Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Homily at My Dad's Wake


Tomorrow is my father’s Funeral Mass, a time for begging God to forgive whatever sins he may have committed and lead him home to heaven.  It will be a time for committing his body to the earth and his soul to God.  It will be a day for looking forward, in joyful hope, for that fullness of time when the dead shall be raised from their graves and, together once again, we will run out to meet the Lord in glory.

Funerals are not a time for eulogy, for looking back.  But that’s why God made wakes.

The Irish have always been better at wakes than anyone else.  And while we no longer have to figure out who should but the cigarettes or the beverages as we did in the old Callahan’s on Front Street, we still tell stories...

Stories of a good man, whose presence on this earth made it a better place.

This good man who clung in love, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer to the love of his life, the little girl from the North end who was ever his Peggy...the same Peggy who stayed by him through the Parkinson’s and the broken hip and who in the last weeks insisted that he die in their bedroom, at home, so that hers would be the last voice he heard, the last embrace he enjoyed.

This good man who three nights ago was laying in bed peacefully praying the Rosary with his wife of 66 years...

This good man who despite all the challenges of his earliest youth cared for his his wife and children with unselfish devotion and unwavering faithfulness

This good man to whom everyone always turned when they were in trouble, knowing that Jimmy would come to the rescue.

This good man, who did more than his duty in serving his country in two tours off the coast of and on the island of Japan;

This good man who used to get up at 5:30 in the morning and work until way after dark so that his family could live in the house he and his wife built on Knollwood Circle and later to move to the house of their dreams on Hayward Lane...

This good man, ever resourceful, ever working hard at the back yard, the pool, the basement, the porch, the perimeter drain....There was nothing he could not fix...Just last week he gave instructions to his hospice nurse on how to treat the frozen pipes at her house...

This good man who held his son and daughter in his arms with joy and pride and who never stopped asking about Daniel and Meghan...One day, a few months ago, he spoke to me with such pride about how Debbie was always so good with kids, in daycare and Headstart and as a mother...”I guess your mother and I did something right,” he said.

This good man who when he could not speak listened with staring eyes to me as I told him how much I loved and respected him and recalled how many times he told me of his love and respect, then took my hand in silence and kissed it....

This good man who days before he died in an act of love and devotion raised his hands to the crucifix over his bed and cried out the name of his beloved Peggy over and over again...

This good man whose only dying wish was “take care of your mother...”

This good man, who anointed with the oils of mercy and fed with the bread of the angels, we now commend to God begging him to send legions of martyrs and saints to lead him home to a place of perfect peace.

You are a good man, dad.  May that goodness wipe away every trace of sin and lead you home to God.