A Reflection on the Passing of Anthony DiBiase
Some might say that Anthony DiBiase was handicapped, or in some way disabled, but they did not know Anthony. He may have been considered developmentally challenged, but he faced that challenge every day with grace and a deep faith. He rarely complained, unless Mary Ann refused to take him to Poppie’s.
Anthony inspired me to accept life as it is, which is not always as we might want it to be. He was independent but knew that he could always count on his family, his God and the faith community of Emmanuel.
I have so many fond memories of Anthony. When we first came to Emmanuel he thought that I was trying to replace him as an altar server, so he would try to push me out of the way. When I explained who I was he accepted it, but still tried to tell me what to do. He was very observant. One year we returned to Florida after being in New York for six months and the first thing he said when he saw me was, “New glasses?” Somehow, he knew that I had bought new glasses shortly before I left New York. And I can still hear, and probably always will, Anthony ask “Coffee too?” or “Did you watch Cops last night?” or “Where did you have breakfast?”
I often quote my favorite verse from scripture: “You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Anthony was the living embodiment of that verse because he personified goodness and always walked humbly with his God. In so many ways he represented the best of us.
When an important person dies it is often said that he was “a pillar of the community.” A pillar gives a structure strength and beauty and that is what Anthony gave to all of us, so he certainly was a pillar of this community.
I don’t like to say, “Rest in peace,” because that is not what Jesus promises us. The promise is for eternal life and I know that Anthony is just beginning the enjoy the life that God has always intended for him.
Pat joins me in offering to Mary Ann and your family our most heartfelt condolences. I know that you are deeply saddened at this moment, as we all are. But we are comforted by the certain knowledge that Anthony will enjoy forever the Banquet of the Lord, and no one will ever again have to tell him to watch his diet.
Before we left last October Anthony would ask me, “Are you going to New York to visit?” And I would respond, “No, we are going there to live.” And he would put his head down and walk away.
Well, my friend, you have also found a new place to live. It is a wonderful place and in time we all hope to join you there. So, we don’t say good-bye. Just, until we meet again…
–Deacon Richard Santana