In the death of a good man

"In experiencing the death of my father, a normal and profoundly good man, I have been able to reflect on the transcendence of the lives of so many people who may not be famous but who leave a deep furrow with their wisdom in establishing the priorities of their existence. As Stephen Covey's famous phrase says: the most important thing is that the most important thing is the most important thing. And it seems to me that this is especially true at the end of someone's life".

September 20, 2021-Reading time: 4 minutes

This past July I was able to take my parents, aged 83 and 79 respectively, to the Jubilee in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It was a particularly beautiful day and my father, a Ferrol native who studied law in the city of the Apostle many years ago, was especially happy and was telling us about the places he had frequented in his distant youth. Weeks earlier he had published an article in Omnes on The Tomb of St. James the Greater, one of his most studied themes.

A little over a month later, a bad fall in the house where he was spending his vacations fractured his hip and, after 18 days of complications, he died in a hospital in the city where he was born. Fortunately, during the previous days he was able to say goodbye to his wife and children, with a peace and tranquility of conscience that are the greatest treasure in those decisive moments. Earlier, he had been able to receive the last sacraments from his son, a priest.

In the many conversations I had with him over the years that I was able to enjoy his company, because in addition to being my father I can say that he was my best friend, he knew how to transmit to me the priorities he had had throughout his life. A deeply believing man, for him the first thing was his dealings with God, immediately after his family and then his work, and then everything else. And I believe that this order of priorities allowed him to die with peace and serenity.

He was estranged from God in his youth, but he regained his faith after graduating from college and, since then, he has based his life on the rock of faith in Jesus Christ, God and Man, within the Catholic Church. Then he met my mother, a courageous woman of firm convictions, and that was decisive for his life and that of all his children. The fact that they both belonged to Opus Dei was a great help for his life and for the Christian education of his children, as my father gratefully acknowledged on his deathbed.

She did not lack difficulties and heartaches in life, such as the death of a son a few days after his birth or of another young daughter, mother of four children, due to cancer, or various illnesses of her own and of some of her seven children. Or work difficulties, which she also had. All of them he faced with fortitude and serenity, confident that God "squeezes but does not suffocate". and that, as St. Teresa of Avila used to say, "harshly God treats those he loves".

A civil servant in the public administration of the State, he was a great lover of the humanities, especially history. In his scarce free time he took advantage of his free time to read and enrich his library, which he was excited that his children and friends took advantage of. He knew how to transmit his love for reading to his children because he was convinced that it is something fundamental if one wants to achieve critical thinking and not be manipulated by the fashions of the moment.

A great lover of the classics, he liked to quote the "aurea mediocritas" Horatio as the ideal of his life, something like the life of the common man. A passionate movie buff, he greatly enjoyed the films of Frank Capra, who so well profiled that common American man, deeply honest, even naive, and profoundly human. In his youth he painted beautiful watercolors of Galician landscapes, a hobby inherited from his father, and won several painting prizes in Santiago, Madrid and Portugal.

Born at the end of the Spanish Civil War, he lived through the post-war period and was educated by his parents in austerity and the need to work and strive to get ahead. During the Franco regime, he was not a sympathizer of the regime, but like many of his generation, he was later bothered by some of the lies that were told about those years. The Transition aroused in him great hopes and some disappointments. At the end of his life he was aware that politics is difficult and warned about the unfulfilled promises of many politicians who promise simple solutions to complex problems.

Being a reserved man, he was very cordial and was appreciated by his bosses and co-workers, as well as by all the neighbors who attended his funeral in good numbers. A person of firm convictions, he knew how to dialogue and respect those who did not think like him, especially in the last years of his life. He did not tolerate fanatics of one sign or another.

There are many good and honest people who die every day without making noise, but who contribute infinitely more to the common good than other people who spend a few years in the limelight.

Santiago Leyra

I make this review of his life aware that very probably nothing worthy of being transferred to film or literature can be found in it. He was a normal man, with many virtues and some defects. He did not like to speak in public or to be the center of attention, because of his temperament. One of his main characteristics was his inability to lie.

And I am also aware that my father's life was not unique. I am convinced that there are many good and honest people who die every day without making any noise, but who contribute infinitely more to the common good than other people who spend a few years in the "candlestick" and who sometimes trade their soul for a stint in power or under the spotlight of the cameras.

With my father, a generation is leaving, and I believe that those of us who come after him have a lot to thank for. Ordinary people, who have tried to do their duty and bring their families forward. At a time when there is a certain pessimism about the present and the future, I wanted to highlight one of those good lives that manage to reach the goal of every honest man: to be loved by his loved ones and to be sent away with gratitude.

Ah, my father's name was Ángel María Leyra Faraldo.

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