After 25 years of priestly service, my Superiors in the Society of Jesus allowed for a little break from pastoral duties to spend time with family and friends in the States. I had put together quite a lineup of activities, including a bike ride from Westhope, North Dakota, to Laredo, Texas. I was set to leave Belize when the course of things changed dramatically.
Our brother Mike, second eldest, has been fighting prostate cancer for some years. In the last few weeks it has spread quickly and widely into bone and organs. He is now in hospice care. For his 73rd birthday on September 5th, he gave himself the gift of no more treatment. For my part I was moved and honored to administer the Last Rites to my big brother, who took consolation in the sacraments. My other brother Peter, the family barber, gave Mike a haircut. My nieces, Mike’s daughters, Jamie, Rachel, and Emily, have all risen graciously to the occasion and have been very helpful to Mike and his wife Jean at this time. It should also be noted that my brother is dying very bravely. A Nurse Practitioner at KU grimaced when I told her about my brother and she said, “That is a tough way to go.” I see for myself it is a tough way to go. I see also my brother’s courage, and I am proud of his grit and grace.
So what was I doing at KU talking with a Nurse Practitioner? Lo and behold I have my own little health issue. For several weeks I have had a fingernail-sized growth front and center on my lower lip. I thought it would just go away, but no, it became a fixture on my lip landscape, so off to KU Med where the doctor said he did not know what it was. Since it could be cancerous it needs to come off. So on September 21st, Independence Day in Belize, I go under the knife. I will learn sometime after the surgery as to whether or not this thing was cancerous.
My brother Tim and I did take a day off to go fishing at Truman Lake. Truman is a favorite recreational area for the family. We did our one and only family reunion there in 2015. Anyway, Timbo and I caught our limit of white bass in under two hours, then caught a few crappie for good measure. These fish will be served at the Fish Fry honoring our brother, Mike.
In my absence St. Martin’s Parish has been left in the very capable and holy hands of both St. Martin’s church and school staffs. Fr. Brian Christopher, SJ, and Fr. Quang Tran, SJ will cover the Sacramental bases.
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