Dad passed away on August 16Th 2008. He had been in failing health for the past few years and this last year was especially hard for him as he was struggling with the strength to even get out of bed for those most basic of human functions. He was ready to die and I am sure he even prayed for the Lord to take him home.
So when the final hour approached it was filled with all the normal emotions that accompany the minds of those left behind. Grief over personal loss, insecurities over doing the right thing, saying the right thing, relief that it was over and sorrow it was over.
My daughter and I were the first ones to arrive at the viewing. He was laid out nicely in his coffin and the room was quiet. I stood and looked down at the mortal remains of this man I loved so much and felt...nothing. He, my father, was not there. The corpse in the casket was just a thing. Not something to "say good bye too" What would be the point? That flesh and bone corpse was no longer my Dad.
Because of a snafu, I was not at the grave site to see him off. I waited until the following week to view his grave. When I stood there I wanted to feel like they show people acting in movies. I wanted to feel that there at his grave I could talk to him and that he could hear me. But again, he was not there and I could not "feel" him. I left the cemetery feeling somehow that I must be a very cold person because I felt no "connection".
As days pass into weeks, I miss him. It isn't the man in the bed I am missing. It is the man I remember from over the years. The one that stood in a pulpit on Sundays and worked as a construction worker and carpenter during the week. I missed the handsome guy that would sing out loud and strong, whistle a tune or play his harmonica. I missed the man that tended his roses, that loved my mother, that told funny stories, that commanded respect and stood tall. I miss the poet and the woodworker with the quirky sense of humor who created a lot of great things over the years, Dolly and Gar (wood sculptures) clocks and tables, boxes and wood turnings and carvings. Some serious and some, not so much.
I miss the man who practised what he preached and believed what he taught. He is gone. His memories however are still a part of me and those memories are not gone. Those memories are more the "real" man than those mortal remains now laying in the grave. And as long as those memories are real to me he will never be really dead. I am not a cold or heartless person after all. I just have a big enough heart to keep him alive inside of me.