I'm back in Austin; it's all over.
Man. I want so much to write about everything, but I'm just sort of blown out. I'll give it a shot, but it's entirely possible that I may have to abort this attempt.
First of all, the support of our friends and family was nothing short of astounding. I have never seen so many people send flowers, or call, or stop by with food, ever, in my life. (I have never seen THAT MUCH FOOD in my life. Do your families eat like there is no fucking tomorrow when there's a death, or is it just mine?) The house was positively drenched with the smell of flowers. People came from so far away...seriously, mind-bogglingly far, to be with us. Me, even. We, I, are deeply humbled, and so grateful, to receive that kind of support.
The planning of the funeral was the part that I dreaded, but even that turned out to be OK. We, not being church-goers, only met the minister that would be performing the service the night before. We requested a nice, simple Methodist, and one was delivered, on time, at 7:30 on Sunday night. He arrived, and - lo and behold, there stood before us a jovial, heavy-set, red-headed older man, from northwest Missouri...wearing a BLACK AND GOLD STRIPED TIE. As the evening progressed, and we told all of our stories, it was revealed that this minister - a Morel-mushroom hunting, fishing, and Missouri Tiger fanatic - was actually my father's soulmate. (Albeit being much more, well, peaceful and ministerial and all that.) He ended up staying a bit late because his wife was a little long in finding our house, and thus my mother had time to show him ALL of her MU memorabilia. We were all absolutely delighted with each other. It was precious.
The one thing we asked was that Dad would not have been into scripture-reading or hymn-singing, and that we would rather have the minister tell stories about him. So, my sister, brother, and I each wrote out our favorite memories...and the minister read ALL of them. It was really very moving, and exactly what he would have wanted.
Then, the minister ends his sermon, and says something along the lines of this: "I'm not supposed to tell anyone during my services that I didn't know the deceased. I'm breaking a big rule here. But, I must tell you, that perhaps more than any other time I've done this, I feel like I know Richard, just from the evening I spent at his house, with his family, last night." And then he passed out a copy, to the family, of this cartoon, in which a man, entering heaven, sees a field of morel mushrooms, and says "It's just like I always dreamed."
Dad? Not much for the ceremonies...but he would have LOVED it.
I'm glad I'm home. I feel like someone's been hitting me with sticks for five days. (The OG and the YG were great at the funeral, by the way, open casket and all. OG probably had like ten cookies later, I was feeling so generous to her.) I'm glad that I got to see my nephews, whom I adore deeply and never get to see. I'm glad that my mom is holding it together, even though she wasn't ready to see him go. And, I'm glad that he left, the way he wanted to, at home, and I'm sure to the absolute core of my being that he was ready.
There are other memories, of course, besides the good ones. But, those are for later.
For the record, this is what I wrote for the funeral:
My favorite memory of Dad was of him taking me to the Olde Firehouse, by ourselves, when Mom was at NEA meetings. (This was after John and Sharon had left for college, and it was just the two of us for dinner on quite a few nights.) He loved the Mexican food at the Olde Firehouse, and I did, too. He ate the hot salsa, and mine was the mild. (He would be proud to know that mine is the hot salsa now. I've clearly inherited his love of hot and spicy food.)
My friends asked me to remind everyone about the breakfasts he would cook for them when they stayed over at my house. Whenever we rolled out of bed - no matter the hour - Dad would have coffee made, and a table full of bacon, eggs, and toast with jelly, all hot, and piled high. He was a very gracious host to me and my friends when we came; nobody ever left here feeling like anything but family.
Dad initially thought that I would be a good fisherman...as, at the beginning of his "training," I was! However, I lost my taste for it early on, after I realized that I was killing the fish. My anti-fishing strike began at about age 9, and I've never picked up a rod since then. In my newly-activist desire to save all of the little fishies, I had a secret, pre-PETA-inspired quest that did NOT please my father, and that was to set free all of his minnows from his bait buckets in the lake. When he wasn't looking, I would sneak down to the docks, and "accidentally" spring the latch on the buckets. (He knew.) And, though I did really feel for the poor minnows, the final straw came the day that he brought home a bait bucket full of crawdads. Now, I LOVED crawdads, as I caught the ones that lived near our docks, and fed them shrimp and bread, on a nearly daily basis. Dad let it be known in no uncertain terms that these were bait, and were not to be touched. He went to bed, and I sat there with Sharon, who was babysitting me, watching TV that night, completely unable to think of anything except the crawdads. Sharon, finally tired of my sniffling, looked at me and said, "Do what you think is right." I thought about it for a second, and then walked down to the dock, in the dark, and let loose the crawdads. The next morning, I did not say a word about it...and Dad, who must have figured it out the next day, never mentioned it, either.
One of my earliest memories of Dad was shopping for his birthday - or Father's Day, can't remember which - present at Dolgin's with my mother. I was probably about three years old. I insisted that he would want, above all else, a Fisher-Price Little People Doll House. And so, that is what my mother got him. He graciously thanked me, and told me that I could play with it anytime I wanted. Another early memory is when I filled out the order form for the $30 Disney book that I wanted, and took it to the mailbox and mailed it, all by myself, at age four. He could have been livid - that was a lot of money for a book, at that time - but he thought it was so cute, that he let me keep the book. To this day, I still have that book.
Thanks again, everyone. I'm going to go melt into jelly now.
Just so you don't go to bed all bummed out, though, here is a little nugget of joy for you. (It's five minutes long, but it's a giggle, especially to any Harry Potter fan:)
"Leprechaun taint." Hah!