I've been in a major funk lately. I can't seem to think straight and luckily have friends and family keeping an eye out for me.
My Dad passed away a couple of months ago and honestly, I was floored. I guess I shouldn't have been, it wasn't completely unexpected. He was a month or so shy of his 85th birthday and had been having some health issues.
But that Friday afternoon, he said the hospital nurse wanted to see me about his discharge papers. Dave and I waited around for her for an hour, but she never came. I figured I'd talk to her the next day when we went to visit, but I got a call about 6 a.m. Saturday saying he was "unresponsive."
I think that's hospital-speak for "No need to rush, he's already gone."
Dave and I and our son and his fiance left the hospital and all went to my Mom and Dad's house. We needed a minute.
I called a few of Dad's friends, which evidently sparked an entire network. People started showing up in the driveway and my phone was ringing non-stop.
One lady called me on her way home from Myrtle Beach to offer condolences. I asked how she even knew about it. She said her daughter works at a local Bob Evans, where Dad was a frequent customer, and everybody there knew.
All his friends seemed to have my phone number. I only had a few of theirs. He didn't have an address book, but what he did have was a bunch of numbers and little notes stuck to his fridge. I called everyone who hadn't already called me.
I couldn't find a number for one guy he bowled with years ago, just an address. When I Googled him, I discovered I needn't have worried about telling him my Dad died. I figured he already knew when I came across his obit.
As I said, Dad's death was kind of unexpected and we didn't really have any plans made. An urn was kindly donated to us, but I was having issues with the logistics between it and the box of ashes we got from the funeral home.
I called them and asked how exactly that was supposed to work as even a toddler knows pouring from a big thing into a little thing rarely works out. They said bring everything to them and they'd handle it.
Awesome. I didn't want anything to do with it. Now I understand my Mom's attitude years ago when my Grandma died. Her ashes were scattered so we never used the urn. Mom still refused to have the thing in her house.
Our son loses his mind every time he sees the little can we keep spare change in. He says it looks like an urn. It's not an urn. I think it came with cookies in it originally.
A couple days later, we got Dad's urn back, all filled up, and a box of "extras" that didn't fit. What was I supposed to do with that? I had already inherited the box of Mom's extra ashes that had been sitting on the dining room table at their house since she died six years ago.
I had no idea that's what was in that box.
Dave and I made plans for a celebration of life to be held at the American Legion. Since Dad was a Korean War veteran, we got the hall for free.
Things were moving way too fast in my life, so we wanted to hold off on that 'til about mid-May. As it happened, Saturday, May 13, was available at the Legion. That would have been Dad's 85th birthday. So we ordered a big birthday cake for the occasion.
And spent the next few weeks going through photos and things for the memorial. It was kind of exhausting -- cleaning up frames older than we are, getting them to stand up in the right direction
We had his birth certificate, high school yearbook, marriage license, Army stuff, tons of pictures and even photos of all his dogs. Oddly, Mom and Dad's dog groomer attended and remembered all of them.
After that, we called the funeral home again and they made the arrangements for burial at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman with full military honors. And Mom's ashes were going with Dad's.
As the four of us waited for our appointed time in the lobby area, the older volunteer at the desk remarked how odd it was that they had five couples to bury that day. He was amazed that that many husbands and wives died so close together as to be buried together.
Um, not exactly. Mom died six years ago, but as the wife of a veteran, she gets to go with him.
I had only seen the military ceremony done on TV before. That's nothing like being there. It was very moving. We all cried like babies.
Mom and Dad's ashes are where they belong. And his leftovers went to his favorite place -- the track -- where his best friend Gordon scattered them at the finish line.
° 2017 Laura Nethken