(This post was submitted by parishioner Doreen Salse. Her father, Lino Salse, died 4 years ago today.)
Just outside the Social Hall at here at St. Edward’s, there is a cart with books to borrow. A couple of years ago I found a great one called “Quotable Saints” by Ronda Chervin and took it home with me. In fact, I liked it so much that I guess I am still “borrowing” it.
All the quotes in that little book are excellent and uplifting, but my favorite one is:
Be merry, really merry. The life of a true Christian should be a perpetual jubilee, a prelude to the festivals of eternity. —Théophane Vénard.
I loved the idea that the celebration of life starts during our earthly journey and need not ever end. We are already stepping steadily into eternity.
The quote reminded me of my dad who always had a quick and merry comeback. He could joke about almost everything, including his long and lingering ill health. Once, when I visited him in California, he teased my mother until she finally said, “Keep it up! If you don’t stop I’m going to pack you up and send you to New York with your daughter.” He said, “Oh-Oh! I suppose my other choice is to remain here with you, heavily sedated.”
My father had a collection of one-liners gleaned from old-time comedians that made us roll our eyes and groan.
He died 4 years ago and I miss him every day. But not long ago he put in a special appearance, to tell me that there was truth to what Vénard referred to about the festivals of eternity; basically -“you ain’t seen nothing yet!”
Recently I dreamed that I was in the house where I grew up. I heard a man and a woman laughing – big, happy, belly laughter, the kind that comes from pure joy. I followed the sound to the front bedroom, opened the door and saw my dad sitting, propped up against a bunch of pillows, on the bed. My mother, young and beautiful, sat up next to him and they smiled when they saw me.
“There you are!” I said and pointed my finger. “Where have you been? I’ve been looking everywhere for you!”
“Me? I just flew in from Chicago. And boy, are my arms tired!”
“Ok, Henny Youngman!” I said, “You always did like the corniest jokes”.
He grinned and said, “Sure. Take my wife. Please”.
Relieved, I thought he never really left me and most likely he’d been hiding from me all these years. After a long look at that face I loved since the first time I saw it, I realized he was finally free of worry and pain.
“Pop! You look like you are happy, really happy.”
He said, “I am. I sure am”.
I believe we are visited in our dreams by those whom we have loved and lost. We glimpse them for a tiny hopeful moment, and if we are lucky, they leave us with a peek of the incredible happiness that awaits us.
My dad’s merry nature was a gift and an example to those of us lucky enough to have been pulled into his orbit. I’d like to think that now he is making the angels laugh, and maybe roll their eyes when my father says things like, “I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up – they have no holidays.”