My Father's Story Part 2
June 14, 2020
I will always remember the day my father left for the Montfort Residence, on that fateful January morning of 2019. The image of him sitting in the car, looking so small and forlorn is indelibly inscribed in my memory. It was very jarring and heartbreaking to both Marcel and I. One moment, he was in his home, master over all and in the next, he was completely stripped of everything. Even though my father didn't know it, Marcel and I intuited that the Lord was working His own good purposes for my father's greater good.
I went to visit him pretty much every day his first month there. I knew my father felt alone, lost and bewildered and that the adjustment for him was really very difficult. Marcel often came to visit with me and we would go every Sunday after mass, taking care of him and spending many hours with him. Since my father had not really wanted to go there, he could often be "difficult" so Marcel and I tried to help the workers as much as we could. We can both say that we have helped to dress and undress him, discretely help change his diapers, shave him, clean his clothes and shoes, go for walks with him at first and then take him for rides in his wheelchair, sing with him and at the end, help feed him. There was a grace to do it and we were happy to be able to do this for my father.
We also made many friends there; residents, family members and some of the staff. So many of them were believers and very devout Catholics with much faith. We would often talk about the Lord and would sometimes offer to pray with them and the Lord in His goodness granted us a few physical healings. Mass was celebrated twice a week by a beautiful African priest. My father would refuse to go at first, but near the end he would let us take him. Every time we went in, Marcel and I would pray over my dad, very often in tongues and then we would bless him before leaving.
Parkinson's can often affect speech so even though my father's thinking might have been straight, the words that came out often didn't make any sense. At first, my father was well aware of this but there came a time when his speech became pretty much unintelligible. We would try to be present to him, listen to him and make him feel that we cared.
Throughout all this time, we could see my dad failing slowly but surely. We knew his time on earth was running out, but we didn't know how long he would last. In a residence of that kind, you see many people come and go. You go in one day and come back a few days later only to find out the person you have befriended has passed away. Suddenly, there is a new person sitting in their chair at the dining room table. There were even a few times when we were helping out in the dining area only to see men rolling out a dead person in a body bag! That was very unpleasant, not only for us but for those poor residents.
By the time September came around, we decided to do a novena to St. Thérèse for many personal intentions, but also to obtain the grace of a few lucid moments with my father. The Lord was so very quick to respond.
The first thing He did was to grant me an incredibly beautiful dream, the actual morning of the first day, just a few hours before waking up. I entitled my dream "Dad's Smiling!":
We were on the shoulder of a highway, standing next to a car. There was at least dad and I, perhaps another person (it might have been my mother) and also another man that we were talking to. Maybe he was a policeman who'd stopped to see how we were doing.
Dad and I and this man were standing by the trunk of the car and it was wide open just as the doors also were. Then I had one of those close-up scenes. I turned towards my dad and looked right into his face. It was completely tanned. But even though dad was obviously still his present age, he was smiling widely and radiantly and he looked younger. He looked healthy, pleasant, happy and very lucid.
He then turned and started to walk away from me and I saw the rest of his body. He had on an odd kind of white top. Maybe there were many layers and they were long. Then I saw he didn't have any pants on but only underwear or a kind of swimsuit. His legs were very tanned, healthy and young looking. He had muscle! In the dream, I was amazed! Truly amazed! I marvelled at it!
When I woke up, I knew something momentous had happened or was going to happen in my father's soul. The dream was very clear on that. He would come to know the Lord because when someone appears very tanned in a dream, it means that the person has spent time in the sun, which is a word-play on Jesus, the "Son". My father's legs were also tanned and muscular, which meant that his "walk in the Lord" would be strengthened. His attire pointed to a "stripping" and the underwear to a "transparency" before the Lord. The white top meant that he was clothed in the purity and righteousness of God. The policeman represented the "authority of heaven and also angelic help from heaven". But it's really our friend Chris Keyes who had come over for a visit who opened us up to the possibility of the dream also pointing to my father's upcoming death. You see, the car was stopped on the highway, which would be the "highway of life". All the doors were open and the back trunk was empty, pointing to the reality that we all leave this earth with nothing and that each one of us reaches a certain point on this highway of life where we must leave the vehicle the Lord has given us for our mission here on earth. And finally, my father's radiant face pointed to the fact that he had finally found The Answer! His turning to walk away meant that death is something that we ultimately experience alone. Marcel and I were so thankful to the Lord for His delicacy in preparing us, but also for His reassurance that all would be well for my father. The dream was His promise.
The second grace that I received was on the last day of the novena when I went in to see my father. I would always be there on time to help him with his lunch. I sat down beside him on a stool, ready to assist him if he needed it and then I heard words coming out of his mouth that were clear as a bell. He uttered two sentences, but they were very lucid. He said (in French):
"You are my daughter.
I love you very much".
Just as quickly, the moment was over and he fell back into gibberish. I was stunned and there was something in me that wondered for a split second, if I had heard him right. But I had. And I was so deeply touched; first by my father's precious words and also by my heavenly Father's kindness and graciousness in granting me my wish.
Since our first novena to St. Thérèse had been so grace-filled, we decided to do another one later in the month. It was near the end of October when I went in to see my dad again. We were in his room and I had just finished shaving him. Once again, he spoke very clearly and in a very lucid manner. He said:
"I am going away".
"Please keep me in your heart".
"This is all so very difficult."
My father's anguish was very real and very deep. He was truly unhappy where he was, although by that time, he had become much more resigned to his fate. The words he spoke were on a Friday and when I came back on Monday, he had changed so much. It's like he had indeed "gone away". He could no longer feed himself and was dropping everything. He was no longer the same man.
I believe his words to me meant two things; that he would be going away in the sense of his body further breaking down, but also that his death was approaching. He had wanted to prepare me for something he knew intuitively was coming.
Then the Lord granted us another grace to prepare us for what lay ahead. Marcel and I made friends with a very lovely 40 year-old man named Ricki who has cerebral palsy. Loved by everyone, he's pretty much always in a good mood and loves to chat and flirt with the ladies. He truly cares about others and if he ever saw a worried frown on my forehead he would say, "Linda, is everything okay?" It was late in November this time and once again I'd gone to see my father. Ricki wanted to chat and at one point he just looked me straight in the eyes and said:
Marcel with Ricki
"Your dad won't be here much longer. You should really try to come in to see him more often."
I gather he hadn't realized I was already going in 2 to 3 times a week and staying several hours, but it made me even more deliberate in my attempts to go in. Ricki didn't know it, but I believe it was the Lord who inspired this beautiful soul to speak His prophetic word into our lives, once again to prepare us for what lay ahead and to spur us on to trust and believe in my father's salvation.