Opa’s Feast Day – A Tribute to My Grandfather

My grandfather recently passed away after living to the ripe old age of 93.  Until the last month or two of his life, he was healthy and living in an assisted living facility.  Because he was originally of German descent, we called him Opa (meaning grandpa) from the very beginning.

After a few tears were shed and a few days had passed, my oldest daughter asked me, “When is Opa’s feast day again?”  She was of course referring to how saints’ feast days are the days that they died and wanting to know when Opa’s feast day was.

To be honest, this made me laugh because he was by no means a saint as we would read about from throughout history.  These saints always seem to have some divine connection to our Lord, with their lives devoted to studying and spreading the Word of God and serving the poor.  Many times, the saints are martyrs giving up their lives for their Lord.Opa

My Opa, although a good and hard-working man, also enjoyed complaining, as grumpy old men tend to do, lamenting how “nobody tells me nothin’!”  His grumpy cantankerous mood always amused me, but could be taken the wrong way too.

I never heard him tell me “I love you” throughout my own life.  He always responded to my “I love you” with “Thank you.”  But I knew better – I wrote him a letter once that told him I knew that his “Thank you” was just code for “I love you” and he couldn’t fool me anymore.  The one time I did hear those words come out of his mouth, he was talking on the phone to my youngest, who considered him to be her special buddy.  “I love you, Opa,” her little voice said.  “I love you too, kid.”  My mouth dropped open because I’d never heard him say that before.

The last time I saw him, a week or so before he passed away, one of the last days that he was coherent, I took his face in my hands and said, “I love you, Opa.”  He said, “Thank you Shannon, thank you.”

When I thought more about my daughter’s question, I realized that we should all have feast days! We all hope to be saints in Heaven with God!  So why not celebrate the feast day of someone who has passed away – the day that they met their Lord!  And even if we don’t live perfect lives here on earth, I have great hope that time in purgatory will purify us and lead to eternity in Heaven with Christ.

One last mention of my Opa – I had a dream about him just a few nights ago.  In it, I was visiting with him and he was happy and laughing.  I looked at him and said, “I love you, Opa.”   This time, he hesitated but said, “I…I love you too, kid.”  And then he said, “Aw heck, now I’m going to have to tell your brother and sister that too!”  That made me laugh!

Happy Feast Day, Opa!  May you happily celebrate your own loved ones’ feast days too!

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