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Friday, July 5, 2013

Today is the Anniversary of My Dad's Death, May He Rest in Peace

As I was writing out a birthday card for one of my children whose birthday is tomorrow, I reflected on where we were the year she was turning six. My parents always had a 4th of July pool party at their home in Elkridge and we were all gathered there in 1985 as usual. In fact, more people were on hand than usual. Two of my aunts and uncles came and several of my cousins -- to say good-bye to my dad who was dying of cancer.

I had been camping out on the sofa for a few days so I could help Mom care for Daddy and, as I sat with him, I was sewing the details on the fabric body of my little girl's birthday present, a "Cabbage Patch" look-alike doll. She was blonde haired like my daughter and a much-longed for gift.

Daddy was on a lot of painkillers so he slept a lot while I sewed at his bedside. We would chit chat infrequently about nothing when he was awake. I think he commented on the doll and I showed it to him. I was sculpting the fingers and toes and belly button. I really don't remember anything specific except being there, just being present in case he needed anything. At one point Daddy thought death was imminent and we called the parish and Father came. Then Daddy apologized profusely for not dying and sending out a false alarm. It was touchingly funny. We kept having to assure him that it was okay. Father did not mind.

When Daddy died the next day, it was quietly. We had convinced my mom to go out to dinner with my aunts and uncles. Daddy was still alert enough to be up. In fact, he was sitting in a chair at the side of the bed with his head resting on the bedside. My sister Peggy and I were sitting on either side of him rubbing his back gently and talking quietly. And then we realized he wasn't breathing. When we lifted him up, the blood had already begun to pool at the contact point on his forehead. We called the hospice nurse who came over and helped us arrange his body in the bed and we called all my local siblings. When mom returned from dinner we were praying the rosary together gathered in a circle around Daddy. We had to reassure my mom that it was okay not to be there, that the dying often wait to go until the person closest to them is not there - to spare them perhaps.

So many memories of that time crowd in on me: my nine-year-old niece stroking Daddy's head shortly after he died saying, "Grandpa looks so peaceful," my sisters and I all snipping off bits of Daddy's hair at the wake, the funeral at the Naval Academy on that brilliant, hot July day, two dear family friends concelebrating Mass with the Academy chaplain, the pain of the last good-bye to a dearly loved father.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of good parents who pass on the faith.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of my dad, Raymond John, today. May he rest in peace.


Anonymous said...

Mary Ann, you had a handsome father, and from what you say, a good one. May he, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I was blessed. I never remember once being late to Sunday Mass and getting out a family of ten kids was not easy. We filled up an entire pew in the church. I think I need to write down more memories. They make me smile and smiles these days are no small things.

Anonymous said...

I am an active duty Marine currently stationed at the Naval Academy. I would be honored to visit your father's gravesite and say a prayer for the repose of his soul. If I know your father's full name I can look up his information in the cemetery's records. (I am assuming that John is not your maiden name as there are no records of a Naval officer with that last name buried in the cemetery). Or, if you know the lot number, or if you can tell me roughly where his grave is located or what it overlooks, I could probably find it. May God continue to bless you and your family and may the soul of your father rest in peace.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I don't like to announce my maiden name to the world, but his grave is near the gravesites of the young students who died in the car crash a number of years ago on the way back from the Army Navy game. (on the opposite side of the road). It's only a few plots in and has a pink granite marker with a curved top. There are very few of those in the cemetery. He died as a retired Rear Admiral and there are stars on the gravestone. He and my mom are both buried there. My husband and I try to visit at least once every year (usually during the All Souls octave) to pray the rosary there. Thank you for your service and for your prayers.

Anonymous said...

I certainly understand your desire to refrain from announcing your maiden name. The information you gave me is more than enough to find your father's grave. I was a midshipman back when that accident happened after the Army Navy game. I remember it well. Thank you for sharing.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

And thank you for going to their grave. It touches my heart to think of a fellow alum praying for my parents there.

Anonymous said...

My son and I prayed for the repose of your parents' souls at their grave today. We found it with no trouble. It was a beautiful day in Annapolis! May God continue to bless you and your family!

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I always take a deep breath and say a prayer before I open comments because I get so many vicious ones. Yours today was a gift that filled my eyes with tears of gratitude. Thank you so much for your prayers and your consideration.