For 19 years now, in the days leading up to Nov. 5, my father’s death anniversary, it’s been nothing out of the ordinary grieving moment. The framed picture on the wall and the wallet size photo bring out memories of distant past. As I once again reminisce the olden days as far back I can recall, guess if anything deserves any mention, he loved us so much and left us a good example. I knew I could have done something to prevent the unpredictable. And yet, we’re just mere mortals whose lives are dependent on something beyond us. When he started going downhill, all he wanted to do was to see his kids. I asked for a few days off from the seminary and delighted that my request…granted.
My father was soft-spoken, joker with a wonderful sense of humor, sometimes annoying (in grade school waking me up for school) and yep, friendly. I’m not sure how these qualities fit together in one persona but that’s who he was. He had lots of friends, some incredibly good and others bad that I screamed (until my voice ran out)…he’s not here…get out! …as soon as their shadows appeared at the doorsteps. He knew how to get along with folks from all walks of life. At the reunion attended last August in Pasadena, it was a pleasant surprise when at least 5 people I’ve met told me they knew him either as classmate or drinking buddy. Thank God none of them said he was my everything. Until now, there are many things that remain unknown to me but every time I go back and forth into the throng of people at his wake all the way to the graveside and beyond, I’m relieved as it explains everything about him.
All the while, I didn’t think it was God’s plan/will for him to die. That premise is simply hard to accept and won’t sink in to someone in the middle of a terrible loss. I thought he was out of the equation and uninvolved in the state of affairs. If he did, he would have done something miraculous. Forgive me Holy Mother Church if I go off tracks. I’m sounding like Job in perspective – the human experience of pain and suffering as the ground/bridge/hub of our relationship with God. For my mom, it was certainly a pain beyond anything she could imagine. While I admire the spiritual-religious people coming up with an inspiring thought- it’s God’s plan period…there’s nothing you can do about it…move on, I’m not one of them. It takes time to process anything like this. Paul’s words in today’s readings was such a relief as it resonates reassurance, “Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s”. If ever I have a dream, I wish he’s still alive simply to enjoy his retirement with the love of his life and play like a fool with his grandkids. Amen.