This year has been a year of beginnings and ends. There have been many, many joys, many friends, much singing and laughter.
There has been pain…..the most painful for me was the passing of my dear father, Vince Weeres, about 2 weeks ago, November 18th.
A year and a half ago, my brothers, my sons and my sons-in-law scraped money together and went to work to build an apartment on the back of our house so we could bring my mom and dad to live, independently, with us. It has been wonderful to have them close. They have been an incredible support to us and we have, in turn, given them security and joy in their old age.
I wrote this post at that time.
The last 2 weeks before Dad died was intense. I was up in their apartment several times a day and many times at night. My dad would call me on our intercom and I would zip up there to see what was needed…..a drink, the bedpan, some lotion to soothe his pain,, etc. I know this was hard on Dad. He didn’t want to be a bother and it was humiliating for him. He took it well. I am grateful for that….because it was hard on me to see him so helpless.
I am very thankful for the privilege of having served him in this way. It wasn’t easy and I was tired, but I was happy…..to serve is to love.
Grandpa deeply touched the lives of my children. He was a quiet and gentle man, and he loved his family much. He had a sharp wit and his storytelling abilities were amazing. It was less than a week before he died that he engrossed me in a story about a movie he had seen once…..he was one of those people you could actually listen to when telling the story of a movie. He made people come alive in his tales!
Here is what our 10 year old, Gemma, wrote the night after he died:
Last night my grandpa died. It was a very peaceful and happy death. I’m sad but at the same time I’m happy because when Grandpa was alive he was suffering very much!
Right now I’m thinking of last night when Hannah came downstairs and told me the very sad news.
And you may ask why I am writing this? Well because right now I’m up at Grandma’s and it’s very, very, quiet and I feel like writing my mind out on a piece of paper. It seems so weird that my skinny, old, Irish grandpa isn’t here anymore to get him coffee, put on his baseball game or get him ready for the priest any more.
His last two weeks he had slowed down a lot and was constantly calling for Mom!
But another thing I think of is just about a month ago my grandpa was nice and sprightly!
Just now my mom is planning the funeral and the wake. Well, I’ve wrote what I have on my mind and I love you Grandpa wherever you are!
Our Theresa, who is married and has 2 little ones of her own, wrote in memory of her Grandpa whom she loved very dearly. She was always thinking of him, making him pies or just sitting and gabbing with him.
Her take on his death is beautiful. My dad was brought up in a home where alcohol was a central theme. He had 8 other siblings and they all struggled with drinking. Dad fell away from the church for most of my growing up years. It wasn’t until within the last decade of his life that he was committed to his faith and he began receiving the sacraments regularly.
My brothers and I have had many moments of anguish worrying about him and where he was going after he died. This little story will prove to you….Don’t ever, ever give up praying for those you love. God listens….in His time.
“At 3:30pm we received a text from Mom that said Grandpa was dying.
I called Mom and asked if we should come. I have been very sick with the pregnancy of our third baby and so Mom said just to wait and she would call if things got worse.
Getting off the phone, Dev and I just had a feeling we needed to be there for Grandpa. We packed and up and headed out. When we arrived at Grandma’s we went straight to Grandpa’s room which was filled with Mom and the kids still at home.
Grandpa seemed in pain and was very fidgety. He kept moving and touching the bowls he had on the bed with him. At this point his breath was labored and you could hear a funny gargle sound from deep in his throat. Colin and Z arrived.
Although not responding I think Grandpa knew we were there. Tears were flowing from Grandma, Mom and all of us kids as we watched his last battle. Mom told Grandpa as he struggled, “I love you, Dad.”
I remember saying “Grandpa, we are all here. Grandma is right here.”
As his struggle grew I told Grandpa, “for Janice.” and Mom said, “Don’t forget to offer it up, Dad.”
We had already said the prayers for the dying, so we started the Mercy Chaplet. It was during the Chaplet that Grandpa’s agitation and gargling noised ceased. I thought that he was going but I think he lost consciousness and the only way we knew he was still alive was his jaw moved up and down periodically.
We prayed the rosary. Vin and Gin and Mike and Nettie arrived. Mom and Grandma went to grab a bite to eat. They were both beyond exhaustion. It had been a hard, long, few days.
Z, Virginia, Nettie, Mike, Rosalie and myself started singing Marian hymns, “Faith of our Fathers” and” Holy God, We Praise Thy Name”.
At this point I had been with Grandpa for awhile. and needed to eat and take a break. I went and sat out with Grandma and ate some dinner.
As the Marian hymns exhausted, the girls decided to sing Grandpa, “Oh Danny Boy.” I could see into Grandpa’s room from where I sat. Nettie’s face got scared and I knew. I told Grandma , “Hurry, he is going.” Then I rushed to the intercom and said, “Mom, Quick! It is the end.”
Within seconds Grandpa’s room was filled to overflowing…. Grandma, Mom, the kids still at home. Vin and Gin and their kids, Colin, Z and their family, Mike, Nettie, Rosalie, Dev and I and our kids.
Grandpa had left this earth peacefully in the middle of “Oh Danny Boy.” At the moment we realized he was gone, our voices raised in prayer, “Hail Mary, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of death!”
That feisty Irish guy… had received Amazing Grace and died in the arms of Our Holy Mother the Church, receiving that same day the Last Rites, Holy Communion and The Apostolic Blessing.
Surrounded with those that loved him, praying and singing….once again what Amazing Grace!
Friday, the day of the wake and rosary, 7pm found the funeral home filled.
That little man who went through life without public applaud would have been pleased as friends and family gathered to pray for him. He looked so peaceful as he lay there with his Irish cap upon his head. This was his last farewell.
Saturday, 10am , the day was dreary and misty but the temperature warm.
The funeral Mass once again held many people.
Father Rickert expressed his sympathy and condolences to the Family and Friends. Then he said that on a personal note he would very much miss Vince. Although when he came to give him Communion, he was many times in a rush, he felt a closeness with Grandpa.
He said what stood out most was Grandpa’s love for his family. Not a time passed when Grandpa didn’t share the worries he had for his children and asked Father to pray.
As the funeral procession made its way form the Church to the graveside I can’t help but once again think that our humble little Grandpa would be honored.
Standing beside the graveside was Daddy, Giuseppe, Colin, Dominic, Mike and Devin all in black suits….privileged with being the last to carry little Grandpa’s body to its resting place.
Father finished the blessings and the funeral director asked Grandma if he should lower the body. It was hard to see them take away the cloth and material that shielded the hole where Grandpa would lay. As they lowered Grandpa down, we couldn’t believe it as church bells burst into song, Panis Angelicus, Bread of Angels.
All I can think of as I write this, what an Amazing Grace!”