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Sorry for the lack of posting.  I keep of thinking about things to write, but then when I sit down to write… nothing comes together.

Life is a big haze lately.  It’s been just over a month since my dad passed away, and sometimes it feels like it’s been years… and sometimes it feels like it happened this morning.  Grief plays weird tricks with time.  I still feel the same way about Patrick, who passed away over 5 years ago.  And sometimes their deaths don’t seem real at all.  Sometimes I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if one of them called me on the phone or knocked on my door.  It’s strange.

I just keep trying to get through one day at a time.

My mom and sister went to Pittsburgh today to take care of some business and ship down some of Mom’s belongings.  I wish I could have gone with them, but I just can’t miss any more work right now.  I know it must be incredibly hard for them to be there, so close to all those reminders of Dad.  I’ve been thinking of them and praying for them often today.  It sounds like they are getting things done, though, which is good.

I’ve gotten so used to spending weekends with Mom that I am going to be lonely this weekend.  I was going to go to the office tomorrow to catch up on some work, but the library is closed on weekends now that the semester is over.  I will probably stay home and catch up on housework instead.  And go check in on Mom’s kitties.

Oh, and celebrate Pentecost!  One of my favorite holidays!  That’s something to rejoice in, at least.  And I really need something to rejoice in.  Really, really, really.

I hope you’re all well.  I’ll keep trying to write more.  God bless you!


I found this quotation at Fallible Blogma, and it immediately made me think of my dad:

“Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.” – Mother Teresa

I think Dad lived this out well in his life.  Dad also had a great devotion to Blessed Mother Teresa. He even credits her prayers for a miraculous healing. Somewhere I have an account of it in his own words, which I will share when I find it. For now, here’s a paraphrase.

Some years ago, my dad had lots of cardio-vascular problems, and had a number of surgeries to try to repair them. After all that, he landed in the hospital again because the doctor found still more artery blockages, and the stints they had previously put in were breaking down. My dad was discouraged, frustrated, and also rather afraid.

The night before his surgery, he couldn’t sleep because of his anxiety. He remembered a time when he had seen Mother Teresa and some of her sisters in an airport. He remembered what an air of peace, calmness, and holiness she had about her. And since she had recently died, he prayed to her and prayed that he too might have that peace.

The next morning, in preparation for the surgery, the doctor ordered some new images of dad’s blocked arteries. They took some new images. The doctor looked at them, and asked the technician to take still more images. So some new ones were done. It seemed that things must be worse than the doctor realized.

The doctor was amazed, but not because the problems were worse than expected. To the contrary, the images taken that morning showed no problems at all–the arteries were clear, the stints were in good condition! He compared the new images to images previously taken, and the difference was like night and day. My dad’s cardio-vascular problems seemed to have cleared up literally overnight.

The doctor’s only explanation: It was a miracle.

I think that was the last time my dad had to go to the hospital with cardio-vascular problems. He attributed it to Mother Teresa’s intercession. He wrote out his account of what happened, and I believe he took it to his priest and/or bishop. But as far as I know, nothing came of it. Nevertheless, Dad took it as a sign of Mother Teresa’s sainthood.

…lots of people think my dad was a great man!

Here is his obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

To that, I would just add that he was an outstanding father.  I couldn’t hope for, or even conceive of, one better.  He always put his family first, and was always willing to go the extra mile… sometimes literally.

I often drive by the office building in Dallas where he worked when I was very young, and I’m amazed that he drove all that way from our hometown and back every day.  When I was older, he would interrupt his busy day to drive all the way to my school to deliver a forgotten lunch or assignment–always just in time.  When I was at university, he would make a twice-yearly trip from Florida to New Orleans and back to move me to or from school .  Still later, he came from Kentucky to Florida to pluck me from a really thorny situation and bring me back home to him and Mom.

I don’t remember him ever complaining about any of it, or counting the cost, or demanding anything in return.  It was just the kind of dad he was.

I took these things for granted at the time.  But looking back now that I’m older and wiser, I’m struck by how closely my dad imitated the Good Shepherd!  Or the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  During the years when I strayed spiritually, squandering my life away, I’m sure he bore a resemblance to St. Monica, as well.  I have no doubt that I would not be where I am if it were not for Dad, and Mom too.

If I had to sum up Dad in one word, it would be “self-giving.”  Dad gave of himself so much to me and all his family and friends… to his colleagues… and to so many other people, including many who would have otherwise been marginalized, ignored, forgotten, and abandoned: the deaf and/or blind, troubled families, endangered children.

I can’t understand why his life was cut short as it was, but his great legacy will live on forever.  Not only in my heart, but many others.

Rest in peace, my sweet Daddy… you deserve it!

My dad passed away this morning, after his long, valiant fight with cancer.  He went very peacefully, early this morning, as I slept by his bedside.

Thank you so much everybody, for your prayers and warm wishes.  I’m sure that my family and I are much better of because of them.

Mom called first thing this morning and said that Dad was refusing to eat and that delirium was setting in… and that the hospice doctor said he would probably pass within a week.

I am going to the funeral home in my hometown to set up some arrangements.

I will probably go back to Pittsburgh on Thursday.

I am eerily calm about everything.  Maybe it’s shock and numbness.  Maybe it’s weariness.  Maybe it’s the grace of God fortifying me and holding me together.

It’s all rather surreal.  But it’s not a dream.  Oh, if only it were just a dream!

I feel like my life is passing from one shadow to another.  I was finally starting to recover from losing my fiance, Patrick, in April 2005.  And now I am about to lose the most important man in my entire life… Dad… I feel like my wounded heart is bursting open all over again, just when I thought it was healed and whole again.

Oh, why must things happen this way?  I thought we’d have more time together.  I thought I might get at least a few years of a normal, happy life.  I thought my Dad would walk me down the aisle at my wedding someday, and get to know a grandchild or two.  Oh, why couldn’t things have happened that way?

Oh Lord…

I arrived home yesterday evening, after nearly two weeks in Pittsburgh with my parents.  I had been travelling nearly all day long, and made it home just in time to get to my parish’s last Sunday Mass at 7:30 PM.  I was practically dragging as I entered the church.  Not just from the travelling, but from the entire 12 days before: my dad’s poor prognosis, the hospital, the hospice center, the rehab center, the worrying, the uncertainty…

I shoved on my veil, blessed myself with holy water, and began walking up the aisle toward the sanctuary.  It was very dim.  As I got closer to the sanctuary, I made out the rows of Easter lilies on either side of the Tabernacle, the plants with pink flowers in front of the altar, the tall, majestic Easter Candle.  I breathed in the smell of the church–flowers and candles–which was even stronger than usual.  And even more so than usual, I felt as if I had walked into a completely different world.

I genuflected and paused with my knee on the floor, thinking to myself, “That’s funny–the church is decorated for Easter.”  And a split second later, I realized, “Why, it is Easter!”  And for the first time in many days, I felt such a joy burst within my heart.

Until that moment, I had honestly felt like Easter Sunday had passed me by.  Oh, I had attended Easter Mass–in a hospital meeting room, with no pews, no Tabernacle, no Easter Candle, no flowers of any kind.  I had heard the priest speak about Christ’s Resurrection and the resurrection we would all receive through Christ–but my mind was two floors above, where my parents were, suffering.

Until that moment, I had felt like I was still in the desert, in the long forty days of Lent.  So desolate.  So in pain.  So far from Easter joy.

I think I wept throughout the entire Mass–mostly from joy.  My joy increased when the priest reminded us that we were still in the Octave of Easter, that liturgically, Easter Sunday lasted for a full eight days.  I hadn’t missed it after all.  I was so relieved.  I was so happy.  It was like finding a beautiful, peaceful, life-giving oasis in the desert.  Heavens, I just can’t tell you how overjoyed I was!

After Mass as I drove home, even the preceding days looked different in my mind.  I caught little rays of light.  Like walking into the little hospital chapel and seeing a red lamp burning over a Tabernacle.  Like getting to push my dad’s wheelchair around the hospice center courtyard on a glorious sunny, warm, windy afternoon–and seeing Dad’s joyful smile as he looked at the trees and plants and breathed in the fresh air; it was his first leisurely outing after over a month of being pretty much bed-ridden.  Like simply getting to be with my parents, my sister, my brother-in-law, and other relatives and friends.  Like having the privilege of being of service to my parents.

Suddenly those days didn’t seem so desolate.  Looking back, I realized that God had been there.  Love, lots of love, had been there.  And even joy.  I just needed to have my eyes opened and my heart stirred a little.  To see things in a different light.  I was reminded of one of my favorite Easter hymns, which begins:

That Easter Day with joy was bright
The sun shone out with fairer light

I needed that light so, so much!  And I still do.  May it shine in my heart all year, and may I never lose sight of it.  And may I help it to shine out to my family and everybody I meet.

And now for a Dad Update:

I think my last update was that we were going to a hospice center.  And we did that.  I think it gave dad a chance to rest in peace and quiet.  It was a beautiful place–his room looked like a nice hotel room.  There was a pretty courtyard outside.  But he really wanted to try some physical and occupational therapy to try to regain some strength.

So, for the past 5 days or so, he was in a rehab center.  It was a good place–the staff were some of the best, most attentive, and most caring of any other place we’d been.  But it was very different from the hospice center.  Dad had to share a room, and there was not much peace and quiet–which Dad really wants and needs.  The therapy sessions were pretty exhausting, and the physical therapist said that any significant improvement would take many weeks.  I think that discouraged Dad.  He may or may not have many weeks, and so he decided that a hospice center would be best after all.

Today he moved into a new hospice center, and it seems to be a very lovely and comfortable place.

Overall, he’s just hanging in there as always.  I don’t think his health has significantly improved or declined.  But his spirits have been bolstered quite a bit by just being able to get out of bed into a wheelchair, have some changes of scenery, and visit with family and friends.  His faith is still strong as always, and he constantly expresses appreciation for everybody’s prayers.  It pleases him greatly when I tell him he’s got people all over the world praying for him.  :)

So please kindly keep up the good work!  Many thanks!

Dear friends and readers,

I am in Pittsburgh right now, currently in a hospital waiting room. Things are not looking so great for my dad. We’re not really sure how long he has. At this point, he is going to go with simple palliative care to make what time he has as comfortable and pleasant as possible. I’m still praying very hard for his healing–even if it takes a miracle. But may the Lord’s will be done, not mine.

This is not how I expected to spend Holy Week, but it has brought the Lord’s Passion, and the sorrows of the Blessed Mother, home to me more than ever before.

I’m sure I will appreciate it… someday.

For now, I am just taking things one step, one breath, at a time. Fortunately, there’s a nice little chapel with a Tabernacle with the Body and Blood of Christ in it. That’s holding me together and helping me along as much as possible.

Mostly, I’m just enjoying being with my dad, mom, and sister. Brother-in-law is coming this evening, and one of my aunts will be here sometime today.

Things are still pretty chaotic in my life.

My dad had brain surgery to remove a mass of cells that has been wreaking havoc with his motor functions.  Unfortunately, the surgery didn’t go entirely well.  At some point, his brain herniated, sustaining injury in places.  We’re not too sure yet how serious it is, or how it may affect him.  But thankfully, it doesn’t seem too bad so far–my mom told me that he was awake and aware of everything and talking.  He was also able to move his left foot a little; it had been more or less paralyzed before, due to the mass in his brain.

So, once more, I’m asking for prayers.  Please pray for Dad’s recovery!

As for myself, I am getting along all right.  I’m still suffering from the shingles, but am slowly getting better.  It is more of an extreme annoyance than anything… more uncomfortable than painful–although I do still get strong jabs of pain now and then.  I am trying to regard it as a good Lenten mortification.  That’s the only way I can cope with it.

Thank you as always for your prayers and good wishes.  My dad really appreciates them, and always asks me to pass along his thanks!

Just an update in case you’ve wondered what’s happened to me!

My dear father has been in the hospital a while–please keep the prayers coming for him.  They are such a source of comfort to him, and to my family and me!  Right now, we are waiting to hear the results of some biopsies they took from his stomach.  Hopefully it is not cancer.  And hopefully, he will be able to move from the hospital into a rehab place so he can get his strength and mobility back.

I went to the doctor today with a severe skin rash and lots of aches and pains and found out that I’ve got shingles.  Ugh.  I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus.  I did get medication, and hopefully it was caught early enough to avoid any long-term problems.  I was really surprised to get shingles–generally, it’s associated with older people.  But I’ve been through lots of stress lately, and visiting the hospital to see my dad, so I guess my immune system was weakened.  At least it wasn’t something more serious.  I’ve been having pains in my chest, and was afraid it was something to do with my heart.  So thank God it wasn’t.

The Lenten Lesson is being hammered in hard this year, in ways I didn’t expect.  It was all about keeping things in perspective.  And illness–whether of a loved one or your own–is a really good teacher.  Lots to offer up.  Lots to test my faith and trust in God.

I hope everybody is having blessed Lent!

Wanted to give an update, since I know many of you have been keeping my dad in your prayers.

So far, it’s good news!

Dad has a mass in his brain that is affecting his motor functions, but the doctors do not think it is cancer.  Rather, they think it is merely dead cells from a previous radiation treatment.  They gave him a new medication that should help.

I am so very relieved that he does not have to undergo brain surgery.  I am sure your prayers have helped.  He told me recently that he could feel lots of warm, positive energy around him.

So thank you and thank you again!

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(Image from a painting at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Metairie, Louisiana)

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