I’ve just returned from Florida, having spent almost two weeks with my sisters, taking care of details since Dad died. There were plenty of tears – of course. But even more laughter – because despite our mourning, we shared many marvelous family memories as we uncovered this treasure (good grief – our grade school report cards!) or that one (did we really wear our hair like that in the 80s?)
And of course, there were the conversations with the more than 100 people who attended Dad’s memorial service. (Quite surprising really – they were mostly in their 80s and 90s.) It was a memorial service like few others – exactly what he requested – a celebration – a party! …including an open bar and hors d’oeuvres afterwards. The readings and passages were part-mournful, but more than that, they were an homage to a man loved and respected by many. My sisters and I were so very proud of the man who was our father.
Included in the celebration service was music, of course. But not what you might expect. Instead we put on a Glenn Miller CD, and a mix of other music from the 1940s. In the Mood, Candy, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy — Dad would have loved it. I know his friends did.
The music – it was an important part of Dad’s life – and his death. In fact, through his final few days, I asked his hospice nurse to turn on the TV cable channel that plays1940s music – because it brought him so much pleasure to listen to the songs he shared with Mom as they were dating, fell in love and married. It seemed to work well, taking his mind off his pain, as he finally relaxed, slept, and then passed.