Sunday, April 27, 2008

A time of grace

My newsletter subscribers know that my mother, Ruth Roback, died last Saturday. Many of my subscribers sent me kind notes, assuring me of their prayers. I want all of you to know that your prayers mean a great deal to me. I also want you to know that my mother's funeral proved to be a time of grace for my family, as the time of death so often can be.
All my surviving brothers and sisters came home to Ohio for the funeral. My brother Jerry came in from Tacoma; my sister Joan came in from Denver. And I of course, came in from San Diego with my husband and two children. My brother John and sister Judy both live in the Columbus area. Because I am the only practicing Catholic of my generation, I had the privelege of making the arrangements for the viewing and the funeral Mass. I had some trepidation about it: fear that the priest might say something stupid that would offend the family and drive people even farther away from the Church than they already are.
In the event, I had nothing to worry about. The parish priest at our home parish, St. Michael's, was very kind, but he had come to the parish long after most of my family had gone. My parents had been founding members of St. Michael's, but my mom had been a lapsed Catholic for many years, and had been in a nursing home for the last few years. I requested that Msgr. John Cody come to St. Michael's for the funeral. Msgr. Cody went to grade school at St. Mikes, and high school, with my two older brothers. Fr. Cody had come into my mind a few years ago, when he showed up at the funeral for my oldest brother.
Msgr. Cody gave the homily at my mom's funeral. It was a wonderful tribute, not only to my mother, but also to my dad, who died in 1993. All of my siblings were very touched by his memories of our parents, and his obvious affection for them. We all agreed that it was beautiful to hear him refer to "Jim and Ruth," as we have not heard them spoken of together in a long while. And besides, Jim and Ruth are now reunited.
I thank all of you for your prayers. I imagine they had something to do with all this.

1 comment:

Sheila said...


Thanks for sharing that. I know that tears can be both painful and healing, and I hope you have experienced a little bit of both.

C.S. Lewis once wrote that true joy had very little to do with happiness except for this--once you felt it, you knew you wanted to feel it again. Joy, really, is contact with God. With knowing that you're not alone. And ironically, it's often in grief that we most encounter it.

So I hope that you had some joyful grief, if that makes any sense. And I hope that soon you will be able to think of both "Jim and Ruth" with smiles, and not just with tears.