Dad died peacefully on Monday afternoon at 5.20pm. I was holding his hand and stroking his head, thanking him and telling him I loved him. I’d just returned from a short walk around a local park which is quite close to the hospice. It’s a park which my father and I strolled through on Sunday mornings about 43 years ago. However this “dads and lads” event had a purpose – it got my father and I out of the house and conveniently the return journey home went right past the cricket club so he could have a couple of pints before Sunday lunch. I distinctly remember sitting in the clubhouse drinking fizzy orange while dad had a quick game of cards with his team mates! It was good to share this memory with him, his breathing changed almost immediately after I had ended my tale. It was a gentle and peaceful death and I had anointed him on Sunday afternoon, it was a privilege to be there. I’ve always said to friends “when my father and I received the news of his terminal illness last Holy Week, as I was only ever going to accompany him on this journey once, I was going to do it well” – I hope I have. Your prayers and good wishes have been an amazing source of strength and comfort to me and continue to be. Thank you.
There will be a lot of tears – there have been lots of tears, but I have some amazing memories, memories to cherish and hold on to. It was a privilege to be this gentle man’s son.
With my love and heart felt thanks,
Fr Simon has written movingly about the passing of his Dad. How fortunate, how lucky and privileged he was to be able to spend the last few days of his fathers life with him, next to him, holding his hand; talking with him. Priests – like Simon and me – spend a lot of time – professionally – at the sharp and painful end of life; but when your own flesh and blood are involved things are very different and we are as fragile and broken and battered and in need of support and love as anyone else. Please hold Fr Simon in your prayers in the coming days and weeks.
When we enter or leave our lovely church of St Nick’s and dip a finger into the water in the stoop inside the church door and cross our foreheads we remind ourselves each and every time that we are baptised and loved members of the Body of Christ. We are Christian people beloved of God. And we know that through the death and resurrection of Christ that our earthly passing, our dying and fading away in the here and now is not the end of the story. Bigger and better things lie over the horizon. For all of us. Death does not have the last word: death is not the final chapter. As St Paul wrote to the early church in Rome:
“I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”
Frank Brandes RIP. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
With every blessing,