A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Sunday, November 05, 2006

All Saints' Day

Today is All Saints' Day in my church-- the day we remember all those who have died in the previous year.

I thought I was ready to hear my dad's name read from the altar.

I was wrong.

The second I heard his name, I wanted to speak to him again just one more time. I wanted to talk to him about all the silly inconsequential things we used to talk about: the World Series, the way the puppy has chewed up my husband's absolutely disgusting shoes he wears around the house (Good dog!), the silly things my kids have said.

Did I mention football? No? That's because football is NOT inconsequential, at least to an Okie.

I was also asked to speak for a few minutes about stewardship. I spoke of how a priest of my church-- who did not even know my dad, who had never even been my priest-- came and ministered to my dad and to the rest of us as the end approached. I now have proof that angels walk among us.

I was doing fine as I spoke, talking about how important the Church is to me, how I found the Episcopal Church through the grace of God, and how much I treasured this community of believers. Until I looked out and saw a woman in the congregation crying as I spoke.

I did manage to keep my voice from breaking completely. But it was very hard.

I miss my dad. I miss my mother not talking about death every waking minute. I mourn all the hatefulness that was unleashed in the wake of Dad's death.

A dear soul-sister of mine has formed a club of those of us who have lost a dad recently-- we call it the DDGC. I would give anything not to belong. I know she would too.

My dad worried about "going to heaven." Actually, I guess I should say that he worried about "going to hell." My son says that our dog Max is happy now because he is playing with Grandpa in heaven. All I know is, Dad, that I believe that heaven is the place where we'll no longer miss those we've lost. Where we'll never again worry if people really love us, or feel that we really don't deserve good things. Where we will be able to forgive not only each other but, more importantly, ourselves.


At 11/5/06, 5:25 PM, Blogger CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

I went to church this morning, the first time in a long time. The roll of the departed was short--only three names. Three different members of the congregation stood up to speak about the departed. Two of the speakers had to truncate their remarks because they were so overcome with emotion. I saw others sniffling and dabbing away tears. It's not always easy to remember the dead. But even though my mother was a pastor's wife, my remembrances of her hardly ever come in church. I was on the freeway a couple of days ago, heading home from school and some country western singer was crooning--and that did it for me. Even though Mom has been dead for over three years, tears started spilling over and running down my cheeks. I, for one, will never say that she's in a "better place." I miss her terribly. Thank God, she has a place in my heart--as I'm sure your dad has a place in yours.

At 11/5/06, 7:26 PM, Blogger educat said...

No one, no one, is more surprised than I to find this bud of faith that has sprouted up through the wreckage of this year. I thought it small enough and myself dark and cynical enough that surely I would look up and find nothing.

It's hearing words like yours right now that water that bud.

At 11/5/06, 8:38 PM, Blogger The Crib Chick said...

DDGC member chiming in, here...

My stepmother came to visit me last weekend, and brought one of my Dad's journals with her for me to read.

For just a moment, it was like talking to him again. The familiar handwriting, the tone, the turns of phrase...

I miss him most when something uproariously funny happens that he would enjoy hearing about. Or when I hear "Billie Jean" on the radio, and picture him doing his Michael Jackson dance impression.

You always hear folks say "He/She was so special...", and it just sounds like another funeral phrase, until you say it and mean it yourself.

Sucky club. But I'm glad to have it.

At 11/5/06, 9:12 PM, Blogger Cathy said...

What a beautiful post. I, too, miss my dad and his corny silly jokes that I have heard over and over again.
I would have loved to hear your talk on stewardship, fellow Episcopalian. I, too, am so very thankful of our tradition.

At 11/6/06, 11:37 AM, Anonymous MellowOut said...

I just learned this morning that someone close to my family lost her little baby girl after months of the family fighting for the baby's life. The outlook was good and the death was unexpected at this point. She had gone through so much in her short, innocent life, and the community had really gotten behind the family. It just makes the last words of your post ring that much truer to me. I came here for the movie diversion, but I got something greater when I scrolled down. It was just what I needed. Thank you.

At 11/6/06, 12:34 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Thanks everyone.

I wish my Dad had left behind some journals. But he didn't even like to have his picture taken. My strongest memories of my Dad include working on cars with him-- especially after we bought our first Honda. His hands were too big to fit into some of the spaces, so he would have me come out and direct me to do the actual work. I learned a lot that way.

Oh, one other thing? Heaven has to have great music.

At 11/6/06, 7:23 PM, Blogger Polski3 said...

I don't like Death. It interrupts too many things. Like my Dad never got to meet my sons. And do his "shop" things with them.

Value family and loved ones while they are alive. Tell them and show them you love 'em. I don't think the dead appreciate flowers.

I am glad that you cherish the memories of your Dad. I miss mine too.

At 11/6/06, 11:13 PM, Blogger EdWonk said...

They say that time heals all. But I think that when it comes to losing our parents (or, God-forbid, our child) "they" are wrong.


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