How Old Will I Be?

Update, Friday, December 5: Blog Widow John and I originally had reservations to fly down and visit my parents Wednesday, December 3, two days ago. Last Friday, while celebrating Thanksgiving with my sister and her family, I got the call that my Dad was back in the hospital, this time for the last time. His kidneys had failed and he was on palliative care, only oxygen and painkillers (hydromorphone/Dilaudid). My sister and flew down first thing the next morning; John joined us on Sunday. My father's heart stopped at 5:15am on Monday, December 1.

I read this at his memorial service yesterday, December 4, the day after we had hoped to begin our visit. I should have introduced this as, "a reading from the Book of Jerry." I was able to get through all of it without choking up until the very last line. I also read the eulogy I've been working on for months and finished during this hectic week.

He was a fan and regular reader of this blog, and wrote two other guest posts.

This is my father's last, posthumous, guest post for this blog. The only edits here are for space, and one minor correction. I believe he wrote this in May of 2007, when his health and prognosis was already seriously downgraded. Still, he thought he might have years, not months, left.

Central display at his memorial service. The front of the chapel was filled with photographs and artifacts of his life.
Memorial Display

I’m certain it’s true of all of us: as one approaches the end of life, we tend to review our lives and, perhaps, mend some broken fences or open the doors to reveal the family skeletons in our closets. In some cases, like mine, it is an attempt to get square with our Maker.

While disenchanted with the Holy Roman Catholic Church, I was too indoctrinated as a child to ever question the existence of God. Certain of the teachings of The Church I still hold to be absolute. Such as, the existence of Heaven and Hell. Not sure about Purgatory. It seems way too convenient to explain one of God’s great mysteries. Ah yes; the Sorrowful Mysteries and the Joyful Mysteries.

How convenient. [ala Church Lady]

Training and disillusionment have made me the believer I am today. That is, I believe in Heaven and believe I have never done anything bad enough to keep me from Heaven. I will go to Heaven. No question.

Now, about the details. How old will I be when I get to Heaven ?????

Will I be the age at which I pass this mortal realm only without the arthritis and other crap?

How about freezing me at one of the three greatest events in my life: my wedding and the births of my two children?

How long will it be before I get to meet God? He’s always very busy and there were billions before me.

I was promised a seat at His right hand. Maybe a glass of wine and a nice cigar.

I guess I will no longer need sustenance. Even so, will all my natural teeth come back? I get the idea, from paintings and such, that no one wears glasses in Heaven. If so, it is not a stretch to believe that all our ailments will be gone.

Okay, here’s a biggy: if I’m in that great physical condition . . . . what about (sh-h-h-h) S-E-X?? My wife will certainly be there so it’s legit. So we won’t be making baby angels. It’s still a privilege of marriage and He made it enjoyable.

What about the kids? What age will they be? If they continue to be healthy they might live way past the age at which I departed.

Socially, it’s a big tsimmis [fuss, bother]. Are we required to pay social visits to our 50,000 years worth of ancestors? Will Abraham even recognize me?

Conditions and environment. If the weather is always perfect, will I never again see a rainbow?

Mary and I like to travel. . . . .Where would we go?. . . . . Does one need a license to fish? . . . .What about the change of seasons? Do the trees change color in the Fall? Is there a Fall?

Music. There must be music in Heaven. After 10,000 years of Handel’s Messiah, will I be allowed to Rock and Roll? I would miss church bells and temple gongs if not available. And the sound of a train in the distance on a rainy night. . . . Rain?

Could we actually see the people on Earth and in Hell? I know I will have many, many friends in both places.

Some possible circumstances bother me. I know that my Agnostic friends will be shocked when they suddenly show up in your presence. They will be instant converts and therefore, probably a pain in the ass. All for the good. My Uncle converted from Lutheran to Catholic. My sister converted from Catholic to Jew. They were both real decent Human Beings and pains in the ass about religion.

BUT, how about my beloved Atheist friends? [Myself among them] Do they have a chance? They haven’t done harm to anyone and might have led otherwise exemplary lives. They just don’t believe in You. Will you give them the shock treatment like Agnostics with a chance to change? Or is it “get even” time where you thumb Your Nose and say “Nyahh-Nyahh” and open up the express Down elevator?

So much to learn. We’ll have to spend some time together, Lord, and work on the details.

I know my God has a sense of humor. He has often allowed me to poke fun at my religion at His expense.

But, just in case:
Oh my God I am heartily sorry for having offended thee. I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to confess my sins, do penance and amend my life. Amen.

I really believe in this part.

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Gerard Kreussling, 1931-2008


Brenda from Flatbush said...

Your Dad and my Mom could have enjoyed a terrific skeptical Catholic conversation together. My mom's two chief concerns were: Were there cats in Heaven (there'd better be), and would her father, who died when she was 14, still be decades younger than she? Like your dad, she delivered these literal-minded zingers with a light irony that eased the real fear and mystery. She thought me too easily satisfied, I think, with my favorite line: "This day you shall be with me in Paradise." Whatever the communion of saints really is, I have no doubt they are now enjoying it, with all mysteries solved and all doubts healed.

peacesojourner said...

Thanks for sharing this - I really enjoyed reading it - your dad was obviously a very special person.