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The way I deal with death

Bill FoxBy Bill Fox/Columnist

Less than two years ago, my younger brother, Brian, and then my Dad both passed away within a month of each other.  I cannot explain it, but to this point, I have not shed a tear over their deaths.  I miss them both dearly and think of them every morning.  My dad had been in Extendicare in Oshawa for over five months, and I would visit him daily.  He was 94 and he was ready to be with my Mom who passed away five years earlier.  Dad still had his great sense of humour and always had a rosary either in his hand or around his neck.  My brother who lived near San Francisco was 65 and had been battling cancer for almost two years.  My brother was single and had some dear friends but no family in the States.  He was not at all religious, but I would say he was very spiritual, always loving and appreciating nature.  One of his dear friends sent me a note saying that Heaven has another warrior.  I thought that this was very appropriate for Brian.

I know some may think I am callous, having not had a good cry but I daily recite the following memorial card prayer for my brother, which has helped;

As long as hearts remember, as long as hearts still care

We never part with those we love; they’re with us everywhere.

So many of our precious memories of those we hold so dear,

Bring peace and comfort to us now, and keep our loved one near.


As well as that little prayer I also recite from my Mom and Dad’s memorial card the following;

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there, I did not die.


Older retired folks, like myself, have more of an opportunity each morning to take some time to reflect on the day ahead.  Part of my daily routine, as I drink my coffee, is to read from two daily reflection books and also two little reflection pamphlets, one being a Novena to St. Martin de Porres.  As bookmarks I use those memorial cards, and recite them every morning.

You may find this really weird, but don’t knock it until you try the following.  In my mind every morning, while praying and meditating, I try to visualize my Mom and Dad and brother sitting across from me on a couch.  On two chairs on either side of the couch, I visualize my grandparents from Scotland.  On the loveseat beside me, I imagine my mother and father-in-law.

Each and every day, even when we are away, I ask each of them to give all our family members, health, happiness, and holiness (or spirituality), with a sprinkle of hilarity.  I could start a 4H club, if the idea had not already been taken.

I’ve been blessed with good genes I believe.  My Grandpa when he was here for a visit from Scotland would go to mass with us, and caught the attention of everyone sitting near him.  Along with the priest, he would recite all the prayers of the mass, much to the dismay of some of those around us.  He too was very spiritual, and also daily said his rosary.  My father-in-law, like my Dad, into their 80s, every day would watch mass on TV.

I recently received an email from Scarborough Foreign Missionary Priest, Father Terry Gallagher who closed with this; “may all our own dear ancestors and departed loved ones continue to inspire us and surround us for as the Irish elders say: “There is just a wee tiny space between us and them”!

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