Monday, 5 November 2012

A quiet night in Llandough

Several people commented on this piece that I wrote for our newsletter, so I thought I'd post it here too.
It’s exactly twenty years since my father died. He’d had an infection in his heart valve earlier in the year, but struggled on in his weakened state to celebrate with my mum their Golden Wedding in October. Then, quietly in his sleep one night in Llandough Hospital, he let go.
We’d been in to see him the previous afternoon. I remember turning to wave at him from the ward door, Somehow it felt what it turned out to be - the last goodbye. And so my family entered that dream-world that envelopes you when you are bereaved, especially in that gap, surely too long in Britain, between a death and the funeral.
Dad had become Catholic after 32 years of marriage back in the 70s, and so they enjoyed sharing religion as they shared everything else for his last 20 years. I came over to St Paul’s to celebrate his Requiem, as I did nine years later for Mum. Some priests ask the parish priest to carry out this role, but I felt that, well a priest is what I am, and it’s as priest and son that I can do this for him. Somehow the order of the Requiem Mass handles all we want to say, and as a priest it carried me along on that difficult day in 1992.
Nowadays, some people who remember my dad tell me that I am becoming more and more like him. I take that as a great compliment. Our loved ones live on in different ways, not least in us, whether as a family member or friend, or just somebody we met.
This month, I ask God to hold my parents in the palm of his hands, and enfold them in his love. I’m sure you will be doing something similar. As the second reading on All Saints reminded us: “what we are to be in the future is unknown; all we know is, that we shall be like Him and we shall see Him as he really is”.
November – month of the Holy Souls.
Eternal rest grant to them, Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.

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