The last few weeks have been a trying time for me. Work is off-the-chain busy, the heat is driving me crazy, and I said goodbye to my father. I’m off my diet, haven’t been exercising, and have consumed more coffee than a person should drink in a year. Throw in a culture war around a silly chicken sandwich and you can maybe see why I’ve been a bit on edge.
I’ve had entirely too much experience with death. We’ve buried four grandparents, more than twenty aunts and uncles, and three first cousins. Losing someone is never easy. But I do think that with experience, dealing with death is less traumatic.
The last time I saw my father, he told me about the wonderful woman at Hospice. She helped him to prepare for the end of his life. I have no idea how she did it, but thanks to her, Dad faced the end of his life with courage and dignity. I’m so proud of him.
As you already know, I will always treasure my last visit to Kentucky to see him. We reached an understanding that we’d not shared before. At visitation and the funeral, several people said he’d told them how happy he’d been about our visit. I can’t remember the last time Dad and I agreed about something, making the way we ended things that much sweeter.
Rather than the sad and depressing experience I expected, my father’s passing was a beautiful and joyous occasion, thanks in no small part to the wonderful work of the chaplain from Hospice who worked with Dad to plan his funeral service. She’s a true saint. Despite having known my father for just weeks, her eulogy summed up Dad in an honest and straightforward way that taught me something about the man I’d known my whole life.
During that last visit to see Dad, I reconnected with my dear friend Lynn–the woman who made me gay. We’ve talked practically every day since then. I’m so glad to have her back in my life.
At the visitation, I reconnected with old family friends and members of my family I haven’t seen for decades. I heard stories about Dad I’d never heard before from firemen he’d trained or fought fires with back in the 60s and 70s. I saw cousins I hadn’t seen since they were small children, and met children of cousins for the first time.
I haven’t seen so many flowers at a funeral for years. These days it’s customary to offer an alternative to flowers. Because of Dad’s love for gardening, we didn’t. A special thanks to the people at Ashland Florist. I asked for zinnias because they were Dad’s favorite flower. After putting me on a hold for a minute, she came back on and told me that zinnias normally weren’t available, but an employee had some in her garden she’d bring in. They were beautiful.
The Lexington Fire Department provided an honor guard in dress uniforms with red kerchiefs for the visitation and funeral. The Army provided a color guard and a 21-gun salute. It was a very fitting service.
I couldn’t have made it through the funeral without my sister, the strong one. She’s always been Daddy’s little girl. I was ready to help her through everything. Funny how things turn out.
A special thank you to all my friends. The outpouring of support on Facebook, in comments on this blog, via Twitter, telephone calls, and in person has just been overwhelming. You make me rich beyond measure.
Thanks to Tony and Jesse for taking care of Tico and Toodles for us. I hear Tico has a new best friend (their dog, L.C.), and that Toodles has taken up residence under the living room coffee table. Knowing they are in good hands has made it easier to be away.
Finally, I have to thank my partner. Over the last few weeks, he’s been my rock. In truth, that’s been the case for nearly eleven years. Every day he teaches me a little more about how to be a good person. His selflessness is remarkable and inspiring.
Thank you for coming along with me on this journey. I’ve wondered if maybe I went overboard with my sharing about the end of Dad’s life. No doubt, people on the more private end of the continuum will think so. As you know, I fall on the opposite end of that continuum. I suspect that’s why many of you come back to see what’s happening here in…
My Glass House