Last week was certainly filled with plenty of emotions as we remembered and celebrated my father's life. Family gathered to share memories and were able to have several meals together where we all sat down and talked about Dad, his parents, the entire family and really connected with each other in a very therapeutic way. The famous quote seemed quite a propos In the end, all you have is family. So it was really nice for the family to get together and be there. I think everyone in the family except two had recently spent time with Dad, so we all felt glad we were able to spend time with him in the last weeks, months, and year of his life.
We had decided to have a visitation at the funeral home on Monday evening, the funeral and luncheon at the church on Tuesday, and a private family burial on Wednesday due to my father's body being cremated after the visitation. The undertaker was able to get that done in time for the family to have the burial on Wednesday afternoon as Thursday would have been too late since all the family was traveling back home. The three day spread tended to draw the tears out of the family for all three days, rather than it all being confined to one day. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it was draining.
My sister Becky and I eulogized my Dad at the funeral and Zack sang two songs. Not an easy task for Zack as emotions and tears can wreak havoc with one's singing voice, but he did great.
Tuesday after the funeral and luncheon, the family changed our clothes and agreed to meet at Mt. Rushmore at 5 pm. Tara and I went for a hike at Storm Mountain where we were staying (at the United Methodist Church Camp) to unwind a bit from the funeral.
Tara photographed the kids with Storm Mountain in the background...
Then we headed up to Mt. Rushmore to blow off some more steam, eat some ice cream, and to take part in a routine exercise my Dad would always do - meet several strangers by just visiting with them. He did this his entire life, so our goal was for every family member to meet at least one couple or family, find out where they were from, where they were going and just share small chit chat. So we all did that in honor of Dad.
Here we are posing as a family. The photograph was taken by a couple from Texas who we met and agreed to take the photo for us. Missing from the photo is my nephew and his spouse as they remained in Rapid City and then met us for dinner.
Of course, we continued to blow off steam. My cousins inspired us to pose like this after we had walked the Presidential Trail and visited the Borglum sculptor's museum...
After our time at Mount Rushmore, we all headed back to Rapid City and sat down to eat a meal and share more stories at the Firehouse Brewery. Blowing off steam certainly helped us all as the day came to an end.
The process of packing up his apartment, meeting with the lawyer to start the process for probate, signing documents, going through all of the memorial cards, and what not all seemed secondary and surreal to the memories and grief we were going through. We drove home and arrived back in Iowa late Thursday evening.
The transition certainly feels odd to not have a living parent. My cousin Marilyn is now the official matriarch of the Brown side of the family. I'm still in a bit of a numbed state which included driving off from a gas station without having removed the nozzle/hose from the gas tank (I've never done that before in my life!!!), forgetting my sunglasses somewhere, aimlessly walking around the house and I suppose all the usual stages of grief.
One of the main reasons I began this blog was to journal things for my Dad after my Mom had passed away. I figured that way he would be able to read as well as check in on some pictures to have a visual of what I was up to in my life. In other words, it was simply an addition to our regular phone calls. Now that he has passed, I am going to have to consider how to proceed in terms of this space. Most likely it will just continue to be a journal for the family, but moving forward is obviously underway one way or the other.