Eleven years ago today, on Divine Mercy Sunday, my father passed away. It was very touching that his life ended on that special day, because he was a very conflicted man who was much in need of mercy…as we all are. Through conversations with him later in life, and also through the enlightenment of my own personal journey of faith and forgiveness, I know that he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and I also know that he felt humbled by the love and mercy of Jesus. He felt small and knew that he let his God and his family down in many ways…as we all do.
This is a tribute of love to the man that God blessed me with…to be my earthly father.
I love you, Daddy, and miss you so very much.
My father was born to a large family. He had six brothers and three sisters. One of those sisters, at a very young age, burned to death when he was a child. The family lived in squalor, and none of his, nor his siblings’ needs were met in any way. They existed in a world devoid of nurturing. I am talking about physical needs that were not provided…including food, security and basic shelter. I am also talking about these children living in a situation where they received no protection at all from the evils perpetrated on them, no sense of safety and shelter that would help for them to know their self worth, and no emotional needs met at all.
At this time, I am setting aside the issues that I grew up with, and would like to focus on the good that my father did for me and for our family. When I really think about it, he gave us most of what he never had. His intention was just that…his desire was to provide his family with everything he and his siblings lacked.
Dad, I now realize the fullness of what you gifted to us…to me and my sisters.
Although you never had the security of a place to call home, you blessed us with a stable home. It was a small house, however, I never even noticed it was small. As a child, I took my home for granted, and it gave me a sense of comfort. That was your intention.
Although, as a child, you never knew where your next meal was coming from, you blessed us with three meals on the table every day. I am not sure how you and mom did it financially, but we ate well, and were exposed to many different foods that my friends never even heard of, let alone tried. I have always had an appreciation and thankfulness for many different foods. That was your intention.
Although you never had much of a formal education or exposure to cultural arts, and that always bothered you, you filled our home with the music that you never experienced as a child. I am talking operas, movie and play soundtracks, and also Shakespeare. I still have memories of all of us, sitting in the dark, listening to ‘Macbeth.’ I also know almost every song from any play that I have ever seen at a theater, and also all the songs from old Disney movies. We played all of them over and over. I love and appreciate music…all kinds. That was your intention.
Although you never had the luxury of books in your childhood, you filled our home with bookshelves, that were overflowing with books. Again, I am not sure how you and mom found the money, but you provided us with a set of encyclopedias, beautifully bound sets of classic children’s tales, The Great Books, and countless others. I absolutely love to read. That was your intention.
Although you had to quit school at an early age, you and mom made sacrifices to ensure we all attended Catholic Schools from elementary through high school. You chose to make our education a priority, and somehow the tuition became available. I have a love for learning that will continue for my lifetime. That was your intention.
Although you and mom lived a difficult life, you struggled through it, and remained together until the end of your life. Neither one of you was perfect, as none of us are, however, you fit together and loved each other unconditionally. Joe and I have been married for thirty six years, living through the struggles, which brought us closer together. I am blessed with a wonderful husband, and an amazing relationship with him and my sons, and my sons’ wives. That was your intention.
Although you never had the comforts and pleasures associated with family and extended family, you blessed us with a childhood filled with aunts, uncles, and cousins. I appreciate and treasure all of my family…my sons, their wives, and all of the relatives that I am close with and the ones I am reconnecting with. I realize the importance and blessedness of family. That was your intention.
Although you never had vacations as a child, and never had the opportunity to experience wonder with your parents, you blessed us with camping trips to many parts of the country…always filling our days with historic visits and also the enjoyment of nature. I have a love for museums, and also for God’s beautiful creations. I remember the first time standing over the Horse Shoe Falls at Niagara Falls and feeling like I was in heaven. Also the sights and sounds of the campgrounds we camped at. I love to share those simple kinds of pleasures with my family and the people I love. That was your intention.
Although you had an inner turmoil inside, you found solace by just sitting and ‘being’ with God. You loved nature and spent hours on end just basking in the simple pleasures of the outdoors. I also find comfort and oneness with God when I am at one with nature…surrounded by His beauty. That was your intention.
Although you didn’t have many things to be thankful for as a child, or any worldly reason to even believe in a loving God, you chose to bring us up in the Catholic Faith that was passed on to you from your birth. I am sure, like me, for most of those years you did not understand the gift you were given. However, the Lord covered you in His mercy, and with the light that He instilled in you and mom, we were lead to the Church…to the Masses every week, and also to the Sacraments that drew us closer to the Lord. Even when we did not fully understand things. I finally am learning and being brought into the fullness of that faith, with love and grace that I never even imagined. That was your intention.
On this day, Daddy, I would like to say that I love you and appreciate all that you blessed me with. And I pray that you are encompassed with the all consuming love and light of the Blessed Trinity…the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
May you truly rest in the peace and love of the Lord.