Friday, October 23, 2009

My Father is My Brother

I drove to northern Arizona and picked up my parents yesterday afternoon to bring them down to Phoenix for my Father's heart procedure today.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know something about my Dad from things I wrote in previous posts.

My Dad is an "old school man". When he says anything about anything that most modern emo people would consider worthy of hours of pithy discussion over a venti frappucino carmel latte you have to listen carefully then read between the lines and then fill in the blanks. As we drove down the mountain roads he made small talk about football, basketball, hockey, the weather. Interspersed between his running commentary on the mundane he talked about his surgery.

"I really don't want to have this done but I figure I should at least find out what's going on" means: "I know this might be it."

At one point I told him Fr. Damian (our priest who he met at my ordination to the subdiaconate, and the first time he has been in a Church in probably 65 years or more) said he would be willing to come to the hospital and say some prayers before he went in for surgery... if he wanted him to. Dad said, "I'd really like that, thank you." Translation: "I know I could die on the table. I'm scared **itless."

We went to the hospital this morning and they took Dad in to prep him. Fr. Damian came and talked with my Mom (who raised us kids Roman Catholic alone) for a few minutes then we all went in together for the short visiting time they allow before the surgery. After a few minutes I said, "We'll go to the waiting room for a while and leave you guys alone for a bit." We left Fr. Damian and Dad alone in the room and waited. About twenty minutes later Fr. Damian came out and said, "Steven, your dad wants to be baptized and he wants you to be there."

I went into the pre-op room and assisted Fr. Damian with the baptism of my Father who 40 years before made fun of me mercilessly about my faith. When we finished the baptism my Dad looked at me and said, "I love you." I said, "I love you too, Dad...I've been praying for this for a long time." He had tears in his eyes. He said, "I know."

We brought my wife and daughter and Mom into his room. Fr. Damian, the Wifie, daughter and I sang "As Many as Have Been Baptized into Christ" for him.

The procedure went well. As they wheeled my Dad to post-op he said, "It looks good." and I said, "Yeah...now you'll have to make good on all those deals you made with God." He grinned. I'll drive them home tomorrow morning. In about 3 weeks I'll bring them down to Phoenix again when our Bishop visits. My Dad and Mom will be chrismated together then.

Thanks to all for your prayers. They have been answered beyond measure.

27 comments:

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

S-P,
what a wondrous blessing for such an amazing thing to happen !

Glory to God for His mercy and grace to us all.

Each time I prayed that all would go well with your Father, I never dreamt that this would happen...

Thanks be that the procedure went smoothly and well :-)

elizabeth said...

Thanks be to God. Keep us posted.

-C said...

What a touching and wonderful account...what blessings.

Glory to God.

James the Thickheaded said...

Wow.

I am moved. Glory to God who answers prayers in his way and his time. There is much here and there that is not said. And your dad has said so much by this. What a blessing and great mercy.

Many years to your dad.

Larry Anderson said...

S-P,

What an amazing story. Glory to God! Many years to your dad!

Andrew Seraphim said...

Linked here from Little Shavings from my Ration of Light. Tears. Glory to God. Thanks for sharing this.

Clint said...

Tears in my eyes as I type. (So expect mispellings and forgive).

I feel blessed to even read this story.

Many years to your Father and Mother!

Audra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rdr. David said...

All I could say as I read this was, "Oh...oh...oh! Hallelujah!"

God be praised!

Philippa said...

Wish you could see my smile.

Sincere hugs.

Anonymous said...

Wow Steve,

I'm speechless! (Well almost) Things rarely work out that way. Is he going to church with you on Sunday?

Oregon

Anonymous said...

Sorry Steve, missed the sentence about Chrismation in three weeks. A technical question, will their Chrismation be different than the one of someone who had been baptized into another Christian denomination?

OR

s-p said...

Hi Oregon, (and all) first, thank you for the prayers etc. It is a tough position to be in when you have a formerly agnostic, even hostile to Christianity parent who is facing death and the possibility of "God" and you are the only tangible connection he has had to anything that looks like "faith". I was surprised years ago when he asked me to pray for him before his bypass operation. After that he never trash talked Christianity in general (except for televangelists etc.) again in my presence. This time the heart surgeon told him there would be no more bypasses, this was exploratory to find out basically how long he has. The last angio he had caused a heart attack on the table and that's why they had to crack him open and do the bypasses. So yeah, he was scared. My mother was REALLY surprised he actually wanted the pastoral visit from Fr. Damian. I guess I wasn't, the reality is its easier to accept last rites and discuss your end with a familiar stranger than your son. All I could do is offer him what I have, even if they are straws and he grasped at them, I saw my Father possibly wheeled to his death in peace.

Anyway, regarding the chrismation ceremony, it is the same for everyone, OR, whether it is done after an Orthodox baptism or as a rite of reception for those properly baptized in a former Christian faith.

orrologion said...

Glory to God. You have been given what so many of us pray for - what so many of us despair over in much quicker fashion.

Christina said...

This is beautiful! I have tears streaming over this. Glory to God! And it gives me hope for some people in my life who I have been praying for...

John said...

This is wonderful, wonderful news. I am so happy for your entire family. There are a number of lessons to be learned from this, but the one I am holding onto right now is simply to persevere in prayer. Thanks for sharing--this has made my week!

orrologion said...

If you were the only other person there besides the priest and your father, would that make your father your (godson), as well as your brother. I cried reading this. Thank you. I'm glad you took the time to go fishing with him more.

Kirk said...

"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."

Glory to God!

Mimi said...

Wow. My jaw dropped. Many Years!

November In My Soul said...

Words fail me. Amen, amen amen. What a wonderful change in all your lives. In moments like these we realize the true joy of living by faith. Such a blessing.

Fr. Sean Lotz said...

What a beautiful thing! May God bless all involved, and bring your father to the glories of his Kingdom. And a special blessing for his priest, who was right where God wanted him to be, doing his job.

cdgilpin said...

WOW, Steve- That is terrific! Blessings to you and your family. Any words I could give pale in comparison to the magnificence you have described.

The Ochlophobist said...

Amen.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

This just brings tears to my eyes.

Glory to God, glory to God, glory, glory, glory to God!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the answer Steve. One more question, Would someone walking into your mission church and asking to be baptized right then be accomidated if they were not facing death? Does charisimation always come first if near death is not a factor.

Oregon

Sophocles said...

Wow, s-p, Glory to God! How wonderful.

Moo! said...

Oregon, The very short answer is "no"...in general someone couldn't walk in and request an immediate baptism. Regarding chrismation, it always follows baptism. My mother will be chrismated because she was baptized as a Roman Catholic. How to recieve Christians from other traditions (by baptism, chrismation or confession of faith)is a pastoral decision by the Bishop. Please email me off the blog for a more in depth discussion of reception into the Church if you don't mind. stevenpaul4@cox.net