It has been about two weeks since I received the news that my dad had passed away.
If you have a death in the immediate family, New York State Department of Corrections will take you to the funeral service provided it is within the borders of New York State. As the celebration of my dad's life took place in Pennsylvania, this excluded my attendance.
There was the semi-annual REC event held last weekend in the facility gym. Ironically the last time I visited with my parents was in the gym at a family event in June of 2007.
REC (Residents Encounter Christ) is a three day retreat sponsored by the Albany Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. They sponsor REC's in about seven facilities in this area. This was the 42nd one held at my location.
On Saturday evening we have a hootenanny which includes an additional 15 or so volunteers joining the 15 already leading the weekend. There is a lot of upbeat signing and a talk given by one of the volunteers about finding peace.
After the talk, I had the opportunity to dedicate and sing a hymn to my dad. I briefly shared with my fellow inmates and the volunteers that I was celebrating Dad's life and that by default they were all being included in the celebration. I mentioned how the last time I saw my father was in the gym and that my dad would have certainly enjoyed the evening with all the singing and inspirational talk.
The song was "I Am the Bread of Life" by Suzanne Toolan, SM. Let me sing it for you. Oops that will not work.
It is originally published by G.I.A. Publications and I know it is in the ELCA "Evangelical Lutheran Worship", hymn # 485 if anyone cares to look up the music.
The words follow:Refrain: And I will raise you up, and I will raise you up and I will raise you up on the last day,
l. I am the Bread of Life, You who come to me shall not hunger, and who believe in me shall not thirst, no one can come to me unless the Father beckons.
2. The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world and if you eat of this bread, you shall live forever, you shall live forever.
3. Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink of his blood, and drink of his blood, you shall not have life within.
4. I am the Resurrection, I am the life. If you believe in me, even though you die, you shall live forever.
5. Yes, Lord I believe that you are the Christ, The Son of God, who have come into the world.
Sunday Father John, a Franciscan, dedicated the mass to my dad.
So off you go Dad. I am proud to be your son, although I am certainly not proud of ending up in prison. I am sorry that due to my own actions I was not around to be with you and Mom as I should have been. Your constant love and support was and will be with me always and for that I am very grateful and lucky.
With the nice long phone call with Mom, the celebration at REC, the dedication of the mass today, and this blog post, I have been able to share my dad with the rest of the world, both near and far. Given the limitations I am at peace.
I LOVE YOU DAD!