Dad's viewing was on Thursday from 2pm to 8pm. Mom thought this was too long, and that Dad didn't know enough people to constitute that amount of time. She was a bit wrong. There were over 200 people that came and signed the book, which doesn't account for those that either didn't sign, or only put one person's name. For those math people that's approximately 1.8 people per minute. Which meant it was busy. It meant though that we didn't have to rush through people, and we were able to talk and tell stories about Dad. (Including grabbing cow tails, and skiing on cow paddies...)
The whole funeral was beautiful, if you can describe it that way. So much care, and thought on many peoples' parts went into it. Dad's good friend, who works for the funeral home, dressed and prepped him, including shaving his hair for his summer look. This really helped mom out because she knew he was in good hands. It also meant that the good friend tucked in special things, like airport shirt patches into his suit pocket. We had a rosary at 4pm. Normally during a rosary you say the sorrowful, or glorious mysteries, but my Dad wore out three rosaries praying the Joyful mysteries while drive his truck, so even though it was taboo, we prayed the Joyful mysteries. There were quilts, an obsession of Dad's, including the one he bought when diagnosed, the one a friend made from church, and the one that his sister-in-law made of his t-shirts, when they got too big. Two dear friends sent an Angel lawn ornament, and a bird house instead of flowers. I put together the PowerPoint of his pictures which played in the back of the room, and so on.
We arrived how after 9 and sat around and talked some more with family and friends that had come in. The next day the funeral was at 10:00. We had to be at the funeral home at 9:00. We were able to see Dad one last time, then say Good-bye. This meant tucking the momentos in the casket, and closing the lid. We had to place our hands and close the lid. It was the most awful feeling. I can't truly describe that moment. It was just terrible. From there we processed to church, where we had the most beautiful funeral mass I had ever been too. Mom let me pick the readings, and the priest, Father Brad, even let me write my own Prayers of the Faithful. The "house" versions were too dreary, and too many of them included calling my Dad a sinner. (Yes, I know we all sin, but come on, that's not a way to say good-bye)
My sister-in-law, and Dad's best friend (50+ years of friendship) gave eulogies, about him. They were wonderful and the priest even did a great job in making the ceremony personal.
On the way to the cemetery, Dad's friend who dressed him, arranged for a police escort at no cost, and we drove past Mom and Dad's house, stopping so Dad could say goodbye. My brother, driving Dad's '68 Chevelle, laid down a strip of rubber in front of the house, and we all listened to Ina-gadda-da-vida on the rest of the way.
When my Mom turned around at the cemetery and the cars kept pulling in she was flabbergasted. She thought that all the cars were traffic stuck behind us. Over 100 people came from the cemetery to Papa's Place for lunch where we were able to talk and reminisce some more.
It was beautifully sad. There is no other way to describe it. It's exactly what he would have wanted. People together, celebrating his life, and being together to mourn.
The outpouring of sympathy, and generosity has gone beyond my wildest dreams. To those of you that have left comments, Thank you, and those that sent cards, prayed, or kept us in your thoughts, Thank you.
Now that it's over though, it's not over. We are still mourning, night time is the hardest, and I don't know how my Mom is dealing with it. She cries, and needs us there at times, but at others is calm and collected. I know it's going to take time, more for Mom I'm sure, but we're working, we're taking it day by day, and we'll see how it goes.
**A side note, My Dad always wanted an English Bulldog. I would like to get one now, just to remember (not just because I always wanted one too...), so if you hear of any near the South Bend are, let me know.**