26. Looking at His Face for the Last Time

Reflecting back on the funeral preparations, contacting family, etc., I really think everything went about as smoothly as one could expect.

I remember going to the house to find Daddy’s military discharge papers- the DD213 form- because we were going to have a Marine Honor Guard at his graveside. Having his discharge paper was a requirement before the Honor Guard could come. Considering the unorganized condition of my parent’s house, I knew this was going to be the proverbial ‘hunting for a needle in a haystack’ effort.

My first best guess for locating Daddy’s DD213 was a filing cabinet in my parent’s bedroom. A filing cabinet that contained everything from Walmart receipts dated 5 years or more to a certificate my mother had earned for reading when she was in the 2nd grade. I opened the first drawer and searched. Before I opened another drawer, I prayed that God would help me find this paper, because I knew that He knew its location. Immediately after praying, I put my hand back in the first drawer and there was the paper! It was right in front of me! Thank you, God.

We had the family gathering the day before the funeral. Lots of people came. Mother looked pretty. We brought her in a wheelchair and she visited with her brothers and other family members. She was exhausted when it was over.

The funeral was quite emotional as you can imagine. Mom, my grandmother, Daddy’s mother came. This was her first time to see him after his death. She came wearing a white dress with big orange dots. She had a smile for all of us. Her strength was amazing.

During the service our daughter, Lisa, played “The Lord’s Prayer” on her violin. She said it was her last gift to her Grandad. She never played it more beautifully. A tape of “This World is not My Home”, sung by Darla ,was played. There is another song that we played, and I will write more about that in another post.

After the service, when his casket was opened, people began to file by view Daddy’s body, then walked out of the church. Then it was our time. The family’s time. We all had our moment. Mom got up and was one of the first family members to walk to his casket. She stood for a brief time and then walked away.

Mother was taken to his casket in her wheelchair. I don’t remember if she tried to stand. Our hearts went out to her. It was so hard.

I remember standing beside his casket and not wanting to leave because I knew it would be the last time I would see his face this side of heaven. There was a huge mixture of emotions at that moment. Sadness for our loss, already missing his smile and his stories, gladness that his battle was over and his victory was won. It is impossible to accurately describe our feelings that day.

The graveside service was rather long. The minister has a few things to say. Then there was a Masonic service (as per Daddy’s wishes) and then the Honor Guard. From that point forward “Taps” has brought tears to my eyes and memories of Daddy’s graveside service to my mi

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