My Dad, Joe Antell Senior, crossed over peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of Friday, July 5, 2013. He lived a few weeks shy of 90 years, and did he live!
Four months ago, as a family, we agreed that assisted living would provide the best care for him. So Joe went with the flow, settled in and was happy making a home where he was, grateful for all that was being provided. This facility was like a country club with loving, friendly people around him. Dad enjoyed community so he attracted this one with the help of my sister Donna, of course.
Two weeks before he left for his next adventure, Joe fell out of bed, which led to a series of events that landed him in the hospital. I spent a week with him there, sitting by his side for the better of 10 hours a day. It soon became obvious that Joe had begun the process of “weaving his wings.” In the midst of all the imposition of hospital protocol and insensitive doctors calling for tests and procedures, there was this simple, quiet, gentle man. When I asked him what he thought about it all, with a twinkle in his eye, he said, “it is the way it is.” His steady, consistent, easy-going nature held true to the end and his amazing attitude of acceptance, without a word of complaint was all part of his final bow—no drama, no fanfare, only peace. He had finished the work he had been given to do.
He wasn’t very hungry and the second night I was there he asked me if he could have a hotdog with “the works”—a true New Englander to the end. He ate every morsel down to the last lick of ketchup on his fingers. Very specific to his instructions, the next morning I brought him a Starbucks coffee and a plain donut. He took one sip of coffee and one bite of the donut and said, “That’s good.” When I asked if he wanted more, he said, “I’m done,” and he never ate solid food again. Just like his mother had done years ago when she was ready to leave, he stopped all nourishment and somehow knew how to honor the final process of letting go.
The palliative care team of a nurse named Mike and Dr. Stoddard honored these signs and with the agreement of the family, stopped medications and medical procedures. Dad was bathed and given IV pain meds only. He was allowed to have all the space necessary to complete his transition. We sat together with dimmed lights and soft music for the rest of my time with him. I shaved him one last time and he liked the warm, moist cloth on his face. Chris Jorgensen had been doing this prior to my visit; it was a manly ritual that Joe appreciated.
In my final moments with him, I placed the palm of my hand on his forehead, as I had learned in my Attunement training with Gladys Miller and expressed my unending love and gratitude for his great spirit that had blessed my life and the lives of many others. The room filled with the rich light of his goodness; I could sense the presence of beings on the other side coming to assist him. These words entered my heart: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:21)
I returned home to Colorado and spent the 4th of July reviewing Dad’s life through organizing dozens of photos. Joe moved on a few hours later. Many thanks to Jim Barbour, Susan Schmickle and Dean Turner for helping create a DVD slideshow which honors Joe and his life’s story. If you would like a copy of the DVD please contact me at email@example.com. I could write chapters about my Dad and probably will in time, for now I will let this video slide show speak about this wonderful man and the special father he was to me. I was told that according to the akashic records, that we are soul twins and have been in the last seven lifetimes together as father and son, brothers and friends. The validity of this is something you can decide. All I can say is that I’m looking forward to our next journey together.
As he and I commune now in the eternal greater light, our service remains the same—to bring Unconditional Love and healing to all people, creatures and the earth that are open to receiving. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me (us) and I (we) will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. AU-men.
Below is a snippet of the gospel according to Joe from an article he wrote entitled, “The Man Who Planted Trees”.
“Relative to the spirit of stewardship, the primary factor is just being in the apple orchard because I love to be there. It’s what I feel, my intent and my love that counts. This is the real and primary nutrient for the trees…. It doesn’t matter whether someone else acknowledges you or not. Do what you do because you love doing it and there will be fruit in your life! If you come to the fruit orchard at Green Pastures in Epping, New Hampshire you may actually get a feeling of me.”
I feel the words that follow reflect my father’s life message. They speak to his total enjoyment of discovery within the Great Mystery—an easy-going, non-judgmental attitude of “playing the cards you are dealt.” He always emphasized that what is important and primary in life was not “out there” but lies within and in the end it “all comes back to oneself.”
Pilgrim, how you journey
On the road you chose
To find out why the winds die
And where the stories go.
All days come from one day
That much you must know,
You cannot change what’s over
But only where you go.
One way leads to diamonds,
One way leads to gold,
Another leads you only
To everything you’re told.
In your heart you wonder
Which of these is true;
The road that leads to nowhere,
The road that leads to you.
Will you find the answer
In all you say and do?
Will you find the answer
Each heart is a pilgrim,
Each one wants to know
The reason why the winds die
And where the stories go.
Pilgrim, in your journey
You may travel far,
For pilgrim it’s a long way
To find out who you are…
Sorry to hear about your loss and Joe’s passing. A great soul he was.
Your father was an extraordinary man. I had known him since I was 6 years-old. I later lived with him at Green Pastures. He went from my bus driver to attunement, bowling, apple, cribbage and life mentor. I love Joe and grateful that his essence lives on in and through me. I greatly enjoyed reading this after looking him up. I am paying homage to him and other mentors in a grad school presentation about my cultural experience and it wouldn’t be justice with him absent. Your words are very eloquent in tribute to a giant humble man.