A good friend, an 82nd Airborne Fireman EMT Scots-Irish disaffected Baptist mentioned to me that he just ambulance-delivered an elderly friend of his to a hospital (a new one to me). “He’s Catholic,” he said, adding, “He’s pretty near death.” He told me more about him: “Everything for him is trucks, that was his whole life. He’s pretty crotchety. His parish is […] but we couldn’t get hold of the priest there.” “Just tell me about all those cases,” I requested. “O.K. I sure will,” he said, sorry that he didn’t tell me some hours earlier.
Thinking he might just still be alive, I took off and met this fellow in his hospital room. He was awake, but utterly non-communicative, other than fierce growling noises. He made it clear that he was the most obstreperous, cantankerous, crotchety old man in the throws of death that anyone would ever meet in this world.
There being a chair in the room, I plopped myself down and told him about our common friend. The reaction was for him to be as obstreperous, cantankerous and crotchety as ever, though this new information seemed to make him a bit curious. That was my invitation to continue.
Here’s the deal: Never believe obstreperous, cantankerous and crotchety. That’s just a test to see if someone can respond in kind (that’s some people’s preferred method of communication and there’s no harm in it), a birds-of-a-feather kind of thing. Anyway…
I told him that Jesus wants him in heaven, that Jesus is just that good and kind, even for him, even for me. Always include yourself in making such statements. It’s a birds-of-a-feather kind of thing.
I walked him through how we would go about him receiving the Sacraments and blessings in the present circumstances, interspersing this with how it is that Jesus wound up on the Cross, taking our place, so that Jesus is deadly serious about getting us to heaven, that He didn’t do that so we could just go to hell. He gave a nod of agreement. So, off we went through a flood of sanctifying grace and hope and being pointed to heaven. Was that just about a tear in his eye that I saw?
As a thanks he tried to express his gratitude, but his impossible voice box and weakened state only made it all sound like more obstreperous, cantankerous, crotchety sounds. And yet, these were polite, as it were. And the eyes told the whole story.
My one-time Baptist friend is the best for alerting me for needs for Last Rites. Don’t think that the angels are not at work.