The next few hours were extraordinary. I sat at his bedside holding his hands. We prayed and talked. I read some Scripture to him. Then he said another amazing thing to me, ‘Go get the girls.’ He wanted me to make sure that my sisters knew the truth too. Only one of them was still Catholic and he was concerned in particular about how she might take the news. He asked me to pray for them but I told him that now he could pray for them himself, too. He was delighted. I won’t pretend that his last night was completely painless or pleasant. The nurses did have to attend to him once or twice and give him more morphine, but his manner and his readiness to face death had changed.
One other thing that had changed was his dependence on his old religion. The following morning a nurse called to his room offering ‘communion’. And for the first time during his time in that hospital (that I know of) he politely refused, saying he didn’t need it any more! The nurse was more that slightly perplexed as she left. Later that afternoon my dad died. His soul left his body and he went immediately into the presence of the Lord in Heaven! Just hours before he died, dad managed to share his good news with one of my sisters and one of my nieces. The word quickly got around to the rest of the family. To say that there was a problem would be to understate things. However, I must add at this point, that of my five sisters only one was still a practicing Catholic, so the difficulties were more of a practical nature. One of the girls asked, ‘Where is he going to be buried then?’ I quickly explained that where he would be buried wasn’t a problem, much to the girls’ relief.