Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Aftermath

Someone once told me that he was afraid to watch Lars and the Real Girl because a friend described it as too "earnest" for him to enjoy.

I'd probably feel the same way about such a feel-good movie six months ago. Not only do I love that film, but I could probably stand to watch some shittier version of a movie targeted to my emotions and come out of that two-hour experience just fine and dandy.

Today was my father's funeral, which is a hard way to start a sentence, but it's true. I woke up in an understandable funk, but right now I'm actually in an okay mood. I did cry, sure, but I kept myself together much better than I thought. I think what helped was the amazingly HUGE amount of people there today. The funeral procession from my mother's Episcopalian church, where the service was held, to my father's family's Baptist church, where he is buried, was insanely long. I've honestly never seen so many people in my life. Last night, at the funeral home visitation, I stood and shook hands and hugged people for three hours straight. Paul, who is both a distant cousin and the man who organized the visitation, told us he estimated nearly four-hundred people came last night. I think about that many people came today, as well.

After listening to a pretty great sermon and eulogy, and thinking about how my father, who certainly had his sad and angry moments at home, was rarely in a bad mood with anyone else. So many people have said in the last few days that my dad never met a stranger; it's certainly true: he made everyone feel that they were his friend, despite the fact that, most of the time, he couldn't remember anybody's name.

I didn't cry at the grave site and I was pretty proud of myself. I knew that my father would have; the man couldn't keep a dry eye during any sad moment on TV or a movie (Hell, he cried during an episode of The Brady Bunch when Marcia was punished and couldn't go on a school ski trip), but I knew that he would have never wanted anyone to be sad for him. My uncle told the story about when my dad called him to tell him that his cancer had returned during his eulogy. He said, "Johnny said to me, 'You know, to have to tell people that kind of thing must be a really hard job.' He was more worried about the doctor than he was about himself." I think that sums up the nature of my father's personality: he loved so many people, and that obvious affection really rubbed off on everyone he met.

A friend of my parents came up to me at the reception today and, looking at the hot, crowded room, said, "Well, I guess this means I should be a lot nicer to people." If there's anything I have taken from this experience, it's that I shouldn't be so negative, I shouldn't let people upset me or make me angry (and, when they do, be overwhelmingly nice to them, because killing them with kindness and pissing them off is much more rewarding that all of the negative energy it takes to hate them), and I should, as my father would say, take it easy.

Again, I love and appreciate all of the messages I've received from people, many of whom I only know through the Blogosphere. And I want everyone to know that, surprisingly, I am doing okay, and as cheesy as it sounds, I think it's how my dad would have wanted it.


Lobstar said...

Long-time reader, first-time commenter. I'm so sorry for your loss. All my condolences and wishes for better days.

bex said...


zakary said...

Not sure how I stumbled across your site, but I'm truly sorry. My dad passed away from pancreatic cancer 3 years ago when he was 57 as well.

Kristen said...

My thoughts go out to you - my prayers also.

I'm the visitor formerly from Amsterdam, NL, now in Reno, NV.

Much love,