Dave’s Journal – Dad’s Funeral

Sorry it has been so long since I’ve posted anything. My last Blog was on September 9, and my Dad died the next day. His funeral was on September 16 and since I am a co-executor of his will I had to make multiple trips to probate court, the bank, (All of his assets were frozen the day he died, and I had a number of his bills to pay.) and Edward Jones, where he had a small investment. Plus it seems Harriet can do less and less, which means I get to do more and more. I do most of the house work, the cooking, and the dishes. On top of everything, Harriet has taken another bad fall and broken her left wrist.

I now have an estate checking account and things are settling down. I will try to post Dave’s journal once a week. Although, I’m trying to catch up to the present day, and will be making multiple posts until the blog is up to date.

Dave’s Journal – Dad’s Funeral

It has been a hectic, emotionally draining time. My Dad died on September 10th. He was 94 years old and had been in fairly good health until about six months ago. The Tuesday evening before Easter he was singing Karaoke at the American Legion in Tice, Florida. The next day he was in intensive care because of breathing difficulties, heart trouble, and intestinal problems. While in the hospital he developed a Urinary Tract Infection, which turned out to be the super bug Mersa. He was in and out of the hospital but recovered enough to fly home to Michigan. Once back in Michigan he would be in the hospital for a few days and home again. He was in four different hospitals in a few months. Finally, on the eighth of September, Hospice was called in. I was too sick, with pneumonia, to visit him, but in retrospect it wouldn’t have made any difference.

Visitation was on Sunday, the 15th, from 2:00 – 8:00 pm. I know that things like this are exhausting for people with FTD. It seems that their brains are working extra hard to appear normal. Something that most people with dementia can pull off for a little while.  Because of this, I told Harriet to only attend the viewing for a few hours. Her plan was to come around five O’clock and stay until the end. Sadly, some of the people she wanted to see the most came early. Two couples, Dan and Mary and Pat and Sue, went over to our house to visit. Harriet got to the funeral home around five, and seemed to enjoy visiting with various cousins, friends, and acquaintances.

About 15 years ago Dad had asked Harriet to sing at his funeral. The song he wanted her to sing was, A Mansion over the Hilltop. When Harriet is having a good day, she can sing very beautifully. When she is having a bad day, she cannot catch the tune. After his death she practiced the song multiple times a day and it didn’t seem like a good idea for her to sing in public. Everyday, she would sing the song and afterwards say, “I’ve never liked this song. I’m just not comfortable singing country western songs. Do you think it would be okay for me to sing something else? Why don’t I just sing a hymn in place of it?” I would respond, “Sing whatever you like. I’m sure it would be fine, and you would enjoy it more.”  About a half an   hour later she would say, “Your dad wanted me to sing this particular song and I guess, I should do what he asked of me.” She would pause and then say, “Why don’t we get someone else to sing?” We were on this marry-go-round all week; Rehearse, “I want to sing something else, Well…Dad wanted this one, so I, or someone else, will have to sing it.” 

The funeral was Monday, the 16, of September, at 11:00 a.m. Harriet and I got to the funeral home around 10 so that she could rehearse.  Some cousins came early and wanted to speak with her, but she was determined to rehearse the song. She sang the song four or five times, but things weren’t going well. Finally, she looked at me and said, “I’m going to sing it without the music.” “Are you sure, you want to sing it that way?” I asked. “Yes, I think that is what the Lord wants me to do.” I felt like this was going to be a disaster.

The funeral started about five minutes late, as a courtesy to relatives who were never on time. Dad’s pastor, Doug Chandler, and I opened with the invocation and a prayer. We sang one of dad’s favorite hymns, The old rugged cross, and I gave the eulogy. I spoke about his early life growing up on the farm, the Great Depression, and the move to Florida, when he was 16. Once in Florida he got a job with the Civilian Conservation Corps, which is where he worked until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He lied about his age and joined the Navy when he was 17. He served on the USS Corry which was the lead destroyer for the D-Day invasion, it took a direct hit to the munitions and sank. After swimming in the English Channel for a while, Dad was picked up by a fishing boat. He was then assigned to the Pacific Fleet and served on the USS Shea. The Shea was damaged at Guadalcanal, where, among other things, a Kamikaze crashed into the ship. It limped back to San Diego and was put into dry dock for repairs. Dad returned home to await further orders. The war ended before he was assigned to his third ship.

Following the WW 2 report, my brother-in-law Kirk came up and sang a patriotic song entitled, God Bless The USA. When dad went to Karaoke, he would sing this song and ask everyone to stand up and sing with him.

I went back to the microphone and talked about dad’s life after the war until his final health problems and death. Then it was Harriet’s turn to sing. She went to the microphone and looking back at me said, “Come sing with me.” Even though she looked quite nervous, her voice never sounded more beautiful. On the other hand, my singing was very flat, I couldn’t seem to find the melody.

Following Harriet’s song there was a time for anyone who wished to share a favorite memory. Quite a few grandchildren came up to speak. Following the, Time of sharing we sang, Amazing Grace.

After that two of the Grandchildren read from the Bible, and Pastor Doug read the Gospel, which was the basis for his Sermon. Pastor Doug’s message was wonderful and gave comfort to the family. He prayed and then we sang, I’ll Fly Away.

Following the service, we all processed to the cemetery. There was a military ritual with a twenty-one-gun salute, Taps were played, and there was a presentation of the American flag. Pastor Doug said the final prayers, and everyone went to the American Legion for a funeral luncheon.

This was exhausting for Harriet and she slept most of the next three days. Her birthday was on the 22 which was the following Sunday.  Michelle planned to come, from Peoria, Illinois, for the Birthday celebration.  When Harriet was at Michelle’s house, in August, she told Michelle how much it would mean to her if Michelle would come for her Birthday. However, since Michelle and her family, were here just the weekend before, I thought it might be too much for her to drive home on Tuesday and turn around and make the eight-hour trip on Saturday. Michelle insisted it wasn’t a big deal. Harriet was confused about why Michelle was coming at all. She kept saying, “I don’t know why Michelle is driving all the way from Peoria by herself. I don’t think it’s a good idea.” I would answer, “She wants to be here to celebrate your birthday.” Harriet would say something along the line of, “Where does she get these ideas? I think it’s too much for her.” Harriet had no memory of the fact that she made a big deal about how wonderful it would be if Michelle could come to Adrian for the birthday party. This conversation was repeated multiple times a day from September 11-20.

I will continue the story tomorrow with the time period of September 19 – 30. The next blog will be entitled, A Broken arm and Birthday celebration. 

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