Kind of a rough week - I, and many others, lost a friend last Saturday. Father Daniel, a member of the monastic community at St. Anselm Abbey, died a couple of hours after the St. Anselm College commencement. He was apparently sitting in his choir stall preparing himself for Vespers when he just stopped. I'm told that everything that could have been done for him was indeed done - I don't know who the EMS crew was that attempted to resuscitate and transport him, but from what I gathered they put the full court press on him, but there was no way to get him back.
Daniel's health had been precarious - he'd had a pretty massive stroke in the summer of 2000 at the age of 48. I knew him back then, too. He was a big, rugged guy with a full beard and moustache, and the stroke really knocked him down. He was right-handed, and the stroke affected his right side completely, although he was able to regain the ability to walk with a cane. His arm was rendered completely useless, which was a huge blow for him as he was an expert calligrapher. He also suffered a little bit of a cognitive defecit as well, but thankfully his intellect and, more importantly, his spirit, were not destroyed. He never complained, and he retained his awesome sense of humor. He was one of the funniest people I have ever known.
At the funeral mass this past Wednesday, Abbot Matthew delivered a rather humorous homily that was as much an accurate account of some of Daniel's antics over the years as well as a tribute to his deep faith in God. As much as Daniel suffered with his infirmities (in addition to the hemiparesis, he also was a time bomb with massive occlusion in both of his carotid arteries - his docs didn't want to touch it for fear of what could happen - didn't seem to matter, did it?), he truly walked with God in that he was still a faithful monk, a priest of the order of Melchizedek in the highest degree, and a truly good person. I will miss him.
Fr. Daniel Gerald Dempski, OSB
Monk of St. Anselm Abbey
November 14, 1951 - May 19, 2007
Requiescat in Pace
In other things going on....
Had a really messy call yesterday. At about 1:00PM we got called to the area of the Queen City Bridge for a man down underneath the bridge. When we arrived we met with the police, and between my partner and me and the two officers we found the person - a homeless individual whom I transported during the winter for severe hypothermia. This time around wasn't as bad but it was close. He had bi-lateral infections from the knees down and was unable to walk (he told us he'd been there for a few hours, but he walked there from someplace), plus it was obvious that he hadn't bathed in some time as the odor that wafted off of him was rather purulent. Additionally, he was infested with ticks and other insects in places that I'm sure I didn't want to check. It was bad. To add insult, he was probably 150 feet off of the highway, and there was no way my partner and I were going to extricate him without help - there was no way the police were going to assist us with that. So I called for the fire department to help us. An engine company and a rescue company arrived and we loaded him onto a backboard and into a stokes basket and got him out of the woods.
My poor partner was gagging at the smell - I thought for certain she was going to vomit at some point. She asked me later, "how did you deal with that? I had my head out the window on the way to the hospital...." As bad as he smelled, I didn't have problems with that as much as I was itchy for a couple of hours afterward thinking of the bugs on him. I checked myself thoroughly for anything that could have been on him when I got home, plus I took a hot shower....
Come to find out after we brought him in that the police wanted him to stay put as they had a warrant for his arrest. I wonder what he did....
This morning I watched "Adventure Bhutan" on the Science Channel. Very interesting documentary of a crew of people who explored a part of southern Bhutan that was not charted at all. They followed one of the rivers by whitewater raft and kayaks to the Indian subcontinent. It was a very interesting show - I was fascinated by the things they were doing. Besides, that part of the world has always fascinated me. I have a friend who is from Nepal - I used to work with him in the days when I was a techno-geek. He was a Buddhist and was very spiritually aware. I admired that; regardless of one's beliefs, people that have that sort of awareness are special because they can see things that many others can't. Their perspective is that much wider, and it gives them the ability to experience the fullness of God.
Another week ends. More later.