Remembering Our Loved Ones:        Autumn Days…… 

[Were she still alive, my oldest sister would have turned 60 today.  She was bright, articulate, caring and supportive.   I miss her still.  For Roman Catholics November is a time we remember and pray for our friends and family who have died.  We also pray for those who have no one to pray for them in the faith and hope that our prayers help in the journey from this life to eternal lifer.]

Autumn Days……

And so the Autumn makes itself known to us in so many ways;
the trees shedding their leaves;
the multicoloured dead leaves that lie on our pathways,
the shorter days and the longer evenings,
light gives way to shadow and darkness
and thus we are reminded, and indeed remember,
our loved ones who have died.

November is a month with its own energy;
it instils in us the gift of remembering those who have gone before us;
those who are now, as we say in Irish, on the sli na firinne (the way of truth).
We remember them and honour their memory,
we give thanks for them and their legacies that they have left us;
perhaps the legacy of integrity, simplicity, peace, and above all,
their faith; faith in God and their faith in broken humanity;
their understanding from the depth of their being.

We give thanks and honour their memory and we recall in the hymn
‘For all the Saints who from their labours rest!’
These people whose souls watch over and protect us.

In this month of November let us
honour their memory with gratitude and
allow their spirits to go free so that
we can receive from them in abundance.

May their generous souls Rest In Peace.
—   Frank Downes, OP



About Paul Wharton

I am a cradle Catholic, a native West Virginian, and a priest since April 24, 1982. Spiritual Direction has made a tremendous difference in my life and I encourage people to try it out. My motto is "Progress not perfection." I am grateful that God has done for me what I could not do for myself.
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One Response to Remembering Our Loved Ones:        Autumn Days…… 

  1. Kelly Rose says:

    “These people whose souls watch over and protect us.”

    Some people believe in a spirit world, some don’t. But even if the spirit world exists simply within the confines of our own minds, it is easy to feel the presence of those who have gone before us, because we were once that person. All our thoughts, our emotions, our behaviors may have originated in the very first person we were? Yes, we are all unique, especially in experience, but there is a marked genetic blueprint in all of us too.

    It was a father quest that brought me to Bluefield and since moving here, I’ve begun to study my father’s genealogy. The Hales have lived in Virginia since 1620. I have read that there are 15,000 of us who directly descend from this one man George Hale, who arrived in Elizabeth City, now Hampton, in September of 1620 on the good ship “Supply.” His occupation was listed as “drummer.” Notables among us “Kent County Hales of England” are Nathan Hale, the great Revolutionary War patriot, Barbara Hale, she of “Perry Mason” fame and Alan Hale, the astronomer who discovered the 1995 Hale-Bopp comet, … and on my birthday, July 23, to boot!

    Recently, I ran across a photo of one of my father’s contemporary cousins, John Hale, who moved from Russell County, where he was born in 1925, to Arizona where he died in 1999, one year before my father’s own passing. As his picture slowly unfolded on my computer screen, I was shocked beyond belief. This direct, but distant cousin of my father, was the spitting image of dad. They could easily be twins. Such is the power of a dna blueprint.

    With all the knowledge on the family that I’m acquiring, the thought crossed my mind that I could write a book. It was around the time of that realization that I discovered another family member had beat me to the best title possible in his 1997 book: “A Hale Family: Cavaliers and Crackers.” I don’t think there’s any chance of topping his hilarious title, but I do hope to try my hand at telling our history as well.

    From Elizabeth City, fourteen generations of us have mapped out every corner of Virginia and what would become West Virginia, as well as other areas of the country. Hale’s Ford near Roanoke, the birthplace of Booker T. Washington, was named for one of my great uncles who is said to have even laid the first roads of Franklin County. The bill to make Mercer County a new county, annexed from Giles and Tazewell Counties, was written and introduced into the Virginia Assembly by my great, great, great, great uncle Daniel Hale in 1837. And John P. Hale, my great, great, great, great grandfather Edward Hale’s great great grandson is known as the father of Charleston, WV, for having built the first capitol building there with much of his very own money. John P. Hale is a fascinating man, a doctor, a businessman, a historian who wrote seven books and also served, in 1871, as mayor of Charleston. His actual accomplishments and legacy to Virginia/West Virginia history are far too many to list.

    But it is Edward Hale, my fourth great grandfather who is occupying a lot of my mind these days. I usually preface such statements as I’m about to make with a declaration of being comfortable with my own crazy. I own it. So here it is: since reading of his life, Edward has been haunting me. I feel his presence, and I welcome it and embrace it. Edward was a member of the posse who went after the Shawnee Indians who committed the infamous Clay Family Massacre, ca. 1781, in what would become Mercer County, but in those days was, as previously mentioned, still part of Giles County, on the westward side of the county simply known then as “the wilderness.” There is a statue commemorating the Clay Family Massacre on the courthouse grounds in Princeton. My grandfather Edward and another member of the posse, William Wiley, are recorded as having been extremely “incensed” over the murders of the Clay children and particularly zealous in extracting justice. I do not judge him.

    But here’s the kicker. I’ve discovered the largest Hale family cemetery in Virginia is located in Narrows. There are some 50 Hale family members buried there, and my grandfather Edward is among them. This Thanksgiving, through a sad twist of fate, I will be alone, and I find myself actually grateful for the solitude, because Edward has been calling me. So this Thanksgiving, I will make the trip to our cemetery in Narrows to visit Edward and introduce myself in person. I am curious with the anticipation of what I will feel there among them. And I plan on taking accoutrements to tend to the graveyard should it be in need. And I plan on having a long talk with my bad-ass grandfather Edward. And I know now that this is where I too want to be buried. I want to be with my grandfather Edward in the afterlife because I know he will protect me in the spirit world, as I know with certainty that he is watching over me now. This is all to say that this poem you have posted for today, Father Paul, and the line I have pulled from it above, is pure synchronicity from my own egocentric perch in this amazing world we all share. Thank you for this blog. And a special thanks too to Mother Nature who will make Thursday the perfect day to visit my dearly departed on my trip forward into the past.

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