Mother named me Dismas. I was very close to mother--closer than any of my brothers. Mother loved beautiful things and whenever she sang her evening songs, I was by her side even when no one else cared to hear her sing. I always thought memories of her voice would be the last thing I'd ever hear before I died.
My wife and I were childless. The problem was more with me than with my wife. The local priest had done everything he could do to remedy my marital difficulties. When word got out, accidentally, about why I had been to the priest so often, my wife and I were the shame of the town.
After many false starts, my wife and I parted ways and she remarried an older man who could give her what I could not, a son. Before I knew where I was headed I was doing odd jobs to survive. Before long, I fell in with a bad crowd and when things were at their lowest, I was imprisoned and condemned to hang on the cross.
With me were crucified two others, one of my former associates and a quiet man whom I had once heard speak by a quiet lake when I was still with my wife. I never forgot his simple words: "Come to me and I will give you rest."
As the pain ebbed and flowed I tired of hearing my fellow partner-in-crime curse and berate the quiet teacher. I told him that we deserved our punishment, but not this quiet and gentle man in the center cross. I knew that at some point they would take me down from the cross and break my legs. Before the pain made me lose consciousness and, eventually, my life, I looked at the gentle teacher and asked him to remember me as no one had ever done before in my sad life.
He looked at me and said that I'd be with him in paradise. I believed him and watched him die and cry out his painful cry of abandonment. I had hours or minutes to live, and any greater pain I would soon endure would be excruciating for sure, but the sound of his words of a future life with him, gave me hope that this would not be the end of my story.
As death wrapped its merciful arms around me, instead of my mother's songs, I remembered his kind words telling me that I'd be in paradise with him some day.