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Friday, July 13, 2018

The Death of the Catholic

The third man lived and died here
Continued from yesterday's post: God and the Deaths of Three Men - One Protestant, One AtheistOne Catholic


The third man to die was the Catholic who led a Catholic life, but not without pain and suffering. 

He was born in Dublin, Ireland to a middle class Irish couple, the first of three sons whose father always made certain the family went to Mass every Sunday. All three sons grew up to be handsome men with turquoise blue Irish eyes, each one possessing a pleasing temperament and a graciousness not seen today in many people. Even their mother would marvel at the beauty of her sons. 

As a child, the oldest brother contracted polio and as a result one leg never grew as long as the other and he limped all his life. His mother, once, in sincere anguish literally clutching her chest, told me that it “tore her heart” when she would see him as a child and then teenager limping down the street. She would stand at the door and could see her three sons walking home from school, one of them limping along.

But did his lame leg stop this man from having a happy life? No, because God had given him gifts for his use to overcome his paralysis. This man was always smiling, always good-natured, immensely kind to others, had a most biting funny wit and was an artist, creating beautifully detailed miniature watercolors of the Irish countryside.

He grew up and got a job in Dublin’s tax office where he met his wife, an equal partner for her husband in every way – lovely, good-natured, wise and one of the kindest people I have ever met. They moved to a town in the middle of Ireland where they both worked for the local city government, bought a 100 year-old Irish cottage, added on to it and had 4 lovely children, each as good-natured as their parents. He also taught art classes to pass on his gift of creating beauty.

This man was in a position to help other people, to get projects done for the town, always in the public eye and he did it with kindness, joy, graciousness and always with his biting wit. Did people see a disgruntled man, mad at God and the world because of his lame leg? No. They saw and loved the handsome man who always graciously welcomed them, smiled and greeted them on the street shaking their hand in joy, a happy man who joked with them and was always concerned for their welfare, not his, and who tried to help solve their problems. They never saw his limp. They saw the whole man. The happy man.

He believed in God, said his prayers, went to Mass, raised his children as good Catholics, and he himself lived and died as one. He got cancer, lost weight, was in the hospital for three weeks where they said he was dying. He wanted to die at home so the hospital released him and the family brought him home. For 10 days he was with his beloved family – his wife and sons and daughters, his brothers and their families, and was his same good-natured self, telling everyone not to be unhappy. He wanted people to go on with their normal lives and not worry about him. Then for a day and a half he was in a state of existence between life and death. Then on Sunday July 1, the Feast of the Most Precious Blood, he peacefully died in his home surrounded by his loving family. A happy death.

The next day the funeral home held his wake in the conservatory of their home where for five hours over 400 people walked through their home to pay their last respects to this good man in his coffin until the Rosary was said at the end of the evening. The next day the family walked behind the hearse the few blocks to the Catholic Church where they were astounded to find over 500 people and a former Prime Minister of Ireland at the Funeral Mass. The city's offices were closed for the day in this man's honor.

He is buried on a hill beneath two trees in the same cemetery where his wife’s parents lie. For years she has gone every day to visit her parents’ graves and now will go every day to also visit and pray for her husband there.

This man, so loved, was described on his obituary page by those who knew and loved him as: a breath of fresh air, always in good humor, always helpful, a huge loss for everyone, a lovely man, helpful in every way, an absolute gentleman, a true artist. In Gaelic, one person wrote: Ar dheis De go raibh a anam which means: May he (his soul) be at the right hand of God - a wish that the person had made it through the pearly gates. One person wrote that this man was their favorite Dub which means their favorite Dubliner.

He was also a selfless man. He would take one of his paintings off the wall of their home and give it to anyone who happened to say they liked it. Before he died he gave one of the nurses a painting. She said it was beautiful and he told her it was hers. His poor wife said that everyone had one of her husband’s painting but her! 

He died at 56, three weeks before his 57th birthday, so n
ow I'm going to give you an example of this man's biting wit and don't go getting your knickers in a twist over it. After the burial, the family and many others had a dinner at one of the town’s larger restaurants where the older son made a speech and at the end of it read what his father had jokingly said he wanted written on his tombstone. 

Knowing that he was dying too young, at one point this man had turned to his wife and told her he wanted his tombstone to say: My angel came to get me too soon…the bastard! Of course in reply his wife had gently said, “No, that will not be written on your tombstone.” The crowd in the restaurant had a good laugh because they had known this man and had loved him and knew his humor. I do wonder though what he said to his Guardian Angel when he came to get this man to take him to meet God. He probably just said, Well, there you are. Let's go.


Leo D. Lion said...

Well there you go,,,
The old score was 0 in heaven - everyone somewhere else.
Now we got 1 in heaven - everyone somewhere else...

Susan Matthiesen said...

Please don't leave to my imagination what you're talking about. It would be better if you explained yourself better.

And how do you know which of the three is in Heaven? Who made you judge and jury on the state of a person's soul at the moment of death? That judgement belongs to God alone. Maybe the atheist made it to Purgatory...or do you know otherwise? Maybe all three are in Heaven.