Colleen’s dad died on Sunday. He was a good dude. I would see him 4 or 5 times a year at Dave’s house. He seemed like he should be gruff, but I always found him affable.
He had been sick for awhile. I think like 6 years. He had “one of everything”…heart attacks, cancer, COPD, emphysema, etc. Honestly, being a step removed, I couldn’t keep track. I do know that if he was a cat, he well out lived his 9 lives. He had a lot of reasons for his health issues. It was a combination of smoking, exposure to Agent Orange while fighting in Vietnam, and even possibly working in a commercial bakery (fine flour in the air all the time).
A couple weeks ago he had a stroke. We found out the night we went to Moms & Pops for Pam’s birthday dinner. Col wasn’t there. She was shooting us text message updates throughout the evening. In the middle of all that she managed to apologize to Pam for missing her birthday. She is too considerate.
He made it out of the hospital, but never fully recovered. He was weak and fell and wound up back in the hospital. He was then diagnosed with kidney failure, sepsis, and probably some more stuff. He only lasted a couple days more.
The funeral was on Wednesday. This was the first time that the girls were going to a funeral. They wanted to go to support their cousins. Pam and I were fine with it. We felt like they were old enough to handle it. At no point through his up’s and down’s over the last few years did we ever hide any info from them. We’re generally pretty honest with them about everything. I think kids are more capable of dealing than most people give them credit for. Plus, they know when something is going on anyway. We figured this would be a relatively good funeral to expose them to for their first one.
In preparation for Wednesday, I gave them a rundown of what to expect. The main thing I wanted to make sure they were ready for was the open coffin. I tucked in Julia first Tuesday night. Before I left the room – unrelated to anything – she asked me how many seconds there were in a day. I told her we would look it up tomorrow. “Go to bed!”
Next up was Susie. We talked for a while. We came back to a discussion of the open coffin. Good thing we did. She said she was envisioning something out of Indiana Jones. I’m not sure if she meant one of the mummified bodies or the guys whose faces melt off. Either way, I’m glad we got it straightened out before I left her because she probably would’ve been up all night.
After I left her room I figured I better go back to Jul just in case she had the same misconception. I popped open her door and she is sitting up in bed, reading light on and pan and paper in hand. “What are you doing?!?” “I’m calculating how many seconds there are in a day.” Little wacko!!! She asked why I came back. I explained Susie’s confusion. Julia, confused by Susie’s confusion, “He’s just going to look like he’s sleeping, right?”
I’m usually not really bothered by funerals. I don’t know if it’s because I never lost anyone I really cared for or if it’s just because my black heart inhibits me from having any feelings about anything. I remember being a little weepy at Grandmom Girgenti’s funeral. I was 14. It wasn’t because I personally felt a great loss – she wasn’t a warm person (as evident by the generic name “Grandmom Girgenti”). I think it was because I was envisioning my other grandmom dying.
Of course when my other grandmom did die 11 years later, I don’t recall being broken up about it. I knew that I would miss her – she was a great lady…I have lots of special memories with her – but I don’t remember crying at all. Maybe because she was very realistic about life and death. (I’m realistic too, but dammit, I want to live forever!) Maybe because my mom wasn’t outwardly upset. For the record, if emotions can be passed through hereditary, this is the family line that I can blame for me not having any. My mom has been nicknamed The Rock because she doesn’t break for anything. I know it’s a stereotype, but there might be something to the thought that Germans lack feelings.
Ron’s funeral pretty much played out the way I expected. Susie cried a lot, Julia didn’t cry at all (Rock v3.0), and I just took everything in a practical manner. But then Colleen got up to give the eulogy. It was awesome! She really did a great job highlighting interactions from his life. And it was…moving? I guess. What were these feelings I was having? I really got choked up, especially when she talked about moments her dad had with his grandchildren. I can’t believe I got upset. I was shocked, confused…and excited! Yay, I do have empathy!
The last highlight of the funeral was communion. It was getting close to lunch time at this point. Julia saw they were handing out food at the front of the line. She looked at me like “heyyyyyy, can I go get a cracker?” I should have let her go just to see how quickly Pam could pull her out of that line. I’m sure it would’ve been less than a second.
Here is Ron’s obituary: