Something Meaningful In The Final Hour..


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My father passed away at the age of 84 on 6th April 2010 in a hospital bed in England.

He was diagnosed with bowel cancer over ten years ago and in that time endured a few minor strokes but recovered quickly, had glaucoma, and in the last three years walked with a frame. His wife of 20 years was an alcoholic and this contributed to her death in November of last year.

My father had a Roman Catholic upbringing, served 7 years in the British army (1939 - 1947), and worked as a labourer for most of his life. We were never really close and I spent most of my childhood witnessing the consequences of his drinking on my mother... she died in 1985 after enduring 6 years of Alzheimer's. In contrast, my mother was raised in catholic convents, she had a very simple and positive outlook on life and although she wasn't an active catholic, she held her beliefs close to her heart.

Just before Christmas, and living in Canada, I knew it wouldn't be long before I would be visiting my dad and so I made plans to see him in January. He was a very practical man and was never really one for accepting gifts of any kind. However, I wanted to take him something meaningful.. something that he'd keep hold of.

I visited a local Christian shop and bought him a silver cross... nothing ornate or decorated... just a plain and simple cross. I considered it a risk... he could say "What's this for??" and leave it at the back of the draw with his collection of broken pens and nuts and bolts. I thought to myself... I have no idea how he is gong to react.. but if this cross gives him a fraction of comfort... then it would have been worthwhile... it would have been meaningful.

When January came along, I received news that he'd fallen and broken his hip and that my visit to England would be spent visiting him at hospital, getting into small talk, and looking at my watch. It sounds harsh... but it's reality. We never really got on too well and his situation wouldn't make much difference.

Finally, I got to the hospital with my son and daughter and presented the cross to him: "Look dad... I got you this in Canada... it's a decent one... I had it blessed."

My dad sat up despite the discomfort and pain and despite the haziness of the drugs he'd been administered. I could see in his eyes that this little silver cross had far far greater meaning to him than I had assumed it would.

After two weeks, I returned to Canada, and among the trials and tribulations something kinda wonderful happened amidst the chaos of the time.

My dad spent one week in a private nursing home where he had 100 pounds ($200) stolen from his side cabinet. There was nothing we could do.. it's not uncommon. But this man who was very 'careful' with his money throughout his life but the theft had him completely unconcerned... he had his cross.. he clung to it in his final hours and it brought him immense comfort.. that's all that mattered now.

On the night before he died, my daughter was with him and he told her: "Look... I am dying... I am telling you this because I don't want you here to witness it... they (the hospital) will phone you and tell you 'you're granddad is drawing his last breath...' or 'we really do think you should come to he hospital to say goodbye'. He died the following morning.

I arrived in England two days later and made arrangements for the funeral that would be very small, simple, practical. He would have wanted people to spend money on keeping food and juice on the table rather than to buy flowers and cards. There were maybe half a dozen people attending at the crematorium. We had a short catholic service with 'I am here Lord' and 'Amazing Grace' playing in the background.

My daughters and I dispersed his ashes from the ferry in the River Mersey as he had requested.

In clearing his house and belongings, I found something I never knew he kept. In the inside pocket of his jacket, he kept a Pope Paul card and a small lapel pin.. he'd had kept these close for most of his adult life and I never knew. The silver cross will be given to my son when he is old enough to look after it.

I wanted to share this because in this story there is something positive against the despair and the suffering, it's the simplicity of comfort that this cross brought to a man in his final hour.. something encouraging and meaningful.

Rev. Lynch

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So very powerful indeed Rev Lynch. Isn't it amazing how the things we think may be of little import to another person have exactly the opposite affect?

My Dad, about 6 months before he passed gave me a gift of words. Words that if said years ago could have meant the difference between many years of separation and those years spent in better contact.

When he went to hospital several months before his passing, I made him a small collage of family pictures with his favorite Scripture passage (Psalms 91) in the corner. The nurse told me he had this in his hands the moment of his surrendering to go Home.

Due to these two incidents, I've made certain that the years don't slip by for my son and I the way they did for us. Now I wait for son to acknowledge his part in this event. Daughter and I have a great relationship and I cherish her quirky little Self in the many things she does. Last year for Father's Day she compiled a slide show of pictures from one's taken the moment of her birth to just days before her Gift to me. That DVD disc is so special and viewed often.

Blessings of Peace,

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thank you for the story.

2 weeks before my mom died,she asked me if it was"ok if she went?"i asked her if she meant right then,and she told me no.however,in the very short conversation that followed,i told her that yes it was ok,and her job was finished,she had raised all of us to be independent adults,so there was no longer a need for her to be concerned about us.

long story short,she decided that she wanted to sign a no code order,and go naturally.and i was the only member of the family she asked.i wasn't there,but i understand she went very peacefully.

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