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.


Related Posts with Thumbnails