Sunday, September 21, 2008

of the faithful departed

The tragic story of Thomas Vander Woude's death brought my daughter to tears as I told her about it yesterday. Not because he drowned in a septic tank but because of the reason why.

If I had realized that Mr. Vander Woude lived in Prince William County, Virginia, I might have been quicker to read the details of his life. My wife and I lived there too when we bought a townhouse in Dale City. Like countless other deejays, I first read the news when I saw the following paragraph on Perry Simon's showprep page last week:
No, you may not laugh about this poor guy drowning in a septic tank, not after he died saving his son, who had fallen in before him. He was being heroic.
At the time, I didn't click on the link to read the full story. I wish I had. When the Catholic blog Whispers in the Loggia picked it up, I saw the limitless scope of a father's love for his child. The blog quoted heavily from a very good Washington Post profile of the man.

An earlier piece in the Post described how the retired Mr. Vander Woude attended daily Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and spent his days working around his property with his son Joseph, who has Down syndrome. When the cover to the septic tank collapsed under Joseph, Thomas jumped in and got under his son, pushing him up until rescuers could pull Joseph out. By the time they pulled Thomas out of the sewage, the father of seven was unconscious and could not be revived.

As Bishop Paul Loverde pointed out at the funeral, Mr. Vander Woude's sacrifice was "saintly." Rocco Palmo, the writer of Whispers in the Loggia, picked up on the fact that not only are people praying for the Vander Woude family but that an emailer to National Review found themselves praying to Thomas. Parents everywhere should be inspired by Mr. Vander Woude's example of selflessness.

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Anonymous Ryan Kazinec said...

That is absolutely horrible. Your right, there is absolutely no humor to this story once your realize what he died doing. That's the kind of love a father should have for their son.

Blogger Maryan said...

Thank you for the thoughtful words for my father-in-law. He truly was everything that is said... and this is from a daughter-in-law. We thank God that Joseph is alive today because of his heroic efforts.


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