May 12th, 1973: I saw dad for the last time at about 11 this morning. Then, at 2 p.m., the funeral went out to the cemetery. Lynn didn't want to see dad. She said she wanted to remember him the way he was in Tacoma.
The funeral was just a regular type, on a clear, windy, beautiful Spring day. I kept wanting to go back and just sit there. But people dragged me off. Gary stayed all night tonight to help out.
My final words to dad were this morning, when the casket was still open. They were, "I'll see you someday, dad."
May 12th, 2013: It was a Saturday in 1973. On a Saturday, four months earlier, I'd have woken up and mom would fix me breakfast. From there, who knows? Off to do something with a friend, or help out at the hardware store. Now, the store was closed, and we were burying dad. Life had changed quickly and dramatically.
I'm not sure about 1973. Maybe we went to the funeral home one last time to say our good-byes. Maybe there was a second visitation leading up to the actual funeral service. I can't imagine the service lasting for three hours. I'm sure it didn't. The time frame indicates 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Regardless. Family and friends made one last trip to the East side of the square and into Plattner Funeral Home. I wish I could remember the minister's name. We didn't go to church much. I don't recall any friends of dad speaking during the service. That practice hadn't really caught on yet in 73'.
In yesterday's blog, I wrote of Lynn's decision (which I supported then, and do now) not to view dad.
I said my good-bye. At some point the service began, and we sat through it. I'm pretty sure our family was in a side room, able to view the casket, but around a corner and out of sight of the main chapel. Near the end of the service, a partition was pulled shut, the casket was closed, the partition reopened, and we were led out to the waiting cars. Dads friends brought him out to the hearse, and the procession headed west to the cemetery.
How about my "clear, windy, beautiful Spring day" line? I must have been practicing to write a novel someday! Cliche' as all get out. But that's exactly how the weather was that day.
We got to the cemetery and the service picked up again. It was hard to sit there. People were all around, but you feel alone. Like you're on an island of grief. That surreal feeling kicked in again. This just CAN'T be happening!
And at the end of it all, though I didn't want to leave, we had to. But no one had to drag me away. There was no drama.
Everybody got in our cars and drove away. Back to our lives. Except for dad.
Lots of people congregated back at our house on Prospect Street. Cars lined it, up and down. Mom and I weren't left alone. I can't emphasis enough, the support we got during the whole ordeal. Mom, Dad, and their friends. And me, from my friends and classmates. Nothing unkind or out of line was ever said to me at school. My classmates were awesome. They still are.
Mother's Day was the next day. Someone pulled me away from the fray and we went back uptown to pick out a Mother's Day card. Mom held onto that one. I think it might be in the same box as dad's visitation registry book.
Back at the house, I got out of my suit and back into my jeans. The nervous energy I had was unstoppable. In our backyard, right by the ditch that lines Clinton Street, there was a mound of dirt. The mound was there to help support a utility pole. Neighbor kids were around. We were outside, the adults in the house. I decided this would be a good time to take a bicycle, use that mound, jump the ditch, and land on Clinton Street, Evel Knievel style.
I got up speed, came to the mound, lost nerve and momentum. The front wheel hit the far side of the ditch, the seat post came over from the back, and put a nice gash in the back of my head. Somebody helped me to the bathroom and we home remedied the wound. Some adult popped their head into the bathroom, sensing a problem. We waved them off. Mom didn't need any more problems that day.
Gary refers to my cousin, Gary Gray. He is mom's nephew. Aunt Jean is mom's sister. Gary is her son. I love Gary, and looked up to him then. I still do. Gary wound up working at the hardware store for a couple of years or so. He's four or five years older than me.
When the crowd had really dispersed, and most people had gone home, Gary and I shot baskets in the backyard that evening. I just couldn't sit still. I wanted to do anything to occupy my time and mind.
I'm not so sure that whole experience didn't trigger something in me. To this day, I'm not much of a sit still type guy. There's a lot of world out there to be seen. I like to be on the move and checking it out. Who knows what tomorrow brings?
That's pretty much it. There was all of that going on for three months. The end came, and then life went on. Though with a huge void. There's no great ending to this blog. I wrote about my experience for three months. Have come to the end of it, and life will go on. The void is there, but time helps heal.
There will be a couple, maybe three more, blogs on this subject. Some follow up thoughts and notes.
Cancer is not kind. I miss dad.