Saturday, July 16, 2011

Uncle Vernon

Sunday, July 10, 2011, my Uncle Vernon passed away.  He was 73 years old and my moms only sibling.  The last time I saw him "healthy" was May 1st - Sweet Potatoes First Communion.  On May 2nd, Uncle Vern drove himself to the hospital with a sharp pain in his side.  He was diagnosed with liver cancer.  On July 22nd, he had surgery where it was discovered that it was advanced.  The family was told he had maybe 6 months to live.  Uncle Vernon fought a courageous battle for 6 weeks. 

Growing up, our two families gathered for almost all holidays and other special occasions.  It's kind of funny, but whenever they would arrive at our home, whoever saw them pull up would call out, "Vernon's are here," instead of calling them by their family name.  Uncle Vern and my dad disagreed politically, which made for some pretty lively family get-togethers.  Unlce Vern came for a surprise visit to my parent's home, the day before my dad passed away.  They were talking about horseradish pickles that my dad loved.  Uncle Vern went and picked some up and delivered them before heading back home.  The next morning, after receiving the news that my dad had passed, Uncle Vern drove to my mom's and supported us in so many ways.

On Saturday, July 9th, we were called with the news that Uncle Vernon wasn't doing so well.  My mom, sisters and I went to see him.  As we entered his room, I went to his bedside.  He was sleeping and I bent down to give him a kiss.  He opened his eyes, looked at me and asked, "did I pass (away)?"  I said, "no Uncle Vernon.  You're still here with us."  We stayed with him until midnight and then headed home.  He passed at 6 a.m.

His funeral was small and intimate - mostly family.  I love all of the symbolism of a Catholic funeral Mass.  It began with Uncle Vern's kids covering the casket with the pall - a symbol of the white Baptismal garment given to Uncle Vernon at his own Baptism.  I love the incense - a symbol of God's presence (Biblically, whenever incense was used, God was present) and a symbol of our prayers rising up to the Heavens.  I love the Final Commendation which is a sending or farewell song that is sung.  The one used at Uncle Vernon's funeral was this:
"Quietly, peacefully may He rest in you.  Quietly, peacefully bring Him home to you.  Go in peace as the saints lead you on your way.  May the angels take you home to God's dwelling place.  God has come to carry you to your dwelling place.  Do not fear, Christ bids you come; meet God face to face.  Quietly, peacefully may He rest in you.  Quietly, peacefully bring him home to you."
As much as our hearts ache and our tears flow, there is also a sense of peace that only comes (I believe) through faith.  I find solace in hoping that he is reunited with his wife, his mother, and my dad.  It is comforting to to know that he is no longer suffering.  I am grateful that we have another "saint" who will pray for our family.  "Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord.  And my your perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace.  Amen." 

1 comment:

  1. Sorry sorry to hear this! I always liked visiting with him when I would tag along to family things.