Tuesday, March 2, 2010


“The harder you work in fifth grade, the easier sixth grade will be; and the harder you work in sixth grade, the easier seventh grade will be…”
“So it never ends? But when do I get to rest?”
“You can rest anytime you choose. You just have to decide if that is the right choice for you to make.”
“Nothing will be handed to you in this lifetime. If you want something, if you set your mind to it, then work hard. Put in the effort to make it happen.”
“Don’t forget your poem.”
“Family is the most important thing. But if a family member does not embody the same values as you, remove them for your life. Remove the toxin. Surround yourself only with people, friends and family, who represent what you believe in.”
“Look all around you. Isn’t the wonder of His beauty amazing?”
“I am proud of you, kiddo.”
“I love you.”
March cannot begin without me thinking about my dad. I think about him daily, of course, but I have been bothered by something. When the pastor of my father’s choosing asked me to write a eulogy, I couldn’t do it. I wrote the obituary. I did all the tasks set forth before me in the manner my father requested when we spoke in private shortly before he became incoherent. But I could not write a eulogy. For these last couple of years I have tried to write a blog entry. I can’t.

I remember his last words to me. We were having one of our private, albeit brief, conversations in his hospital room. He had just begun Hospice care. I told him about how I kept seeing butterflies whenever I thought about him. There were dozens of them. I, however, never saw the butterflies at any other time. In the back of my mind, I knew the religious significance of the butterflies, but refused to fully acknowledge it. It was as if I admitted their symbolism, then I would be ushering in his passing sooner than if I denied their meaning.

He cried when I mentioned the butterflies. I knew that he, being a deeply spiritual man, was thinking about the religious connotation as well. His final words to me -so hard for him to utter- were, “Butterfly, butterfly. I love you.” He then closed his eyes with tears down his cheeks.

I asked him to send me a butterfly and he nodded that he would…

The afternoon before he passed away, Katie was watching Sesame Street, so the poor man had to listen to a children’s show on his speakers. Peter was talking with Mom. I held Dad’s hand, leaned in close, and recited the rosary with him and an additional Lord’s Prayer. Somehow I knew I was saying my final good-bye and I could hardly get through the prayers. Choking back tears as to not worry others in the room, I quietly whispered that it was okay to go. That I knew God was waiting for him and that all will be well here. Not to worry about Mom, Grandma, or me. Not to worry about what will happen to himself as God would hold him tight.

In his last act of compassion for others, Dad waited until his best friend from childhood, Bill Senk, was with him. Dad did not want Mom to go through the pain of watching his spirit leave his body. He knew she would have too much grief as it was at the time.

And, he sent me my butterfly.

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