101 Years and Filled With Joy

It was a Thursday night. I had been asked to bring Holy Communion to the home of a man named Joseph Macri. All I knew about Joseph is that he was on hospice and was expected to die very shortly. His daughters wanted him to receive Jesus in the Eucharist one last time.

When I entered the home, Joseph was asleep on a bed in the living room. His daughters told me something about his life. He was 101 years old. Born in Italy, he came to the United States at age 11  when his parents finally had enough money for him to join them in Indiana.

He worked in an auto plant (Studebaker) until it closed, then found work in other factories. He built his own home in South Bend, Indiana by himself. He ushered at Notre Dame home football games for almost 40 years.

After his daughters woke Joseph up, he and I had a long conversation. Despite being so close to death, he had a gleam in his eye and a joyful spirit. He spoke lovingly of his wife, Gina, with whom he had shared 70 years of marriage. He said he had never raised his voice to her and that he always tried to fulfill every one of her requests. About his employment over so many years, he said simply, "I worked hard."

At around 3 a.m. on the following Saturday morning, I woke up and reflected on Joseph's life. I thought of how I would summarize the beauty and simplicity of his life. Here's what I came up with:

1. You do what you're supposed to do in every aspect of your life.
2. You do it as best as you can.
3. You experience the joy that comes when you follow steps 1 and 2.

A good prayer is that all of us would be inspired by the life of Joe Macri to live as he did. In our final moments on earth, may we, just like Joe,  have a gleam in our eye and a joyful spirit.