This is for Lent.
Two weeks before this writing my father died in his home, in his sleep, at the full round age of 90. It is after him that I was named. We: Walter Wangerin, senior and junior. He was named for his father, Walter Wangerin—the lot of us serving the church visible as has our family to the fourth and fifth generation.
As I write, I’ve just attended his Jan. 5 funeral.
Ardently did people speak of my father’s labor and his life. We sang the hymns, read the lessons, preached the texts he had chosen mere days before his death. His spirit dominated his celebration.
By these words I must be provoking memories and emotions in more than a few of you. How many of you have laid to rest grandparents, parents, siblings, children, souls beloved while they lived, mourned and honored in the absence.
A story of love
As we rode the train from Chicago to Denver, my sister-in-law Eliza spoke of her father’s death last summer. They are Filipino. His death was extremely slow in coming. He had, in fact, lost all motion.
Eliza Lachica Wangerin visited him (yes, in the Philippines) for long periods, lying beside him as the fullest communication—and her purest expression—of love.
By grace she was by him when he breathed his last.
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