Friday, November 30, 2012

A Requiem I Will Remember

When I was welcomed to the final Mass at a Royal Oak church recently, I noticed that memories of the closure of my own home parish of Saint Thomas the Apostle Church, readily emerged.

Sad feelings filled and flooded me.

Hospitality greeters met me at the door of the edifice adorned with iconic paintings along the walls of the church all the way up to the sanctuary.

After sitting down, a couple of others welcomed me also.

With sacred rite unfolding, in whisper tones I gratefully nodded.

When others continued to enter the building, fewer, if any available chairs, prompted me to give mine up.

Rows up toward the front of the filled church, I discovered a seat.

Next to me was a man who wrote down his name with a list of others, without indicating his city of residence as requested along with his identity initially.  At least, that's what I thought he wrote down, including what I thought was the name of his spouse who was engaged in my quiet requests as hymns sounded. 

Madison Heights or Royal Oak.  Unsure of their residence, I asked once more.  He confirmed Madison Heights.  A few blocks away, he added, as I pointed to the two names he listed at the top of my notebook.

Boy, was I wrong.

They weren't who he listed.  Days later I learned it was the names of his deceased parents he noted.

Then, some editing linked two worshippers with the first name of Tom, mixing up copy.  The psalm singer was Tom Zerafa, however, the other was not at all. Another error.

 Mounting mistakes!

When the story was published, another sibling of the mistaken idenity monopolized the unfolding drama of mistakes and took over without a word from his brother who was quoted in the article.

Then, a reporter added his spin in a separate story all about my mistakes.  And, that one was filled with assumptions and conclusions that were far from what I said to the reporter who was in a hurry to meet his deadline.  In fact, I asked him to slow down since I couldn't understand what he was saying and asking me.


The word has been taken apart. 

Its parts say it all in syllables.

I am so sorry.

Lesson learned:  I will ask multiple times about the accuracy of identity when people I interview respond to my request to note their names in my pad of paper.

And, I will be more attentive to their ability to listen, or, at least hear my requests.

In the meantime, I'm still awaiting the courtesy of  return calls from the allegedly offended family.

And, the guy who listed a couple of names in my notebook?  His brother is speaking for him.

Another mistake in direct and effective communications.

Life is full of errors.

I accept my role in all this.  And, have been forgiven by the brother of the guy I interviewed that day of fateful mistakes.

Like the demise of the church and its funeral of sorts that Sunday afternoon, grieving losses breeds anger already.  And, adding insult to injury mounts an offensive, or, a defensive disposition.

Eternal rest on the deceased parents whose names appeared in my story. And, were mistaken by me as the names of the couple sitting next to me in church.

Requiems are filled with feelings of mad, sad, glad, or scared, and, variations of these dominant feelings.  They are!

Wrong.  How wrong I was to assume the man listed his name, and that of the gal next to him!

His parents, noted by name, sound like exceptional believers who really gave their all, and, their children to their home church and school for 62 years.  They breathed life into this large family. Their service suggests how the rest of us need ties, close ties, to a people of faith. 

They stooped low to lift life, an aim I long to live each day.
With people who forgive, and, give, and love, like the Hurley family's parents.

And, added to that firm faith is civility, courtesy, decency, and, seeking truth and integrity in the trek.

After all, we all have our day making mistakes as human vessals.

We do.

We will.

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