Preparing for almost 2 weeks seemed like an agonizing wait. Then suddenly, the day came for dad’s funeral. The visitation the night before was a small gathering of good friends. Among them were my sister’s best friend from high school and some close friends of mine who also came from out of town. It was so nice to have them present. We displayed a couple of dad’s favorite photographs – the space shuttle “Enterprise” signed by many pilots and astronauts, the solar eclipse, several Christmas cards he made, and my mom’s hands on the keyboard of the organ that he and my brother built. Even when my dad couldn’t recognize his own wonderful work, he knew my mom’s hands. We brought many other photos to share with friends. When I started my bible class 4 years ago, I met a gentleman who was studying to be a deacon. He was in my small group for 2 years, so we got to know each other. It turned out that he was ordained a deacon and assigned to our parish. I was so happy that he came to the visitation and led the rosary and prayers there. That evening, the family gathered and got food from my parents’ favorite German restaurant. We toasted my dad with his favorite wine. The next day, the funeral was held on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. With a family devotion to her, it was another unexpected gift from God to send my dad into His arms on that day. A friend of 35 years who became a priest made a 2-hour drive to celebrate the Mass with us. He was such a blessing. One of my dad’s distant relatives wrote music to be played in church and his Psalter was the prelude. My son played his guitar and sang a lovely rendition of “Hallelujah”. Family members escorted my father’s casket and read the scripture. It was a beautifully moving celebration. From there, we went to the newly created National Cemetery. We had visited there a couple years ago when they had just broken ground. My father said he was waiting for it to be completed so he could be buried there. The weather had turned, so when we arrived the bitter cold wind was whipping. My mother was shown to her seat in the outdoor pavilion and immediately bundled up with blankets provided by the funeral home drivers. The honor guard escorted my dad’s casket to the pavilion and fired three volleys from their rifles. The single bugle playing taps was captivating as the final note lingered and faded into the wind until it was no more. The honor guard fought against the frigid gusts as they folded the American flag and presented it to my mother. The person who handed it to her made the most intense eye contact that everyone could feel it. The priest said the final blessing and we departed.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
I Found God today grateful for the moving ceremonies as we laid my father to rest.