"Never Quit, Never give up and never lose your faith. It's the one reason you walk this earth. Because God chose this time for you. So make the most of it"
William J Green, Jr. (1938 - 2001)
This was my fathers motto, his personal mission statement. It is a legacy that I hope I have passed on to my children, one of unwavering faith, courage and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds.
On May 24, 2001, God brought my father home to Him. I will never forget that day as long as I live. There are parts of it that play in my head sometimes in slow motion. Watching my mother hold his hand with her rosary wrapped around it. The whispering with the nurses and doctors who tried valiantly to prepare my family for an outcome we weren't ready to face.
I remember whispering in his ear the name of each of his children and grandchildren and how we loved him so much, but that God needed him home and that was OK. Tears trickled down his face, for he could no longer talk, but he knew he was loved. I remember praying the prayer to St. Joseph, who was his namesake and to whom he had an unfailing devotion.
I remember his last breath and watching my mother hold him and pray his soul to God with the healing words of Our Lady's Rosary. My Dad LOVED Our Blessed lady. Whenever I was troubled or confused, he would say "Have you asked Mother Mary about it. Trust her, she will never fail you." He learned this devotion from his own parents and passed it on to his children. We now pass it on to the next generation.
For nine years my father fought against non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. His was a very rare form that he contracted through exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. On this Memorial Day weekend, I feel called to tell a little of his extraordinary story.
My father loved this country. He proudly served during the Vietnam War (yes, I will call it a war) upon the USS Higby stationed in Japan.
This is where he met and married my mother in 1965. When this newly married couple came home from Japan, they settled in Maryland and went on to raise eight children, six boys and two girls. My father practiced law for 30 years and loved every minute of it. I remember him at every football, soccer and basketball game any of us ever played. I remember the whistles at the school band concerts, when it all sounded like screeching. I also remember his strength, especially the strength of his hands.
He had big hands, workers hands. They were callused and worn, but so tender when holding a newborn or a young child's hand. I will never forget walking down the aisle at my wedding, with my fathers hands in mine, trying to hold them steady. His reassuring words that everything was going to be OK once I took Jerry's hands. I remember those hands holding Courtney's while she underwent yet another spinal tap or other medical test or how they would squeeze my shoulder during Mass, giving me comfort that God was in control and to let go. I miss his hands...
In 1992, when I was seven months pregnant with Courtney, I got a call one evening from my dad. He needed to tell me something and I had to stay calm. He didn't want anything to happen to the baby. He had cancer. My father was an Irishman through and through and he wasn't going anywhere without a fight. So the family circled the wagons and he and my mother began the long war against this insidious decease.
We watched them live their marriage vows of "in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad" each and every day. We prayed for a miracle and received so many, but not the one of our hearts. We trusted that God knew what was needed even we we did not and He was there providing it every step of the way.
During this time, Courtney was diagnosed with a seizure disorder and we battled each day for her life to be the best it could be. My father went through so much as did his granddaughter. They shared many an afternoon, curled up with each other in my Dad easy chair, seeking comfort from the pain. Neither one of them ever complained.
My father was not a perfect man, but he was a man of faith and action. He learned from his mistakes and never gave up in anything he felt he was called to do. He smiled through so much pain, and always had a joke ready. He loved God, his wife and his children. He loved his country and today I prayed at his grave site in Arlington National Cemetery. I prayed that he was resting in the bosom of Our Lord. I prayed that his legacy of faith and perseverance stayed strong in my heart and the hearts of my children.
I love you Daddy and oh how I miss you. I promise to never quit, never give up and never lose my faith, for that is all that truly matters. Thank you for teaching me so well. I will never forget!
May God bless those men and women who freely serve this great nation and their families who stand with them!
Happy Memorial Day and God Bless America!
(a most grateful daughter)
Labels: Joy in the Journey, We Can Do This!!