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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Honoring

Toward the end of each of the last two trips to see Chuck’s Dad in Greater Seattle, we tried to prepare mentally, emotionally for the possibility that it might be the last time we would see Dad. We felt grateful for his great longevity, his full and interesting life and the long and very happy marriage he shared with Chuck’s Mom. Even though Dad was 94 and in decline, the last visit with him on each of those trips was still wrenching. But because of these visits and the emotional work we have been doing, the grief we are experiencing now that Dad has passed, feels much less acute than it might have been. Certainly, it is less fierce than when someone is struck down in their prime or when there are sentiments left unspoken. And the last phone call Chuck had with his Dad provided an additional opportunity for Chuck to express his gratitude and his love to his father. It allowed a son to be on the other side of the continent, yet still be at his father’s bedside just before he passed away.

We were speaking with a friend of ours who lost her mother a few years ago. We were discussing all of this with her, as we also told her about some of the arrangements which are being made for Dad’s interment and memorial service. Thankfully, Dad was quite thorough and specific in communicating his wishes. When Chuck’s Mom passed away ten years ago, Dad asked us to create the service, which we did. He was very pleased with it, so we have that as our template. But there are still many details to attend to. Chuck’s sister Carol is in Seattle, so she is doing things in person which we can’t do. But being a phone call or e-mail away eases communication and coordination. As we talked with our friend, she nodded and said “Yes, all the business of death.” She wasn’t referring to the commerce of funeral homes and florists. She was speaking about the paperwork, the fine print, the bureaucracy and all the discreet details involved in wrapping up a life.

Wrapping up a life. Dad has passed. His love, his lessons, his legacy live on. Our memories of him and of Mom will continue to bind them to us. But part of our responsibility to Dad is to attend to these details; the bits and pieces of his life on Earth - from the mundane to the legally required. There have been obituaries. There will be a eulogy. There will be memories shared, stories told, family jokes repeated, laughter and more tears. But there will continue to be this business of death as we wrap up Dad’s life. In attending to these tasks with the care and thoroughness he would have, we honor him.

7 comments:

dancingmorganmouse said...

No words, xxxx.

Pink Granite said...

Thank you...

Kent said...

Helle Lee. Please accept my sincere condolence for the passing of Chuck's dad. It sounds like he lived a full life. May he rest in peace.

Kent

Ilva said...

Loosing parents is always so difficult even if they are old and sick and want to go themselves. I can't pray but I am sending many thoughts in your direction (ouch how stupid it sounds but I hope you know what I mean)

Sue said...

As you said, there's never a good time to say goodbye to someone you love, even when you've had time to prepare yourself for it. Memorials will always be sad affairs.

This 'death business' isn't fun and can go on for months, but it's all part of the process. I'm glad that 'Dad' had the time to get his affairs in order and that he made his wishes clear to you all - makes things A LOT simpler!!

XXX

Wendy said...

I know that you will all honour his life with detail and love that we could all only hope for.
xxx

Pink Granite said...

Hi Kent -
You're right, Dad did live a long and very full life.
Thank you so much.
- Lee



Hi Ilva -
You have also experienced a recent loss and I know exactly what you mean.
I appreciate your kind words.
- Lee


Hi Sue -
I'm sure it's true that the paperwork and business of death can go on for a long time.
And we are fortunate that Dad took such care to make sure his wishes were known.

A relative passed away a few years ago in his 80s. He had never been willing to discuss any aspect of death or funerals with his family. Working through that process was extraordinarily difficult, but was a wonderful lesson as well.
Thank you.
- Lee


Hi Wendy -
Thank you for your very generous comment.
We will do our best.
- Lee