Thursday, September 18, 2008
The Final Journey, Part 2.
I have had a hard time writing this. I know what I want to say, but the words just aren't flowing like I want them to. I am going to ad 2 more parts to this. This one will cover the funeral, the next will be random thoughts about the last month, and the final will be my version of Dad's obituary.
I arrived in Illinois in time to join my Mom and brothers to go to the funeral home to plan the funeral. We took Dad's clothes in with us. Dad would not have looked right in a suit so we took a pair of bib overalls and a shirt for him. The bibs had pinstripes and Dad always said they were his formal bibs. One request he had made was he wanted a plain pine coffin. He had read that is what Billy Graham was buried in and he liked it. It was not easy getting one, but they managed to find one.
After we went back home I went and took a nap. I had only had 3 hours sleep before I left Georgia. While I was laying down my lady friend, Vickie, called. My nephew answered the phone and did not know who she was. She told him she was Howard's girlfriend. I am Howard,Jr and everyone there calls me Howie. I was told he did not know what to do, but he did not want to give Mom the phone. He thought Dad had a girlfriend that no one knew about. Mom finally got the phone and then he realized who was calling.
The visitation was on Sunday night. We went to the funeral home around noon and had our private viewing. I was amazed how many people came to the visitation. We had a continuous line for almost 2 hours. I saw a lot of people that I had not seen in about 30 years. Living 600 miles away I don't see many people other than family and a few friends when I return.
The funeral was held on Monday. It had rained a little and the day was overcast, but the rain held off. The funeral was very nice. Dad's favorite song was Beautiful Dreamer and my Uncle Wayne, Mom's brother lead everyone in singing it. My brother Steve said a prayer. He did very well with it. If I had tried to speak I couldn't have done it. I asked for a copy of his prayer and permission to put it here. He had to write me another one, because the original he put in Dad's pocket. His prayer was:
Father it is with heavy hearts that we come to you today thanking you.
Father we thank you for the life you gave Dad.
Father we thank you for the many things you taught us through Dad,
Through the way he lived his life.
You taught us love and commitment, family first.
How to help out and how to give.
How to be gentle and caring.
How to fight for our country.
How to work hard.
And you taught us to laugh
And to never give up.
Father we thank you for the past few weeks that you gave us with Dad.
Thank you for allowing us to laugh
And allowing us to cry.
Thank you for this special time we had together.
Father thank you for the promise that life does not end here on earth
But it is just the beginning of a life spent with you.
Thank you for Jesus, our Lord and Savior, that he died so we may live.
Thank you for our life here and the promise of life here after.
In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Burial was in a cemetery about a mile from our house. It is an older cemetery and not real big. Mom and Dad had worked at cleaning it up and repairing stones there. Dad was also a member of the board, which he was very proud of. Since he was a Korean War veteran, an honor guard was there. The don't fire a salute any more, but Taps was played. Then after we left, Dad was laid to rest.
The picture here is from the funeral card we selected. The verse inside is a paraphrasing of Ecclesiastes 3:
For everything there is an appointed season,
and a time for everything under heaven.
A time for sharing, a time for caring,
A time for loving, a time for giving,
A time for remembering,
A time for parting.
You have made
Everything beautiful in its time.
For everything you do remains forever.