Celebrating a Life
Sometimes you expect it, sometimes it comes from out of nowhere and knocks you off your feet. On August 17, 2010, around 10:35 p.m. my phone rang while I was watching a TV program. Who could be calling this late I puzzled? When you’re a mom with children, you always answer. “Hello this is Heidi,” I said. “Hi,” the other voice replied on the other end, “This is Vince.” Vince was my younger brother who lived with my dad in Grants Pass Oregon. Vince cleared his throat. “Heidi I have some sad news,” his voice now breaking up, “Dad died.” Stunned I asked him to repeat what he had just said. Confirming once again those same words, I sat motionless. I could not believe it. Yes, it was true my dad was up in age, over 93 years old and he did have a stroke several years ago. The family though agreed, he had recovered beautifully, using a walker, reading, watching old movies, and drawing and painting up a storm, because he was an artist.
Another reason this came as such a shock to me is my dad always said he would live to be at least a 100 and I believed him. When my dad passed I was told he did not suffer, but closed his eyes, cradled by my brother, in his own bed. Through 911 had been called, within two minutes my father had entered God’s kingdom. Questioning now if our older sister had been contacted, he asked if I could make the call. This would not be easy because my sister was traveling, her cell phone had broke, and the only place I could leave her messages was on her home phone, where she retrieved them a few times a day. Not wanting to tell her in that manner, I just said to call me, that it was urgent. As the hours passed the reality of what had happened had finally started to sink in. My dad was gone. I can never visit him again or hear his voice. Had I said everything I had wanted to say? Had he? Did he have any special wishes? Where they written down? I knew we would all have a lot of difficult decisions to make quickly.
I had always assumed that my dad would be buried next to my mom in Cleveland, Ohio, where he had purchased a plot many years ago. I was wrong. My dad wanted Vince to have it and his wishes were that he have a military burial and be laid to rest in Tacoma National Cemetery in Seattle, Washington with the other soldiers he had served with in World War II. Later that evening my sister and I finally talked. Stunned now like I had been before, I let the reality of what I was saying to her, process. After that, there were many phone calls between the three of us, documents had to be signed and faxed, the day and time for the funeral, what type of casket, which suit should he wear, and who would give the eulogy. We all decided to write our own words to read at the grave site. His coffin would be draped by an American flag, followed by taps played on a bugle, with the ceremonial folding of the flag by two honor guards in full dress. All that was left now was to book our airline reservations. One thing we had all agreed upon was to put something special with him that held significant meaning to each of us. My brother selected a stone he had brought back from Israel, I included a pen and ink sketch my father had drawn of my mother and my sister a photograph of the both of them. We will all meet on Thursday, August 26, for our last good-buys. I did not write a Prayable this week to go with my blog, but a poem instead, a tribute to my dad, who was unique and opened my eyes to world in a different way…I love you daddy and will miss you…
Read , a memorial poem by Heidi Haller, dedicated to her father.
posted by Susan Diamond“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” ~Author Unknown My core values of honesty, respect for others, truthfulness, being charitable, being a good wife, loyal friend and teacher to my daughters are examples my mother taught me. What a wonderful forever ...
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