I woke up this morning with my home phone ringing. My home phone only rings if my parents or my grandmother calls… or if there is an emergency concerning my parents. As soon as I heard the phone I had the certainty that there was bad news. My uncle, Bishop Uriah Ashley, had passed away during the night.
He was not a natural brother of my dad, but was for that it is worth, a brother. Throughout my life, Monsignor Uriah, like he was usually called, was a constant rock of love, hope, and faith. My grandmother invited him once for dinner when he was part of the seminary in a small town where my father is from. From that dinner, from that moment, he became one more brother to all my father and his 7 siblings.
He officiated his first Matrimony ceremony then he married my parents. He baptized me and my brother and every other cousin (we are many). When my grandmother got diagnosed with ALS he was there to give faith, strength, hope, and most importantly comfort.
When he has ordained Bishop he took his sisters (my three aunts and my mom) to the Vatican where they were given an audience with Pope John Paul II, which has been the highlight of my mother’s life ever since. A few months later when my brother died in a tragic accident, he was there again, loyal to his faith and guiding us with his strength on God.
He married me, he baptized my sons, he spoke very well English and always took the time to talk with my husband, reassuring him that although he was not Catholic, he was family. He would come and visit us in New Orleans when possible and after Katrina when we lost everything, he was there to help us see that all is not lost, if we had each other and the will to rebuild. He blessed our homes, he blessed our lives, he blessed our hearts.
Today I am sad, I am sad that he died alone in a Hospital room with no one around him except for nurses and doctors due to complications of Covid. I am sad that after everything he gave us, all his time and love, my parents and my aunts and uncles were not with him to say goodbye.
Today is Thanksgiving, and I am focusing on giving thanks to him, to Monsignor Uriah Ashley, for teaching me unwavering love for God’s will and I thank him for always remind me that having faith is our choice a choice we make with our hearts.
Today I am sitting at my table, with just my husband and my kids, thankful that I was touched by him, taught by him, guided by him, loved by him.