Posted by: fvbcdm | April 3, 2014

Feast of Saint Richard of Wyche (3 April 2014)

They are burying my cousin Johnny today in New Orleans. This marks the end of an era for me in a sense. I am an only child, and as I was growing up, I was closest to “Julie and Johnny,” the two older children of my mother’s brother, “Uncle Roy,” and his wife, “Aunt Anna.” Julie was three months younger than I; Johnny was eighteen months younger. There was a younger child, a girl named Heloise, or “Weezie,” as we called her. But she was about 4 years younger than Johnny, so too young to be part of our group. I went over to their home as often as I could to play with Julie and Johnny. We were playing badminton in their side yard on that unforgettable Sunday afternoon—December 7, 1941, when Aunt Anna came out to the front porch, all excited, “Come inside, quick!” she said, “the Japanese are bombing Hawaii.”For years, Uncle Roy and Aunt Anna invited me to spend the summers with them and their children on the Mississippi gulf coast, where they rented a house each summer. We had great times during those summers, so we were more like siblings than merely cousins. Julie died during the evacuation from the flooding in New Orleans caused by hurricane Katrina three years ago. Now, Johnny has died of diabetes and kidney failure.

One weekend, when I was in college and Johnny still in high school, I spent a Saturday night at their home in New Orleans. Johnny and I were going somewhere with a group of friends on Sunday. For some reason, Julie was not involved in that situation. We got up early Sunday morning, went to Mass at Saint Rita parish just two blocks away, and then went home for breakfast before going on our Sunday morning trip. As we were returning from Mass, Johnny said to me, “There’s a nice French bread in our oven.” We made our good cafe-au-lait, heated the bread, slathered it with butter, and happily ate the entire bread with our good New Orleans coffee. Just as we were finishing our breakfast, we heard noises elsewhere in the house. Johnny said to me, “Come on! Let’s go!” with a note of great urgency. “What’s the big hurry?” I asked him. He answered, “That was my Daddy’s bread!” So we rushed out of the house, but before we could close the front door and make a dash for freedom, we could hear Uncle Roy in the kitchen, shouting, “WHO TOOK MY BREAD?” These are the kind of memories that come flooding back as I pray for Johnny. He married and had only one child, and now two grandchildren. I hope that even now, he and Julie are reunited happily in heaven and will make intercession for me so that some day, we three can continue in eternity the happy life that began in 1929, 1930, and 1931. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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