Today was the funeral Mass and burial of my father, who passed away suddenly of a brain aneurysm on Good Friday. I was given the great honour of saying his eulogy, which I thought I would post as my blog for this week. Thank-you all for the outpouring of support. We are buoyed by love!
St. Joseph made a total gift of self, the fullest expression of human love, and in many ways, this is how I see my father. My dad said yes to God in every part of his life, from the birth of each of his nine children to his devotion to his wife. I always remember my mother fondly telling me that after the birth of each of his children, the strong, muscular, burly, manly man known as my father, always cried. He saw children not as a burden, but as a true gift from God, which was crystal clear to each of of us. One of his favourite things to do on his days off was to take us to the park and play basketball, and I say “play basketball” instead of “shoot hoops” for a reason. These excursions required skill, endurance, multiple water bottles and sometimes even war wounds.
The treatment of his daughters was one of beauty. Every Valentine’s Day, he made sure we knew we were loved, both in words, and in gifts. In elementary school, I would even open my lunch box mid-afternoon, and find cinnamon hearts and a homemade Valentine’s Day card. Although many of them had stickers of professional wrestlers all over them, his messages were funny, but also full of love. As one of my pro-life Facebook friends wrote to me, “even though you and I have never met, I am always so inspired by you and your family. I was just recently telling my husband how your father treats his daughters on Valentine’s Day. So please know that your father’s devotion to your mother and you children has touched and inspired people that he never even met.”
The love that Mom and Dad shared is something I hope for for myself. It is a love that is probably best expressed by an image familiar to all of my family: their hands clasped in Church, both of them focussed intently on the miracle unfolding on the altar. They were one in Christ, a unity that cannot end with death, so his presence continues with us through the wife he loved so deeply and the mother we love so dearly. It does not surprise me that his last word before he died was ‘beautiful’, as he trailed off to sleep talking with her.
The sacrificial love that marked Dad’s life also marked his death. The lives of four people were saved by his organ donation, a gift the recipients were given on Easter. So a death on Good Friday led to life on Easter Sunday.
It is entirely consistent with Dad’s life that the event of his death would echo so explicitly the central event of our Faith. I don’t know that anything could provide a stronger basis for the hope of his salvation.
Gary Golob, 1964-2016