Friday, November 5, 2010

My Father's Gift

Wednesday was the 19th anniversary of my father's passing.  It's hard to believe that it's been almost 20 years.  There are very few days that go by that I don't think: WWAD or What Would Art Do?  My dad had very high expectations for all five of his children and he rarely let us "just get by".  He always used to say, "If you can't give 100%, don't do it at all".  My father was the oldest sibling in his family.  So am I.  I got my Type A, obsessive personality from him.  I've since passed that along to my oldest daughter.  I guess it's what we oldest siblings do.  Some of the things I love the most about my dad:  his crooked smile, his sense of humor, how he loved my mother, and that I always knew he cared about the kind of adult I would turn out to be.
This is one of my favorite pictures of my dad, Art. 
My father gave me many gifts.  The most important gifts were the lessons he taught me.  My dad taught me how to live a moral, civic minded, patriotic, compassionate and faith filled life.  I'm glad for those lessons.  But I think the lesson he taught me while he was dying is probably the one I cherish the most.

My father had colon cancer.  He lived for 18 months after his diagnosis, 6 months longer than doctors expected.  During that time he had some really good days, and he had some really bad days.  He always took the bad along with the good and never complained.  Near the end he suffered greatly, but never complained.  At the very end he was not conscious of his physical surroundings.  He was, however, conscious of our Blessed Mother, who I am convinced, appeared to him in his last hours.  I believe she came to show him the way to Our Father in heaven where his suffering was at last taken away, as we are all promised it will be.  I believe in the cleansing power of suffering because that is what my father on earth taught me by his actions and what my Father in heaven promises me through His Word. 

It troubles me when I hear people talk of end of life compassion, right-to-die, euthanasia, mercy-killing, whatever you want to call it.  Just because someone is suffering does not make it right to take their life away.  No one has that right except Our Father in heaven.  And we dishonor His suffering and dying for us when we diminish it by eliminating it.  And the suffering is part of living.  We need it just as much as we need the joy in life.  My father also taught me not to be afraid of the suffering but to embrace it as a soul cleansing opportunity that not all people are fortunate to have.  Yes, I said fortunate.  I believe my father felt fortunate in his suffering.  He was able to use it to cleanse himself of the earthly trials that have no place in our eternal life with God.  I'm so very grateful to my father for this gift.  I feel it was the greatest gift he gave me.

I miss you everyday Dad.  I love you.  Thank you for loving me.


There is a great book called Making Sense out of Suffering if you're interested in reading more about this topic.

Quote for the Week:

We are healed from suffering only by experiencing it to the full.

~Marcel Proust~
 (1871 - 1922)


  1. Well said Ger! I love your writings and truly miss your dad & mom. Thanks for sharing this!!!

  2. Yes Ger my brother was one of a kind. We all miss him and your Mom very much.

  3. Gerri, your Dad was clearly a great man and father. Love this post. My dad also had a similar experience during his last weeks before his death from colon cancer. I'm going to get that book that you recommended. It sounds good for the soul.

  4. My dad taught me the same things, he sounds a lot like your dad. And so true, that only God determines the number of our days. Beautiful post.