On Passings and Family
When a death occurs in any family, those affected need to put their lives on hold and tend to the immediate business at hand. It’s worse when there’s no warning, no doubt, but the number of arrangements to be made on short notice most certainly adds a level of stress.
We got the word that Deb’s father passed away late Sunday afternoon, and the planning immediately began. On Wednesday, we were headed for the airport at 10 a.m., intending to change planes in Philly and arrive at the Inn in Florida by around 8-9 pm. The weather had other ideas so every step of the process got delayed, which resulted in our arriving at the Inn at 2 a.m. instead.
Deb is one of six siblings, most with spouses, most with children. As one might image, that makes for a full house and a lot of time spent playing catch up, sharing hugs, tears and family news. Neighbors, friends and family sent food for days so no one ever went hungry and by the time the last guest departs next weekend, there will likely still be leftovers.
It’s been about three years since all six were together so it was terrific for their mother to be surrounded. Mixed with the tears and memories were the need to tend to business, be it helping Mom get a new printer or figuring out which of the tools in the garage could be discarded or saved. The wake was a solemn period on Thursday with a break in between for a nice, southern-style dinner out.
Friday’s funeral was a nice ceremony, filled with personal touches given Deb’s mother’s involvement in the Church choir. I was asked to be a pallbearer, a first for me. Even with six of us, including Robbie, I finally got to understand how heavy a coffin could be. Much of the family got involved one way or another so it was very inclusive. Once it was over, everyone changed and relaxed, visiting and reminiscing. On Saturday, we returned to the graveyard for the internment. After a short service, we walked over to the headstone and saw the urn placed within. Given Deb’s father’s work as a carpenter, contractor and construction manager, it seemed fitting that once the urn was placed within, it was caulked and duct taped into place, ensuring it was going nowhere.
The rest of the day was a time for reflection and some fun. Most went to the beach, some just hung out at the house with Mom. Since Friday, reality began to intrude and people started to leave as required. We intended to be there for her mother to be supportive.
The trip home had minimal delays and the traffic from LaGuardia was worse than expected so we finally walked in the door around 6:30 p.m. Everyone was exhausted, stressed out and once the unpacking and mail sorting was done, we sort of scattered around the house.
We were supported in turn. Robbie received video clips and photos from the 25th anniversary Boogie Knights concert as it occurred and I spoke with a few of my fellow authors.
Deb’s father is gone and despite some rocky times in our relationship, I see the effort he made in supporting his family and how well they turned out. In my own way I’ll miss him.
And now it is Monday and his memory will remain as we get back to our jobs and lives, just a tad more aware of his influence on us all.