Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Fathers Day Remembrance

Dear Dad,

This is my first Fathers Day without you, and I can’t let it pass without sending a few notes your way, especially about your funeral service this past week. You would have enjoyed it.

Everyone who came had a story about what a very nice man you were, and how much they always enjoyed your company. Keith put together a great photo display so people of every generation could find photos of you as they remembered you.

1943, about to leave for WWII
You looked spiffy in your Knights of Columbus cutaway, as did those who served as honor guard at the funeral home (quite a surprise to any who hadn’t seen them before). (Darn, I have just searched for a photo of you in cutaway and chapeau, and I cannot find it.)

When I was the organist for funerals at Blessed Sacrament church all those years ago, we used some pretty trite hymns. I was glad that the church now has a really good soloist, and I liked all of the music (Al told me you chose two pieces and he and Keith augmented the list). This was especially good for me, because for days I’d had one stupid song running through my head: Lime in the Coconut. Oops, here it comes again.

You’d have been proud of all the arrangements Keith and Al made, of their heartfelt remarks that moved people to tears, and of Dave’s superb presentation of the readings.

As we prepared to leave the church, a big wave of sadness came over me. Yes, we were lucky to have you until age 95-and-a-half, and yes, it was a gift to spend time with you in your final months. But now that time is over, and I will miss you. I can tell that I have some tears yet to be shed, and they will probably come unexpectedly.

We had a brilliant blue sky for the graveside service, and I was very moved by the military honor guard, complete with flag, taps, and rifle salute. It reminded everyone of your WW II service, and it united us with the families of those still giving their lives for their country. I thought about the fact that questions of war and peace are irrelevant at such a moment. When the burial service was over, I laid a flower on Mom’s grave.

Most of all, you’d have loved dinner at Sammy’s Pizza after the visitation Monday evening. It was a once-in-a-lifetime gathering of your children with all Kay’s daughters - your stepdaughters - plus various kids and grandkids and friends and cousins. Everyone was on their cheerful best behavior, and several of us wished this could have happened while you were alive.

1951, with Lynne, Bruce, and me
Your friend and neighbor Odin came to the visitation, on his 98th birthday. A couple of Mom’s good friends came, and several relatives from her side drove up. Two of your former daughters-in-law were there. But the most celebrated guest was Jean, the woman who has cleaned your apartment at Talahi assisted living for the past year. I’d met her at the nursing home, and I’d seen her cry at finding you not doing well. She took vacation days and brought her two daughters to Hibbing for the funeral. Everyone welcomed her, included her in the dinner at Sammy’s, and couldn’t stop talking about what a wonderful thing it was that the staff could be so caring, and that you could make such a wonderful friend so quickly.

2010, clockwise Lynne, Dad, Keith, Al, Dave, me
I find that I am looking for my own words, my own rituals for saying farewell. The words and rituals of the church funeral, although I grew up with them, don’t console and uplift as they once might have. But in the people who came, the stories they told, the way they came together, there is great testimony to your life and your legacy. This brings comfort and inspiration. Rest in peace, Dad, and Happy Fathers Day.


MissBuckle said...

So sorry for your loss. Sounds like he had a great life, and that you were close.

Lots of love.

Grandmother Mary said...

What a loving and lovely tribute to your Dad. It is amazing how many lives a person can touch in their lifetime. A good reminder to do it in a way that sows love.

DJan said...

I realized, reading this, that our fathers were contemporaries. Although his life was so different, and he died so much earlier, I think they would have liked each other. A wonderful tribute to a wonderful man. Rest in peace, Dad.

And big virtual hugs to you, too.

Marion Williams-Bennett said...

This lovely tribute is a beautiful way to say goodbye. So much history and love here.

I am wishing you peace on your journey.

Sally Wessely said...

I shed a few tears as I read this. I totally understand how you wanted to tell your father about his service. I felt the same way after my dad died.

Our fathers were the same age. I am so sad to see this generation go. The men from this generation gave us much. I will forever miss those days when our fathers were young and we were children. Life seemed so much less complex then.

Your tribute was beautiful. I'm sure you will shed more tears in days to come, but I've found they are healing tears of sorrow for the one we love and miss so much. Blessings and peace to you.

Jeanie said...

I love the way you wrote this. You shared some very wonderful things about your father in telling about his funeral.
I wish you comfort and healing.

Indigo Roth said...

Those are some fabulous photos Nancy! Thanks for sharing this with us.

Linda Myers said...

I suspect your dad was right there, enjoying it all.

Emma said...

What a sweet post! I hope I'm lucky enough to have so many years with my dad, too!

Red Shoes said...

God Bless him and you!

I can tell you from personal experience that you will miss him for years to come...


laurie said...

oh this is lovely. and the pictures are terrific. and your sadness is palpable.

Far Side of Fifty said...

A wonderful tribute to your Dad and I enjoyed seeing the old photos.
To have a Funeral and Father's Day so close together must have been very difficult for you.
I sense that there are many undercurrents in all the family relationships especially with the steps..your brothers sound like they were in charge..I hope you were allowed a little input into the service:)

Linda Medrano said...

Nancy, I am so sorry for your loss. I'm glad you had him as long as you did. Still, we are never really ready to let go of people we love.

AiringMyLaundry said...

I'm sorry for your loss. This was a beautiful tribute. I loved seeing the pictures.

Ms Sparrow said...

A lovely tribute to your father.

Pearl said...

That was absolutely wonderful. You -- and he -- have much to be proud of.

My deepest sympathies,


gayle said...

Beautiful post about your dad! I know you miss him so much!!

Ally said...

Sometimes you are so heartsick that your own best words for someone just don't come to mind. Not until much later. I felt that way with losing my grandmother. I just couldn't verbalize everything that I wanted everyone to know abut her. But you still find a way to take us on your journey, albeit heartbreaking.

And you're right. You still have tears to cry. I miss those who have gone before me and it comes in waves and at the most unexpected times. It always does. Even after all these years.

Your pictures are fantastic and it really motivates me to put all of my grandparents' and parents' pictures into some kind of order so that I can pass them down. They are better than the memory because they are unalterable.

Deb Shucka said...

A beautiful tribute to a man whose life clearly had a huge impact on others. May you find comfort in these memories as you miss him in the days and months to come.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

It doesn't matter how old they are, it still hurts. A lovely tribute. Hopes for your healing heart.

Jeanie said...

This is such a beautiful post, filled with wonderful memories, photos and words of tribute. I'm so sorry for your loss -- that first father's day was a killer for me, and not a year goes by (and it has been 17 of them) that it really passes without thinking of my dad -- the good times, the bad, and how much I miss him. I hope your hurt eases and only the good parts remain.


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