by Father Mark Goldasich
“Is that your dad?”
Oh, those were the words I dreaded to hear in church growing up. They inevitably led to one of two reactions: Either I wanted “limbo” under the pew in front of me and hide, or I wanted to burst into uncontrollable laughter.
You see, Mom and I usually sat by ourselves at Mass in the middle of church. Because he was an usher, Dad sat at the reserved kneeler and chair under the choir loft stairs.
Quite frequently, while our parish priest was preaching his heart out, my dad was simply “out” — as in asleep, comfortably nestled in his reserved seat. Now that was bad enough, but what was most embarrassing was Dad’s napping came with accompaniment: snoring.
And like any good musical composition, it was rhythmic, beautifully punctuated by a crescendo then a decrescendo. (Miraculously, though, he always woke up in time to take up the collection!)
Oh, how tempted I was whenever Mom asked that dreaded question to answer: “No, it’s actually your husband!” or “No, but it sounds like that chainsaw is sure doing its job!”
Naturally, I just kept my mouth shut and tried to think of serious things like killer tornados or even, well, the homily.
And I still can’t get through Holy Thursday without thinking of Dad. Now, it’s traditional to keep vigil after the celebration of the evening Mass until midnight. At my home parish, the Holy Name Society — along with the pastor — always took the 11 p.m. to midnight shift. And, yes, Dad was a faithful member.
Each year, Mom and I would enlist the support of one society member to be Dad’s “keeper.” And each year, without fail, after nudging my dad awake about 20 times, the “keeper” would admit defeat.
That left Mom and me, at our usual spot in church, asking the dear Lord for: a hard-of-hearing pastor; a muzzle; or a quick and merciful end to the Holy Hour.
And Dad’s charism wasn’t limited to church. One year when I was in the college seminary, a couple of priests on the staff came to Kansas during a summer evening to visit. We decided to sit on the front porch where there was a refreshing breeze. Now, mind you, Mom had been threatening Dad all day to please, just this once, stay awake with the guests.
Well, as we settled down to visit, the priests insisted that Dad sit in the chaise lounge. As my Mom’s eyes bugged out, Dad grinned and gave in to the priests’ wishes.
In no time at all, we were treated to Carl Goldasich’s “Concerto for Nose and Throat, Opus 10.”
While my mom apologized profusely, one of the priests said, “Hey, don’t worry! That’s the sign of a clear conscience!” I like to believe that he was right.
As we anticipate Father’s Day, these memories flood my mind. Although Dad died almost 37 years ago, I still miss him. He was a powerful, but humble, example of what a Christian man should be. He was a great dad and husband. He was involved in the parish beyond Sunday Mass. He was a hard worker who spent 32 years on the 6 a.m. shift at General Motors as a metal finisher. And in his spare time, he was the neighborhood fix-it guy and chauffeur.
No wonder he was so tired!
This Father’s Day, let’s make our dads feel special. If he’s deceased, make plans to visit his grave, pray and share memories with family. If your dad is living, spend some quality time with him, treat him to a meal out and maybe even let him grab a nap.
My dad would highly recommend it. Not only is it a sign of a clear conscience; it’s the best way to eazzzzzzzzz into God’s hands!