Monday, July 30, 2012

A Life Lived Well

I learned quite a lot during this past week of my father's passing. Having this to be the first one of our immediate family member passing away, it gave me a glimpse into how other people react, feel, think and handle everything. The one thing that sticks out in my mind is how strange death can be, in terms of finally seeing people you love from years ago to pay their last respects. Where did the time go? The biggest repetitive thing said was, "It is so great to see you! -- Of course, it would be better under different circumstances," as their smile fades into a solace look and perhaps, a prolonged holding of one's hand. Why does it take a death to finally get us all together?  But that's life. Life gets in the way. And death brings us all back to that common ground: reality. It was such a great turnout and so nice to see so many coming to share that day with us. There were also some who were taken aback by how the services were handled. It was a one day event - short & sweet - no viewing except for a box with Dad's remains.  This is how Dad requested it to be. For anyone to comment or make a remark about how it lacked respect or that it was "too short" should really investigate ALL of their loved ones' wishes of how they want it to be. We were lucky enough to find out what Dad really wanted. And to go against his wishes would have been disrespect ---period. It's not about you. It's not about me. Dad's strange request to have his ashes near the woodpile of his home was a bit baffling for all of us, but but but, we had to fulfill his wishes. He did most of his work there and would sit on a chair smoking a cigarette contemplating life. My friend Jo sent me an oak tree called, "The Tree of Life". My family and I all gathered around yesterday, put dad's ashes into the hole of where the tree was going to be planted. In time, when that tree grows, we're going to make it a nice memorial area with a plaque. Each family member walked up to the hole filled with Dad's remains before the tree was planted and said their last thought, memory and goodbyes. It was actually more beautiful than any formal funeral I have ever attended. Sometimes less is more.

Strangely, (or maybe not), the day of his passing, a moth landed right near my coffee as Madelene and I were preparing to go see Dad at hospice. Look at the markings. To us, it looked like a rising angel. I told Madelene that "today is the day". I knew. Not only because of this incredible moth sign, but it was the 21rst. All of our relatives seemed to have died on the 21rst or the 12th of the month. Mom and I just knew... The first couple of days of his passing, my mother and I both wondered where Dad was. Mom said, "I wonder where he is right now."  Then we both were reminiscing about Dad's old friend who we haven't seen in years. He lived in Florida and would always come up to visit my parents. He developed alzheimer's and never called Dad or Mom again. His phone was disconnected as well.  As we were wondering where the both of them were, the radio came on out of nowhere and the lyrics of a Brian Adams song came blasting out, "Finding it hard to believe, we're in heaven." We both looked at each other and had tears of joy, taking it as a sign of Dad's whereabouts. She got her answer. I no longer wonder where Dad is and happy he's not in some hospital screaming for pain medicine or home in agony where he just couldn't get relief.

Rest in peace, Dad. I love you.

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