This morning we laid my father to rest.
Oprah would call this memorial as a "full circle moment."
The service took place where their love story began 64 years ago. My mother had one simple request - to have my father's service at the church where they wed. She wanted to be in familiar surroundings. Let the memories of their joining as husband and wife intertwine with this latest memory - one of parting. So, we all gathered at that church where they vowed by saying "I do" and meant it. In today's world, some marriages last 64 minutes, then the cold reality of what's ahead rises to the surface.
I agonized over this ceremony. Agonized. I reviewed the liturgy over and over again with the "Service Coordinator." Same scenario for the music. Everything had to contain meaning to my father and our family. Our values, our hopes, and our love. Since my parents didn't belong to this parish, the thought of a stranger delivering a eulogy smacked of hypocrisy. Nope, not going there.
I decided upon the theme of the service. It has been in front of me and I almost missed it. It's the very thing my father prayed for throughout his life - Peace. A peace he and his fellow soldiers fought for during his time in Europe. A peace when broken him to tears when he heard we had gone to war during Gulf I and earlier when he wanted to volunteer as a truck driver during Vietnam. We have enjoyed Pax Americana throughout our history, but I'm talking about a different peace. One that endures throughout the ages.
Mom championed through the service in a wheelchair. We had a few hairy moments as she climbed onto a chair lift to enter the church, but the driver and I guided her through the process. Amazingly she heard the sermon and enjoyed the cantor. She delighted in seeing her family, her friends, my friends. The people who mean everything to her.
Encircling the altar from above, beautiful statues of angels gazed out at us. I thought Dad and his angel. Mom said she knew she'd be fine if her two strong nephews and their wives attended. They did. She was. Although she tired after the military honor guard.
We did not get together afterwards as Mom had been up for most of the night and she needed to rest after three weeks of late nights with Dad. She came home, changed her clothes, ate her lunch, and took a nap.
In my heart I know one thing, when St. Peter asks my father what he wants to do in heaven he'll respond, "Join Team Peace." He'll work like an Olympian and then some until the job's done. I love you, Dad!
Dona nobis pacem, (Give us peace.)
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- ▼ August (11)