The photo above was taken by my father, a great and highly respected horseman. It is of the Silpark fox hounds at Ashbourne, South Australia.
He called it “Full Cry”.
Towards the end of his life my father was in a nursing home.
I went to see him a couple of days before he died.
Dad’s decline had been quite fast and the two previous times I had visited that week him he had been unresponsive,
lying flat on his back,
breathing slowly through his mouth,
his face a pale grey colour.
I was not expecting any difference on that last day and I had just been talking to the nursing staff who said it was unlikely he would show any further sign of consciousness.
But as I stood at the door of his room I was very surprised by what I saw.
Dad was not lying still.
He had raised his shoulders from the bed, |
his face was flushed pink,
his eyes were open and sparkling,
and he was talking,
with animated hand gestures and
to someone I could not see.
The right corner of Dad’s room was not visible from the door, but I had the impression that the person he was talking to was in that corner and there was a bright golden light coming from that spot.
I stood and watched for several moments,
because it seemed rude to interrupt.
Then, as I walked into the room, the light became normal.
I expected to see another visitor in the corner of the room, but there was nobody there, however Dad’s attention was still focused in that direction.
When I spoke to him, saying hello, he was reluctant to focus on me but eventually sort of shrugged his sholders and rolled his eyes as if to indicate to the person he was talking to tht he was sorry to break off their conversation, but he had to talk to his daughter now.
As he focused on me,
I asked him how he was
and he replied
and closed his eyes.
He never spoke again.
As we were preparing for his funeral our Parish Priest, Peter, asked me if I wanted to view Dad’s body.
I have seen a lot of dead people, but even so, I said no.
I wanted to remember him
as I had seen him last ;
with joyful anticipation,
with a dream of peace
with the past.
So I told Peter about that last moment when Dad had spoke, and his response changed my life.
“There are always angels hovering at that time”
and he explained to me that he believed Dad was talking to an angel when I saw him.
Perhaps, if Peter had seemed like some sort of religious nutter, I may have taken his words with a grain of salt.
But here was this intelligent, composed, sensible and sincere man talking to me about angels. I had to sit up and take notice.
I had to learn more.
And so began my faith journey,
as I began to notice the angels myself.
(for Peter. 2009)