This last week has been filled with mixed emotions and chaos to say the least. I believe I’ve held up quite well since my dad passed away. Maybe because I haven’t had time to think or to grieve yet. I have had my bouts of tears and crying, but it hasn’t hit me yet that I won’t see him again. The whirl of being busy has consumed us.
After his passing, we (my brother and sisters) had to take care of my mom, and we had many phone calls to make. Our phones were constantly ringing. Yes, we may have missed telling some friends or army buddies, but we tried our best. We also had to make the funeral arrangements. The funeral home was a tremendous help. They asked questions, handled the church, the flowers…they took care of everything.
We then had family fly in from other states which included my sister and brother-in-law from Texas, my nephews from California, and my son from Germany. We were busy traveling to the airport and figuring out places to sleep.
The night of the wake, we were at the funeral home for five hours. The hard part was seeing my dad again in his open casket. The touching part was seeing the different flowers and plants from friends and family. Those who came to pay their respects for our father also touched us. We met a woman who had gone to high school with my dad. Another was a friend of his from when he was little. My dad was 84. We’re talking about people who knew him 60/70 years ago and hadn’t seen him in years.
The funeral was tough as well; we were drained from the night before. My sister and I gave the eulogy. We took turns listing his favorite things, his hobbies, and key personality traits. We were nervous but found the strength to smile and to celebrate his life versus thinking about the grief.
The ceremony at the cemetery was even more touching and heartfelt. Five veterans provided a small service to salute my dad who had served in the Korean War. The veterans were the same group who had honored my brother when he passed 2 ½ years ago. My son, in his Air Force uniform, took the honors of presenting the flag to my mom. There wasn’t a dry eye when seeing him kneel down in front of her, present the flag, and then stand again to salute her.
Our final goodbye was a family celebration of his life at my brother’s house. My dad’s favorite drink was Jack Daniels so we toasted my dad with a shot of Jack. We then toasted my brother with a shot of his favorite—blackberry brandy. We all had tears but we also had laughs as we shared memories with each other.
I think my father would have been proud and happy of his funeral and his celebration of life. And when the grief hits, when time stands still, I will think about what the pastor said to us right after our last goodbye. She said, “Look around you. This is what Stan (and your mom) created. Because of him, you are all here. This is reason to celebrate.”
I love you, Dad.