...so grab a cup of coffee, or fetch your glass of iced tea.
I have been using my deodorant, so I can only imagine your lack of participation (ahem), here is because the reading material stinks. Maybe you're all very busy doing what summer requires of you, but I see by my feed stats that you are most definitely stopping in to visit, you just don't feel like talking. And that's ok. Maybe you just don't have anything to say about that last post. It's very possible my life just flat out bores you. It flat out bores me a lot. Also, I have been there -- just not much to say and so I leave and don't say anything.
The funny thing is, this morning, after two days of waiting for you to stop by and say something (thanks, Patty!), I got a request in my inbox to complete a survey on why I blog. A girl from Poland doing a research paper contacted me. Did she contact you, too? It was harmless information she wanted, and I feel empathy for people who have to reach out to strangers and ask for help, so I completed it. Really, she just wanted to know why I blog. Many people apparently blog for money, but clearly I would be homeless if I did that. By her questions and my answers, I remembered why I blog -- to make new friends and to share common interests.
So if you are one of those people who show up in my feed stats, stopping by every day or so, but you never say "hi," please do. I'd love to know who you are. I feel like you are popping into to my kitchen, and I'm waiting to chat with you.
And on that note, today I am going to share a story. It's one I have told few people, but when I do, it gives me a great feeling to see how they react. Most people are at first, disbelieving, and then filled with great hope.
This is, in many ways, an extraordinarily sad story. There is just no getting around telling it without telling the sad part. But it is, in the end, really a glorious story. Because if you believe in God, if you believe in heaven, if you believe in miracles, it is not sad at all.
On the Thursday after Easter, in the year 1982, my father died. He quietly died of a heart attack, sitting in his favorite recliner in the family room, taking a short nap in the evening after dinner, while my mother quietly ironed in the kitchen, just 20 feet away. My father was 42 years old. I was 19 years old, and away at college. Two of my brothers were upstairs in their rooms, and the other was working.
My mother heard my father start to wake up from his short nap (she heard him push the foot part of the recliner chair down), but then she heard nothing else. When she checked on him a while later, he was gone, or mostly gone. She called an ambulance and she called my brothers from upstairs. My brothers, both in high school, started CPR (something which I believe earned them a special place in heaven).
We'll never know if my father was still alive, if my brothers kept him alive at all, or if he was gone. The ambulance arrived, and our neighbors came over, and the medics tried to help him for a brief time. Likely they saw what the situation was in reality and loaded my father on a stretcher and took him to the hospital where he was pronounced DOA.
Sad story. I know (and here I was just thinking I was being boring and now I am flat out being sad).
But while the ambulance was in the drive with its lights flashing red streaks in the dark night, a man walked across the lawn and through the open front door and asked if he could help. He wore a black shirt, black pants and a white collar. He was a Catholic priest.
My mother told the priest that we were Catholic, what had happened, and he went to my father, bent over him while the medics worked, and gave my father Last Rites. My father was unconscious, there was no Confession, no Holy Eucharist, just (extra) ordinary Last Rites.
The Code of Canon Law (1005) says, "This sacrament (Anointing of the Sick) is to be administered in a case of doubt whether the sick person has attained the use of reason, is dangerously ill, or is dead."
A month or so ago Faith and I read in her religion book (Seton's Religion 6 for Young Catholics):
"If a person dies suddenly, a priest should be called because the priest is allowed to give absolution and to give the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. This means that even though a person has died, since no one is sure when the soul leaves the body, the soul may still be present and he would receive the benefits of the Sacrament."
When a loved one dies, a Catholic's greatest concern is whether or not that person's soul will go to heaven (at least most Catholics I know). We often don't have Anointing before death. How many people die suddenly, in car accidents, of unknown medical conditions, of heart attacks? What a great joy to know that even after death, we still have the chance for salvation!
The miraculous part of this story is that after the priest administered Last Rites, he left. He walked out the door and disappeared. My mother said there was no car anywhere in sight. And in the commotion of the medics taking my father out and the ambulance leaving, she lost track of where the priest went. She asked our neighbors if they knew him, but no one did. I'm sure, in reality the story is not as mysterious as it sounds, we just don't know the whole truth. But in appearance, a man of God came out of no where, granted my father the chance of eternal salvation, and then disappeared.
Whoever he is, he has my eternal gratitude, and I pray, a most wonderful place in heaven.