Monday, May 04, 2009

My Father's Happy Death

Daddy and Mommy
My Father and Mother Summer 2008

Tomorrow will be one month that my dear father passed away and our family really misses him.

My mother wanted me to share with you the events of his death in the hopes that it will inspire others to help prepare a loved one for death.

For whatever reasons he may have had, my father did not attend Mass regularly. This did not mean he did not love the Church. He often proclaimed his love of the Catholic Church as well as stating proudly that he was and will always be a Catholic.

He did not understand the "modern" changes that had occurred in the Church and would not hesitate to scoff at some of them. One change he did not like was the fact that a lay person like his daughter (yours truly) was permitted to be an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Another thing that troubled him was that the laity received Holy Communion in the hand.

In the past year or so, actually, since my father turned 80 in 2007, I tried to get him to go to confession. His response was no surprise "Confession is for sinners" :-)

He did have a devotion to the Blessed Mother, especially through her title of Our Lady of Fatima, St. Francis of Assisi and to St. Jude Thaddeus. Of course, being Peruvian, he loved Santa Rosa de Lima (he and my mom actually named one of my sisters after her) and San Martin de Porres.

So that was my dad's spirituality in a nutshell.

On March 28th, my father suffered a massive heart attack. The same day one of my brothers and I flew to be with our family. That one brother did not leave my father alone for even a moment while he was in the hospital. He slept at the hospital for the week following my father's heart attack and ultimate death a week later on Palm Sunday.

During that time while my father was on life support my mother went into action...spiritually speaking.

The first thing she did was to place the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on my father and made the ER personnel promise not to remove it, no matter what. You know what? They promised.

She would sprinkle my father from head to toe with Holy Water. She prayed the Holy Rosary constantly for our Lady's intercession. We all prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy continuously.

The chaplains of this Catholic hospital as well as priests who were friends of our family, came by regularly. My father not only received the anointing of the sick, but also many blessings and prayers from these wonderful priests as well as the apostolic pardon.

Exactly one week from the date my father was brought to the hospital, we decided to abide by his wishes and have the life support disconnected. The woman in charge of disconnecting his life support just happened to be a former sister and friend of the family. Because she knew my family very well, she couldn't bring herself to do the disconnecting. She asked the very kind and compassionate young resident in charge to do it and he did.

Our family, mother, brothers, sisters surrounded my father that Saturday night into early Sunday morning. We did not leave his side.

He passed away peacefully early Palm Sunday morning. There was no sign of an agonizing death.

My father was considerate enough to pass away at that time, thereby giving us time to make it to Palm Sunday Mass in the Chapel.

He died surrounded by those who loved him the most.

You can see by what I shared above that my father died a happy death.

Then we began to see signs and connections that God sent us to give us comfort.

First of all, he was admitted to St. Joseph's Hospital. St. Joseph is the patron saint of fathers and of departing souls.

His life support was disconnected on First Saturday of the month. First Saturdays are dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima.

The nurse that day was named Fatima and her birthday just happened to be May 13th. The feast day of our Lady of Fatima.

Remember, my father had a devotion to our Lady of Fatima.

He passed away on Palm Sunday.

And, one more thing I would like to share and I hope my sister doesn't mind too much. My other sister was driving home that day, inconsolable at our father's death, when she spotted a license plate of the car in front of her that said "Going to Heaven". If that wasn't enough, the song playing on the radio was "God is Speaking to You."

So you see the importance of helping a loved one die in the embrace of the Catholic Church's sacraments, blessings and prayers.

Lastly, in our family my father was known as an avid collector of stuff. He collected mass amounts of stuff he liked...movies, baseball cards, tools, etc. Well, after he died, he started a new collection...Masses said for the repose of his soul. We have been blessed by the generosity of family and friends who have provided for Masses to be said in many states, churches, etc.

Thank you all!

twitter / catholicmominHI


Ellen said...

What a beautiful story. Prayers for you and your family on this anniversary of your father's passing.

scmom (Barbara) said...

I don't comment enough here, but I do enjoy reading, and I thank you for sharing this, Esther. You, and your siblings, and mother were very blessed, both by your father's life and his death. I hope that your mother is doing well, at this difficult time, and that she recognizes God's presence with her. He is good!

Mary B said...

Thank you for sharing Ester! I know so many pained by relatives deaths'-especially when they don't attend Mass. This is a beautiful remined of God's gentle compassion.

Tracy said...

Thanks so much for sharing this story. It must bring you and your family so much comfort to know that your father died such a blessed death. In these times when we lose our loved ones we realize what a true gift our faith is, espeically through the scaraments of the Catholic church.

I have seen too much what death does to a loved one who does not have faith. It is almost as sad as the passing.

Many prayers for your family as you remember your father.

Melissa Spence said...

Thank you for sharing such a personal and beautiful story of your father's passing.

Charlotte said...

Oh Esther, I started crying when I read this!

Ed Sousa, Sr. said...

Thank you Esther for sharing this beautiful story with us of your dear father.
God Bless You and your family.

Easter A. said...

Esther, that is beautiful!!! Very touching. What joyful death that was!

Blessings to you, your mom, and the rest of the family.


Nancy said...

Thank you for sharing this very intimate story. Your father was certainly well loved by his family and by his God!
I pray that your family's grief is comforted by the Holy Presence of Christ among us...both inside the Tabernacle and out.

Anonymous said...

Please thank you mother for asking you to share all these beautiful happenings and signs in your dear fahter's death. Beyond words.

Alexandra said...

What more can a man ask for?! He was well loved.

Gail said...

Thank you for sharing the story of your father's final illness with us.
Please know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
What a consolation our Catholic faith was to him as he completed his earthly journey. It's so wonderful how Catholicism played such a vital role as he prepared to join God and His Holy Mother.

Esther said...

Ellen: Thank you for the prayers. They are much appreciated.

Barbara: Thank you very much for your kind comment.

Mary B: God is indeed good and infinitely merciful.

Tracy, the Catholic church does indeed bring comfort to the dying and their family. TY for your prayers.

Melissa, I was hesitant to share but my mom encouraged me to do so. TY.

hugs to you Charlotte!

Thank you Ed.

Easter, losing one of my parents was something I had always dreaded. I am just grateful that God helped us through this difficult time and that my dad had a blessed death. hugs dear friend

Nancy, the Blessed Sacrament does indeed comfort us. Thank you.

B & L, I will. We hope it helps others prepare for death. Hope you are well.

He sure was Alexandra!

Gail, I couldn't have said it better. Thank you for your prayers.

ukok said...

Esther, i am so thankful that your father died a happy death and that your dear mother wanted you to share this with your readers. It is no coincidence that there was so many God-incidences at the time which your much loved Dad departed this world for another. Prayers continue to ascend for the repose of your dear fathers soul. May your dear mother and all who held your father dear in their hearts, be comforted.

God Bless you for sharing such a beautiful story, sad yes, but beautiful.

Mimi said...

Dearest Esther, this is a beautiful post. I was with my Grandmother when she died, and I consider it a God-given gift to have been with her.

And, in the Orthodox Tradition, we pray for people for 40 days after their death (and then on anniversaries) so your dear Father has been in my morning prayers.

Hugs and love. May his Memory be Eternal

Esther said...

Deb, thank you. It was more than mere coincidences, that's for sure. We see God's hand in this clearly.

Mimi, my mom wanted me to thank you very much for your prayers. She loved that tradition in the Orthodox Church. God bless,

Anna B. said...


Patty said...

Hi Esther Honey,
Thank you for saying everything I want to remember in writing. I wish to keep this and remember all we went through and how blessed we all were throughout Daddy's death and the everlasting bond we all share.
Daddy means so much to us, and I can't wait for the day when we all are together with him again. This post saddened me, yet made me happy at the same time. I love you with all my heart. Your loving sister,Patty

Christy said...

What a beautiful and inspiring post. I love how your mother "sprang into action". I pray there is such a soul at my deathbed.
Thank you for sharing.

Esther said...

Hey Patty Poo, glad you liked it. I look forward to that day too.

Christy, I hope so too. God bless

Esther said...

Thank you Anna.