They Come in Threes

Deaths, that is.  Maybe it’s just the constant desire to look for patterns and meanings, but I’ve found it to be true.
I remember one day last summer on which I attended a memorial Mass in the morning, took a meal to a bereaved family that afternoon, and went to a benefit for a grieving mother in the evening.  Three deaths, all tragic, all in the same week.
You already know I lost my cousin on All Saints Day.  He did not want a memorial service of any kind, and his family abided by his wishes.  I was disappointed, because I love funerals.  Besides the closure they provide–which I think is necessary to the grieving process–I love family funerals for the opportunity to connect with people I don’t often get a chance to see otherwise.  Now no one enjoys funeral when the person has died tragically and way too young, but a funeral for one who has lived a full and long life is another story. This evening I attended a visitation for the mother of a family friend, a lady I did not know personally.  She was 93 years old, and the room was packed with relatives and friends, both hers and her sons’.
Earlier today I attended a funeral Mass for a true patriarch of our parish.  George Willard was baptized at Immaculate Conception 86 years ago.  Married for 56 years, he and his wife had seven children, and each of their 21 grandchildren carried up a rose at the Offertory.  Toward the end of Mass the oldest son spoke of his father’s childlike faith, and indeed one of my lasting memories of Mr. Willard will be the way he always approached the altar for Communion, with his hands together in prayer–not clasped carelessly at waist level like most adults, but palm to palm in the manner of a little child.
paying hands
While the tears flowed freely throughout the service, the joyful spirit of the event was evident from the opening song:  “Oh When the Saints Go Marching In,” and it seemed like a good portion of Knoxville was in on the celebration when we exited the Church to the sounds of the Veterans Day Parade proceeding down Gay Street just at the bottom of the Summit Hill.
Come to their aid, O Saints of God,
Come meet them angels of the Lord.
Receive their souls, O holy ones;
Present them now to God Most High.
May Christ who called you, take you home
Angels lead you to Abraham.
Receive their souls, O holy ones;
Present them now to God Most High.
Give them eternal rest, O Lord,
May light unending shine on them.
Receive their souls, O holy ones;
Present them now to God Most High.
I know that my Redeemer lives,
The last day I shall rise again.
Receive their souls, O holy ones;
Present them now to God Most High

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