I've read some Catholic blogs lately about dying. I know that sounds depressing, but it really wasn't. They were written by young Catholic wives and mothers who, if things go the way they should and normally do go, will be around for a long, long time. But they pointed out, in their essays on the subject, that like it or not, no matter how young, fit, and healthy we are, we are ALL in the process of dying. That is the end game for every human being; we all know that we will ultimately die (and no amount of exercise or Botox can keep this from happening). The only thing we don't know is the hour or the day.
Just when I was thinking of writing a blog post filled with instructions for the type of wake and funeral I'd like my family to plan for me (no eulogies, please!), as these girls did here, here, and here, we got the sad news that my husband's uncle (the husband of his late father's sister) died yesterday morning. He was in his late 80's and he'd been ill for a while, so it wasn't totally unexpected. But it was totally devastating for his family nonetheless.
This uncle was a character if there ever was one. A father of six (as well as a grandfather and great-grandfather), he had a sometimes biting sense of humor. He liked to shoo us off his property when he deemed it time for a family gathering to end, with a growl that would frighten away a Grizzly bear (or a shy woman like me who married into my husband's gregarious clan). His sometimes crotchety demeanor, however, couldn't quite hide the softness of his heart, for he was a family man all the way. The more I was able to see his soft side, the more I loved that guy. I'll never forget how excited he was to show me the elaborate doll house he'd spent hours and hours putting together for his granddaughter. It is only fitting that he was blessed to have his family gathered around him at the end, when he passed from this short life into eternal life.
My husband and I get nervous about canonizing people when they die, knowing that many of us will have to spend a bit--and maybe even a lot--of time in Purgatory before we see the face of God. (Note to my family: Pray for my soul when I am gone! Have lots of Masses said for the repose of my soul! Don't ever assume that I've made it to the finish line when I take my last breath--I think I'm going to need lots and lots and lots of prayers!)
So I won't canonize my husband's uncle here. But he was a good Catholic, a devoted husband, a man who took care of his brood and lived his life for them. I like his odds, but I will pray for him anyway.