Mom, Regina, always knew who she was, a child of God. And she knew where she was going, back to her Father’s house. She shared with me in her later years that God had given her a gift, a moment of insight during a time of prayer and reflection, about who she is. She said that she saw the day of her conception… she was “there” and God was “there.” God said, “Who will go?” and she called out, “I will go!” Without even thinking twice, she knew it was her time to begin her life journey.

She was born into a chaotic and violent world, the Berlin of World War II. Her earliest memories include bombing air raids, war-torn streets, lack of basic necessities, and death. But she was born into a family of faith. She had two choices, to be angry with God or to TRUST Him completely. She chose to TRUST. In her child-like trust, and with the love of her mom and sister, she learned that even in a violent and difficult world we can create beauty and find love! She kept that child-like heart for her entire life!

Mom loved life so much that she wanted a house full of kids… she joked about having her own soccer team! Well, she didn’t quite make it to twelve, stopping at number 5. Her training as a kindergarten teacher matched her child-like spirit so perfectly and made for some wonderful experiences in our growing years. She always had things us to do: art projects, visiting museums, music & dance lessons – even extra penmanship practice. We had lots of family time, playing board games and cards regularly! She made sure we learned to speak, read, and write German so that we could have a real relationship with our grandparents, aunts & uncles, and cousins still in Germany.

Mom loved to entertain! She met dad at classical dance lessons. They were paired because they made excellent dance partners. In their years together, they would throw New Years parties, rolling up the carpet and dancing the night away! Their love for entertaining and love of their faith caused them to open their home to bible-study groups, home masses, and singing practices!

Mom’s life revolved around music and prayer! She taught herself to play several instruments. I remember the peace and joy I felt as I lay in bed at night, listening to mom practice piano. She sang with us from the time we were born. We sang in the evenings, we sang in the car (to keep us occupied), we sang at church, we sang at bedtime. When we were not singing, she played music, classical of course, and Christian contemporary, and big band or jazz on occasion. We even sang while she tolerated her double-whammy 2-minute shots at the cancer center in these last years!

Mom’s heart went far beyond our home! She served in so many ways. Her joy was to lead worship! She served at prayer meetings and churches, pretty much anywhere she found herself for an extended time, in Joppatown, then Bel Air, later in Canada. For her last 10 years mom served at St. Peter’s in Oakland, MD. Through the years, she was involved with youth catechesis and adult faith formation including marriage encounter and cursillo. She served food to shut-ins and even baked communion bread at one point. Not to mention her service at local thrift shops where she found many a treasure!

Mom and dad opened their home to others who needed a helping hand or a safe place! Serving at the Army base in Edgewood, MD, mom always found young army men and women who were happy to join our family for Sunday dinner. When I was in highschool, I had a classmate who was in trouble. I implored my parents to give him a place to stay. They did, and even though he stole from us, they did not stop opening their home. We have several extra brothers and sisters who passed through our home during their life journeys. 

The love mom showed people seemed to have no bounds. She always had time to talk to people and help people. One neighbor came running to the house one day with a young boy in her care who had gotten hurt. Mom dropped everything and spent as much time as it took to treat the boy, sing to him, and pray with him and the neighbor. And she never slowed down. At the age of 50 she became licensed in massage. For her, the healing nature of massage therapy was intimately tied to the healing ministry of Jesus. For the short time she practiced, she gave her whole heart to those whom she served.

Mom was a hugger! All her grandchildren LOVED their OMI’s hugs! Everyone tells stories of how wonderful her hugs are! One person shared with me that when Regina hugged her it was as if Mom was taking away her pain! Her oncologist shared with me that mom offered all her suffering for others. She never complained and did not act sick. She was always ready with a hug and a smile. 

I was so grateful to be with mom from the time she entered hospice to her last breath. Even in her pain and discomfort, her generosity was clear in the continuous stream of visitors, her peers, her children, foster children, adjunct army children, and especially her grandchildren, who came to sit with her, talk to her, cry for her, thank her, and to return the love she gave them as she lay in her bed. And as much as she was able, she smiled at them, touched them, and told them how precious they were.

The Catholic Church teaches that it is better to suffer consequences for our sins here on earth rather than in purgatory because at least here there might be someone to hold your hand, give you a hug, pray with you, cry with you, or just sit with you, where-as in Purgatory we suffer alone. I like to think that between mom’s experiences in war-torn Germany, the challenges in the aftermath, raising 5 strong-willed children, and finally suffering 2½ years of cancer, qualifies her for immediate entry into the arms of her loving Father!

Regina always knew who she was, a child of God. She rejoiced in little things, the bright and the beautiful and she trusted God even when her life seemed in turmoil. And now she has her final reward, back home, in heaven.

Rest In Peace, Mom

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With sadness, I post here about the loss of Phillihp Harmon, the first of our three children. He was given to us in our early 20’s. We could not imagine life without this wonderful person. Together, we embarked on an amazing journey. He gifted me three logo designs for Lamps-A-Glow, two of which are in use today. He lived intensely and joyously. His generosity and concern for others would make any parent proud.

Rest In Peace, my Son

-- Bernadette (click to send me a note)


Phillihp Lind Harmon, 37, of Fredericksburg, Virginia, passed away on September 22, 2023, surrounded by family and friends. After fighting the impact of a seizure and ensuing cardiac event for six days, Phil went to be with his grandmothers, Barbara Harmon and Regina Opalka.

Phil was born on November 17, 1985, to Michael and Bernadette Harmon in Cumberland, Maryland. He was a dedicated son and an incredibly supportive and loving older brother to Gregory Harmon (Joanna Baker) and Jennifer Harmon (Patrick Daley). Phil and Greg formed a strong bond with their cousin Manuel Garcia; they were known in the family as the three musketeers. Phil spent his formative years in Damascus, Maryland, where he made many lifelong friends. He went on to study Computer Science at Frostburg State University.

On May 31, 2015, Phil met his wife-to-be, Megan Aitchison. They married in a private ceremony on May 31, 2017, during which the officiant mistakenly pronounced them husband and wife two times. On May 27, 2018, they celebrated their marriage with family and friends. Phil liked to joke that they loved each other so much, they had to keep getting married.

Phil and Megan had Charlotte Amelia Harmon on October 18, 2017, and Amma Elizabeth Harmon on December 30, 2019. Phil was an amazing father; he especially enjoyed teaching his girls to swim, to bike, and to share his love of techno music. His daughters celebrate his life by singing and dancing to his favorite songs and reading the stories he wrote and published just for them.

Phil had a passion for computer programming and development and was a brilliant IT Architect. In December 2006, Phil opened XellTech, Inc. Through his business, Phil supported website development for a wide variety of industries, including those in education, retail, finance, government, advertising, and travel.

Phil loved fishing, gardening, and travel. He had gone to five of the seven continents; he had plans to travel to Australia and Antarctica with his wife and daughters to finish out the list. He enjoyed annual fishing or international trips with his best friend, Thomas Johncox, including a recent halibut trip to Alaska.

Phil had the biggest heart one could. Through his physical donation to Infinite Legacy, parts of him will give life and quality of life to many people. He also encouraged financial literacy and education, and regularly participated in, taught, and sponsored Dave Ramsey education courses. He dreamed of starting a nonprofit to support the Ramsey Foundations in Personal Finance curriculum being available in classrooms nationwide. If you are inclined to donate in his honor, please consider supporting Foundations Curriculum Sponsorship.

Phillihp's life was celebrated by family and friends with a Memorial Mass on September 29, 2023, at Saint Paul Catholic Church in Damascus, Maryland and a friends and family gathering that same evening at Lone Oak Farm Brewing Company in Olney, Maryland.

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Just two days after Phillihp left us, his puppy, whom he adopted in the spring of 2014 (pictured above), also met an untimely end. RIP Dot (2014 to Sep 24, 2023) 

With sadness, I post here about the loss of Phillihp Harmon, the first of our three children. He was given to us in our early 20’s. We could not imagine life without this wonderful person. Together, we embarked on an amazing journey. He gifted me three logo designs for Lamps-A-Glow, two of which are in use today. He lived intensely and joyously. His generosity and concern for others would make any parent proud.

Rest In Peace, my Son

-- Bernadette (click to send me a note)


Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Yes, glory. Even on this day of necessary tears, glory to God in the highest. The glory of God is man and woman and child, fully alive, not just for this brief sojourn we have here in this beautiful earth that God created out of nothing but beginning now and going on forever and ever.

It is said that grace builds on nature. And it is my privilege to be here for this memorial Mass where we saw that enacted right before our eyes. Right in our presence, that word was fulfilled in the beautiful eulogy that we just heard. It was very easy to follow Megan's eulogy because she hit all the high points. She told us to not be discouraged by Phillihp's passing, because the twinkle in his eyes and the smile on his face and the way he always took care of everyone in his path, included them in friendship – that's what we are hearing fulfilled in these readings. Grace builds on nature.

The souls of the just are in the hand of God, period and full stop. No torment shall touch them. They seemed in the view of the foolish to be dead. That would be you and me. That would be all of us living in this social imaginary, which seems to be restricted to what I can see and what I can feel and what I can touch, and what can be materially measured by what we now call science. But that is what there is. One more word to put this in context.

Both the reading from the Book of Wisdom and the Gospel according to Matthew are parables. They are not listed as parables, you can’t find them if you could go and google, or whatever artificial intelligence there is, and don't go to AI. You could always tell a parable is a parable because your reaction is, in the first reading, “I'm not exactly sure what you're saying. But I am sure that I don't really like it.” I am sure that I don't really like hearing that those who are blessed are the poor in spirit, the ones who mourn, the ones who… the meek…, the ones... you know. It's OK when he says, blessed are the merciful, the clean of heart, the peacemakers. But he starts in a very counter-intuitive way and ends in a more challenging way. Blessed are you when they insult and persecute you and misunderstand you, utter every kind of evil against you because maybe you're not a card-carrying registered member of some Catholic parish somewhere. Blessed are you to be misunderstood because Jesus was completely misunderstood before you.

The promise is the second reading. This is the first time I have ever had this reading, this beautiful hymn to love from 1st Corinthians at a memorial Mass. And good thing too, because God created everything out of nothing. He created creation ex nihilo, in the Latin that I have forgotten, creation out of nothing. And we have this beautiful reading, the choice that is before us, which is eight times telling us what love is not. Eight times we understand what is nothing. We started with two things about what love is, love is patient, love is kind. Thank you, Phillihp for living it out. And then we have eight things that love is not, eight nothings that appear to be the way that jealousy, pompous inflation, rude, seeking one's own answers, quick temper, brooding over injuries, rejoicing over wrongdoing. OK, and then we finish with six things that love is. Love rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, it believes all things, it hopes all things, it endures all things. Love never fails.

We're here because of our faith in the fact that love, and everything was created out of nothing, everything was created out of love, that love never fails. We are asked to move beyond the view of the foolish. To whom? Eternal life. That is the reason why we are here. That is the reason why we are all dressed up. That is the reason why it is right and just and proper and necessary that we be here to mark Phillihp's life. That's because grace builds on nature and is pointing to the celebration on the other side. And so we pray…

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

-- Fr. Frederick Close

Fr. Frederick Close presides and preaches at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Washington DC.

Readings during the Memorial Mass:

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