, Daddy's granddaughter, Monica, when she was in 4th or 5th grade. I keep it taped to my refrigerator door to remind me what life is really about:
Our life is a path towards paradise, where we will be loved and will love forever in a complete and perfect way. We are born only to go to paradise. The thought of paradise must make you strong against temptations. If you are united with Christ, you will triumph over every difficulty. I pray the Blessed Virgin to accompany you with her protection. Look upwards. Look up to Jesus and to those who really know Him, love Him, follow Him! Look to Jesus who is Truth, Love the Example that illuminates, attracts and convinces! Every hope of yours is satisfied in Him! Jesus taught not only by word, but also by His actions in helping others. You have followed in his footsteps. He will surely reward you and fill you with His blessings. -Pope John Paul II
The following was the prayer we prayed as he breathed his last breath. For all of you who are feeling even the slightest bit distraught because he can't sit with you or talk to you or smile at you anymore, this prayer is for you....
Jesus, Help Me!
In every need let me come to Thee with humble trust, saying, Jesus, help me!
In all my doubts, perplexities, and temptations,Jesus, help me!
In hours of loneliness, weariness and trials, Jesus, help me!
In the failure of my plans and hopes; in disappointments, troubles and sorrows, Jesus, help me!
When my heart is cast down by failure, at seeing no good come from my efforts, Jesus, help me!
When others fail me, and Thy grace alone can assist me, Jesus, help me!
When I throw myself on Thy tender love as Father and Savior, Jesus, help me!
When I feel impatient, and my cross irritates me, Jesus, help me!
When sickness and loneliness overcome me, Jesus, help me!
Always, in weakness, falls and shortcomings of every kind, Jesus, help me and never forsake me.
Evening Lenten Sky copyrighted by Catholic Tradition./
These are some of the highlights from our time in Texas....
lots of visitors while our dad was sick,
Tons of food during his illness and after his death,
People who would stop to pray,
So many people who attended the rosary and funeral,
An incredible funeral director who knew our dad personally,
Lots and lots of flowers,
Two concelebrating priests for the funeral Mass,
An all night vigil the night before the funeral and people who sang and prayed unceasingly that whole night,
Finding out just how spiritual and loved and what an incredible inspiration and example our dad was,
How strong our mother is,
What a holy death looks like,
How much me and my siblings love each other and how varied our talents are,
What a loving parish community is like in a small town....
These and so many other graces were ours for the time we spent while watching our dad go from this world to the next. I am so grateful for my faith, the Eucharist, and the love of family. Without these, I would be so lost after all the pain I experienced in losing my father and seeing my mother left alone.
Yes, Lord, I do believe.....I really do believe!
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