July 23, 2018 marks one year since the lives of Mum, Akash and I changed forever.
This day a year ago, my beloved father left us at the most unexpected time for his eternal dwelling.
It was the day my heart shattered into a million pieces and I wondered how life carried on as normal around me, while my world felt like it had come to an end; the day that family and friends from all over the world mourned the man who they tell me had touched their lives with selfless love and a unique friendship.
Almost a year on, the enormous void Papa’s passing continues to manifest itself at every moment – the void of his booming voice echoing through the house while he was on the phone, his singing, his dancing, the jokes to which I would roll my eyes, followed by his loud laughter, his cheerful greetings to the constant stream of visitors to our house, his winding me up to get a reaction from me.
I miss his larger than life personality, his unconditional and complete selfless love for me, his sound wisdom in all situations, his cheering and encouragement every time I had a success story no matter how small it was, his praying with me, his bear hugs where I felt safe with the knowledge that no matter what went wrong it would be okay as he was there; the list is endless but most of all I just miss his presence in my life.
It is said that time heals and makes things easier, yet I still feel the constant crushing grief in my heart; all time has done is teach me how to live with that grief.
As time went by following his passing, I made a decision to do my best to choose to joy each day, no matter how difficult it was going to be – as everyone who encountered Papa knew that his life was one of constant joy no matter how difficult things were.
He believed that the best way to get through life’s challenges was to find happiness in the small things and to laugh as often as one could.
Love of God
His personal life, deeply influenced by his work with Saint Mother Teresa, was strongly driven by love of God and love of people.
Papa had the biggest heart of anyone I ever knew, he was a giver and his life was all about helping anyone that crossed his path without being asked.
As his daughter, I witnessed daily his enormous heart of kindness, care and service towards others manifested in the multitude of calls, visits, financial and physical help, but what has astounded me over the last year was when I realised that everything I saw was just one part of the story.
I have heard from numerous others, including strangers about how he was there for them at their time of need, how they knew they could count on him anytime they needed something and how they felt truly loved and cared for in his presence.
Saint Mother Teresa once said that “for love to be real, it has to cost us, it should empty us of self – love is to give till it hurts.”
Papa was always about giving and helping no matter what it would cost him.
His love for others was selfless; every day of his life was lived with a purpose to serve anywhere he saw a need and he expected nothing in return.
Commitment and Sacrifice
Papa always strove to be the best that he could be in all that he did; he did not desire recognition or success but anything he did was always performed with the utmost passion, commitment, hard work and sacrifice and this was recognised by the awards, accolades and posts he received from government, business and church.
In the year after his passing, as I met with leaders from these groups at various events, I was reminded of another quote from Saint Mother Teresa – “If we want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it. Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
Everyone is Special
Papa’s ability to relate to anyone he came across and make them feel like they were the most special person regardless of who they were meant that while each of these people recalled Papa as someone who was amazing at all the various professional tasks he undertook with them, their most distinct memory of him was someone who made them feel like they were truly valued, respected and cherished as a person.
That he was the reason one believed in the goodness of humanity, that every time they met him it made them want to be a better person, that each time just being around him somehow made them come back to what was really important in life, that he loved, accepted and developed a friendship with everyone who crossed his path, that he had the ability to be a true leader that brought out the best in all the groups he led, that he would make time to advise and help them with their challenges; these were just a few of the hundreds of messages I have been blessed to have received and heard over the last year.
My family and I would also like to thank each one of you who have continued to remember and honour Papa’s memory and who have shared in our grief with us. Thank you to those who have continued to remember us as a family through keeping in touch, visiting us and extending support and offers of help.
I also want to pay tribute to the incredible strength of my mother – her courage, her sacrifice despite her pain and her determination to stay upbeat and positive to ensure that Akash and I can continue to live our lives the best we can is something that I am truly inspired by and thankful for. Papa’s loss has meant that life has changed forever for us.
As Saint Mother Teresa said, “A life not lived for others is not a life.”
And so I take comfort and solace in knowing that Papa’s life was a triumphant one that was lived for others in love; the legacy of incredible faith, generosity, humility and sacrifice which he leaves behind and has been appreciated by hundreds around the world.
I am so incredibly proud, honoured and blessed to be the daughter of this incredible man and my prayer and hope is that my life will be at least a small reflection of this continued love, service and reaching out to those around me.
Sneha Anthony is the daughter of Wenceslaus Anthony, who was the Chairman of the Indian Newslink Community Fund. The Divine Retreat Centre, of which he was the Chairman, will conduct the First Year Memorial Eucharistic Celebration at 4 pm on Sunday, July 22, 2018 at St John Vianney Church, 317 Hillsborough Road, Hillsborough, Auckland.
Mrs Susan Anthony has organised a Memorial Service at the cemetery at 1130 am where Mr Anthony is buried in Chennai and a Mass at Loyola College at 5 pm on July 23, 2018. We will report on the Services in our next issue.
Additional Reading: ‘No greater sorrow than to recall happiness’ under Viewlink
Photo Caption: An illustrious family: The late Wenceslaus Anthony with his beloved wife Susan, son Akash and daughter Sneha (Picture Supplied)