Today is my father’s first anniversary. We celebrated Mass for him in Cloonloo on Friday evening last but today, March 13th, is the day he died. The First Anniversary is an important day, marking a year since the death of someone important in one’s life. As a son, they don’t come much more important in life than your father or mother. Today, I remember my father and pray that he is at peace in God’s presence and that he is truly reunited with our mother and all those he knew and loved in life. I really have no clear image of what that means other than a belief my father knows he is in the right place and with the people that matter.
A few weeks ago we sent out memorial cards in daddy’s memory. They were intended to be a bookmark that might find their way into a novel, a recipe book, a workshop manual, a Bible or prayer book so that from time to time, when a page was marked there’d be a remembrance of and for him – a prayer too. It seems that some of the cards sent to family and friends in America didn’t reach their destination. (Yes they were stamped and had airmail stickers) but it seems likely they’re in a bag somewhere in a corner, quite likely along with other undelivered mail. Possibly and hopefully they will turn up in time. For now, I’d like to include that card here so that you know it exists!! More importantly so that in the “virtual” bookmarking, you might come across it with remembrance and prayer from time to time.
Sometime after daddy died a friend sent me a card that had that little quote from James Joyce on it. I have no idea where the quote comes from and it most certainly must be part of a bigger story but, by itself, it speaks volumes. I liked it a lot and thought it had a place in my father’s memorial card. I shared it with my brothers and their families and they thought so too.
They “lived” – yes they did and thankfully so for through their living they gave us the gift of life and something to imitate.
and “laughed” – that too. My parents loved to laugh and my father always enjoyed a good story and was anxious that it be told and re-told so that its enjoyment could be shared. I’m not talking about gossip – that wasn’t his thing – but a story rooted in good humour was very important to him and he knew that it could be well used to brighten the day for another. My mother had a good sense of humour too and I can still see them smile and hear them laugh.
They “loved”. Absolutely! Not the box of Black Magic type of love or the walking the seashore holding hands but a deep sense of togetherness. My aunt told me that I once said my parents were like “goats” – where you’d see one you’d always see the other. My mother felt I could have used a more flattering analogy or animal but my aunt knew what I meant. They were good to each other and through that goodness, showed us what love meant, means and the difference it can make.
They “left” – sadly that has happened now for both of them. My father died just after one o’clock a year ago and it’s a moment that will stay with me forever. My mother died suddenly too but I was there and am glad I was. They have “left” for sure and are missed very much. They left us with much though, not least happy memories and deep gratitude for all they did, said and were.
The inside of the card I received says “and the world will never be the same again”. I’ve thought about that line a bit from time to time. There’s no doubt there’s truth in it but I think, not least on an anniversary, we must try to find what is solid and ongoing in the world. Bill and Mary, along with all who have died, did their bit to shape something of life for all who encountered them. I think we need to search for that something and recognise in it what will not change – what will be the same.
On the reverse side of the memorial card, I tried to put a few lines that I felt summarised my father and the difference he made. In these lines, it is my hope, we find something of what remains the same because he lived. In acknowledging what a man was and became, there is a call to us to seek to be and to become what he’d have hoped for us – wished for us – believed for us.
Thanks again to all of you who were part of Bill’s life and allowed him use his many talents. Thanks to my brothers and their families for sharing Bill’s journey, not least his journey towards the end. Above all thanks to God for bringing our parents together and allowing them live almost sixty years of marriage. Thanks to Bill for all he said and did, for all he was and remains. Yes, to a point, the world will never be the same but it’s a better world because he was in it and did his best with the time given him.
“Save us Lord, while we are awake; protect us while we sleep; that we may keep watch with Christ, and rest with him in peace. Amen.
May they rest in peace. Amen.