We laid my dad to rest on July 5, 2006 at Arlington National Cemetery. He is interred with my mom. We hosted a full military honors funeral, complete with marching band, caisson, and gun salute. The reception took place in the Hall of Honors at the Women in War Memorial. I suppose as far as funerals go, it was a nice service, and it poured down rain. Matched my mood just fine.
It was nice, too, in a weird way to have some time with friends and family. We met my 2nd cousin Gail from Michigan… though she says we’ve met before (I was 2 I think and don’t remember) but she was a hoot– wish we’d known her all these years. We also re-connected with other cousins from my Dad’s dad side of the family: Jay from New Jersey and Craig from Boston as well as cousins and uncles from my Grandma’s side, Uncle Tommy and Uncle Johnny, cousin Tom and Roseanne, Laura, Chris, sort of a swirling mass of relatives.
Many of my Dad’s collegues attended as well, most touching was Nancy H. coming in from Missouri just for the funeral. She said my Dad was a very important mentor to her over the years. And many long time friends also attended– a couple of Naval Academy classmates, some shipmates and some other workmates from Dad’s post-Navy days.
My sister and I also had several friends come out for moral support. Thanks to everyone for coming and honoring our Dad. And to Aunt Mary K and Uncle Bill (and cousin Katie) who were right at the center with Debby and I providing much needed support.
I managed to squeak out my poem, First Dance, at the funeral, and bid aloha to my pop. Here’s the poem I read, written in 2002, I gave it to him for Father’s Day that same year:
Bamboo covered walls,
tiki torches, and
drinks served in coconut shells
Tropical music lingering in the air
The Maui Lu Hotel Lounge.
This was the real thing, not some mainland reproduction
I wore a polynesian print halter dress
and white strappy sandals
My first grown up shoes
He was tan and tall, or so he seemed to me
elegant in his blue aloha shirt and white slacks
He held out his hand and asked me to dance
I don’t remember the song,
but I do remember
the way I felt
when I stepped up
onto the tops of his shoes
and he twirled me around the room
Daddy’s little girl.