Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Out the window of my exercise room Tuesday morning appeared a really nice rainbow.

I took the picture with my phone.

I don't have a digital camera any longer. But if I had one it wouldn't have been there when I needed it. Still it seems wrong to take pictures with a phone. Although it seems more wrong to talk on a camera.

I managed 80 minutes of exercise Tuesday morning. It was an unhurried morning. Eventually I showered and shaved and clothed myself. I selected black: black shoes, black socks, black pants, black belt, black coat, black tie with little shapes but they were kind of black, too. I put on a white shirt. I used the only tie tack I could find. I am unsure where the others have gone. I adorned my left wrist with the Seiko with the Roman numerals and the gold band. I am not partial to Roman numerals and really do not understand why we use them. And I slipped on my gold and titanium wedding ring. (It was not exactly Judy's first choice but it was my ring after all. Titanium is the metal of choice for geeks and nerds.)

It was noon when I headed for Judy's. She was finishing her own dressing chores when I arrived and not long after we left for the funeral home. We arrived before 1:30 pm. But my son was there already and a couple of cousins. It took a few moments to park properly.

I had to hunt down the attendant and I asked him where I should park. He asked if I was immediate family. I said "well, I guess it depends on how close you want. I am a son." I know it was smartalecky. He told me to drive through the garage and line up with the brick wall on the other side. I did that and then we went through the door that had the "No Admittance" sign.

Down this hallway next to the family room that was adjacent to the little chapel area we walked to the main hall. There were already cousins and their children and their children gathered there. I am awkward at these greeting things and hugging and so on but I did what was expected. "So glad to see you and thanks for coming" was my most common statement of the day I think.

I went down to check on dad, and to get away from what I knew would be a growing crowd. I am one of those introverted chaps and I literally feel my energy being drained away when I am in a crowd. I've wondered before if the crowd were large enough and packed tightly enough if I would actually die from it. But it is a distasteful experience for me so I avoid crowds as much as I can.

Those people that gain energy from crowds are objects of envy to me. I think we had a lot of them because, standing away, I could detect the increasing level of energy present there in the midst of the crowd. There were hands stuck at me here and there and people coming from all sides. Many of these people I had not seen in a long while. So the immediate recognition is absent and my mental Rolodex is struggling to find the name and update the image stored there and I stall until the name finally makes its way to my mouth. Still I did not shake hands with or greet everyone present. And some I did not even know were there until my brother read me their names this morning.

Several times the director let "friends" know that it was time for them to be seated and that the casket would be closed shortly. Then it was time and he had to raise his voice to get our unruly lot to quit talking. My brother told me I should go first since I am next of kin. For some reason that struck me mildly amusing. I had not thought of myself as being next. But I suppose I must be. Next is a loaded word at a funeral.

So we made our way to the place they had for us. Judy's son sat beside her. He had asked me if it was okay for him to sit with the family. It was okay with me so I suppose that's all that matters. I think I must have missed the etiquette class on family sitting together at funerals.

It was a really nice service. At one point they ran the video presentation. Everyone laughed at the picture of very young Dad smoking his pipe with clenched jaws. I'm not sure why that prompted a laugh. My brother did a nice job of remembering dad's life from youth to old age. There were not many images of him after he was diagnosed and none of him recently. Neither of us wanted them. Some people noticed how few pictures there were of this one or that one. I never think to notice those kinds of things. I must be a more "big picture" kind of guy.

The first song, which was playing as we walked in I think, was "What A Lovely Name" and it was from a CD by our preacher, Dr. Stan Toler, and his brothers.

Stan told personal stories about dad. It had been 25 years since he had met my dad. He was 32 then he said. That makes him two years younger than I am. It is always a nice touch when the preacher knows the person. Stan has been preaching now for 40 years. I wondered to myself how many funerals he had preached.

His brother, Terry, sang "He Touched Me" and "What A Friend We Have In Jesus." The last music was "Amazing Grace" in violin. My brother chose the music. The last one was special because dad's favorite song was "Amazing Grace" and his favorite instrument was the violin. He owned a violin and said he learned to play it some when he was a child. We have it still.

Afterwards we drove the 2+ miles south to my brother's addition's club house. It is a really nice homey facility and made an excellent place for all of us to gather. There was some food and cookies and soft drinks and stuff like that.

We visited until about 5 or so. The cousin from Houston had to fly back and the one from New Mexico who had flown in via California was trying to get out the same evening. Most everyone had something to do or somewhere to be.

I thought about that. I have no place to have to be. I have nothing that has to have my attention. I remember a few times in my past feeling this way.

I am still so tired. I could have slept more this morning but my brother called to tell me he had visited the grave and that all was fine. How I appreciate him handling all this for me. I will drive over to the cemetery sometime today. What I will remember is all the times I took dad there after mom's death. For a long while we went every day. Sometimes we went twice. We took our weed eaters and shears and trimmed all the family graves. Sometimes we just walked and read all the monuments.

Once we even helped a couple who were looking for someone. Cemeteries are peaceful places. Except for this one section where there are very young children buried. It isn't peaceful to me. Grief and turmoil seem to linger there.

All through the day and even now though I think of yesterday morning's rainbow. I think it is my covenant sign and I am grateful for it.


nancy said...

it sounds as if you had a wonderful day and tribute to your dad. how special to see that rainbow in the morning.

that was a wonderful video of your dad. thanks for sharing it. i know my nieces are putting something together with pictures of russ.

i will be glad when all of this on my end is over. i too am still so tired.

SKYGIRL said...

Terry, Thank You for sharing your important day with us. Now you are the second person to tell me in one week, that you were 'shy?'

It is hard to believe, because you express yourself so beautifully from behind the keyboard! I feel grateful to have 'met' you because with your being so shy, and my living thousands of miles away, it would have been very unlikely!

The Rainbow was definately meant for you to see. Don't they say that The Rainbow itself, is a 'promise' from God? Lovely.

I imagine you are exhausted. I can always rally in an emergency, and AD seems like a long drawn out one. After, I always...crash.

Sleep will be good for you, and I hope you get many hours in a row, soon.


~Betsy said...

This is a beautiful post, Terry. You have such a way with words. Maybe now that your caregiving journey is finished, you might consider writing for publishing? I mean that sincerely. Your words paint a lovely picture, you pay very close attention to detail and you draw your reader in. These are all prime elements illustrating a good writer. If you're interested, I can hook you up with some writing sites to get you started. I really hope you consider it.

Thank you for sharing the video and your feelings about the day. I know it had to be difficult - not only the event, but all the people around. I am very much like you when it comes to crowds.

I wish you hours of uninterrupted slumber. You've earned it.

Lori1955 said...

Sound like a wonderful service but for your sake I'm glad it's over. I too hate crowds. I find it hard to breathe with too many people. I also find that I have no idea what to say when people say how sorry they are.
Rainbows are wonderful aren't they. I was outside yesterday with the hose and the water from the hose created a rainbow in my yard. I just loved it. I'm glad God gave you one just for you.

rilera said...

What a lovely video tribute. Thank you for sharing. I'm glad the service went well, they are never easy.

Betsy is right, you should write a book.