The death of a good father may be one of the hardest things, a human has to endure. I do not know now, how the sorrow will ever be tolerable, but I suppose it will. I suppose, one day, I will not cry . I have never buried a parent. All I know, for now is that this a different kind of grief.
The service was on Thursday. Only a limited number of people could attend, due to the pandemic. A handful of friends gathered, but were asked to stay in their car. It was already a sorrowful time, but to have to work within the current mandates, was taxing. Not even our immediate family could gather to comfort one another. Good neighbors and beloved friends dropped dishes on the porch, and could not be invited in, but instead thanked “through the door.”
I have never cared about flowers, as I would rather someone spend that money on food for the hungry . . .and with the florists, all closed, in our small town, we couldn’t have bought flowers our selves. When we arrived, for the service, there was a single spray of flowers, from our cousin, Chuck, who had used an out of town florist. A it turns out, flowers do matter to me. Those flowers were like the nights, when there is a single star in the sky.
Since Daddy was a veteran, he had asked for a military service not because he wanted the recognition . . he wanted Mama to have a flag. When she was presented a flag, I couldn’t help but think, that this was his final gift to Mama.
The day after the funeral, was as sad as any other one before it. There was so much work to be done, however, that we were just too busy to dwell for any length of time, on our grief. Connie took care of the business that comes with death, an awful task, I think. Delores and I packaged food, which meant cleaning out cabinets and refrigerators and freezers. I remain grateful and humbled by the way of good people. for the one thing that we did not have to fret over, was food. We hung clothes on the line together, like we did as children. That was a sweet moment.
We all took another visit to the grave together and carried flowers from the yard. I thought to sprinkle some soil from home. It was what we could do.
We all returned to our homes afterwards -at Mamas’ insistence. Mama is exhausted, heartbroken and heartsick -all at once. She had a crush on daddy at the tender age of fourteen . . .and so she married him, just a few short years later. She still lives on the a parcel of the farm, that she grew up on. They would have been married 62 years in June, yet in Daddys’ last days, she laid beside him, her head on his shoulder, and looked like a young girl in love. I knew I was looking at a love story-an incredible story that had weathered hardships, survived calamities and stood together in victory, at last. They won their race.
Now, that the “dust has settled”, I am back at the rabbitpatch, where the roses are in full bloom -and every floor needs scrubbing. I thought as I pulled grass along the garden path and more when I hung out the clothes on the line. I just missed every day, before this one. I missed the “Sunday dinners” and the day I played the piano,for Daddy, while an entire entourage gathered in my kitchen for a surprise birthday party, I missed Christian and I playing Hank Williams songs because Daddy loved Hank Williams. The soil swallowed my tears and the wind blew my sadness, til there was less of it. I even half heartedly, thanked the roses before I came in.
Grief is as natural as joy and I reminded myself of that as I went along with my chores. Grief may be as good a lesson as any I know of, though it may also be the hardest to bear, for I thought of the beautiful legacy Daddy left, and that legacy was created by the substance of his life. If there is ever a time for me to reflect on the contents of my time, on this earth . . it is now. I must consider, my priorites and make sure they are practiced. What will my children see as my legacy, I wondered. Is my “truth” beautiful? I started a mental list of things to improve upon-and so grief is a lesson, after all.
Now, my dad left this planet, but his story will remain, for I will tell it to his great grand children. They deserve to know their heritage was forged by a great -great grandmother who raised children, that grew into noble adults. Daddys’ brother, Uncle Randy was a gentle soul. He was so kind to me. . .well, I have never met a Warren” that I didn’t love right off. . .and since Uncle Randy has also passed, Daddy is in especially good company.
So far, not a one of the Warrens, “have taken a single thing” with them. We always say that, but I fear, we do not always really act like we understand it. My dear and kindred friend , Scott of Pazlo, really says it best, when he refers to our earthly castles as mere “sand castles”.
We are going to work all of our life, at something. We will accomplish what we work for and we ought to be aware of that. . . another thing to remember.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of His saints”