My mother passed away on January 20th, at the age of 92 and after years of suffering with Alzheimers.
This weekend, we'll bury my brother, David, who entered Eternity last Saturday afternoon, after a brief struggle with an extremely fast-acting brain tumor.
Both Mom and David were strong believers. Mom was one of the few Catholic parents during the 60s and 70s who perceived the sorry lack in post-Vatican II catechetics, and saw to it that we studied more traditional catechisms and scripture at home, and made us understand that sometimes, in those confused times, Sister X. and even Father Y might teach or preach something that was not quite in line with Catholic teaching. She also started a firm custom of the family rosary nearly every evening, starting when I was about 8 years of age. That habit stayed with my two siblings and I. Furthermore, she (and my Dad) created a family atmosphere where spiritual things (such as saint's lives, reports of possibly modern apparitions,miracles and whatnot) were seen as interesting, worth discussing and reading about.
Like all of us, Mom was not perfect. But she got it right in the things that mattered most. I couldn't be more grateful.
David, my big brother, overcame the youthful handicap of being that introverted, un-athletic, nerdy kid who had tended to be rejected by all but a few peers. (A family pattern: my sister and I were his female counterparts.) His passion for history lead to a career as a county archivist, where he distinguished himself as an expert in local history, and author or editor of several books about the Civil War and about slavery in the northern colonies/states. He was always an ardent Catholic, and members of his parish study group tell me that his insights and comments would "light up" every meeting. What I admire most about David was his selfless care of our Mom during her years in the nursing home, visiting almost every single day, coming up with creative ideas to stimulate her diminishing mind, and far surpassing the patience of the staff in getting her to eat a good dinner each day. My sister and I, raising big families in far off locations, were grateful and relieved that David was able to take on Mom's care as his vocation. We are sorry that after she passed, David was not able to go on to years of pursuing his own interests free of concerns for her care. But God's will be done! We can presume that even the most pleasant earthly pursuits pale in comparison to what awaits, and all that makes us happiest on earth will find it's super-counterpart in Eternity.
Thanks in advance for your prayers and kind thoughts; if you want to do something special for Mom and David, substitute part or all of the Office for the Dead on any upcoming day where there is no obligatory memorial (E.g. today, tomorrow, or any day next week except Wednesday) and offer it for them.