Walking slow down the avenue, through my old neighborhood...
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Random Thoughts in a Long Post
Two weeks ago today my dad passed away. The days after have flown by and the days have crawled by. June 10 seems a lifetime ago, it seems like yesterday. Cliche after cliche passes through my mind, some of them now with a ring of truth. The passing of a parent, whether sudden or prolonged, is just a strange feeling. Walking into the house and realizing that dad won't come walking through the door, or that I won't hear his snores as he naps, his window shaking sneezes, or his really bad jokes is an indescribable feeling, a hole that will get smaller with time, but won't go away.
Dad was always about having family fun. While we had the usual obligations to take care of for an occasion like this, we also planned some time to honor dad in ways that spoke of his love of family and fun. We had several meals together and time to just sit around with some beer and wine, when we all shared stories once more - some old and well told, some new - and remembered the bad jokes that were dad's favorites. We had a gathering of about 40 people at the Rockford Thunder game after his funeral and watched the Thunder beat the Pride, with Catherine throwing a great game.
Often I was wishing I had my camera out, but then again, when I am taking pics I am really detached from the event. So the memories and visuals will suffice - the best among them being 1) my nephew in his Marine dress blues walking the casket into and out of church 2) the honor guard folding the flag in the courtyard of church while Brian stood at attention and the bugler stood away from us playing Taps 3) the crowd of family and friends who gathered to pay their respects to my dad both at the wake and the funeral and finally 4) my dad on his final tractor ride. Explanation to follow.
Growing up in a greenhouse, my dad's first and probably favorite vehicle was a tractor. Whether it was dumping loads of dirt, mowing the lawn, clearing snow, or teaching the grandkids how to drive one, I have hundreds of visual images of my dad on a tractor. Since Dad was cremated after the funeral service, we had to take his ashes to the cememtary Monday following his Thursday funeral service. My grandparents and other family members are also there, so we obtained a map to find my grandparents and pay our respects to them. Mom and dad's plot is only 2 rows away and we found it easily.
Shortly after I left his ashes in the cemetary office, while we were at grandparents' graves, a worker came driving towards us on a small tractor, Dad's urn sitting next to him on the seat. All of us had a chuckle about it, commenting on how dad would have laughed at the sight. After making sure we were OK if he proceeded with the burial of the ashes while we were there, he interred them, offering me the opportunity to put the first shovelful of dirt in. As I did so, I told dad one last bad knock knock joke that he told me often. Mom, Aunt Linda, Michelle, Melissa and I all had a little laugh and then found a nice little brew pub where we once more toasted Dad, his life, and his love of family.
The only thing we forgot during all of this were big blue or red hanky/bandanas and stanky cigars.
(Link to Memorial Site in the Links list - lots of great photos)