This is a note that my son, Fr. Deacon Daniel, wrote to several of his friends regarding the last moments of my Dad.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Last night my grandfather fell asleep in the Lord. I was there at his bedside when he died, and I can say without equivocation that it was truly a beautiful death.
The evening was spent with almost all of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered at my parent's home. While there, we had a pizza party, with adults and children coming in constantly to sit with and speak with "Dyda", as we called him, to thank him for his fatherly love for us all these years and to tell him that we loved him and to offer prayers, as well as to periodically give him ice chips and swabs because the oxygen he was on was drying out his mouth (he was unable to receive any fluids because of his congestive heart failure and it would have accelerated his death as well as made it very painful for him).
At one point, while on my own with him, I brought a ciborium with the Holy Gifts in it, held the Ciborium in my right hand and placed my left hand on his head.
I asked the Lord, through whatever He chose to do by virtue of my apostolic ordination, to bless him and give him peace, and to take him home when the time was right. He had already received the Anointing of the Sick a few weeks ago along with the Apostolic Blessing from Father Mark, so I knew that he was prepared. I set aside the Ciborium on a table next to his bed and my son, Daniel, came in. He said hello to Dyda, at which point I said to my grandfather, "It's ok, Dyda.
It's ok." Dan thought I was saying this because I had startled him, but I told him that I said this to tell Dyda that it was ok to go home. Dan told him that he loved him and left the room, at which point I went to sit and continue to pray the Jesus Prayer on the other side of his bed where he was facing.
I went to grab his hand, and my mother, who is a nurse, came in and said "Gordie, I think he is gone."
(His was taking a breath about once every 15 seconds
before.) She checked his pulse, and I noticed his chest was no longer moving, even though the oxygen was still running.
I held his head and told him, "Dyda, it's ok. Go and be with Jesus. Go and be with Bama (his wife) and Denny (his son). We love you so much, Dyda." At that point the rest of the family came in and we grieved the loss of such a noble man, like noble Joseph, but rejoiced over his 93 years of life and his peaceful translation into eternal life. I then prayed the Melkite prayers of the Memorial Service, entrusting him to Abraham's bosom.
Across from his bed I saw the signed poster that we made for him just a few weeks ago when he returned home from 90 days of Physical Therapy that read "Welcome Home, Dyda!" Two weeks ago he looked at that sign and kept repeating it over and over again in his room, "Welcome home, Dyda!"
Now we were all there, along with all the saints and angels, to welcome our great patriarch into eternal life. It was a truly graced moment for all of us.
Welcome home, Dyda!
Fr. Deacon Daniel