by Sister Cordy Korkowski
Some memories stay with us a long time. How will I ever forget my last day with my brother Gerald. On September 12, 2008 I drove down to Brooklyn Park, the home of Jerry and Patty. How excited I was to be spending the weekend with him. His three year journey with cancer was long…and we could never spend too much time with him. It was a bumpy road…some days with so much pain and other days with energy to go salmon fishing, hunting, creating remarkable woodcraft items, attending family gatherings and enjoying golf, the casino and many other events with brothers, sisters, friends and extended family.
Today was different. As I was welcomed into their house, Patty, his wife of six years, met me and my sister Faye at the door and noticed the tears in my eyes. She said, “Oh, you know!”. We had received a phone call enroute to their home that Jerry was critically ill. Patty continued, “ Jerry said that today was the day he would die”. Oh, how hard to hear those words…yet so mysterious. How did he know? I wanted to drink in every moment of life that was left with Gerald. How pained I felt, yet there were waves of relief that he would not have to suffer anymore. He gave us, in his 59 years, so much love, goodness, friendship and joy. This should be enough.
As it turned out, September 12 was a day of great pain for him. I have never seen anyone suffer in the way that he did on September 12. Luckily for me, I brought Eucharist with me and he was happy I did…and I could only imagine that tonight the mystery of Eucharist became totally fulfilled. Now, he would meet Jesus face to face. As I shared the Eucharist, I was deeply touched by his faith and openness to enter into this last day on earth. Gerald was a person of deep faith.
All day long, Patty, Jody, his daughter and Hailey, his granddaughter and our family ministered to him. My family spent the entire day with him and into the evening. At about 10:30 p.m., Patty asked if I would lead a prayer that I brought with me that is used for someone near death. Gerald became very still when we began the prayer, listening, being present to the Mystery of God so real for him at this time. The prayer began, “We will bring you to the door of your new Eternal home… At the close of the prayer, he began breathing more and more slowly until he graciously left us for his New Dwelling at 11:05 p.m. How many emotions swept through each of us. We had just been witnesses to a great passing over to eternity. There was so much to say , but silence held all of our feelings just then. We loved him so much and he loved us. Now, as we celebrate the feast of All Saints, November 1, 2008, I believe my brother Gerald enjoys the radiance of God’s light and new life.
I felt very proud to welcome the Franciscan Sisters to the wake service for my brother. He had requested that memorial gifts be shared with the Franciscan Sisters. This was a surprise to me, but another confirmation of the connection between his heart and mine.
Written by Sister Jan Kilian, this blog will give an understanding of what it’s like to be Franciscan. Living out the spirit of Saint Francis, we see all God’s creation as brother and sister. We, Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, are committed to building relationships and community, ministering wherever there is greatest need, promoting justice and healing Mother Earth’s wounds. My writings will give a glimpse of the compassion, spirituality, interconnectedness and goodness of living Franciscan.