“And you’re a man of the cloth!?” says Dad needling the visiting St Stephen’s minister.
Poking Dad back, he mentions old rumours he’s heard of Dad drinking whiskey with another man of the clergy.
“That was the priest’s fault,” says Dad, “I thought it was wine.”
The Anglican keeps up the game and offers to take Dad’s confession.
“I haven’t the time,” says Dad.
Now serious, he asks,
“Do you want to talk one to one?”
“I’m passed that now,” says Dad at peace with his maker.
The Minister opens his bible and reads from John and the Revelations. He reminds Dad that this is not the end.
“It’s the end of the beginning,” says Dad.
The Minister has us stand to join hands around Dad while he says a prayer.
“The Lord is with you,” he says as he leaves.
“Thank you very much,” says Dad.
A few minutes later, two more church men walk into Dad’s room.
“Onward, Christian soldiers! Marching as to war,” sings out Dad as they make their way to a chair on each side of him.
“Here to give me my last rights?” laughs Dad.
Instead, in the Anglican tradition, they open a black box with purple velvet lining and take out its mini versions of a chalice, wine cruet and wafer capsule.
They hand Dad and I a booklet titled: The Ministry of Holy Communion to the Shut-Ins.
I listen and participate as best an atheist can.
“A long time going down to the church,” says Dad to his friends when they are finished, “A long time fighting the Bishop!”
They get up to leave.
“Don’t let the next time you see me be when I’m in a casket,” says Dad.