Exactly 22 years on this date, Dad died. We were with him when he took his last breath in a bed in the Alzheimer’s unit at Lebanon VA Medical Center. He had been confined in bed there and in the VA medical unit for about a month. It was probably the first time since he learned to walk over seven decades before that he had not walked.
Dad walked just about everywhere he went in town. He made a 10-block roundtrip to the high school where he taught twice a day (counting lunchtime) for more than three decades and trekked even farther to the new high school for the last years of his career.
He could often be seen on the streets just walking for the fun of it. In all those walks, it was rare that he was not “working the beads” and praying the rosary. On Sunday afternoons, he often took my two brothers and me on long hikes on old railroad beds and through cemeteries. It wasn’t until years later that we realized one reason he was doing that was to give Mother a break from us. (The welcome peace and quiet must have been an answer to Mother’s own prayers.)
Before Dad went the to the VA, I took walks with him and still found it hard to keep up. The same was true when we visited him at the VA and had to keep pace with him in the long hallways that connected the various buildings.
Of course, Dad was no longer able to pray the rosary or even any of the prayers found in that devotional. However, while Alzheimer’s gradually clouded over a once-brilliant mind, his strong love and devotion to God still remained in his soul. He was still the same smiling, gentle man he had always been.
The reason he was is because Dad always walked by faith. Every step he took brought him that much closer to God. All I can do is hope to follow faithfully in Dad’s footsteps.
We walk closer to God by faith.