The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Thoughts After a Funeral

So I’m back home and back to normal and deep into processing all this. Someone said the good and bad moments will both come at random moments. So this will be a hodgepodge post of random thoughts about my dad, the funeral, and related topics.

Dad’s (Mom’s) bbq chicken recipe. Dad didn’t cook, except to grill chicken. Mom would marinate chicken pieces overnight in Italian dressing, and the next night Dad would smear them with bottled barbeque sauce and grill them. I’ve since been “educated” as to different styles of barbeque, but this was great stuff! And I don’t remember how on earth the subject came up last week, but it did.

That “quirky sense of humor” I mentioned. My dad has a wild sense of humor, which made it into the homily at his funeral Mass. As an example: A few years ago, Fr. Brian was buying groceries and in line at the checkout. Dad was right behind him. Now, at the time, Dad was taking coumadin, which leaves purple splotches on your skin. And this woman came up behind Dad and said words to the effect of “eww, what’s that?” Without missing a beat, Dad said “It’s leprosy! And it’s contagious!” and began rubbing his arm all over the woman. Fr. Brian was laughing his head off, which is how the woman figured out that Dad wasn’t serious. I’ve always envied how Dad was quick on his feet like that. I’d have said something like “oh, it’s coumadin, a blood thinner,” recited my medical history to the woman, and figured out the come-back several days later.

The “Canada group” The Canada group was a group of men 25-35 years younger than Dad; I went to school with several of them. Starting in the late 70s, this group of businessmen and professionals met for lunch every Friday, went up to Canada each summer to go fishing, and celebrated birthdays together along with their wives. They had the most, and the most outrageous, stories about Dad. They all teased each other pretty hard, and they took his death the hardest. A lot of the most important people in Dad’s life stopped by his hospital room on his last 2 days, and each member of the Canada group made that trip, including two for whom it was a long drive of an hour or more. Our friends enrich us, and I’m glad Dad had the Canada group in his life.

A 21 gun salute. It poured rain the day of Dad’s funeral, and yet at the cemetary a group of older veterans stood at attention in the rain, waiting for the signal to give Dad a 21-gun salute. He was proud of his military service, which included WWII and a few years afterwards, and the honor would have meant a lot to him. Also, the town mayor set aside the day in Dad’s honor and had all flags flown at half-staff.

Visitation. Dad ran a small-town weekly newspaper, and just about everyone who ever worked for him showed up to pay their respects. This included people who had had full careers and are now retired, and people who had to drive quite a distance. Some of them said he was the best boss they ever had.

A couple of days ago, one of my friends said that people who haven’t been through this don’t know what it’s like, and that the gulf between those who’ve lost a parent and those who haven’t is greater than the gulf between those who’ve had kids and those who haven’t. This is all still new to me, so I don’t yet know if I agree with her. But my entire family has had great support through all this, and for that I am grateful.


May 21, 2008 - Posted by | death of a parent, random thoughts |


  1. […] Continue Reading […]

    Pingback by Thoughts After a Funeral | May 21, 2008 | Reply

  2. The first year is the hardest. I call it the Year of Firsts, actually. First Father’s Day without him, first birthday, first holiday season. When my mom died, every time there was an occasion, I’d think, “this is the first one without her.” I love that you’re telling us about him. That’s how he’ll stay with you. Keep sharing, chica. Then we can all enjoy his quirky sense of humor, too. Big hugs!

    Comment by Terri | May 21, 2008 | Reply

  3. I used to think the tradition of an official year of mourning was barbaric. After all, life goes on, right? But after being widowed in 1988, I gained a totally different perspective. Terri’s right — the first year is the toughest, and alot of it has to do with getting through all the “firsts”. Getting to and through all of them, ending with the first anniversary of the death, is like a rite of passage, and until you complete that rite, life really doesn’t go on.

    The other thing is that it isn’t the “big things” such as all those “firsts” that will necessarily hit the hardest, because you’re sort of prepared for them. You know they’re going to be hard. It’s the unexpected moments that are the most difficult… sometimes a random memory, or a song, or catching a whiff of his favorite cologne on someone else, or hearing a joke or triumph you’d love to share with him, only to realize you’ll never do so again. The things that come out of the blue that catch you unaware are the ones that are tougher to get through.

    While bittersweet, those are usually the moments that mean the most.

    Your dad sounds like he was very rich in friends, family, and colleagues. How wonderful that you’ve been able to share in their memories and support.

    Comment by Marti | May 23, 2008 | Reply

  4. People who haven’t lost a parent are part of a group they shouldn’t wish to be in. My Mom died end of September and her four children scrambled to be there and spend time with her at hospice.

    Now I want to call to ask about Yorkshire pudding, and she’s not there. I’ll check on the one-year rule when it’s been a year. Right now it’s just tough. I’ve asked for her recipes so I can put together a book for the family. My brother is dealing with a previously unknown box of early photos in the garage. And my sisters have done the bulk of the work, thanks!

    Comment by pawsinsd | December 30, 2008 | Reply

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