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.