Today, on what would have been Dad's 93rd birthday, I'll attend a Mass that's being said for him in my parish church. I reserved this date not long after his passing, had to book it about 20 months in advance. Dad would get a kick out of this. "I guess they give priority to the Catholics," he'd say. (He was not one!)
Thinking of all the funny things Dad said to me growing up, the gentle religious humor. "Just tell 'em it's your father's feast day," he'd suggest, deadpan, when I didn't want to go to school. We always got a holiday on the feast day of our pastor and principal, Father O'Neill.
It was the humor of an agnostic. Only Dad pulled a fast one. At the end of his life he reverted to the Methodism of his youth, went to church most Sundays. When I was in town, I would go with him, reveling in his rich baritone as he belted out the hymns he learned as a kid.
Was he hedging his bets by returning to church? Not Dad. It wasn't out of fear that he returned, I think, but out of love. He was a deeply grateful man. I imagine he was saying a lot of "thank-you's." Today I'll be doing the same.