Hello, my name is Anne and this is my first post in a series that will recount my conversion from a lifelong non-believer to an active Catholic Christian. My conversion started nearly three years ago when my 86-year-old Dad started his dying process. I had been my Paw’s caretaker for 7 years (his grandkids and great granddaughter called him “Pawkie,” so, for decades I called him “Paw”), and I always came to do his laundry on Friday evenings. For some reason I changed our usual Friday to Saturday evening that week. It wasn’t for some planned event or significant reason, I simply changed it rather spontaneously. I didn’t know then that switching the evening was by the grace of God. I didn’t even have such vocabulary at the time.
Paw had gone to bed and I was waiting for the last load of his clothes to dry. When I went out to the garage to check it, all the clothes were still wet and cold. “Darn! What’s up with this dryer?” I changed settings, cleaned the lint trap, and fiddled around without results. In frustration, I put his soggy clothes in the laundry basket and resolved to dry them at my house. “I’ll bring them back tomorrow,” I decided. As that basket sat on the kitchen table and I gathered my purse and keys, something strong moved me to put the clothes back into the broken dryer. Doing so made no sense to me, yet I did it. I heaved that heavy basket back out to the garage, put the wet clothes in, and selected yet a different setting. The dryer was working!
It wasn’t 10 minutes later that I heard a thud and a faint “help” coming from my Paw. I rushed to his room and there he was on the floor. “Paw, are you okay? What happened? Paw …” He had got up to use the bathroom and collapsed as he made his way back to bed. He was conscious, but he wasn’t making sense. He had on his robe, but he kept trying to put on his shoes “for the train ride, the train …” I called 911 and the medics arrived quickly. In the interim between the ambulance ride and the hospital (about 5 minutes), he had complete respiratory failure. My Paw had stopped breathing completely and the medical team in the ambulance resuscitated him. Had I not been there that night, he would have died on the floor of his bedroom.
Paw spent two weeks in the hospital and then the remaining four weeks of his life at home with hospice care. When he got the news that there was little the doctors could do, he looked at me with a twinkle in his bright blue eyes and said, “Well, it’s been a good life!” He was at peace. Paw wanted nothing more than to spend his remaining time with his family. I am eternally thankful for that time together.
His two sons and I took care of him, along with care and regular visits by his three granddaughters and little great granddaughter. In a tearful moment, he shared his sadness of never seeing or being with us again. My daughter hugged and comforted him and let him know with certainty that we would be together again — that we would always be together. The next day, he passed into the hands of our Lord.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, at the time, I didn’t even have the vocabulary to describe the events of that evening. I did have an immensely clear sense that angels were present. In retrospect, I can’t even say that I was being guided; no, something else was animating or moving me. As my Catholic Christian understanding developed, I know that “something else” was divine intervention, God’s grace, and mercy. The seeds to my conversion had been planted.
Questions for Readers:
- Have you experienced the presence of angels, divine intervention, or God’s grace and/or mercy?
- If yes, are you hesitant or too distrustful to use religious vocabulary in describing your experience? Why?
- Can our secular vocabulary adequately capture your experience? Why or why not?
© 2017 Anne Manyak
Image by Anne Manyak