Now I have two more names for the list.
There's a point during the mass at Trinity Church where we say the Prayers of the People, expressing thanks to God and asking for His help with the words “Lord, have mercy.”
We pray for our leaders, for the sick and suffering, the widowed and infirmed, and “for all who have died in the hope of the resurrection, and for all the departed.”
Each of us is then given the opportunity to name loved ones who have passed.
I’m still not accustomed to speaking up in church, but I find it comforting to name my parents, aunts, uncles and others close to me who have left this world.
Last week my family lost my both cousin Mary-Anne and my uncle Walter within the space of a few days. So I’ll be calling their names out in church as well.
I’m sorry to say that I had pretty much lost contact with Mary-Anne and I had not seen my Uncle Walter in years.
But it’s painful to think that they both died just at the start of the holiday season when we emphasize the importance of family and being together.
Walter, my mother’s brother, was a bomber pilot during World War II who went into commercial aviation after the war ended.
One of my fondest memories of Walter is when he showed up at brother’s wedding in Brooklyn many years ago.
Have A Seat
I seem to recall that there was some doubt about his attending, but Walter came walking into church at the appointed time and I remember my father talking about it for days afterward.
Mary-Anne was from my father’s side of the family and I have a dim memory of attending her wedding when I was just a child. One of my uncles took the glass of Champagne that had been placed before me, drained it, and put the empty glass back where it had been.
I still remember the look of shock on my mother’s face when she mistakenly thought that I had guzzled the bubbly.
I hadn’t seen Mary-Anne in nearly 30 years—oh, Good God, could it possibly be that long? We lost the connection with a lot of family members when my Aunt Loretta died.
Loretta, my dad’s sister, used to host huge Thanksgiving dinners at her apartment in upper Manhattan and so many of the people on my father’s side of the family attended.
We lost another connection with the death of my mother, who cooked the Christmas dinners. It seems to me that the older generation was better at keeping in touch and holding on to those family ties.
This year my aunt, my sister, and I will be having Thanksgiving dinner at my apartment. It’s no comparison to Aunt Loretta’s affairs, of course, but we’re family and we'll be together.
I like to think of the afterlife as one big Thanksgiving dinner where we sit down at a huge table with the ones we love from days gone by.
There’ll come a time when I’ll take my seat at that grand feast and sometimes I wonder if anyone will call out my name during the Prayers of the People.
But even if they don’t, I will always be thankful for my family.
Lord, have mercy.