Diary of My Witness of God’s Love and Mercy during my Dad’s Last Days of Life.
By Donald Andre Bruneau, his 3rd son.
March 7, 2003.
I arrived at the Leacock Care Centre at 9:15 p.m. to spend time with my Dad ‘Hector Joseph Philippe Bruneau’. Dad was very happy to see me. I spent 1.5 hours with him and later went to sleep on the sofa in the family room close by.
Dad did not sleep all night. Was it because he was so happy to see me? Heather, one of the Personal Support Workers, who looked after Dad since the beginning, told me that she was hurt by something Dad said. Dad said in her presence…”God,please forgive me, God give me peace, God come get me.”
I discussed ‘dying’ with Dad, telling him that if he is ready to go to God, to do so, he has our permission. He can go join his parents, Philip and Eda Bruneau. I told him we will all miss him, but we will never forget him, and we love him.
I told Dad the most important thing for him to remember was that God loves him so much and I quoted him John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, so that whosoever believer in Him may not perish but have everlasting life.
I also told Dad that he was dearly loved by all his family.
Dad said to me this morning: “My son.” He repeated this again to the nurse, while pointing at me and saying to her…”my Son.
I was deeply touched by this.
Jerry came to see me. He took me for lunch and we went to see the funeral director afterwards.
3 p.m….when I entered Dad’s room he called out loud and clear… “Donald”.
Dad drank a lot of water today. Once he yelled out..”Water! Water!” It reminded me of Jesus’s cry on the Cross…”I thirst”.
Dad’s plea for water also reminded me of the essay I wrote at University on ‘suffering’
wherein I wrote…”Love, Love…where are you?!”
At 3 a.m. I was speaking to the head Nurse ‘Elizabeth’ who said Dad once asked her to marry him when she said: “No Hector, I am already married.” Dad turned to a young intern nurse and asked her: “Will you marry me?” She replied, “No, I’m too young.”
Nurse Elizabeth also told me how clear Dad’s mind was! And how peaceful Dad is.
When you consider that Dad had ALZEIMERS…a clear mind is a gift and grace from Heaven!
Dad has lost so much weight, it is amazing that he is still alive. He has been living on water only for the last 2 to 3 months. He went down from a healthy 170 lbs to about 70 lbs (very thin, bonny frame). God has a reason for keeping him alive.
Dad said: “I give up!” He pointed to his stomach (pain?)
I told him to ‘let go’s when he is ready to go, that Jesus and Mary are waiting for him. He is not alone. I told him that we are praying for him.
This morning nurses put dressings on his back shoulder blades which are now open sores from lying on his back all the time.
March 10th, 2003.
The cleaning lady ‘Janet said to me: “I was cleaning your Dad’s room a few days ago and he asked me…”How do I get ‘home’ from here.”
Dad cried out in pain. I got up, held his hand and prayed the ‘Chaplet of Divine Mercy and told Dad he can surrender to Jesus and Mary.
He closed his eyes and slept very peacefully.
One of the PSWs, Katy, the tall blond who called Dad ‘Turkey’ said that she and another PSW were with Dad last week, washing him.
She says that Dad said to God:
“God please forgive me,
God give me peace,
God come get me.”
I went to Dad and said: “Listen, I have something very important to tell you:
“Everything is forgiven, everything is under the Blood of Jesus.
We all love you, your four boys and Mom.
We respect you and are proud to have you as a father. You worked hard for us.
I am proud to have you as my father and I would not have it any other way.
If you are ready to go to God, go, we will miss you, but we will never forget you. You have been a good father, a very good father. Rest in peace Dad.”
After I said all of this to Dad, Dad who was looking at me all the time, nodded his head and eyes to affirm…”yes”.
3:10 p.m. Mass celebrated for Dad.
I telephoned my friend…’Father Valerien Katsinge’ an African Catholic priest I knew at St. Paul University (and who resides at Gatineau, Hull, Quebec)
He was at home (He is usually always at University in the daytime) I told him Dad was dying and asked him to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass so that Dad may receive the Graces to:
– to forgive anyone, if necessary
– to let go towards God
– the Grace to have a good and peaceful death.
Fr. Valerien promised me to celebrate mass for Dad that day at 6 p.m sharp. God is so good!
I told Dad about the Mass and that I was going to call his young sister Sister Teresa Bruneau of the Sisters of the Presentation.
I asked Dad if he had anything to tell her.
Dad had tears and I believe I heard him say: “I suffer too much!” while pointing to his body.
I also told Dad that at 6 p.m. my friend, Fr. Valerien will celebrate Mass for him. I then immediately called Auntie Sister Teresa to explain to her about the Mass and give her Dad’s message.
Auntie asked me to tell Dad: “Hector, you have always been good to me. I love you very much Hector. God grants you His forgiveness. The Mercy of God is infinite.
I will always pray for you Hector.”
I returned to Dad and gave him Sister Teresa’s message. I encouraged Dad to turn to Jesus during the Mass and if he wished to let God come and get him.
I told Dad that someday we will be re-united in Heaven, with a glorified body and where there is NO more suffering and LOVE prevails.
I read Psalm 91 to Dad.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty…..”
I also prayed a Prayer of Deliverance over Dad. I then made the Sign of the Cross over his forehead (out loud) with Holy water.
I prayed the Joyfull Mysteries of the Holy Rosary out loud for Dad.
I prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy out loud for Dad.
I took my Mass missalette and read the words of the Mass out loud so Dad could hear it all. I told Dad that right now Fr. Valerien is celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Ottawa just for him and that his sister Teresa is joining us in prayer for him also.
I also put the photo and relic of Saint Padre Pio on Dad’s pillow during the Mass.
When I told Dad his sister Teresa was joining us in prayer, he took his right hand (as feeble as he was) and looked at me with a big smile and a special joy in his eyes and made the “O” OKAY sign by making an “O” with his thumb and index finger.
This was a sight that I will never forget! Dad was so happy and so grateful.
The Nurses and Personal Support Workers Who Took Care Of Dad:
Heather…came to say bye to Dad a few days before he died.
Leanne…she requested the Sacrament of the Sick for Dad.
Altea, the PSW who assisted Dad from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. while he was breathing his last on March 17th, 2003. God bless her soul.
Fern, a PSW came in to measure Dad’s urine output. She asked Dad: “How are you? Dad answered: “I feel to PRAY.”
Dad is quiet, awake often during the night. I slept in his room on the lazy-boy chair so he would not be alone.
Heather came in to see Dad at the end of her shift to say goodbye; she gave Dad a kiss on the forehead, had tears.
The ladies working there truly love the residents they take care of.
I met with Peter, a representative of the Canadian Legion’s ‘Last Post Fund’ this morning.
I shared the Divine Mercy Devotion and the question of suffering with ‘Harriette’ (widow) the daughter of a resident.
Dad drank about 4-5 glasses of water so far today.
A quiet day with Dad.
Today I was reading from Reader’s Digest, January, 2003…”Answering A Call to Love Interview with Jean Vanier.
What do people desire? What are people longing to hear?
Vanier: “People are longing to hear that there is ‘hope’s. Human beings can ‘change’. There is something incredibly beautiful in every human being. People are looking for a place to find ‘Faith, Hope and Love’.
Dad cried out! “Donne moi de l’eau benite!”
Je veut de l’eau benite!
So I went up to Dad and took some Holy water and made the Sign of the Cross on his forehead and prayed asking God to grant Dad peace and Joy and then I prayed a French prayer to ‘Notre Dame des Pauvres’ for Dad.
“Notre Dame des Pauvres, Mere de Dieu, Ma Mere et ma Patronne, je me mets sous
Je me jette avec confiance dans le sein de votre Misericorde.
O Notre Dame Des Pauvres, mon refuge dans mes besoins, ma consolation
dans mes peines et mon Avocate aupres de votre Divin Fils, maintenant, tous les jours et jusqu’a l’heure de ma mort. Amen”
March 13th, 2003…continued..
Dad rested peacefully. I spoke with Dr. Brand. He said a ‘morphine patch is available if Dad experiences pain, and by needle also.
He said one 90 year old lady went for three weeks without food or water before she died.
I was away from Dad’s bed for a while. Dad said to a blond PSW, Kari: “Where’s my Donald?” He missed my presence in his room.
March 14th, Friday, 2003
All the residents were coming down with a bad flue and last night I could feel myself getting nausea and sick so I decided to go home today for the weekend and return next week to be with Dad.
Just before I left Dad, I went to the side of his bed. I took his right hand into mine and said: “Dad, listen to me very carefully. I am sick with the flue. I am leaving for a few days for Timmins. I will miss you. I have been here a week with you. If you feel God is calling you ‘Home’, let go towards Him.
Dad, you are forgiven. You are loved by God, by me and your whole family.
Thank you Dad for having been a very good father. I will keep praying for you. Bye.
I was tempted to take a photo of Dad, but he is so skinny, I felt I owed him the respect of not photographing him in that state.
The Bible states that we come “from dust and will return to dust”. So TRUE. How many people forget this.
It was a great gift and grace given to Dad to die a slow death and have time to prepare his soul to meet his Creator.
As I left I asked myself, almost in tears, will I get to speak to Dad again?
It has been such a great blessing to be with Dad for a whole week, care for him, especially in the spiritual realm. Thank you Lord.
March 16th, Sunday, 2003.
From Timmins I called the Leacock Care Centre in Orillia. I spoke to R.N. Darrylynn. She said to Dad at my request: “Your water boy Donald said he would be back here with you in a few days….so drink and eat if you can so to be in shape for him.”
She said that Dad smiled and acknowledged what she said for me.
March 17th, Monday…at 5 A.m.
Our Father passes away.
Shortly after 5 a.m. I got a phone call from Leacock Care Centre. It was ‘Althea’, one of the PSWs. She informed me that Dad had just passed away. She said that when she checked on Dad at 3 a.m. she observed that his breathing was less and less frequent. She arranged to be with him.
Althea, God bless her, held his hand and said: “Hector, God loves you we love you. You are not alone.”
I asked Althea to describe Dad’s death to me in two words. She replied: “Quietly and peacefully.”
God is so so good!
When I returned home to Timmins and informed Mom of Dad’s death she replied:
“Your Dad was an army man, a Sergeant, a man of discipline. He is used to always getting up at 5 a.m. He does everything at 5 a.m. He even died at 5 a.m.”
I will never forget the moment Mom said this. It was an interesting observation that she had made of the man she had loved and married.
Together they made a wonderful couple. And as Mom once said to me: “Your Dad gave me four wonderful boys.”
Thank you Dad for everything you did for love of us, especially the gift of LIFE.
March 19th, 20th…Dad is laid to rest.
On March 19th, 2003 the Bruneau family all convened in Chelmsford , Ontario, where Dad spent several of his final years of life.
He was exposed at the ‘Co-operative Funeral Home’s. Mass was held at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Chelmsford on March 20th, 2003. He was buried in Chelmsford cemetery. His son Donald gave the eulogy titled:
“Hector Joseph Philippe Bruneau,
‘Leader, Servant and Adventurer.’
( If anyone would ever want to read the eulogy please contact me, I will be more than happy to oblige.)
“God is so so good! Dad, as he wished, did not die alone. He was bathed in prayer. He was surrounded by love.”
Written October 5, 2004
Feast of Divine Mercy.
Donald Andre Joseph Bruneau