This is my response to the Writing 101 assignment number four, Serially Lost.
We buried my father, Charles, in December 2014. The viewing was the hardest part. It was bad enough seeing dad lying in his hospital bed after he passed away. It was worse seeing him in his coffin. He was always a larger-than-life figure. He could fix anything. He gave sound advice. He loved people unconditionally. He was a Christian man who loved his country and absolutely worshiped his wife. He saved me from total destruction by taking me in to his home, driving me to A.A. meetings and counseling sessions and doctor’s appointments. He motivated me to take stock and had me prepare a written game plan and a life-saving TO DO list. So, yeah, seeing him lying there was hard.
The funeral home put together a slide show of dozens of pictures showing dad over the years. One of my favorite photos was of dad holding me on his lap when I was a baby. He was only 20 years old at the time. I always said my father had to grow up rather fast. He was thirteen when his dad passed away. (I remember dad saying to me once, “You would have loved your grandfather.”)
Dad’s memorial service was very nice. My grandmother’s pastor officiated. Grammy passed away one year ago this past August. After going to the cemetery, we all gathered at the church for food and fellowship. People shared many good memories about him. My oldest son Christopher was there, along with my ex-wife Antoinette. (I came to realize that my ex-wife does not hate me, like I always believed. Nice, huh?) Cousin Sonny came, who is 84 years old. Cousin Eileen was there. She was very upset. She and dad used to play together growing up. Dad’s history teacher from Montgomery High School, Mr. Deffenbaum, came. He is in his 90s. He said, “Charlie was one of my boys.” He said he tries to get to as many funerals of his former students as he can. This was very sweet of him.
Mom was very upset. It was hard seeing her cry. I have always been blown away by the relationship between her and dad. They got married in 1958 when she was fourteen and he was nineteen. I was born a year later, on their anniversary. Mom and dad weathered many a rough patch. Thing is, dad treated mom with tenderness, love, respect, and admiration. He once said in a letter to her on her birthday that she was the glue that held everything together. He said he was very touched by the way she handled us kids.
When our male cat Smokey got out of the house early this fall, dad was so upset. Smokey was his “buddy.” The cat would come into his bedroom every night and spend about ten minutes rubbing against him, purring, and saying goodnight. So dad was really sad when he thought Smokey was gone. Smokey came back later that night. Mom went outside one last time to look for him, and there was Smokey on the back porch. Mom started crying tears of joy. The next day, dad made mom a certificate calling her “The Hero That Saved Smokey.”
It’s really easy to miss someone as special as dad.