Many years ago, when I was still a young woman living at home, I asked my father, who did not belong to the Church, why he did not become a Catholic. He said with a sweet smile on his face, “Maybe someday when I die.” From that moment on, I started saying a daily Hail Mary for his conversion.
About 25 years later, my husband and I with our six children, were living in Tempe, Arizona. One morning, about the middle of August, we were awakened by the telephone ringing. It was my mother calling with the sad news that my father had just passed away. She was at the hospital with their parish priest. My father had woken up that morning with a terrible pain and told my mother to call the paramedics and then said, “Call the priest.” He died minutes later.
I asked to speak with the priest. I told him as quickly as I could that my father was not a Catholic, but had been baptized. I then told him that he supported the Church for many years and as of late, was attending Mass with my mother. I then asked him if he could give my father conditional last rites. He said, “Conditional, yes.” It did not occur to me then, but later wondered, “what is conditional last rites?” I had never heard of it. Years later, it was explained to me by a priest that we don’t know how long the soul resides in the body after a person dies. Not having heard this term before, how could I have asked the priest to give my father conditional last rites? I wondered, “was it with the aid of the Holy Spirit?”
Later that same August day, I flew to Novato, California to be with my mother, sister, and brother and families. The reason my mother had called me, I later found out, was that they were all on vacation. Could this have just been a coincidence?
A couple of days later, when my father’s body was prepared for viewing, our immediate family went to the mortuary. Even though Novato is in northern California, August can be hot and muggy. It was just that kind of day. Unfortunately, my mother did not have air conditioning in her home and returning home from the visitation, the home was hot as an oven. I had just stepped inside the door and had walked but a few feet, when the room suddenly turned icy cold. I did not mention this to anyone as no one else seemed to feel it.
Again, I wondered, what kind of sign this was. Could it have been the Holy Spirit telling me that all is well? Or could it have been my father, in his quiet way saying, “Thank you,”?BACK TO LIST