In recent days my family has experienced an important and intense moment, the death of his grandfather. Important and intense, in fact, not ugly. I can’t say that it was a bad moment, in fact, I can say that it was a good time. And I say this with all due respect for the pain that each of us has experienced.
Yes, dying can be beautiful, not because one does not suffer, but because beyond suffering one can grasp precious gifts, death is never the last word on man, and in this family experience we have touched it with our hands.
We already knew this, for example the story of Chiara Corbella Petrillo had taught us, but to see that even the death of an 89-year-old man, who for some might seem obvious, has something to teach, it really makes me say that “the Kingdom of God is in our midst “, in the ordinariness of life lived with faith.
His grandfather lived his life exactly like that, an honest man in his job as bank manager, a loving husband and father, wise, of few words, but always just and wise, a gentle man who lived to the fullest his life, and that he lived his old age in peace and trust.
With this same peace he faced the last days, where he did not stop smiling in the moments in which he was conscious and met the face of someone next to him, and to thank him. His last words, in the last hours of agony, where he struggled to breathe, was no longer able to eat or drink, without dentures, with a great effort of breath and the whole body were: “Thank you very much “To his sister, who was moistening his lips for a little comfort. How true it is that if we learn to thank, we will do so even in the moment of the most difficult trial, death.
In those hours, fortunately few, I really thought that he was united to Christ in the suffering of the Cross. The last thing he “ate” was in fact a crumb of consecrated host, less than 24 hours before his death: united in suffering for a short distance, to then be united in eternal bliss.
Since the health of the grandfather plummeted within a few days, the sensation was precisely that of having lived a small Easter triduum in the intimacy of our family, from Friday to Sunday, the day on which the grandfather ascended to Father.
Another detail that struck me was that, at one point, we were in five women around him, in his elegant bedroom, and I thought it wasn’t a case. His wife, his daughter, his sister, two grandchildren: the women of the family guarded the situation, consoled, cared for, watched, caressed, sang, prayed. And I’m not saying that family men didn’t do anything, but it was clear to me that the female ministry is really different from the male one. Being near life and near death is feminine, a woman’s caress is different from a man’s caress, a woman’s tenderness is different from the tenderness of which a man is capable. In the Gospel, too, it is women who stop suffering and try to preserve dignity, like Veronica with her gesture left to history, it is women who stand by the cross, it is women who then worry about the body. of Jesus, the next morning.
And as on Sunday morning Maddalena is announced the Resurrection, so also in the Sunday liturgy in which the grandfather ascended to Heaven, the theme was the resurrection. And if the Word speaks to us in concrete life in the here and now, it is impossible not to read it as the certainty that the grandfather was welcomed in the arms of God, in which he always believed.
On the day of the funeral, what a joy it was to discover that the liturgy of the day spoke of the grandfather: in the first reading from the book of Wisdom The souls of the just, instead, are in the hands of God, no torment will touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to die, their end was considered a disaster, their departure from us a ruin, but they are in peace.
And in the Gospel: So you too, when you have done all that you have been ordered to do, say: “We are useless servants. We did everything we needed to do.
That’s how grandfather died, in the peace of having done everything he “had” to do, in the consolation of having accomplished his mission on this earth, in the joy of having his beloved family next to him.
And the gift of his existence has not ceased with death, because he has left us his spiritual testament, where he thanks for the gifts he has received in life, blesses everyone and recommends “the only important thing in this life and in the future , faith”.
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