It was a sudden realization that I remembered that we have reached the third anniversary of the death of my good friend Margaret Davis. We first met Margaret and Dennis when we attended a meeting that was designed to stop the local council allowing a hotel to be opened in the main shopping area of Castle Hill,Sydney. We belonged to the same parish and as we sat there waiting for the meeting to begin we got talking to each other. Margaret and Dennis had been married for more than 60 years when Margaret passed away as a result of a stroke. She was very dedicated to the Divine Mercy and so it was fitting that she should die on the feast of St. Faustina. I can remember the funeral service and the tribute given to Margaret by our parish priest at the time, and his expression of how we were all going to miss Margaret. It is true, because I used to tease her because she was so slow with walking (she had fractured her hip) and on the Sunday I would be always calling out “come on Margaret, hurry up”. We used to always sit behind Margaret and Dennis every Sunday, and then when I attended Saturday Mass, I used to sit in front of them. It was a wonderful friendship with an elderly couple.
This weekend was also the first anniversary of the death of another good friend, Dr. Frank Orioles. Frank was a very faith-filled man from an Italian background. He passed away as a result of secondary bone cancer as a result of having cancer of the kidney. I watched as Frank struggled against his cancer and yet he continued to come each day to daily Mass. Another good friend, Vince, decided that Frank was not well enough to drive himself to the church, and so Vince devoted himself to picking up Frank every morning. If Frank was not there, then I would ask where he was. There is little that I can say about Frank, but I have a lot of endearing memories, especially memories concerning his sense of humour.
I met Frank in Castle Hill because he was a member of the same family group. Over the years this family group endured a lot together. The original group went through the children receiving first Holy Communion, Confirmation, and marriages. Then the son-in-law of one member passed away from stomach cancer – he was only 32. On the very next day my grandmother passed away after a series of heart attacks – she was just shy of 99. Frank’s mother passed away, and then the brother of one of the group members suddenly passed away as a result of a heart attack (I knew John from daily Mass). Other members also lost family members. The group was there when my father suffered a stroke and then he died, and I am grateful to Frank for his concern, especially in answering my questions, and 18 months later my sister died from primary bone cancer. Other members lost mothers and fathers, but in all we were able to give each other support at those times of loss of family members.
Even when Frank was so very sick, he always enquired about my health. He knew that I had not been very well, and he always maintained concern. If I missed the daily Mass for any reason, I would get a phone call from Frank asking me if anything was wrong. That was Frank Orioles. A gentle man who put himself out for others.