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Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Party's Over: A Long Recap

This past week has been a whirlwind.
Last Sunday, after Dad had been at home for a full day, he quietly stopped breathing and stepped into eternity.
I had been at a ladies' spa afternoon and had just left to return to Mum's house when I heard the news. I stopped by the river to text you, Southern Ange, and to reflect on this momentous event. It was a beautiful day and I thought how Dad would have loved the view of the water, the barges, and the late afternoon light.
I'm so, so glad that we had taken Dad home; it would have been horrible to have him die in yukky Surrey Hospital! Instead, it was a lovely time with the sun shining through the windows, the plants all around, the peace and quiet, and the home atmosphere. What a blessing, and now that sun room is even more special to us.
Over the next days, we had so very much to do.
First, we visited the cemetery and chose a plot. We went from there to the funeral home to make all the appropriate arrangements. For me, this was all uncharted territory, and despite the sadness of losing Dad, it was kind of fascinating.
We all went into the casket room and roamed around; this particularly spectacular casket, with its seagulls and "Going Home" on baby blue satin, was morbidly mesmerizing. Please, never choose a tacky casket like this!
I still can't wrap my head around the amount of money you can spend on a box that gets put in the ground. Even more so, a box for burning. It is mandatory to have the body placed in a rigid container before cremation, so we had to choose something. But to spend more than a thousand dollars on a box that will just get burned up... it goes against everything a thrifty Scot believes! I think Dad would be very pleased with our frugal choice, and it was definitely not the seagulls! Blech!

Tim was our director of organization. He carried a black book around with him and wrote everything down as we made arrangements. Where would we have been without him??
The days flew by and every waking moment was spent fielding phone calls for Mum, answering the door, receiving visitors, and doing all those billions of jobs. The people in the church were amazing and brought us lunches and dinners every day! We were all exhausted and I didn't feel that there was any time at all to cry or focus on grief. Until Thursday, when I was actually at home alone to work on my tribute speech. There I was, happily writing away and going through photos, when something clicked inside me. Dad will never meet me at his front door again, enthusiastically calling out my name in welcome as though he had been hoping all day to see me. And down I went. It was probably a good thing to cry and cry.
On Friday, the big day, I was so tired after a late night of last minute planning, but excited to be able to celebrate Dads life. My Uncle Mac had flown in from Ottawa to represent Dad's siblings; it was wonderful to have him there!
The Delta Police Chief (Dad was a volunteer with Delta Police) had decided that an escort was in order , so we drove all the way to the cemetery behind a police car with lights flashing. We went straight through the stop signs with the siren going, and all kinds of vehicles pulled over for us. When we got to the traffic lights, they had blocked the intersection with another police car so we could go right through. Dad would have been in his glory!
It was a cold, blustery day. We stood under the little tent to reflect and bury Dad's ashes and had a piper there. Another detail that Dad would have loved. Pastor Andreas cried with us and preached a marvelous short message about grace.
Tim placed the ashes in the ground; it was very emotional for him.
After the cemetery, we went back to the house with our extended family and had some lunch before the memorial service. And then it was time. The piper was outside the church, piping.
Inside, my three boys were playing piano, guitar, and bass, while photos of Dad were shown on the screen. It was perfect.
Everyone in the sanctuary stood as the family walked down the aisle to the front row. It was so emotional; I couldn't hold back the tears as I walked past the crowd. 422 people had come to honour my humble, unassuming dad!
The music was wonderful. Big Bear played piano and sounded great, as usual. One old friend hadn't noticed the musicians and suddenly recognized the distinctive sound of his playing from years gone by.
The four grandchildren read a wonderful biography that Andrew had written for school back in December, after interviewing Dad about his life. How timely that he was able to do that! They all spoke so well and I was very proud of them.
Tim and I both gave a tribute to Dad. I thought I'd be able to hold myself together, but it didn't turn out that way. However, I thought we both did pretty well. I was so honoured to be able to speak about my wonderful father and my heart was full. It's such a sweet sadness that comes from all the goodness.
The Ironmen's choir that Dad was part of sang Amazing Grace, then the piper led us up the aisle.
After the service, we had a reception and talked with so many people. Mum had a huge lineup of people waiting to speak to her. We finally left the church at 5:20, over four hours after the service began. It was such a good day.
We all had dinner at the local Greek restaurant and toasted Dad.
Today, I have been quiet and stayed at home. I received a lovely flower delivery from you, Southern Ange; what a beautiful treat! Thank you so much for your love, sent all the way from Down Under.
And now we begin the business of living our lives without Dad. I'm not too sure what that will look like, especially for my mum. She told a friend that it will be like going about her life with one hand tied behind her back. They loved each other so deeply.
As for me, I've said before that Dad was my greatest cheerleader. It will be so hard to live with a hole in my heart, but I like to remember that great cloud of witnesses spoken of in Hebrews 12. I think that he's still cheering for me, along with those who have gone before him. It will just be harder to hear his voice.


A. said...


Southern Ange said...

I really appreciated reading about your week, Andrea. That has been a privilege. Thanks so much for sharing those moments. I can't believe Ironwoman Me is sitting here with tears streaming down my face!! So nice to see the family in its togetherness...your dad would've been so proud of you all. I betcha he felt so honoured, and is beaming his beautiful smile from on high!! xo

Jo said...

Beautifully written!
You've been in my thoughts all this week.

. said...

Praying for you and your family. May God's peace rest on you and yours today and always.

Mrs. Yung said...

Oh Andrea, how your entry brought tears to my eyes... Thank you for sharing.

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