I was privileged to help care for Fr. Rick Thomas in the last months of his life. Fr. Thomas taught me so many things in the years I knew him even up til the day he died.
It was on May 8, 2006 that he taught me his last lesson here on this earth. That was the day he passed away and went to his Heavenly Home. I had no idea that he was going to die that day. I had been with him from about 2:00 – 4:00 pm. I had prayed the Divine Mercy with him per his request. Since his voice was so weak, I prayed it out loud and he prayed it within and moved his fingers along the beads.
Around 4:00 pm, Ellen came over to be with him and I was going to leave and fix supper for a group of college students who were staying on the ranch.
Before I left Fr. Thomas whispered to Ellen in his weak voice, “Explain to Mother Hen (that’s what he called me) about my care.” He was referring to not wanting lotion put on him anymore. So Ellen explained to me not to put lotion on him. I said, Okay. Then he told Ellen, “Explain it again.” Well this struck us so funny. At that point Ellen and I got the giggles since they were such simple instructions. I had to walk away from the bed so he wouldn’t see me laughing. Ellen had to pull away also. (Ellen and I are known to get the giggles at inappropriate times.)
Then Ellen said to him, “I think she got it.” Fr. Thomas replied, “Repeat, people forget.” So I walked back over to the bed and Ellen repeated the care instructions to me. I said Okay again to him. Then I said, “Father, I need to go make dinner for the group, but I will be back and see you later tonight.” He slightly nodded and said, “Okay, thank you.” Those were the last words he spoke to me. He died 2 and a half hours later.
Repeat, people forget. We have used this quote over and over again since his death. We have used it many times in our teachings, and when we just have to repeat things over again. It was quite appropriate since Fr.Thomas used a LOT of repetition in his teachings. For any of you out there who heard Father Thomas’ teachings, you know that he repeated himself over and over with several different examples to get his point across.
Pondering these words over the years, I realize that they were really a lesson from him to me and all of us.
There is an old wise saying, “Repetition is the mother of all learning.” How many times do we say to our children, “Say please, say thank you, share your toys, gentle with the baby, don’t hit the dog” etc etc. We don’t say any of these things just once. Wouldn’t it be great if we only had to instruct our 2 year old once to say please — and they got it perfectly! It doesn’t work that way. We repeat it over and over and again.
How often do we forget all the Lord has done for us? God blesses us in so many wonderful ways, and He pulls us through all kinds of difficult situations only for us to forget when times get tough or we are in some sort of desolation.
Psalm 103:2 says, “Bless the Lord, my soul; do not forget all the gifts of God.”
The psalmist is saying, Don’t Forget! Don’t forget all the God has done for you. The best way to do that is to recall daily God’s gifts to us and to thank Him for all he has done for us. Recall and thank Him daily. Talk to others about what God has done for you. Repeat it.
Those were the instructions to the Israelites at Passover. God told them to have the Passover meal every year and repeat the story of how God delivered his people from slavery so that it wouldn’t be forgotten and so it would be passed on to all generations. Repeating the works of the Lord should lead us to thanksgiving which were the very last words of Fr. Thomas to me. “Thank you.”
Fr. Thomas was right, “Repeat, people forget.” Thank you, Father, for teaching me until the very end.I love you and miss you.
Mother Hen / Mary Ann