Things I am currently:
Remembering, Happy about.
1. In March, I was obsessing over Doing Things Well:
- First, it was the end-of-life thing with my dad. How does one 'do that well'? Take time off work and sit with him 24/7? Cancel everything on one's schedule? What should one be thinking about/doing when sitting next to a sleeping dad? Is there something left to be said? Any memories I should still be trying to cram in? Should I concentrate on being sad and distant and grieving during this season, even if I don't feel that way at times?
- And then there was The Very End. Those last 18 hours. What were they going to look like? For him? For us? Who would be the 'us' that sits with him? What would THAT look like? How could we do that well? Especially considering we are not the hymn-singing type of family? (Why did I think hymn-singing was the preferred way to transfer our dad into the arms of Jesus?) How scary/awesome/awful would it be to be there when he breathes his last breath? What should/would I feel? Do? Say?
- And, then, of course, there's that grieving spell afterwards. How do I do that well? Because Clint was in Africa, it would be an extended time period between dad's passing and his funeral. What would that look like? I'd be going to work, so that was maybe weird. But I'd be planning an event. For my dad. And there would be emotions and feelings but also the need to stay focused and professional. What invitations would I accept? Which ones should I not?
- And, well, this is just life, right? We can't experience one emotion at a time, in a vacuum. They all pile on top of each other.Sadness. Grief. Joy. Work. Doing. Being. Feeling. Crying. Laughing. Being alone. Allowing friends in. Reaching out. Shutting out. Sharing. Being private. While I'm saying goodbye to my dad, marriages are taking place, marriages are breaking up, babies are being born, hearts are falling in love, hearts are breaking, people are getting jobs, people are losing jobs... Life is messy. We have to enter in.
- And then there was the graveside service, followed a few days later by the Celebration of Life service. What would those look like? Who would attend? What should the tone be? Would I speak? What would I say? What would the purpose of my 'share' be? How would I be able to keep it to 4 minutes? What would my dad want me to talk about? How could I honor him? How could I do this well?
- Of course, there were two other events sandwiched inbetween the burial service and the celebration of life service... Max's 4YearsCleanCakeNight and Sophie's wedding. I was doing before-the-ceremony pics for Soph, and supplying the cake for Max's NA meeting. Plus I wanted to be PRESENT. Be fully there. I wanted to enjoy/share in the joy of those events.
2. In March I was working on:
- Observing Lent. I gave up chocolate. And then my dad died. Chocolate would have been a lovely treat most evenings.
- Well, before I knew what was coming in March, I decided to start going through my packed-up stuff. I was working on getting rid of 200 books and reorganizing the boxes. Then mid-way through that project, my dad died, so that project was aborted with about hundreds of books and 25 boxes in complete disarray in both the garage and the basement. (SO very thankful for friends who saw my mess and offered to take my first batch of books to a Thrift store for me.)
- And then, with a Celebration of Life service and the obligatory slide show looming, the rest of my boxes where opened and dumped, in hopes of finding photo albums. Thirty-seven albums were found, hundreds of photos were scanned. And now? Everything needs to find a home again. It's a little overwhelming.
- At work I was working on just simply keeping everything moving forward. Haha.
3. In March, I was thinking about:
- I wasn't thinking about Easter. So that kinda snuck up on me this year. SO not prepared to make it anything more than a night at the lake with my kids on Friday. And a turkey dinner for me and my mom on Sunday. I DID attend TWO incredible Easter morning church services. (One on Saturday night. Haha. And the other one on Sunday later afternoon.) Easter music? IS THE BOMB. Especially when there's a 15 piece band on stage. Oh my goodness.
- In March? I was thinking about Cadbury Eggs. And frozen Crunch bars. And walks along the seawall. And reading books for pleasure. And evenings of not worrying about writing emotional things about my dad.
- Also? At the beginning of March? I was thinking about my complete physical doctor's appointment. And dreading it times one hundred. Turns out I had it on the same day my dad died. Which sure puts everything in perspective. Now April will be all about the follow up tests. Sigh.
- My foot. I was thinking about my stupid foot. The bone spur on my heel is almost healed/pain-free. Yay. So glad that's almost over because I have a new one forming on the metatarsal bone right beside it. I am not a fan of ageing.
4. I am anticipating, in April, the following good things:
- Days of sunshine and (slowly limpy) walks.
- Canuck's game
- Chris Tomlin concert
- Birthday celebrations
- Public Salon evening
- Tourist in Vancouver day
- Blood tests. Giving blood.
- Foot massage appointments.
- Getting the septic system fixed at the lake
- More Outlander on TV
- Movie nights
5. I am eating:
- Well, nothing at the moment. But I have eaten so many Cream Eggs that my entire body is craving a salad right now.
6. I am listening to:
- I bought the new Chris Tomlin album, just this very evening. Seeing I'm going to his concert on Sunday, I felt I should know his songs. So far? None are jumping out at me as awesome. But I'll give it a few more listens before I say anything definite.
7. I am praying for:
- Newly marrieds
- Those with new babies
- Those with broken hearts
- Those looking for work
- Those struggling with addictions
- Those struggling in their marriages
- Those with health issues
- Those who need an extra measure of wisdom
- Those who ache for love
- Those who need to hear from God
- Those who have broken families
- Those who are grieving
- Those who need Jesus
8. I am reading:
- Nothing. I have nothing on the go. But my Kindle has been loaded and I'm looking forward to upcoming evenings of nothingness where I can read, guilt-free. Plus? In emptying boxes? I found about 50 titles that I haven't read yet. So very much happily anticipating reading the words that writers painstakingly strung together.
9. I am remembering/happy about:
- The services for my dad:
- We met as a family (mom, kids, grandkids, siblings, cousins) at the graveside in Cloverdale on Thursday March 26... Location-wise? It was perfect. Right under a cedar tree JUST LIKE THE ONES AT THE FARM. It felt good burying him in that spot. We asked Kevin to lead us because left to our own devices, we would have stood around and shrugged our shoulders. He prayed, read some scripture. Shared some thoughts. We took/laid out a rose. We watched the casket get lowered part way. And we were done. As a family, (20 of us) we went to my dad's favorite restaurant (The Spaghetti Factory) and shared a meal together. I think he would have liked that.
- Everyone went their separate ways after that. Except Clint and Max came back to my basement where we watched TV, scanned pics and ate snacks.
- The service on Monday, March 31 was a good event, my friends tell me. I wasn't really in a position to assess it critically... way to vested in it to be ojective. These were the programs we handed out:
- Mandi designed them. The red was striking and so very much my dad.
- We had the service at the Garden Towers Community Centre banquet room, where everyone sat around round tables. We had 270 guests. (We estimated 275, so yay us for being good guessers.)
- Tables were set with white linens and a single red rose in a bud vase on each table. Thanks, Danica, for picking up the roses and getting them trimmed and placed.
- The program started at 6 with Kevin welcoming everyone and saying a word of prayer. He's good at this.
- Mandi's friends from school formed a worship band a few years ago, so they led us in singing two songs. LOVE those songs. From where I was, the sound was good. Not sure about the back corners, but I'm hoping it didn't suck back there.
- Max followed that by reading the Eulogy. He has a good speaking voice, and I'm pretty sure he came across clearly. He did well, and I think my dad would've been pleased.
- My turn was next and I was predictably nervous. I had practiced my 4 minute speech about a dozen times, but still. One can never tell what emotions are going to sneak out mid-way. I brought my dad's blow torch on stage, and set it in with the floral arrangement. I knew people where hoping I'd fire that thing up, but it would have taken three hands and I was one short. Plus. Something could've gone wrong, and I didn't want to be responsible for sprinklers going off. Clint said I did OK, so I'm going to believe him. Now, one week later, I have no regrets about things I did or didn't say, so I guess that's a good thing.
- Pure relief when I left the stage. I could enjoy the rest of the evening. (Is that what one is supposed to do? Enjoy a Celebration of Life service?) Daryl was next up and he spoke on behalf of him and Julie. They both have memories of time spent with dad that are totally different than mine, so I'm glad he shared.
- I think Clint went next? His tribute, when he read it to me on the drive to Abbotsford, made me tear up. So I was more composed the second time I heard it. He kept to his script, reading it as it was written, which was to the point and poignant. Mandi was next and she was passionate in sharing her memories. She had a special spot in Bups' heart and she did a great job of communicating how awesome that felt.
- Max went back up and shared one story. His years at sharing at NA meetings has paid off... he had no notes. He was succinct and funny and warm. I was proud of all the kids. They did great.
- Kevin, who is a pastor, and a friend, lived on my mom and dad's farm for 6 -7 years. He had a special relationship with my dad, so he was uniquely equipped to share some stories with us all. I was glad he cut his vacation short in order to lead our service.
- Clint's video presentation was next and that section in the middle, where my dad is arriving at his surprise 65th birthday, got me in the feels. He was so HIM. So happy. So very happy to see his people. I was going to look around to see if anyone else was moved, but I ended up blowing my nose and wiping away tears instead.
- We finished the service by singing Drew's favorite worship song. Haha. No idea if it's appropriate for a Celebration of Life service, but there you go. That's what we did. It was loud and happy.
- My dad's brother, Uncle John, then prayed for our meal and we all ate borscht and freshly baked zweibach and plum platz for dinner. In my dad's favorite lunch spot. (When he still had his licence, he'd drive out to the community centre twice a week; once for borscht, and once for chicken noodle soup.) He would have ABSOLUTELY LOVED being with us all. We were in his happy place, eating his favorite foods, telling stories and hugging. It's a party he would have adored.
- In lieu of flowers, we suggested folks could make donations to either MCC Canada or The Last Door:
and I was thrilled to see that my friends were generous in giving to The Door.
- Other thoughts: So many people. So many good, wonderful people. We, as a family, felt the love. And I especially did. I had no idea so many of my friends would come out. Even friends who didn't even know my dad. That was special. And alot of friends were happy to just hang out and visit long after the food was packed up. It felt good and right and comfortable.
- Special thanks to Jim's buddies, Gary Fast and Stan Seimens who helped direct traffic and usher people to the correct hallway. Thanks to cousins, Mike Neumann, John Wegenast (and Sandra) who all stood at the doorway, helping folks find tables as things started to fill up. Thanks to the awesome staff at Garden Towers for an amazing meal and fantastic service.
I took the following day off work, (my last 'grief' day) and slept in.
Heather, who lost both her parents in the past couple years, planned an afternoon for us. In her sexy car, with the roof off,
we went, first to an Indian woman to get our eyebrows threaded. (Indian woman told me I needed my face done. I gave her permission to go for it. Two seconds later, my eyes were watering something fierce. I couldn't get a grip, and before you know it, I was crying. Partially from pain. Partially from emotions catching up with me.)
Then we went next door and bought simosas for lunch.
Which we ate in her car, like a picnic.
And then we headed south; to her beach. For walks along the beach, for sitting in her yard. For eating old pizza in her fridge. For not talking. Or for talking. For remembering. For planning. For simply being.
One funny thing happened.
I was photographing an eagle, and zoomed in just as I thought he was getting ready to lift off:
And nope. I got that wrong. He was taking a crap.
Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Sunny days off.
2. Many hours on the freeway with Clint; driving him home, or picking him up. This'll end when his new vehicle arrives. In the meantime, I'm enjoying his company while cruising in the HOV lane.
3. He lives.