I was able to get together with many of my family members on Saturday for Dad's memorial "service". I saw aunts and uncles I hadn't seen for over 20 years and met a cousin of my father's for the first time.
We all met at my oldest brother's home in Lansdale and though there were only 3 of us children there, it went really well. I felt like I hadn't been away from anyone at all and we all just sat and talked and laughed and cried.
My step-mom was there of course, and that was probably the hardest thing for me; I have never seen Joyce without my father. That sort of solidified the fact that he was gone. She had asked a bit ago if there were anything of my dad's that I wanted to have and I didn't answer at first. Giving her an answer and getting something from her that belonged to dad would make it all too real and I was still in, and wanted to be in, denial.
We had gotten around to talking about dad's shoes. For years he wore Chuck Taylors and those "Bobo's" as we all called them when I was a kid, were a source of great amusement for us kids. I asked Joyce on Saturday if dad had ever worn red ones and she said yes, he used to. I then asked if he wore high top or low top and she said both. It wasn't that I had forgotten, as I feared was the case, it was that I remembered, but I remembered all of those shoes. I recalled the black ones, the red ones, the high tops, the low tops; thankfully my memory wasn't fading as quickly as I'd thought.
Joyce asked if I wanted a pair and I told her yes, I did. She said she would clean up a pair and send them to me. I look forward to, and dread, the day that they are delivered.
My Uncle Earl, a pastor, was there and read several scriptures that he and dad had discussed shortly before dad's passing and shared some of his own experiences with other loved ones dying. It was good to hear about everyone again, Aunt Margie, Grandpa, Grandma. Uncle Earl himself has been sick with cancer for quite a few years and the thought was always that he would pass before dad. I sensed a disappointment when he talked that it hadn't happened that way. God's timing is perfect though, and although we don't all see it, He does know what He's doing. Earl may not be with us for too much longer and I'm so happy that I was able to see him again. Hearing him "preach" on Saturday was so reminiscent of the few times that we had attended a church he pastored in Hereford, PA.
My oldest brother shared a talk he had with my father, and had me read his memory he had written. I won't go into any of that now but when dad's memorial book is finished I'll share some things.
It was decided that my brother Jon would take dad's ashes to Six-Mile Lake in Michigan sometime in the near future and even though dad didn't specify anything about his ashes (on the contrary, her said he really didn't care where they went) I think he would like that. He always loved nature and was sure to place himself where he would be surrounded by it.
Dad's cousin was there with her new husband and she handed out a photo of dad that was taken at her wedding last year on dad and Joyce's wedding anniversary, June 26th. I was floored by it since it was so recent and all the photos I have are 10+ years old. I also told her it held some significance for me. When dad was setting off to his cousin's wedding (I am so ashamed that I didn't find out the spelling of her name--Eleanor or Elinore or something in between!) he emailed me as usual and let me know his plans. The email made me sad because dad sounded as if he were trying to explain himself "we're only going because..." ; I think he felt he had to let me know why he was going there but not coming here. I understood completely and never even would have thought of it that way. Canada is so much closer to where he lived,it made sense.
This is that photo. I know I'm partial, but I think he looks fabulous and I plan to frame it and place it somewhere very prominent.
There were so many photos shared; from dad's infancy to his last months, and many of them will be in his book. I really look forward to it.
I did take the food and to me it was nothing overly special but I made a point of taking my Gumbo since dad had really enjoyed it on one of his trips here. I have a feeling that he would have liked everything and hovered at the table a bit longer than the rest. I'm sure part of my love for food came from dad.
I hope he was there to see us all together, Joyce said over and over that he would have had a good time just sitting around talking with us all. Someday soon we'll all be doing that; a bit North of here.