Katie Faley: Grateful for the 100-year life and wisdom of my Grandpa Faley
Cause of Our Joy / Katie Faley
My grandfather, Mike Faley, lived 100 years before peacefully passing away this past Valentine’s Day.
When my grandmother died in 2004, Grandpa started coming to my family’s home for dinner every night, eventually moving in last year. I got a front row seat to the vast wisdom of my Grandpa, both through his long life and his words.
Just a couple of weeks before Grandpa passed, Pope Francis invited young people to seek out and learn from the wisdom of the elderly, establishing a World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly to be celebrated yearly on the fourth Sunday of July.
Pope Francis said grandparents and the elderly “remind us that old age is a gift and that grandparents are the link between generations, passing on the experience of life and faith to the young.”
My Grandpa was certainly a link to the generations of the past and a source of wisdom for me and all of his other grandchildren.
The man was 100. Every time I hugged my Grandpa, I was hugging an antique. He lived through the Great Depression, served in World War II, and was older than soft-serve ice cream. He was a living history book!
Nearly all of 2020 — the year he turned 100 — was devoted to him in the Faley Family. I learned more about Grandpa this past year than ever before. I learned that he was voted “Most Likely to Go to Ireland” in high school, won a ticket to the World’s Fair of 1934, and was the reason my dad was “cursed” with being a Cubs fan.
I could list 100 things I learned from Grandpa and not be done, but these are the things that I want to definitively remember.
GOD. FAMILY. IRELAND.
I had the privilege of bringing the sacrament of the Eucharist to my Grandpa these last few months. The way that he would receive the sacrament with such reverence — bowing his head with folded hands, eyes closed in prayer — reminded me of just how sacred the Eucharist is. To think that he now is living the fullness of the Eucharistic Celebration with Christ Himself in eternal life is a rather astonishing thought.
For a man who was an only child, Grandpa built an empire. He and my Grandma had seven children, 20 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren. Grandpa did not miss a single family moment. He was present for every milestone and family celebration. Family meant being there.
My Grandpa loved Ireland. He was proudly 100 percent Irish. He loved whistling along to Bing’s rendition of “Irish Lullaby.” His favorite movie was “The Quiet Man” — set in Ireland — and a fitting favorite as Grandpa was a quiet man. Though he was a man of few words, that is one of the most valuable lessons I learned from him. When he had something worthwhile to say, he said it. He understood that words are powerful and spoke up when it mattered most.
He let the example of his actions speak for him. He spent 40 years volunteering for many organizations. He was a small man with a big heart.
CAUSE OF OUR JOY
He never missed his favorite show: “Lawrence Welk.” He would often be found tapping his foot along to the music. He must have been taking notes from Bobby and Cissy. At every family wedding, he could always be found showing off his fancy footwork as he twirled the bride around the dance floor. He was young at heart and found so much joy from living life.
He was the product of a simpler time.
For Grandpa Faley, life was simple. His life was ordered to serve God and others. Everything else just came simply out of that.
Last summer I asked Grandpa, “How did you and Grandma meet?” He said, “I had just moved to Peoria, and it was time to find a wife.” He met my Grandma at a picnic and asked her to dance. A year later, he married her. He didn’t have to think about it, he knew she was the one. He didn’t overcomplicate it.
For him, life was simple. His life was ordered to serve God and others. Everything else just came simply out of that.
Grandpa was a joyful, generous, faithful, simple, funny, quiet, family man, and I am certain that he was welcomed into eternity with the words, “Well done good and faithful servant. . . . Enter the joy of your master.” I am incredibly grateful for the gift of his wisdom and life. I was beyond lucky to have had my everyday life intertwined with his for all of my 25 years. I hope everybody has somebody like Grandpa Faley in their life.
KATIE FALEY is a member of St. Mark Parish in Peoria and is digital marketing coordinator for the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. She has a master’s degree in theology and theological studies from the University of Notre Dame. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.