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Farewell to Dad

Bone-weary. Slept fitfully last night. All the events of the day kept going through my mind, and the knowledge that my father's gone kept sleep at bay. Got up in the middle of the night and made myself a cocoa. Watched a bit of nighttime TV, which is even worse than daytime TV.

I picked my flowers up from the florist's; they'd done a terrific job on the piece using many of Dad's favourites, chrysanthemums and dahlias in autumnal shades, with a few deep red whatchumacallits and orange somethingorothers, a really masculine bouquet that I was very pleased with. The more so as it turned out the floral arrangements we'd ordered through the undertaker's never materialised, but of course I didn't know it then and we never even noticed until after the service, so many people had sent their own flowers.

More people showed up to the cremation ceremony than I'd dared to expect, including some colleagues from both me and my sister's work, which was really wonderful. We've both been getting lots of support from our respective employers and co-workers with e-mails, phone calls and text messages, and we've both been given special leave for the week.

I delivered the eulogy and my niece read a poem, then my sister added a few words of her own. Then we both got up and thanked everyone for coming, we had a minute's silence, and then the casket, that she and I had closed together, slowly moved backwards into whatever space is there at crematoria where the dead are prepared for their final journey.

We had a short reception in one of the adjoining rooms, with tea and coffee and Indonesian finger food, where people could mingle and offer us their condolences. Then afterwards, we took 20 of our family and friends out to dinner to a Korean restaurant, in memory of our father who had been a Korean war veteran *). We had a very pleasant evening with good food, a lot of laughter and some tears, and everybody was agreed we'd given our Dad the most splendid send-off and he would have been so proud of us.

*) The first thing I did, the morning after Dad's death, was contact the Dutch Korean War Veterans Association, to ask if they would send a delegation to form an honour guard as I'd seen them do on previous occasions, when others of Dad's former comrades had died. The secretary said he'd do his best, but as those who are left are mostly in their eighties and struggling with various degrees of ill health, couldn't guarantee he'd be able to gather the necessary quorum. In the end, only one vet made it, but he was someone whom my Dad had known and he was most welcome. My sister and I commemorated our father's time in Korea in our speeches, because it was such an important event in his life; it shaped the man he became and so touched on our lives as well. Therefore, our music choices for the service were as follows:

- Suicide Is Painless from the M*A*S*H* soundtrack, our Dad's favourite TV show;
- Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits;
- Peace In The Valley by Elvis, which always made Dad teary-eyed whenever he heard it; and
-Old Soldiers Never Die by Gene Autry, which was the veteran's anthem as far as he and his comrades were concerned; it was played at all their funerals

Comments

( 21 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
enigmaticblues
Oct. 21st, 2009 12:55 pm (UTC)
*hugs you tight* It sounds like a beautiful send-off, and just right for him.
gamiila
Oct. 21st, 2009 03:13 pm (UTC)
Monique and I were very conscious of the fact that this was the last thing we could do for our father, and therefore we were determined to get it right. No half measures, it all had to be done in the spirit of the most important man in our lives, which is what our father was...Our relationship with him, and his with us, wasn't always harmonious, but we did love him and never doubted that he loved us.

Mum said she was very pleased to see us working in tandem on putting the ceremony together without discord, and that Dad would have been very proud. That meant a lot.
janedavitt
Oct. 21st, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
It sounds like a beautiful way to commemorate his life. I'm glad one of the people he served with could be there.
gamiila
Oct. 21st, 2009 03:22 pm (UTC)
So were we. Dad would have been so pleased. He never passed up on the chance to go to reunions while he was still healthy and mobile, and he once maintained that his time in Korea had been the best of his life, as he never afterwards experienced the intense connection to people as he did then. It hurt when he said it, but since then I've come to see what he meant, and have forgiven him for it.

Edited at 2009-10-22 11:08 am (UTC)
deborahw37
Oct. 21st, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
It sounds like a wonderful and very fitting send off
gamiila
Oct. 22nd, 2009 10:53 am (UTC)
It feels good to have been able to do this for him. He deserved a good send-off.
anonypooh
Oct. 21st, 2009 07:27 pm (UTC)
what a beautiful send off
xx
gamiila
Oct. 22nd, 2009 10:56 am (UTC)
Thank you, and good to see you here. You were silent for so long, I was getting a bit worried about you. Please don't relocate to Facebook permanently!
anonypooh
Oct. 22nd, 2009 12:42 pm (UTC)
no worries there I'm not a Facebook fan.
As it stands there are several LJ posts long overdue.
I may bake some cookies
AND write.



roissy0
Oct. 21st, 2009 09:16 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a lovely send off and something he would have appreciated.

I can remember the day after my dad's funeral, feeling literally like a deflated balloon. All the tension and shock wearing off very quickly. Hugs to you and do something nice for yourself.
gamiila
Oct. 22nd, 2009 11:04 am (UTC)
I'm sure he would have been pleased with how we've done things. He always joked we could put him in cardboard box at the kerb for the binmen to dispose off, but he would have been disappointed if we'd actually gone and done that (though technically, that would have been fly-tipping, and illegal).

Now comes the hard bit, building a life without him. I can't believe it's been a week already...
bogwitch
Oct. 21st, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC)
You did a great job by the sounds of it.
gamiila
Oct. 22nd, 2009 11:07 am (UTC)
Making sure he had the best possible send-off has helped mitigate the grief. So we did it for us as well as for him, really.
desdemonaspace
Oct. 21st, 2009 11:57 pm (UTC)
I was thinking about you all day long today.

When you mentioned the Dutch Korean War Veterans Association, I was thinking there'd be a rifle salute like there is here, when veterans are buried. It always makes me jump.

Bless you, H.
gamiila
Oct. 22nd, 2009 10:42 am (UTC)
A rifle salute? Not here - we're in Europe, remember? Rifles, guns, that sort of thing don't feature much in our culture.

The honour guard Dad would have liked would have been 4-6 men standing to attention on both sides of the coffin throughout the service, but unfortunately we couldn't give him that. Still, it was a lovely ceremony and I'm sure Dad would have understood and been OK with the absence of his honour guard.

Edited at 2009-10-22 10:43 am (UTC)
married_n_mich
Oct. 22nd, 2009 12:02 am (UTC)
** Hugs **
gamiila
Oct. 22nd, 2009 10:44 am (UTC)
Thanks.
(Anonymous)
Oct. 22nd, 2009 02:16 am (UTC)
(hugs)
gamiila
Oct. 22nd, 2009 10:50 am (UTC)
Thanks...who are you?
vegmb
Oct. 22nd, 2009 02:20 am (UTC)
(hugs) Thinking of you.
gamiila
Oct. 22nd, 2009 10:50 am (UTC)
Thank you.
( 21 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )

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