7 October 2007

Pater has passed away

This morning my Grandfather, Henri, passed away. He was known to us as "Pater", our way of saying grandfather. The nursing home staff had brought him his breakfast and when they returned he had died. He was 93.
Henri was born in Belgium. During WWII he was helped by the French and Belgian resistance to avoid the German work gangs which would have sent him off to work camps in Germany. One time he slipped back into town to see his wife and three small children. He was talked into staying at the pub a little longer than he should have ("You'll be right!") when a truckload of German soldiers parked out the front and guarded all exits. The sergeant and his troops lined up all the men along the bar and checked their papers. Henri had forged paperwork saying he was on vacation from his work camp. Once the soldiers arrived someone went and summoned my grandmother and my dad and his two older brothers who were all under 5 years old at the time.
The Sergeant read Henri's papers and said, "These are expired. Your holiday is over. It is time for you to return to work."
Then my grandmother came in with the three boys gathered around her legs, crying pitifully.
The Sergeant, standing firmly with his men pointing their submachineguns at the men in the bar, looked at my grandmother and then Henri.
"Right. Return to work tomorrow."
He knew full well that Henri would never be seen again but like many German soldiers was a decent man.
That night Henri was whisked away by the resistance back to France to hide out and work on a farm.

In the early 1950's he had the opportunity to go to Australia - on the other side of the world - and be factory foreman for a tapestry company. It was a five year deal. At the end of the time he could come home (back to civilisation). He stayed.
His five children all married in Australia and he left behind 13 grandchildren and lots of great grandchildren.
This photo was taken a couple of years ago. He had a walking stick but in any photos the stick was whisked away behind his back. "It makes me look old," he liked to remark.
Please pray for the repose of his soul.

8 comments:

Matthew S said...

May he rest in peace!!!

Kez said...

I've been lurking on your blog for a few weeks. So sorry to hear about your Pater - he certainly had an interesting life, and it sounds like he passed peacefully.

Anonymous said...

what a great story! im sorry for you. but what do you mean by "repose of his soul?"

Adele said...

What a neat man and what a wonderful story about the war. Nice to hear that he was spared! We will pray for the repose of his soul.

God bless,

DavidofOz said...

"Repose of his soul" is the phrase used to ask God to help the soul through to his final destination.
After death we are proved ("as by fire" according to St Paul) and as the prayers of a just man avail much, we pray that God will make the departed soul's final journey as quick as possible to his eternal rest.
This is part of the doctrine of Purgatory and the last four things - death, judgement, heaven and hell.

Bill said...

Sad to hear. Prayers will be said for you and the rest of the family during this trying time and prayers especially for your grandfather. God bless.

jugglingpaynes said...

What a wonderful man. May he rest in peace. My heartfelt condolences for your loss. My prayers are with you and your family.

Adriana and Paul said...

So sorry to hear of your Pater's passing. Your family loved him very much and he got to know his great grandchildren... he lived a full life. Love Paul and Adriana