Friday, February 22, 2013

Dad's Memorial

Today is Dad's Memorial.

My work week was really crammed getting ready for another trip to California.  I rushed home after being at a clients office for two solid days out of town to do laundry, pack and climb in bed to get 3 hours of sleep, wake up at 2.30amCST to get ready and leave by 3.30amCST and drive to DFW Airport to catch my 6amCST flight to Ontario, California.  I was due into Ontario at 9amCST after a layover in Phoenix, Arizona.  Everything went smooth on my flight...though I wished I could have slept some, I simply was very exhausted.  Julie Sharpless was scheduled to pick me up at the airport and then we were going to head to her place until about 11amCST and then head to Apple Valley, California.  Julie and I visited on the drive back to her place.  We made sandwiches to take to my Mom and got grapes ready also.  We left as soon as Steve Sharpless got there and hit the road.  

As we came up "over the hill" [this is the term for the desert that is above the valley of San Bernardino, Riverside, and Los Angeles areas] it felt really weird to be in my home town area that I had not seen or lived in for 15.5 years.  Some things looked exactly the same and some things had changed dramatically.  The closer we got, I got more and more of a sick empty queasy feeling in my stomach.  It would be hard to explain.  A sense of unknown and not sure what to expect.  A sense of some fear.  A sense of anxiety and wish for this to be over.  A sense of familiar territory, yet no longer home.  Yet, even in all these various emotions, I didn't for one second rethink my desire to come and be a support as my role as a the first born child, regardless of the family dynamics and lack of a relationship.

We drove by the place where I had my first job at the Dermatology Office and second job  at the Cardiologist Office that I only worked 3 months at before moving to Burleson, Texas.  It was weird to see them still in the same place after all these years.  We continued to drive out towards my parents area as the Mortuary was only about 1-2 miles from my parents house.  Driving in the desert was a weird feeling, much like I experienced last weekend when I flew to Las Vegas, Nevada.  The open feeling is a sense of room, but at the same time, a deep sense of loneliness to me.  It wasn't a fun was a depressing feeling.  I am sure depending on your experience of living in such an environment and personal preferences too, you may or may not relate to it.

We arrived at the Mortuary at about 12.30pmPST.  There were several already there when we got there.  As I walked towards the building, Julie Sharpless just squeezed my arm and whispered that she was praying for me. encouraging!!!  I knew I could do this but believe me the anxiety was starting to run pretty high in anticipation of the time.  At the same time, I felt a peace come over me that would be hard to explain other than that I felt like I was being guided through the zone.  I walked in the door and saw many faces I knew, we exchanged greetings and hugs.  I didn't get much time to spend looking at the table that Uncle Dana and Aunt Donna had put together as various people kept greeting me.  I then turned and saw a group of ladies and one of them said "Hi Misty".  It might seem strange, but I had not focused in on who each of the ladies were, until that greeting was mentioned, and it was only then that I realized by the sound of the voice, this was my Mom.  She looked much older, seemed shorter to me, and overall looked very sad and very pitiful.  You must remember, I have not seen her in 15 years other than one time very briefly when she came up behind me at a July Christian Camp Retreat in Tulare, California many years ago [at the moment I can't remember how many years ago] and tapped me on the shoulder and said hello during a message.  I approached Mom and gave her a hug and she returned it with a slight pat on the shoulder, she did not embrace me.  She said, "I wasn't sure you were going to be able to make it."  To which I replied, "I wasn't sure I was going to be able to either".  I went on to tell her that I had been praying for her.  One of the ladies that Dad used to work with at the job he was at when I lived at home was standing by my Mom and she said to my Mom, "Isn't she just beautiful?"  To which my Mom looked me up and down and responded, "Well she has fake height, she is cheating." [she was referring to the black leather boots I was wearing with maybe an inch to inch and a half heel on them], and after making that statement she walked off with a gleeful mocking laugh.  You might think this was very rude, and I am not saying it was kind, but believe me, I was expecting worse.  I remained calm and just went on greeting people and saying hi to those who had come to attend the event and be of support to the family.  Out of all the things she could have said or done, this was mild.  My shoes were no taller than what was the point?  Who cares if I had fake height?  Why couldn't she acknowledge I looked pretty?  Oh, I forgot, that would mean you would have to address previous discussions and issues, oh no, I didn't forget.  I know.  All too well, I know.  After greeting a few more people, I felt the need to escape to the bathroom and have a moment of quiet.  When I returned back to the lobby, most of the people had moved to the room where the service was to be held.  

Mindy & Terry were running late and Mom said she wanted to wait for them.  The people at the Mortuary were very nice and said that was fine.  I waited in the hallway until they arrived and then went to greet them.  Mindy was cold and stiff at first.  When she saw the pictures of Dad she broke down sobbing.  Terry was moody and quiet.  Mindy left a bit later and went to the ladies room to wash her face.  When she returned she walked right passed me to go sit down.  Halfway down the isle she looked back at Terry and motioned for him to join her.  When he didn't, she started walking back to insist on him coming with her.  She stood waiting in the isle way until he did.  When he reached her she reached out her hand to hold his and they walked the rest of the way holding hands.  This moment felt a bit strange to me and almost like a slap in the face as they left me standing back in the hallway by myself.  I hadn't been sure of where I wanted to sit as I knew I didn't want to sit right next to Mom.  I decided that if Mindy & Terry were going to sit next to Mom, I needed to too.  Mom was seated on the 2nd chair in on the front row on the left side and Terry took the first and Mindy was next to Mom, I was on the other side of Mom and Aunt Jessica next to me and then Uncle Truman.  Bruce Stevens was playing the piano.  Bruce & Rachel sang a song.  Then the Mortuary had a video they played.  Following that my Uncle Dana gave some things about my Dad.  He was struggling to not be emotional and couldn't seem to get passed it.  Carrie & Tricia [my cousins/his daughters] joined him and one stood on each side of him as they offered their support.  Uncle Dana grew calm and proceeded to mention some things about my Dad, some of which I did not know.  He did a remarkable job at conveying various points of interest for the lack of relationship and involvement that the two of them had had in each others lives.  I was very impressed about the things Uncle Dana brought forth, how he clearly described the love my Dad had for the Lord and how he had led my Uncle Dana to the Lord after 3.5 years of working on him.  He also relayed the details of a Men and Boys Camping Trip in which some of them got lost and my Dad used the situation to describe being lost from the Lord and that this was when Jimmy Bartley accepted the Lord into his heart at age 11.  I knew my Uncle Dana had been saved by efforts of my Dad, but I did not know that it took 3.5 years!  I also knew about the camping trip, but did not know that Jimmy Bartley was saved because of the things Dad shared.  I also knew Dad had been a Computer Programer, but didn't know it had been for Walt Disney.  I also didn't know that Granpa Whiskers made the house that him and Granma Omi lived in.  After Uncle Dana finished his part, Steve Sharpless took over and shared some things on the Gospel of Salvation and the Hope that each of us have in the Lord Jesus Christ.  My brother spent most of the time bent over his seat with his head down.  Mindy looked straight ahead as if she was in her own world eyes fixed on something in a far away spot.  Two times through the time, I reached over and gave her a hug across her shoulders, and I also reached out and squeezed her hands.  At one point she turned to me and said,  "Isn't it funny that you and I are both wearing black?  You know how Mom hates black!  Haha.  And it's knit too!  And she is sitting over there wearing her calico cottens."  Mindy hardly could say all this without totally outright laughing as she was telling me and when she finished she laughed so hilariously.  I was hoping that Mom hadn't heard her, but wasn't sure that she couldn't as Mindy was not quiet about it, and I whispered back, "Yah, I know".  Who knows what triggered this thought but it obviously was a connection she knew she had with me and that I would understand.  [For the record: Mom hates black.  She feels if you wear black you have a bunch of sin in your life.  She feels knit is not ladies clothing, it is t-shirt material that is only for guys to wear, not girls.  We both were wearing black leather boots that also is not approved of.]  Everyone was very warm and friendly to all of us.  I felt many made quite the effort to be there in light of the drive it was for them and the fact that it was at 1pmEST on a Friday afternoon and not a weekend.  There were many in attendance:

Truman & Jessica Jean
Dana & Donna Gilbert
Carrie Veazey
Andy & Tricia
Steve & Julie Sharpless
Jim & Sue Maurer
Bruce & Rachel Stevens
John & Marjorie Morey
Jan Sulzen
Bernel Johnson
Scott Johnson
Bob & Rose Shaw
Gail Malmstrom
Ray & Gail Sharpless
Don & Lou Carole Stevens
Wayne & Lynita Airy
Crystal Bauman & Emmy
Jim & Pam Beitzel
Mike & Janet Tuthill
Vern & Judy Delorenzo
Charles & Patsy Puente
Terry Gilbert
Wanda Gilbert
Mindy Gilbert
Misty Gilbert
Colleen [a friend of Mom's]
Jackie [a coworker of Dad's]
Bill [a boss of Dad's]
three other people Dad worked with at his latest part time job

[I believe I am missing a few people and will add them if I remember them later]

We all stayed and visited for some time following the service and as usual for this group of people, we have to be kicked out we can't leave on time.  Mom had only reserved the room until 2.30pm and it was after that.  Mom wanted all of us siblings to come see where Dad's placement was going to be on the wall, as he was to be cremated.  She had to buy a space for two as they don't sell them in just one, so she has a spot for her when the time comes.  We loaded up everything in Mom's car for her.  I went to leave and then realized I had not said Goodbye to Mindy & Terry so I went back inside to find them.  Mindy was inside speaking with one of the clerks asking to see Dad...they wouldn't let her of course as it had been two weeks and they let her know clearly that they couldn't do that.  I let her know that I wanted to tell her Goodbye as I was headed with Crystal back down the hill.  Mom had invited anyone who wanted to to come over to the house.  This is not something that I wanted to do even though Mindy & Terry were going to go.  When I got in the car to leave, Crystal told me that I could burst into tears if I wanted to, she would understand.  I said, I was just grateful that it had gone that well and that it was over.  Crystal had rode up with Jim & Pam Beitzel.  We headed down the hill to go eat at The Hat with Uncle Dana & Aunt Donna.  We ate at the restaurant and enjoyed our friendship, fellowship and yummy food!  
These are Fries w/Chili & Cheese on the left and AlaMode on the right.
[I typically like my fries just plain with ketchup...but these AlaMode fries, were unbelievable!!!]

From there, Jim & Pam took us back to Crystal's place in Redlands.  I was emotionally and physically beat from the day.  I got settled on the couch and didn't move from there until it was time for bed.
snuggling with Emmy!

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