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The Happiest Mass I Ever Attended Was a Funeral

Near the end, family friends asked my mother and me to pray for them and their family, and my mother took my hand and put it on theirs with hers and we prayed. A long-time friend noted to my brother and me that our parents always did that—that my dad wouldn't file away "Please pray for me," but would stop whatever he was doing and pray with that person, in the moment. As we were leaving, a college roommate of my father's stopped us on route to our car and said, "Your mother asked us to come over. Are you sure we should?"

We'd just learned to pray when we were asked, right in that moment, said my brother, so that meant "come when you're invited, right in that moment," too. He agreed and said, "We'll see you there."

His funeral mass was in the home of his children, but my father's burial was in the town of his birth. One son wore his cap, and the other carried his shillelagh. We sang "Notre Dame Our Mother" to close out the blessing at the gravesite, and my brother left a spoon with a yellow bucktail treble hook on top of the casket, the kind Dad used to catch speckled trout in the Texas surf.

When the burial was done, and the last reception was ended, my mother asked that all the extra food be delivered to a local soup kitchen, so that nothing would go to waste. When everything had been collected, there were twelve baskets.

At that point, we all agreed Dad was just showing off.

3/12/2014 4:00:00 AM