We held the memorial service for my father last Friday, May 5th 2006. He lived 83 years of life on this Earth and he has heard his final, earthly goodbyes. My time, physical and emotional effort has been towards the moment of time in which my father’s life would be honored. I haven’t had the energy or spirit to write in this past week.
I have been much relieved that his suffering is over, much relieved that the burden of his illness no longer rests upon worn-out family members. My father died at home, we never hospitalized him and we were also able to avoid a nursing home too. That he died at home was a great blessing.
I am exhausted. I made 3 trips to Sacramento and back in the last 90 days. I hate airplanes, airports, air attendants and airheads – you know who you are!
But I’m back home after a sleepless night on American Air. They did their job but I can’t rest on planes and so I’m very weary. (I think the “friendly skies” left town 10 to 20 years ago.)
I’m also weary as I consider my mother’s loss. She and dad were best friends for 63 years; they had a remarkable marriage. Sadly I’m not sure dad ever enjoyed fatherhood. He was prone to an ongoing depressive state so he found his children and grandchildren a source of frustration and irritation more than of joy. He was prone to get mad and yell at the “lot of us.” His anger was intimidating and certainly acted as a barrier against much in the way of emotional intimacy.
My mother lives in a little apartment on the end of my eldest sister’s home. My sister and her husband, Jerry, have been absolute troopers in the last weeks particularly. They’ve housed a succession of relatives, me included, without let-up for the last 8 weeks. To say it has worn on their nerves would be to put it mildly. Every week somebody(s) was driving up and somebody(s) else was driving off. On top of that they were the primary care giver for my father. And on top of that my sister had to continue her full time, important employment.
The MEMORIAL SERVICE was so special. I had requested that the grandchildren, now mostly in their 20’s and 30’s, have an active role in the service. Two older cousins of mine, Bob and John, provided the prelude, postlude and hymn singing – John leading the music and Bob accompanying.
Michelle wrote and performed two songs for the Memorial and young Molly wrote and performed a song with my sister and her husband. The songs choked me up; I had to wipe my eyes several times. Eldest grandson Todd was the first to speak, then Seth and Caitlin spoke, Kirk spoke also. In their own ways they were so eloquent as they paid tribute to dad. We also had a brief “open mike” time where two of my sisters shared plus dad’s oldest living friend John who was able to drive up from L.A. and grace us with his presence.
Nephew Zack wrote a humorous yet moving tribute to my father. He says he performed this fete at 3 a.m. the morning before.
The Memorial was held in a beautiful little chapel that is part of the facility of Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church. The weather was gorgeous, God’s handiwork was on display. It could not have been nicer.
Then the reception followed where a 5 minute powerpoint presentation of my Dad’s life was displayed. It was simply pictures in semi chronological order with a muted background hymn. Powerpoint presentations can be truly powerful and moving as this one was. Tributes go to my lovely wife who taught herself powerpoint in time to put it altogether.
ADRENALINE has carried us all the last two weeks, now we get to begin to experience loss and grief. Hard days are ahead, especially for my precious little mother.
Healing to follow; slowly. jb