At four thirty I was at the foot of our Father’s bed.
I hadn’t the courage to embrace him, or even to touch his hand. He was stretched out in a state of frightening prostration. His head bent and barely held in place, the arms hanging at both sides, the eyes half closed and glazed. I couldn’t see the gleam in them. And they looked to me that day to be just the same as they looked on the Sunday after his death.
I sat on the foot of the bed, turned towards Father. After a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes, Father awoke (in a manner of speaking). He looked to right and to left, his crucifix, his room. - His glances were lively and astonished. - I was present at a resurrection. I can’t think of a better comparison to this state than that of a man who sleeps in a coach and, waking up 100 leagues further on, looks all around him to ascertain where he is.
I waited, Father’s eyes fell on me.- He smiled, took my hand. I didn’t dare embrace him! - And I said to him “My poor Father, you are suffering a lot - a sign of denial. - Do you recognise me?” Then putting his hand over my head, he covered my forehead as with a caress squeezing it, he made a sign with his eyes and his head as if to say “Ah! do I recognise you! Clearly!” He smiled warmly. - Never have I been so deeply touched by a sign of affection from Father. I wouldn’t know how to express all that I understood of goodness, of affection in that paternal caress. - But still not a word!
We sat down to table. Father said to me during this time: “You came on the 11 o’clock train?” - Yes Father. - “That’s good”.
At the moment of eating, he blessed our meal from his bed, and sat up at the foot of the bed. He never wanted to remain lying down during our meal. - He feared, O thoughtfulness! That the sight of his suffering might put us off eating.
He took a very light bouillon. In the evening I was too tired to stay up and I was sent to lie down. Nanette told me the next day that the night hadn’t been too bad.
The medication consisted of refreshments on his forehead and temples.
The doctor could not define the illness. Possibly meningitis, cerebral congestion, above all fatigue pushed to its absolute limits, a body worn out under the activity of an over-energetic spirit which gave all it could. Dr. Douillard thought that the rheumatism which had plagued Father for 10 months and had spread throughout his body had eventually gone to his brain.
In the evening before going to bed, I sent a despatch to Paris, truthful, but not too alarming. It was the cause of the departure of Fr. Chanuet and Mademoiselle Thomas who arrived on Wednesday evening.
This text is transcribed from a copy preserved in the Archives of the French Province in Paris. The Punctuation has been slightly adjusted for ease of reading.
The copy from the Paris archive has as its title, in Fr. J. Lavigne’s writing, “Notes of very Rev. Fr. Tesniere (Bro. Albert) on the last days of Blessed Peter Julian Eymard”.