Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day is Done

Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.

Because I feel the need to finish this story.
Papa has had a plan for this day for a long time. When he was sick and up in Huntsville, we were a little unsettled about him being buried so far away from where Nana lives. I couldn't connect him to Bradley, AL. I didn't have any memories of him there. Bradley is literally as far away as you can possibly get in the state of Alabama. It is also in the middle of nowhere. 

The day started off looking like this, which matched my mood.

The fog slowly cleared. We spent the morning with the horses.


This is Daisy. She's actually a mule, but unlike the rest of my family I was not raised on a farm, so I can't tell the difference. Something about her giant ears. 

When I woke in the morning. I was told that no one was asked to speak at Papa's funeral because many of the relatives were so uncomfortable with public speaking.
I was uneasy with this. It just didn't feel right. For a while we discussed my mom doing it, and she actually wrote something beautiful. I ended up adapting her eulogy to my point of view, so I can't really take much credit. 

I stood up there in front of some faces I know perfectly and some faces that should be more familiar to me. I made eye contact with loved ones and somehow managed to keep it together. I even got laughs, which was incredibly comforting since a few of them sounded like the man we were all missing. 

The part I hope I always remember vividly was the Air Force Honor Guard. Their precision and professionalism was the most impressive thing I have ever witnessed. Their training guide is 100+ pages long. Every move is calculated. Every action rooted in respect and tradition. I just learned from Wikipedia (a credible source) that the way they carry the coffin is called the pall-bearing sequence. There is a demonstration video if interested, and they are remarkable. 

I overheard some relatives talking about how the last thing Papa said to them was that he loved them. I stood there and smiled as I realized that those were his last words to me too. What a wonderful thing to have. 

We left for Greece 14 hours after we got home from the funeral. On the plane, they had a video game that Papa played. When I recognized it, I said excitedly, "Papa plays that game!" I felt the error of my present tense knot up inside me and just started crying. 

How long does it take to stop forgetting that someone is gone?

So much happiness surrounded that day. I saw relatives I hadn't seen in decades, and met some family for the first time. I got to take a picture with my mom next to the same tree that she did with hers, and the generation before that. I got to hear beautiful/funny/mischievous stories about someone I love. After all the anecdotes of him growing up playing in those woods. Swimming in those creeks. Driving on those roads. I can't believe I was ever worried about it being so remote. It's his family's land. It's home.


  1. It sounds like a lovely tribute to a life that was lived honorably. From your words it is easy to see that this was a man who was well loved. God Speed.