Thank you to everyone for the messages of sympathy, comments and cards; I’ve truly appreciated the sentiments expressed and caring shown by my on-line friends.

The manservant was trying to get off a mountain in the Chilean Andes when my father passed away.   It took him 4 days to get to Sydney on a convoluted flight plan which had him flying about 16,000 miles and resulted in his luggage being left in Buenos Aires.  That would be the luggage carrying his suit.  He stopped at a Target on his way and bought dark clothes suitable for the service.    (His bag has since turned up in his DC office – he’s still in Australia).

According to Jane’s husband the most likely time to have a heart attack is when one is grieving.   I’m sure I was just having anxiety attacks……

One should not attempt to dye their hair with an unfamiliar brand just two days before their father’s funeral.  This disaster was repaired with a Streaking Kit, Jane and a bottle of wine.  The leaflet said to get a “trusted friend”  to assist.   Oh, that would be the wine!  (Jane did a pretty good job).

One should go out and buy something ridiculous to take to their father’s funeral  – mine was a bright red patent leather handbag; my father loved colour. It was just big enough to hold car keys, the digital Canon and tissues.

“Refreshments” take on an enormous importance at funerals.  Who’d have thought sandwiches and cakes were so important to the farewell process.

Mum didn’t want people coming to the house as she didn’t feel up to seeing people. So, as I rang people I was to say that she would let them know if she needed anything in the hope they’d take the hint.  I said well there go our casserole dinners..  and she said:  “I don’t like casseroles”.   People came anyway but they brought personal things like chocolate, hand lotions and soaps.

I drove mum and the manservant to the funeral.  It’s a 110 Kph speed limit from her house to where we had the service but she had me driving at around 80kph because she didn’t want to have a tragedy on top of the death.  I said “mum, I’ve never had so many people overtake me in my life!”.

Mum wanted photos of the casket and flowers but was worried this might be “weird”.   I told the celebrant we’d be doing it so she wouldn’t be surprised if someone jumped up with a camera.    We were early (even at 80kph) and I was able to take the requested photos with no-one there.    I told dad that I hoped he was smiling in there.

Rain does not stop for funerals.  My mother said “I think dad’d be quite pleased with the bad weather”.   It was pouring heavily as the grandsons carried the coffin to the hearse.  The funeral director walked in front of the hearse as a mark of respect as the hearse moved away and down the street  – poor guy must’ve been soaked!

Even an organizer has to eventually have a break down – the smallest things brought many tears in the days after the funeral.

I left the manservant with my mother for a few more days and got back to DC late last night (Sunday).   When I arrived in San Francisco the Immigration Officer asked me “what was the reason for your trip outside the country”  as I answered “my father’s funeral”  I started to cry.  I think that hurried the process along.

After sitting with headphones on and eyes closed for about 4 of the 6 hour flight from SF to DC I went off to the toilet and returned to find I was sitting next to chatty Cathy!  As I sat with what must’ve been a (fake) encouraging look on my face she rambled on about her kids, her husband and a few other things that I tuned out.  I kept thinking “I wonder if she’d leave me alone if I tell her my father just died.”      I doubt it.

My bright pink suitcase was one of the first out on the carousel and I heard a man complain that it “didn’t even have a priority tag on it” – which his non-appearing bag must’ve had.   I thought to myself “well, that’s the best thing that’s happened to me this week”.

I got home and had chocolate and wine in the middle of the night.   I was awake at 4am.  I did not go to work.   I’ve spent the day trying not to think about things I’m not ready to think about.

I have to go back to work tomorrow –  I suspect I’m going to spend a lot of it fighting tears as I’m not good at dealing with my emotions when people are being solicitous towards me.

I’m going to have an early night tonight; my father used to say you can face anything if you’ve had a good night’s sleep.



42 responses

  1. Peace, Emjay. Your father was a good man, and it’s even more obvious when we get to know his children. Still sending healing thoughts.
    I have watched my husband go through losing his dad and if my dad goes before I do I dread going through that, too.
    Life is tough sometimes. Hugs.

  2. I think “The Organiser” did a fine job, especially as you must have been jetlagged for much of a stressful time, and on your return. Time heals, and must be allowed to.

  3. It makes you realize that having formal mourning wasn’t a bad idea.
    You walk around feeling as if you are made of glass, and there really should be a warning label.
    The formal work is all taken care of, now there is just the living with it to get through.

    • I just found your comment in my spam thing so I’m sorry for the delay in responding. I dithered about allowing HR to inform everyone at work about dad passing away – one part of me wanted to keep it private and the other part wanted people to realize I was fragile. If there was an official mourning period it would make things easy – but with everyone wearing black all the time it’d be hard to recognize those in mourning.

  4. Oh, Emjay. I wish I could just hug you and sit with you having chocolate and wine. It doesn’t matter how ‘grown up’ we are. Our fathers are our fathers forever and that space just hurts.

  5. Hugs to you. It’s never easy, and having to get back to ‘normal’ life…well, that is really not easy when your emotions are still raw and unpredictable and right there ready to erupt. I hope the manservant has a better trip home than he did over to Australia. And I hope that time passes quickly till he gets back. Till then, you know where to find us if you need us for some cyber-company. Just remember to keep breathing. long, cleansing breaths.

  6. I just want to say that as a secretary, I make an awesome hairdresser.

    Aww, that was so cool how that guy walked ahead of the hearse in the rain all slow stepping after the boys had put Dad in there and we stood there under umbrellas in the drizzle. He would have loved all that.

  7. I am so very sorry, MJ. Every little thing becomes so clear (or so befuddling–how do people get on with their days?) when in grief. I’m thinking of you and I know your Daddy would be proud that you’re showing his sense of humor!

    The leaflet said to get a “trusted friend” to assist. Oh, that would be the wine! (Jane did a pretty good job).

  8. Aww, Emjay. Big ((hugs)) for you. I’m not very good at hiding my feelings either, which led to some rather embarrassing moments at work. I love it, however, when a man walks into one’s office and is visibly flustered by the sight of a woman crying.

    The manservant went beyond the call of duty to be with you in Australia—you have a keeper there! If only all husbands were as dedicated! Food I think takes on great importance after a death, especially when brought by friends, because it reminds you that life goes on, and you should eat, however sad you are. There’s also that sense of sharing in each other’s grief when people sit together to eat. I don’t like casseroles, either, and unfortunately, too many people bring them while you’re in mourning. Chocolates and scented soaps are much nicer.

    • Thank you HG. I’m sure I’m not making a very professional looking receptionist at the moment – splotchy red face, puffy eyes underlined with black and likely to burst into tears if anyone speaks. I was crying when the Ops manager walked in this morning – he took one look and scurried away.

      I’d once told our HR people that I did not want flowers (standard procedure) if one of my loved ones died; I wanted “condolence chocolates” – I was pleasantly surprised to receive a box of Godiva on my first day back.

  9. Big belated hugs and my condolences! It always a tragedy to lose a family member. I think you shouldn’t worry to much about displaying your emotions of your grief. Our society is so bad with handling emotions which is very wrong if you ask me. Therefore so many people are trying to hide how they feel if they absolutely shouldn’t.
    Lots of love and good thoughts to you and your family! Am including you in this too Jane!

    • I was talking about photography/filming at funerals with a friend today. Her parents died within a year of each other and she said she was sorry that she didn’t have any photos of the services as at each funeral she was so distraught that she did not take in many of the details and now wonders about things…

  10. OMGosh, on top of everything else, all the obstacles you faced!

    This may or may not help much, but I still cry — suddenly — at odd moments, reminders, scents. And it’s been nearly 18 since my father died, just over four since my mom died. It never goes away. It just lets us get on with things and then pops up out of nowhere and gets in our face and we deal with whatever it smacks us with in that moment. Sometimes being at work helps. Sometimes it doesn’t. I hope that it helps you. (((((((((((hugs)))))))))))

    • Thank you Robbie – I am finding that being at work and being busy does help me but like you say it’s the little reminders that slap me when I’m doing things around the house. Like walking past a photo or hearing, in my head, something he might have said about whatever I’m doing.

  11. Oh Emjay, I am so sorry. I know this is such a difficult time for you and will be an adjustment. I hope in time that the pain of your Dad’s loss will subside and be replaced with all sorts of fabulous memories. Hugs.

  12. Emjay, I had told my chiro (who has a mom in hospice) the story of your dad phoning emergency services when no one answered his call button. He loved that. So I told him the sad news and he sends his condolences as well.

    Just another way in which he was special; people who never knew him or you are sad he’s gone.

    • Oh Lurker thank you. It’s amazing how many people he touched in some way. When I rang the solicitor (lawyer) to advise him dad had passed away he told me a story – he and dad had been emailing each other for years and in one email last year dad had asked a few questions, made a few complaints and then realized he was whinging and finished with “well, this dying is hard work”. The solicitor thought that was so funny he told his doctor who also really appreciated it. It makes me smile to hear such stories.

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