It seems ridiculous to say that this has been a tough week. It most certainly has. Even having time to prepare, Dad’s passing was not easy for us, and his funeral on Saturday, while a celebration of his life and knowing he is now in a better place, was emotionally draining.
The week began with the death of one of my Furman friends, Bruce Gentry. He had a heart attack at the much-too-young age of 53. He was a fantastic actor and singer, and despite butting heads occasionally, I always enjoyed performing with him. He was a caring, unique person, and will be missed. Also during the week we lost one of our four cats to traffic, and found out another only has a limited time left to us. These last two seem trivial in the grand scope of things, but it was tragedy compounded given everything else that’s going on.
I don’t think I could have held up emotionally without the help of many friends and relatives. There are lots of people I would like to thank. Thanks to Denise, Pam, and everyone else at White Oak Manor. Their staff went above and beyond to make sure Dad and the family were comfortable during his last days. Their strength and patience in working with us, in addition to their many other charges, just blows my mind. Theirs is a job I don’t think I have the strength to do. Thanks also to Doggett and Erin Whitaker of Whitaker Mortuary for putting us at ease and helping with the funeral arrangements. Erin especially stayed with us on Saturday to make sure we were OK, and that we had everything we needed. Thanks to Rev. Mike Turner of Wightman for the beautiful service, and support for our family.
My thanks to all my friends in Spartanburg Five. Thanks to Greg Wood for letting me take the time off I needed, and to Ginger Waters and the rest of the tech team for covering for me while I was away. My thanks for the cards, flowers, and many thoughts and prayers, and for those of you who took time from your busy weekends to be with us. Thanks to the many other friends and relatives who shared their sympathies with us on Saturday and throughout the week.
Thanks to all of my family – my mother, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews – all of us were able to support each other in this time of shared grief. The singing and many stories we shared were great. We shared lots of laughs (some probably inappropriate), and my brothers and I were even able to sneak off and raise a toast to our father. I wouldn’t trade my huge family for any in the world.
Thanks to two of my best friends, Dwight and Alan, who missed a stellar Furman victory over Appalachian State to attend the funeral. I especially appreciate the time of fellowship and respite from my huge family you gave after the service.
My greatest thanks to Laura, without whom I would have collapsed into disaster long, long ago. She kept our household together while I ran back and forth to Newberry, work and a thousand other things. This she did while dealing with her own busy work schedule and family matters.
And finally, my thanks to my father, for the life of integrity and strength he led, and the example he was for all of us.
I have now witnessed the passing of three family members – Laura’s father nearly 20 years ago, our brother-in-law Eddie last year, and now Dad. Each time it was not unexpected, but the finality of death was so striking. It’s never easy. The past couple of days the simplest things have brought near-emotional collapse. For example, I was in a grocery store today and saw a bag of small new potatoes. Memories of digging potatoes with my dad came flooding through me, and I had to stop. I’m afraid this is going to keep happening for awhile.
The emotions have been conflicting. As I grieve, I think about others who have had loved ones die. Death comes to all, and no family is immune from its ravages. So why should I be so special and receive this amazing love and support? I even catch myself feeling guilty for grieving. I know it’s irrational. I just hope that I can be as supportive when others need me.
So, I’ll start back to work tomorrow. I’ll even try to make it to Chorale rehearsal in the evening. I’ll check in with my mom to make sure she’s OK, and try to spend some time with her. I’m hoping to even get away for a much-needed paddling trip. Life may get back to normal, but it will never be the same.
UPDATE: Our cat, IC, who we thought we had lost, came home today. A neighbor had reported that the cat had been killed by a car, but when she went out to get the body, it was gone, possibly taken by a dog or coyote. IC hadn’t been home for several days, and he fit the neighbor’s description. We assumed the worst. I needed a bit of good news this morning.