Friday the 13th, aka Black Friday, the most feared day in history. While over 20 million phobics spent the day avoiding black cats, mirrors, ladders and least we forget stepping on cracks or spilling the salt, we were burying my Pops. The fact that it was a day associated with bad luck and superstition was a non issue with us, oh we talked about it a bit but in the end decided to go ahead with the services. My dad was never the superstitious type anyway so why not. As it turned out Friday was beautiful, a perfect day for my dad’s services.
We chose a simple casket for my dad, he was a simple man. The moment I saw it I knew it was the right one. My sister agreed. The casket was beautifully constructed of Poplar, a beautiful uniform grained hardwood. It had to be hardwood, metal just wouldn’t cut it. After nearly 40 years of handling, hauling and delivering lumber anything else but wood would have been wrong on so many levels. My dad was a lumberman.
His Rosary and funeral mass were held at Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church in San Dimas. My cousin Charles a Catholic priest, said the mass and presided over the services. It was a beautiful funeral mass. Both my sons and myself served as pallbearers as did two of my first cousins from my dad’s side, my son in law, my nephew and his brother in law.
My dad was laid to rest at Oakdale Memorial Park, on the right side of my mom and just a few feet away from my younger brother Ted’s grave site. Pops was given a military burial and will be receiving a military headstone. It’s what he wanted. I had been doing fine until Taps was played and the Army representative approached and handed me the flag. That really got to me. A reception followed the burial and was held at the Azusa VFW. Again I was doing pretty well, thanks in part to my old friend ‘Jack’, then the video that my nephew Beau put together was shown. He captured so many special dad/grandpa moments. It was incredible and moved me to tears. Yeah, it was a long tough day, but a fitting tribute to a man and a life well lived.
Throughout the day people would come up to me and tell me what a wonderful thing I did by taking my dad in and caring for him as if I’m the one who did it. I’m a firm believer that you should give credit where it’s due so I would explain that Raylene and I had talked it over and mutually agreed that taking pops in would be the best thing for him.They would then say how lucky my dad was to have spent the last 4 years of his life with us in a real home and not a assisted living or nursing facility and they’re right. He was pretty lucky that we were in a position to accommodate him. I know he enjoyed living here with us, but I truly believe I was the lucky one, I got to share his final years with him, good years. Then last June when he lost his mobility and became bedridden everything changed. Taking care of Pops took on a whole new level of difficulty and life as we knew it changed around our house.
So please allow me to give some credit where credit is due. Let me begin by thanking the team from Vitas Hospice who assisted us in caring for my dad. They did an incredible job. Everyone they sent out from the deliverymen, to Randy the bather, to the doctor was caring and compassionate. The service they provided was above and beyond what we were expecting. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
I’d like to thank my cousin Father Charles for all that he did for my dad. He came to the house and gave him the anointing of the sick/last rites before his death and returned again on Friday evening just after my dad passed to pray over him with us. Thanks Charles, not a very pleasant way to spend your birthday, but we certainly appreciate it. I would also like to thank him for the marvelous job he did with my dad’s funeral mass and burial service. Love you man!
I’d also like to thank my cousin Larry for securing the military honor guard for the burial service and the VFW Hall for us. Your assistance is greatly appreciated. Thanks again for your help. Love you too man! Along those lines I want to thank the friends and family members who left the cemetery early to go over and make sure the hall was set up. Thank you so much, couldn’t have done it without you. My thanks to Todd Mortuary for the reverence and respect they showed, especially John Todd who made dealing with the business part of death as painless as possible. Thanks John.
Last but certainly not least I want to thank my wife for the incredible job she did in caring for my dad. For the past four years she has been my dad’s primary care giver and did an excellent job of it. She not only prepared his meals, did his laundry and tended to his daily needs, she was also his friend. They had a very special relationship. They respected and loved one another. Oh sure I would get his breakfast or dinner every now and then when Ray was busy with her cancer group or tending to the needs of some of her other elderly friends, but believe me, it wasn’t that often, she always did the brunt of the work. She did so happily and nary a complaint. Ray is a natural born care-giver. I tell you, it’s in her genes. She cared for her mom before she passed and took care of her dad for several years before he passed. She took loving care of Pop’s.
In the last 5 months as the burden became much greater and Ray with her bum shoulder couldn’t do it alone so we worked together to tend to Papa’s needs. Believe me when I say that in those final months as I came to realize just how much work was really involved in caring for Pops, I developed a whole new respect for her. She was my dad’s personal Florence Nightingale.
Thanks hon for everything you did for my dad. I know it wasn’t easy. My dad thought the world of you and loved you as much as he loved his sweets. I will be forever grateful. Love you…