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A Priest’s Life

called his name and shook him, but Dad would not wake up. I woke Mom and she, too, tried to rouse him, but to no avail. Out of desperation, we called my Aunt Marie, who arrived shortly thereafter, but she could not wake Dad either. At long last we called the ambulance.

When the paramedics arrived, my brother and I were sent out- side to wait with the neighbors who had come down to our house. If I remember the morning correctly, it was snowing lightly but was not chilly. The wait outside seemed like an eternity.

Finally, one of the paramedics stepped outside. He said not a word, but I can still see the look on his face as he sadly shook his head as though to say, “No, he did not make it; he is dead.” The look on his face said it all. As soon as he stepped through the door, I knew, and I cried my heart out. I could do nothing but cry for the next two or three days. I was not quite eight years old.

I was, quite naturally, devastated. For a long time, I con- stantly asked God, “Why did you do this? How could you let this happen? What did I do to deserve this?” I simply could not understand.

I am not quite sure how I survived that experience, but I did. My brother and I moved in with Dad’s sister, her husband, and their four children. Let me tell you, it was a houseful, especially when you count the dogs, cat, hamsters, and bird!

Mom was placed in a nursing home, and we visited her every week after Mass and other times throughout the week when we could. As time progressed, she grew steadily worse. On January 18, 1988, I was building yet another bigger and better Lego castle with my cousins when the telephone rang. My aunt then told me the pur- pose of the call: Mom had just died. I was not quite ten years old.

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