Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Isidro Files, Volume 5

Moses was something of a turning point in Abuelito’s story. There are times and situations that are so intense that your heart cannot break or rend. It just fails you and your spirit faints within you. But those times are also the most beautiful and we saw that in the Duarte family at this time.

Abuelito revered Moses and the mission he had been called to serve in this lifetime. He said that he had been trying to keep death as far away as possible but then saw this barely three year old step fearlessly across the veil and he said that Moses paved the way for him and made the concept of death an easier one to accept. He said that Moses was truly a “Moses” leading the way for everyone else to follow.

Abuelito was always intelligent but as one might expect became somewhat contemplative on certain subjects as his life edged towards its finish line. One of his favorite scriptural passages became the speech of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon where it discusses that when you are in the service of others you are only in the service of your God. His favorite hymn was the third verse of “Count Your Blessings” which I here include.

“When you look at others with their lands and gold, think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold. Count your many blessings money cannot buy your reward in heaven nor your home on high.”

Nearing the end he once was speaking with my mother and told her, staggering with pain, that he was full. She asked of what, thinking full of tumors. He said “I am full…full of…blessings.”

At the end he began to look forward to the journey. He looked back on his life and remembered all the times he had been alone with no mother, no father, without close family and as he felt, no real place in this world. He said that as he neared the end of life he understood that though he had not known it, there had been someone who had been watching over him nonetheless. He said that there was a young girl in her early twenties who had clung to life as long as she could because she loved him so much and he began to hope and look to the day when he could finally meet his mother.

He said as his mind started to cross back and forth across the veil that he could see things and at one point said he could see Moses. He described the things he saw before him, and when my mom asked if there was construction on the other side, he said there was.

At one point he seemed a little reluctant and said that he was hoping to leave this earth with two dozen grandchildren but Moses was dead and thus he would have to leave with only 23. Mom told him that he might be mistaken and told him to go talk to Veronica. He brightened and asked what she meant. She said that it wasn’t for her to say. So Abuelito looked forward to Alex as his 24th that would be alive in this world and thus allow him to pass to the other side with a greater sense of hope and peace.

We knew things were drawing to a close and he called all his kids and their spouses together for one last family home evening. I was obviously not there but from what I understand, these are the details of that meeting.

He taught about life and families being together forever. As I understand there was not a dry eye in the room. He taught from his bed, where he was waning and suffering the last stages of cancer, and for the closing song he said they were going to sing “Count Your Blessings.” Abuelito was the only one of the Duarte family, as I understand, who could carry a note in a bucket on normal circumstances but this time as they started singing he stopped them and said “You guys sound awful” and with superhuman strength pulled himself to the side of the bed and for the last time in this world led his family again. He sang, as I hear, with strength and rhythm to the last, and then asked my mom to give the closing prayer, thinking she would be able to give it without crying. She bawled shamelessly.

A few days later he was in the hospital and in extreme pain. My mom who was extremely attached to her father told the nurses to increase the dosage of painkiller. She said that there was no reason to let him be in so much pain, since he was not going to live through the month and likely not the week.

I do not recall who was at the hospital at the time, but the siblings had taken turns watching over their dying father. My mom was at home, I think, with Benny, and Rosalina can confirm this if she will. She said that they started to hear voices talking faintly far away happily and excitedly as if in a party or reunion. Anyone who has worked in a hospice like Coral knows that such things are not unheard of at the time of death. She asked Benny if he could hear it and he said he could. She said she recognized some of the voices to be from relatives who had died long before. Not long afterward they received the phone call that told them that their dad had finally gone home.