One week ago my father Lowell "Mickey" Cain passed from this mortal earth into immortality, having completed his 91 1/2 year journey in this vale of tears. The picture to the left was taken on his 90th birthday so, as you can see, he aged gracefully and that smile you see was his trademark. There was no pretense about my dad, he accepted whatever God sent his way and was still happy. Very little fazed him. He passed away very peacefully on Wednesday afternoon, May 23, in his Minneapolis home with his second oldest son Patrick, his only daughter Marie and granddaughter Donna present. He had been lingering and slipping for the past six months after being diagnosed with an incurable cancer that consumed his body, but not his soul. For that we are eternally grateful to Father Brendan Hughes, CMRI for administering the Sacrament of Extreme Unction to him, bringing him Holy Viaticum, and granting him a Plenary Indulgence. Dad had a special devotion to Saint Joseph and this editor is so grateful that I was able to serve at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on the main altar of Mt. St. Michael's specifically intentioned to the holy Joseph, Patron Saint of a happy death, just two hours before he passed last Wednesday.
In recent months the cancer took over, and every day we talked and prayed with him and would bless him each night over this last six weeks by phone. We take great consolation that he was wearing the blessed Brown Scapular and Green Scapular of the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as her Miraculous Medal when God called him from this earth. More evidence that prayers do not go unanswered.
Today he will be interred in the earth in Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the words will be uttered, "Remember, man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return." His body has returned to that origin, but his immortal soul is now free to know God's truths; truths my dad made sure I learned at an early age. Father Brendan's brother Father Benedict Hughes, CMRI put it all in perspective a few months ago when he reminded us that it is not our successes which God judges, but our efforts. That has to be most consoling to practically everyone of us. Dad could never really be considered a success in the eyes of the word for he would never compromise any of his business ventures or other endeavors for the expense of his soul. But he gave the effort God expected and moreso and that is all the evidence God goes by; not man's opinion, but a man's heart, and dad's heart was pure and innocent. He was happy to be naive and we only wish all would strive for such guilelessness. Allow me, if you will then, this opportunity to both pay tribute to the man who is responsible for the very vocation I continue today and to reminisce aloud, as it were, as a form of catharsis. It is also a bittersweet irony that he will be buried on his only daughter's 59th birthday.
Lowell Clinton Cain was known throughout his life simply by the informal, endearing derivative of Michael - "Mickey". This was the moniker given him by his parents well before a mouse of the same name ever came to the mind of a fellow named Walt Disney. Dad came from noble stock, and yet he never flaunted his wealth or status, but rather, like St. Francis of Assisi, chose to share. He was born on the feast of the Epiphany in 1916 in the then remote area of northern Minnesota known as Cass Lake, just east of Bemidji and the origins of Paul Bunyan lore. This northern lakes region separated the plains to the west from the iron ore region east toward Duluth. Of Irish and Scandinavian descent, dad was as much at home with the Ojibway Indians as he was with the patrons his parents entertained and lodged at their resort on the lake. The youngest of a family of six siblings, he was the last survivor of his family and the only one to convert to Catholicism.
He came to the faith after graduating from Minneapolis Central High School when he fell in love with a pretty Minneapolis West High School grad by the name of Donna Lucille Veronica Groff in 1938. After taking convert instructions, they married in 1939 and in 1942 dad enlisted in the Army after Pearl Harbor. It was during leave from the warfront that I was conceived in love and when he returned to the front in 1943 he was part of a platoon that got caught behind the lines in the famous Battle of the Bulge. Through the grace of God his life was spared, though a Nazi grenade exploded near his bunker, effecting most of his hearing and from that time on he wore a hearing aid, which, in his later years, became a blessing when he could turn it off rather than have to listen to the cacophony of what passed as music and news in modern times.
I was the first of four children, baptized in Holy Family Catholic Church in Southeast Minneapolis on April 28, 1943. This date would be most significant for on that very same day my bride Cyndi's parents Leonard Joseph Kreke and Dolores Adele Haley were married at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in South Fort Mitchell, Kentucky . To make it even more of a Godincidence, our youngest child Kellin Joseph was born 42 years later on that same day - April 28, 1985 - the feast of St. Paul of the Cross and St. Louis Marie de Montfort, whose devotion to Mary the Mother of God has been the bedrock of our devotions for so many years. To take the Godincidence even further, dad died on May 23 this year, one day short of the 17th anniversary of the death of Cyndi's dad on May 24, 1990. In fact, it was her dad's death that changed the course of our lives for the better. We had bought a beautiful four-bedroom home in Burnsville just south of the Twin Cities in 1989 (back when real estate was still reasonable) with the intention of never moving, as Cyndi said, "until our children have grandchildren." We wanted our sons to have family, to get to know their grandpa as they grew up. But God had other plans, as we have documented throughout the years here in The Daily Catholic, and we returned to San Diego to take care of Cyndi's widowed mom.
As memories are wont to fade as the years fly by, I remember little from those earliest years with my dad except accompanying my parents to Mass each Sunday, band concerts in the pavilion at Lake Calhoun, walking to the store for a cold popsicle in the summer, being pulled on a home-made sled for miles from home to Mass or to my grandmother's house in the cold winters Minnesota is famous for. One very vivid memory is my dad taking me to my first ballgame at old Miller Ball Park on Lake Street and Nicolet Avenue to see the triple A farm team of the New York Giants - the Minneapolis Millers - in the early summer of 1951 where a young rookie for the Millers was attracting a lot of attention with his speed, bat and daring defense in centerfield with his patented basket catches. He wore the number 24 and went by the name of Mays, Willie Mays. Who knew? For many years after I would hop the street car with my dad and later bike down with friends for Knothole Days where we could sit in the bleachers for two-bits. As an aside, two-bits for those brought up in the computer age, was a quarter. I say computer age for when I was about to type in the symbol for cents (¢ ) I realized it is not on my keyboard and I had to use a special macro to bring it up. That was never a problem with the old Underwood typewriter I hammered away on in 1959. Ah, progress! But dad schooled me in the old school of respect for authority, remembering the proper order of priorities: God, family and country. He was devoted to all three, but time and society's mores played upon his trust.
As a convert, my dad learned how important obedience was in the Catholic Church and he faithfully adhered to that principle to a fault. I say that with all respect for his character for he was scrupulous when the Church was, and not as much when the conciliar church was not. As an example, I can remember in the early 50's receiving a squirt gun on Christmas morning. As any 9 year-old young buckaroo is bound to do with a water pistol, aside from filling it and firing at his younger sister, who didn't test both the accuracy and speed by pointing it at the tongue? As much fun as that was, imagine my chagrin when my dad informed me that because I had swallowed water, I couldn't go to Holy Communion on one of the most solemn of days when everyone would be there. Naturally at that time and age, I didn't think as much of how I would deprive myself of our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ by not being able to receive Him body and blood, soul and divinity on His birthday no less. Rather, I feared what others would think. All kinds of humanist fears cropped up in my still-forming frenetic brain. "Mr. and Mrs. Cain's boy didn't go to communion; oh, he must really be a sinner not to go on Christmas!" That haunted me all through Mass and I learned my lesson that day. From that point on I never broke another fast. It was a subtle and memorable way to learn the reason why we fast and what sacrifice means, and the humility I suffered might have been damaging to my faith had my dad not been there to set me straight. I'll never forget his explanation and that missing Communion should prompt me to miss Christ all the more and something never to take for granted.
Dad was the last of the last great generation. He grew up during the depression, went to war for a just cause, quite possibly the last just cause America has fought for. He was never spoiled by "things". He grew up before television, before air raid shelters, before polio ever found a cure, even before ballpoint pens and before frozen foods became the rage, well before microwaves were even on the drawing board, let alone Xerox machines, computers, cell phones and all the fancy, but unnecessary gadgets available today. How can you miss something if you never experienced it. While growing up we did quite well without credit cards, air conditioning, clothes dryers and fast food, which to us was fish or cheese since it was what we ate on fast days which were every Friday and Ember Days and. to the day he died. he still observed those fasts despite the conciliar church's total abandonment of these disciplines.
Disciplines dad observed with vigilance. He set the example for me as an active member of the Holy Name Society at Assumption parish in Richfield, Minnesota, putting me through eight years of schooling under the excellent tutorship of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet before Vatican II and fostering in me, at the time, a vocation to the priesthood with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate who ran the parish. Dad's edification as a fourth degree Knight of Columbus prompted me to follow in his footsteps in my middle years, wearing the chapeau, cape and sword until I realized, with our epiphany at Lourdes in 2000, that the Knights had betrayed the ideals of its founder Fr. Michael McGivney. It was shortly after that I realized why: Because they had followed the dictates of the church of Vatican II and, whether they realize it or not, contradict the very degrees they hold and promote. But the oath of a Knight pales in comparison to the oath of a consecrated religious and it was this group of hierarchs who were indeed deceived or the deceivers. Take your pick. If the "elect would be deceived" as Jesus so clearly asserts in the Gospel of St. Matthew 24: 24, then think of those simple faithful who trusted in the very shepherds to guide them. This was my dad. Obedient to a fault.
While there were a handful of dad's generation who resisted and who we have honored over the years, the vast, vast majority went along out of obedience and that was exactly what satan was counting on. My dad, who avoided the Nazi stalags during World War II, became a victim of what we term "Stalag 62" for he marched in step with whatever his priests told him. After all, that was what he was taught in being a good Catholic. If the Pope said it, the bishops promoted it and the priests adopted it, it must be good because as he told me just a few months ago, "if everyone is following it, how can it be wrong?" A simple question that , because of both his age and indoctrination over the past 40 years, prevented him from seeing what we see so clearly. Multiply my dad by the millions and you have countless Catholics trapped in the Novus Ordo so confused by that illogical question. How can it be wrong if everyone is doing it. The sage and holy Doctor of the Church St. Augustine of Hippo had the answer: "Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it, and right is right even if no one is doing it." A simple answer to a complicated question that satan seeks to keep convoluted. He is so clever, so deceitful and the agents he is presently using have learned the devil's craft well from the top potentate of the conciliar lodge who had a large hand in fashioning the apostasy of Vatican II to the very potentates he enabled as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a misnomer in modern times if there ever was one.
My dad would often admit during periodic phone calls over the years that "it wasn't perfect, but at least he could understand it because everything was in English." I asked him several times if he could really "understand" as in comprehend what the words said and he admitted that no, but it didn't take as much effort to say. And that is what became of my dad and countless others. They became soft and pliable thanks to the conciliar church's relaxing of disciplines and mores. As the Church goes, so goes civilization and that axiom has never held truer. My mother fell victim to this very laxity once Vatican II was underway. Before she would never have even entertained the possibility of divorce, but thanks to the times she too relaxed her values in the mid-sixties and separated, then married a Presbyterian man of great wealth - Nathaniel P. Stevens, one of the heirs of the American mogul J.P. Stevens' estate. This left my dad devastated in the late sixties and yet, I stayed with him, disavowing "Steve" as the home-wrecker he was and remaining loyal to my dad. We still went to Mass every Sunday though started to falter when the changes came down.
To be blunt, I walked out. I had no idea the True Mass was still available in some pockets of the country, verily the catacombs, so to speak. Communications were not what they are today. No web, only the web of deceit that lured so many Catholics to the bad tree of Vatican II. If I, who had seven years of seminary training in a pre-Vatican II curriculum, walked out, what was my father to do? Walk out? The Catholic Church was his only lifeboat, if you will. So he stuck with it. I came back after several years of wandering as one is wont to do in one's exuberant, impatient life as a young adult who seemingly has all the answers. I found out I that what I was searching for was fruitless, but I do not regret the journey for it made me stronger in my resolve to return and be the good cradle Catholic that I was brought up to be by my parents.
It was that foundation they imparted that prompted me to return to the Church in the seventies. No, I never found the traditional Latin Mass. It had vanished, vanished from the face of the earth as far as I knew. Remember this was pre-computer era. The seventies passed and the eighties brought me my bride Cyndi. We vacillated in and out because we could not relate to what was advertised as the "Catholic Church" in the eighties. Surely that was not the same religion we were brought up in. We weathered the storm and decided to "bloom where you are planted", an idiom that most likely popped up at a Cursillo we attended. We began leaning toward the charismatic edge without realizing we were. It wasn't until her parents found a Latin Mass being said in Hillcrest area of San Diego shortly after the 'Excommunications' (sic) of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988. Despite all the platitudes that "the sensitivities of 'cultural Catholics' were being taken into consideration and served", the truth is that before one entered the church one had to sign a statement swearing their allegiance to ALL the Second Vatican Council had declared. Oh, there were several who signed, but to my father-in-law's everlasting credit, he refused to sign it. Cyndi's parents, like us, all cradle Catholics, were forced to return to our respective Novus Ordo parishes. The truth of the matter is that few knew that term prior to the mid-nineties; few realized the New Order and "eucharistic CELEBRATION" was establishing itself firmly in place of the true Mass, the true Faith. Despite all the promises of a "freed indult" do not be fooled. Ratzinger will never give up his legacy as a liberal. All hail, Martin Luther!
Speaking of a Protestant rebel, the man, who broke up my mom's marriage, died five years after he had married her - his fifth wife! It wasn't until she had a brain aneurysm in September of 1988 in Vista, California that she reconciled with the roots of her Catholic faith and asked to see a priest through our urging; specifically Cyndi's honest, frank discussion with her on the condition of her soul. That shocked her back to reality that God does forgive anyone if they would have true repentance. She did. I was able to have a true priest (ordained before 1968) hear her confession, absolve her and give her the last rites, Within hours after receiving communion, she lapsed into a coma and never recovered. Remember the Godincidences of dates? Consider this: my mom died on September 27, 1988 and eight years later to the day, Cyndi's mom passed into eternity on the same day! We can say with great gratitude to our Lord and our Lady and St. Joseph, that all of our parents received the Last Rites and were in the state of Sanctifying Grace when God called them home, all wearing the Brown Scapular. A more comforting accomplishment one could not compare, not for all the money in the world.
My dad was the last to go and to prove that he paid many of his just Purgatorial dues on this earth, He sent into dad's life a brash and outspoken Irish lass who took no guff but, in all charity to the dead, gave plenty. Kathleen O'Callahan was her name and dad proved he was the most patient man on earth; a quality which I can definitely learn from. And he had many virtues: honesty, kindness, meekness, fear of the Lord, justice and liberality. Temperance was his weakness and yet he drank with the best of them and few times did I ever see my dad drunk. Despite his relatively small frame, he could hold his liquor; something Katie could not. I've never cussed, sworn or taken the Lord's name in vain in my life and that I attribute to my dad who never did as well. The closest I ever heard him say was "son of a biscuit." How many can say that? He had a constitution that he smoked for well over forty years and then just gave it up. He could eat any kind of food, sweets, meats, heavy, sour, raw or well done - you name it - he probably tried it at one time in his life. For this he never gained a pound. Friends used to kid that dad had a hollow leg. I know no other who could consume ice cream and beer at the same time, or scrambled eggs on his catsup. He never demanded fine cuisine for he was at home with wieners and beans (still his favorite to the end) as he was in a fine restaurant. He loved to socialize. And everyone who met him loved him. How many people do you know who had no enemies? That was dad. Friend to all. Status meant nothing to him. And on the dance floor? He tripped the lights fantastic. During one of his visits with us in San Diego, we took him to the Atlantis Restaurant which, sadly, is no longer. Today it is the headquarter offices for Sea World, Inc. Back then it was a unique restaurant with floor to ceiling aquariums behind most booths and was one of the most popular places in town. He danced up a storm after dinner with whoever was willing to give it a spin. To illustrate what excellent shape he was in, he did the Russian dance that night. That is the very difficult, contortion-bending steps where one stoops on their haunches and kicks their legs out in rhythm with the music as it increases in crescendo and speed kicking. He was 70 years old at the time. I'm six years shy of that right now and I couldn't do the bunny hop or fox trot, let alone squats like he was doing. I had enough bending and push-ups in the Air Force to last me a life time, thank you. I grew tired just watching him and I was just 43 at the time. When he started doing the Twist, well, count me out, I never had a hankerin' for Chubby Checker's music. Truth be known, Cyndi and I both dropped out of the music scene when the Beatles went acid. No more, thank you. We haven't returned, though we enjoyed the music in Branson during our two-year stay near there. But then Andy Williams, the 'Rat Pack', and the Osmonds are a far cry from the demonic beat that passes for music today.
Yet, dad could adapt to any situation, any scene. That is why, after Katie fell deathly ill this past September and finally relented in allowing us to send for a true priest to be at her bedside in the hospital, dad encouraged it. We knew Fr. Brendan at Immaculate Conception in St. Cloud and called him from Spokane. Within half-an-hour he was on his way despite the late hour of after midnight. He gave her absolution and administered Extreme Unction and prayed at her bedside for hours. Katie never recovered, like my mom, passing in her sleep. For Fr. Brendan getting sleep that night, I'm sure God provided the needed rest mysteriously for he had the morning Mass the next day in St. Cloud. But then, true Catholic priests will get plenty of rest in Heaven, and Fr. Brendan is one who is definitely earning his way and taking many souls with him. We were so grateful for what he did, but then, as his mother said to me the next time I saw her to thank her at Holy Mass here at St. Michael's, "He's a priest, that's what he's supposed to do." True priests, will. Most Novus Ordo presbyters will not. They'll work it around their schedule, and God help you if they're on vacation. That very problem happened to my loving, generous, fascinating and somewhat eccentric uncle Robert V. Groff in 2003. A Catholic all his life, he was very, very leery of the New Order 'Mass' and snuck over several times to St. Agnes in St. Paul for Father Schuler's Latin High Masses. But Uncle Bob didn't want anyone to know. In retrospect, me thinks he was afraid the conciliar potentate (erh "archbishop") would somehow sabotage his all-consuming project of writing about the end-times in applying inspirations of the Holy Ghost with Holy Writ and tying them in with the quatrains of Nostradamus. Though, I could not fully agree with all my uncle's conclusions, I admired him for not only pushing the envelope but challenging us to study further for it translated into our being open to what happened at Vatican II and that, in turn, allowed us to go beyond the rhetoric in discovering the truth about Vatican II and the final conclusion that it can't possibly be Catholic nor can those who have usurped the hierarchy.
That was only too evident when there was no one to conduct his funeral in Minneapolis. All the priests were on vacation in the first week of August 2003. I kid you not, and that included the FSSP and SSPX priests. Sadly, I did not know Fr. Brendan at that time. Had I, you just know he would have been there. As it turned out, I was able to track down the assistant pastor at St. Olaf's downtown and he did conduct the ceremony. I had led the Holy Rosary during the viewing the day before, but was desperate because lacking a "Catholic priest" the family was ready to bring in a Lutheran minister to conduct the services. As it turned out, there wasn't much difference considering it was a Novus Ordo service, but at least I was able to carry out my uncle's wishes. And, he had the good fortune of being buried in a Catholic cemetery next to my grandparents and Aunt Helen Ketchum, a saintly Catholic if there ever was one, and who, I just know, has interceded on our behalf many times. My uncle is not forgotten, for his loving wife Aunt Ruth visits his grave often, just a few blocks from their home in South Minneapolis.
But again I digress for this is a tribute to my dad who still observed the old traditions, kept and read his Latin St. Joseph's Missal regularly including Good Friday when he prayed with me the Stations of the Cross according to St. Alphonsus Ligouri. He always said grace before meals even when others would say the times had changed. He was never afraid to bless himself in public for, to the very end, God came first. He, like Cyndi's mother and father, were victims of the greatest deception ever perpetrated on mankind. As I said before, they went along because there was no other alternative. He had entertained the possibility of Fr. Brendan's offer to allow Father to say a Requiem Mass at the Gearty-Delmore Funeral Chapel, but my brother and sister put the kibosh on that. In fairness to them, they were caught up in the divorce of the sixties and took Nathaniel's last name. Naturally, they left the faith and to this day dad and I were the only ones in the family still Catholic. But the love they showed for dad was exemplary. With the assistance of her daughter Donna and her husband, Marie's son-in-law Dave, my sister took several weeks off from her job to stay with and care for dad at his condo in St. Louis Park 24-hours a day; a vigil that began during Passion Week this year.
Having lost Katie on September 21 last year, he fared well but had an unknown cancer that had spread throughout his shoulders and neck in the late Autumn of last year. It was such an unusual disease that it baffled all the medical experts at the Minnesota VA Hospital. He was scheduled to meet with a bevy of cancer specialists at the University of Minnesota in December, but, knowing the end was not that far off, opted instead to stay for a week in Arizona with my brother Patrick and his wife Dale and their two adult daughters Liene and Heather. Dad had hoped to play some golf during his stay but contracted terrible pains and was hospitalized in Phoenix for practically the length of his stay. It was not until a few months later that he and everyone else realized he had contracted food poisoning from the national peanut butter salmonella infection scare last year. I told you he'd eat anything! We had a good laugh over it after he had recovered. To make up for it, Pat flew him back out to Arizona in March but he was too weak to go more than one green on the course. It was his last hurrah on the links.
At the onset of Holy Week, my brother Pat flew back to Minneapolis and, after conferring with Hospice, called my youngest brother Tony and me. It was important to be there with him and Easter was the best time to gather all together. He ceased all chemotherapy and the "death watch" commenced. Hospice set up a hospital bed in the living room of his condo. Speaking of the condo and a brother, another totally unrelated "sibling", but like an adopted son to dad was Steve Yost, a talented carpenter and craftsman, along with his wife Sue who took dad into their home throughout December and January while Steve completely refinished and redecorated dad's condo with dad enthusiastically supervising. It kept him busy and his mind off the cancer. While I was back there to see dad for the last time from Holy Thursday through Easter last month, Steve opened his Little Stevie's Sandwich Shop in Chanhassen and dedicated a sandwich to my dad, called the "Mickey 6". Steve was dedicated to dad and drove him out to Arizona a few times over the last few years. But then, who wasn't dedicated to dad? Hardly anyone, for, wherever you were, the first time you met my dad you'd never forget him. He had a radiance and charisma that made others happy to be in his presence. With dad's passing the age of chivalry may well have died for he was the consummate gentleman. Every woman was treated as a lady and no man was ever upset over his impeccable conduct with the opposite sex. Yes, he was a ladies' man to the very end, with Hospice nurses fawning over him, but never anything untoward. He was that kind of man, my dad. Honest to the core. In fact, they say never trust a car salesman, but they never met my dad. He rose to become one of the top salesmen for Swanberg & Scheefe Buick in North Minneapolis in the 50's. To me it was exciting to ride in a new car every few months, especially in the summer when it might be a convertible. In the late 50's he translated his skills to insurance, but that was short-lived for not only was it too complicated for this simple World War II vet, but he always found a problem in deceiving customers in any way or fashion. And there was and remains plenty of deception in the insurance business. He wanted to help his fellow man. He was always there to volunteer at church, he was always there to lend a helping hand to a neighbor. He was, when he was 30 and when he was 90, always "cool." That was one of the monikers people attributed to dad: cool. Dad, affectionately referred to all his life as Mickey, transcended generations, striving to relate with all God's creatures.
His sons and daughter were with him for his last Easter. The photo above was taken on Easter Sunday afternoon at the home of Donna and Dave's parents where we gathered for a final photoshoot showing before dinner. Clockwise at 1 o'clock Tony, Marie, dad in the center, Pat and yours truly looking the other way when the flash went off. Though not in the picture, Tony's oldest son Nathan accompanied his dad from Denver while his mom, Tony's wife Eileen stayed back home in Colorado with their three daughters Amanda and the twins Hannah and Mercedes. It was my little brother, whom I've always affectionately called the "Rook" - as in "Rookie" to indicate newest in the family - who provided the photos here. A few weeks after Easter, Pat flew back to the Twin Cities to relieve Marie of the 24-hour watch so she could get back to work for awhile, but time was running out. For six weeks we called dad each evening and prayed with him the Acts of Contrition, Faith, Hope and Charity, One Our Father, three Hail Mary's and the Prayer to St. Michael. That was about all he could handle in those last weeks each night, but he had his Rosary and holy water which he blessed himself with each day and my brother and sister willingly sprinkled around the room to ward off the demons.
After spending the better part of Good Friday afternoon with dad, I went out and purchased Mel Gibson's re-released DVD "The Definitive Edition of The Passion of The Christ" which has an excellent theological commentary of the film with our friend Gerry Matatics contributing great insight with Mel. The main reason I wanted dad to see the film was for him to be able to relate with what was happening to his face (as you can see in the photos) due to the spread of cancer, with what Christ suffered. After that he was much more receptive of his condition and not ashamed of how he looked. But, really, who cared how he looked? My dad had no pretense about him. He was a man with many faults due to our fallen human nature, but they were far outweighed by his virtues and that he loved each person as Christ commanded out of a sincere love of God. He still had doubts as he lay dying of what lay beyond. That is the nature of the mind and satan's last hurrah in trying to steal souls: seek out despair. The old devil tried, oh, he tried. Dad lost what he mortally feared most, his eyesight and his hearing deteriorated. He was left in a void that only God knows, but we do know that it was short-lived and, that shortly before he lost all communication, he enthusiastically related to us on the phone that he had seen our Lord "so vividly that He seemed real, right there above me." We reassured him he wasn't hallucinating, that Jesus was indeed with him and if God takes from one his sight, He will replace it with a greater vision...and the good Lord did. Dad had a life-long devotion to St. Joseph and the Patron Saint of a happy death made good on his promise, escorting dad to Heaven's shore around 2 p.m. on the Vigil of the Ascension on Wednesday, May 23.
When he died he proved his worth for he had wilted down to 110 pounds of skin and bones but they were all real, for he didn't have a phony bone in his body. Yes, he couldn't say no and that is why, over the years, many took advantage of him. He was the consummate Christian for he would always turn the other cheek and bless them rather than fight them. Maybe that's why he lived such a long, healthy life. He was forever loyal to the Commandments of God, especially the Fourth Commandment which Holy Scripture assures a long life if one is faithful to those God has bestowed responsibility to honor and obey.
To describe dad's dedication of how he was always there to help others, he went above and beyond the call of duty. This can best be illustrated when he managed his own gas station in Long Lake, Minnesota. Freeway Gas it was called. He refurbished an old 'filling station' and spruced it up. During summers and Christmas vacation I assisted him at the pumps. It was there in the unheated front room of that old service station on a bitter cold day in December that we huddled between customers to watch the thrilling NFL Championship Game on an old black and white TV which a neighbor had generously brought over so we could watch the Baltimore Colts' Alan "the Horse" Ameche dive over the pile stacked up at the goal line, and tumble victoriously into the endzone in Sudden Death to beat the New York Giants well before the concept of "Super Bowl" ever made the drawing board. Football purists will appreciate that bit of memorabilia. On weekends and during fishing or hunting season cars were backed up a mile waiting to get gas. Talk about the good old days, it was 19.9 a gallon back then, 21.9 for Ethyl or Premium today. No one pumped their own gas in the early sixties, but we went far and beyond the Texaco man with the star as Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows" and Bob Hope's Comedy Variety Show advertised. We not only filled the gas tanks, but checked oil, water and hoses, washed all windshields, side and back windows, checked all four tires and vacuumed out the interior of every car. Now that was service and it was quite a site to see yours truly at 5'5" then stretching to reach every inch of glass. Thank God there were no SUV's back then or I would have needed a stepladder. And yet, had there been, no doubt dad could have retired a rich man. As it is the station went out of business a few years later when one of the big oil companies built a cut-rate station at the top of the hill to intercept our customers and lowball the price - yeah, there were gas wars back then bringing the price of a gallon to under two-bits. It was the harbinger of things to come, both with the Wal-Mart tsunami of big chains swallowing up the little guy, and divorce, a by-product of both conciliar compromises and the times after Camelot died not with JFK but in our consciences. Dad survived all obstacles for money was never his motive and that is to his everlasting credit. Service to the customer; something totally lost on today's generation was important to him because my dad was always at the service of others. He was a faithful attendant at VFW Rituals, moving up the ladder of its officers to where he was Senior Vice-Commander of his Post Ritual Team.
Today at Fort Snelling National Cemetery that same Ritual Team - composed of some of his dearest friends - will fire 21 times into the air in honoring one of their own. Men of the Knights of Columbus will gather in full regalia to hold their swords high in saluting this noble Knight of God who always saw the good side of man and prayed that the darker dimensions of his fellow men would dissipate. They will realize he was vigilant in staving off the roaring lion whom St. Peter referenced as the devil, seeking to devour whomever he could. The devil is down today. He lost a soul he so wanted. Friends and relatives will weep this day in remembering a man who rivaled Bob Hope and George Burns in longevity of youth; a man who was forever Peter Pan. He believed in the fairy tale that one can live happily ever after. No, he will never reach Never Never Land for that is fiction, but the truth, the facts are that he has or will soon achieve what every one in the world has sought after from the beginning of time: everlasting happiness. Today, weep not for Mickey, weep for yourselves as Christ told the women of Jerusalem. He has finished his course and received the reward of everlasting life. For the rest of us mortal life goes on and, if we're smart, we'll ask Mickey, my dad, to intercede with the God above to put in a good word for each of us for my dad never had a bad word for anyone. It's hard to beat that kind of legacy. The famous philosopher and humorist Will Rogers said, "I never met a man I didn't like." Maybe that should be amended when referring to dad to read, "I never met a man who so many liked." I would add, affectionately as his oldest son, "and loved."
The eternal sea is calm this day. Good sailing, dad, and may you navigate, through your intercession, those still splashing in the whirlpool of wishes to realize the only safe passage to that same port , which you now see on the horizon, is aboard the sure Ark of Salvation: Christ's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which He founded upon the Rock of Peter. It is part of the lasting contract we made with each other. If I was wrong about my belief that salvation is only attained by one's soul being in the state of Sanctifying Grace, then allow God to show me a sign of my error. But, if I have been right, then you owe it to your children, dad, to ask God to show them a sign that their older brother is not whacko. That I do indeed speak the truth and now dad knows the fullness of what I assured him. I pray he will do all he can in eternity to persuade my brothers and sister, my nieces and nephews, yay, even my own sons and daughter-in-law to be that outside the Church there is no salvation. Help them to reach for the lifeboat before it is too late!
It is an exhortation I am compelled to add with all the love a loyal son, father, brother and uncle can offer to those he loves and seeks their company in eternity. My parents, Cyndi's parents have finished their course. They have been admitted with those wonderful words of our Lord recorded in St. Matthew 25: 21 and 34 respectively, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" and "Come, ye blessed of My Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
Because of finances and my necessity to be with Cyndi this week for important doctor appointments here in Spokane, I am not able to be in Minneapolis today for his burial. But it matters not for his soul is well cared for. On May 25th Father Brendan officiated at a Requiem Mass for dad at Immaculate Conception in St. Cloud, and next week another promise I made to dad will be fulfilled when I will indeed be honored to serve at his Requiem Mass, a special lasting Father's Day present twelve days early. His Requiem Mass will be said by our pastor Father Casimir Puskorius, CMRI on Tuesday morning, June 5th at the 8 a.m. Mass at Mt. St. Michael's here in Spokane where we are most thankful to God and the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen. Other than Cyndi, Kellin and our oldest son Kevin and his fiancee Lauren Ingram, I don't know how many others (outside of the normal daily Mass-goers) will be able to attend, but I know this: all the angels and saints will be there along with the souls of the Church Suffering to adore Christ the Lord and also present will be dad in all his glory. The Tuesday date immediately follows two glorious feasts: Trinity Sunday and the transferred feast of the Queenship of Mary on Monday. I can't think of a better time of year to honor dad and to make reparation for his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed. Receive his soul, offering it in the sight of the Most High. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. Suscipiéntes ánimam ejus offeréntes eam in conspéctu altíssimi. Réquiem ætérnam dona ei, Dómine: et lux perpétua lúceat ei. Nothing more wonderful can be said of my father than Christ's words to him: "Come, ye, blessed of My Father".