Friday, May 10, 2013

May 10th

May 10th, 1973: Tom Plattner came down to the house today to set the funeral arrangements. Peachy Foreman, a guy that works at the hardware store, had this to say. "I was up early, and after we had that rainstorm, there was the most beautiful rainbow in the West. I'm sure that was your daddy, going to heaven."

Aunt Betty and I are going to St. Louis to pick up Lynn today. The funeral will be Saturday at 2 p.m at Plattner's. Although I wanted dad to be buried in Quincy, next to grandpa, there is no more room. So the burial will be in the new addition of the West Cemetery.

May 10th, 2013: And life went on. There was the next day. But it sure felt empty, and it sure was sad. Mom, me, friends of dads. All of us had to begin wrapping our minds around the concept that he was gone forever. We'd never talk to him again. Looking back 40 years later, I don't think we had the slightest of clues as to the impact of losing him would have on mom and me. I've only begun to figure some of it out in the last five years or so. I guess I'm slow.

I wasn't up early enough to see the rainbow Peachy spoke of. I don't even remember it raining later in the night, after dad died. Peachy loved dad. He took dad's death hard. Peachy's beautiful words usually echo in my mind every year on May 10th.

Tom Plattner was another of dad's good friends. As was John Sutor, the other funeral home director in town. I don't know who made the decision, or how it was made, to select Plattner. Dad and Elmer Meyers had defeated Plattner and Dale "Wimp" Willard, in a one hole playoff during the Labor Day Sweepstakes golf tournament at Old Orchard Country Club in Pittsfield back in 1967. I was so happy for, and proud of dad that day. Plattner and dad had known each other a long time.

From what I've been told, the building that housed Plattner Funeral Home, on the East side of the square, was the first location of grandpa and dad's hardware store when they moved from Quincy to Pittsfield. A fitting tribute, if my facts are correct. Dad would lay in rest in the building he once worked from.

Plattner made his visit to our house pretty early. Once again, the kitchen was the center of activity. There were several people around to help mom. Friends and neighbors, offering help or bringing food. Like always, find yourself in need, and you find yourself stunned at the number of people willing to help and comfort you. It was amazing.

I was milling around the house, getting ready for the trip to St. Louis, when I happened to overhear conversation at the kitchen table. Mom was there. Plattner, Peachy, Ed Pease, others too. They were working on coming up with the traditional six pallbearers. They had five of them, but were a little bit stumped on who the sixth should be.

As a "child" listening to adult conversation, my instincts told me to keep out. I hesitated a second or two before saying, "I think I might have an idea." Suddenly, all the adult eyes were on the kid. It felt good. An adult moment for me. I was being listened to, not dismissed. "What about George Goodin?", I suggested. Their eyes lit up. "That's a good idea," someone said. Mom liked it too. I had just contributed to my dad's funeral arrangements.

The five men already selected were some of dad's best buddies. Ed Pease, Albert "Bud" Schimmel, Donald "Peachy" Foreman, Paul Beckenholt, and Byron "Barney" Roodhouse.

Goodin was a little bit more of an outsider. Not as tight with dad as the others, but well known and well liked around town. He, just like Mr. Beckenholt, worked at G&W Furniture. I thought of Goodin, based on one of my favorite "dad stories" from a few years prior.

Goodin and dad were on opposing teams during a golf match one day. The bullshit was flying. George told dad that if dad could beat him, George would subject himself to a mohawk haircut. The golfing intensified at that point. Dad got hot and made a big run. Goodin didn't bother following the score. He beat dad by a single stroke and kept his hair.

Dad would later recount the story. He was a stroke or two ahead of George, really late in the match. Dad elected not to say a word. He was just going to present the card at the end of the match and drop the hammer. Dad regretted this strategy. He said he wished he'd brought the score to Goodin's attention at that late point, and put a lot more pressure on him, forcing him to choke. I've said it before. Dad and his buddies had a lot of fun with each other.

While mom was kept busy, and taken care of around the house, late that morning or early afternoon, Aunt Betty and I headed to St. Louis and Lambert Field, to pick up Lynn, who was flying in from Tacoma. It gave me something to do to occupy my time. And it would keep Aunt Betty company too.

Due to the big flood of 1973, beautiful Route 79 was closed. From Louisiana, Missouri, we had to continue West to Route 61, travel South to Wentzville, and get on I-70 East there. At the airport, we waited for Lynn to arrive. For some reason, I don't recall us actually going to the gate, but waiting in a bigger lobby area. Aunt Betty excused herself, probably to use the restroom, and told me to keep a watch for Lynn. I was leaning against a support beam or something, when I saw Lynn approaching. I remember feeling like a lost puppy, but not breaking down when I saw her. "Hi, Lynn," I said.

The three of us made the trip back to Pike County. I don't recall a single word, or thought from any conversations in the car, during the two hour ride home.

I also recall little if any, from the rest of the day and evening, once we got back. Lynn would stay with Aunt Betty at her house. I think mom and I were alone, though one of mom's sisters may have come to town by this time. The house was seeing a lot of activity, all hours of the day and evening.

Visitation would be the next evening. Friday the 11th.


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