Tonight was the visitation or viewing of my father's body. I'm not one of those people who can view the body and achieve closure. Either I like to be in denial as long as I can or I just don't like looking at the deceased. I certainly couldn't look at my father. It was good for my mother to look at him. The last memory that she had of him wasn't good--she describes seeing his face turn blue. She lives that over and over again. Tonight she got to see him at peace. That was good for her.
Many people came. He worked with many people and different companies over 30 years in the same community. The men and women that have worked with him came, many in tears. Some of the men couldn't go to the casket. I understood. All of the teachers at the high school where Mom is assistant principal came. Many of the teachers who have worked with my mom in the past also came. The neighbors came. One of my father's hunting buddies came (I'll write more about that later.)
The good part about tonight was getting to see all the people who care about my mom and dad. Another nice part was remembering and hearing the good stories. My father was trying to learn Spanish because so many of the laborers for his construction company were Mexican. I didn't know that. My dad enjoyed chaperoning the prom for my mother's high school. All teachers liked him because he supported Mom in her job and went to all the functions with her.
He once bought desserts for an entire table of mom's teachers just because he wanted to make them happy. One man told a story of losing money to my dad because he was such a good shot. The people from the school system knew him because he built and helped plan many of the buildings destroyed by Hurrican Ivan. Everyone of them had a story of how wonderful he was and what a great job he did of getting things done.
One man--my father's bird dog and hunting friend--came with a picture of my sister and I, ages 8 and 10, holding pointer puppies. He reminded us of how we used to ride on the back of his horse during the field trials until we were old enough to ride on our own. That was a great moment. I'm still smiling.
Friday, my father's ashes (the funeral director calls them cremains) will be interred at the national cemtery at the naval air station in Pensacola. I didn't bawl like a baby tonight, but on Friday I will. Taps always makes me cry. And, Friday, it will be final. All I will have of my dad are the memories--and they are good. Like the picture above of Mom and Dad at Pensacola Beach. We had some awesome days at the beach together. Dad was a great wave rider.