Dad died eight years ago today.
(This last minute post started as a note for family and friends on my personal Facebook page, but before hitting send, I decided it’s appropriate to share here with the world…)
I come from a practical, rather stoic family. Birth, taxes, death…just parts of every life. We acknowledge the sad and hard, but choose to focus on the happy and joyful. Bonnie (my very first friend, whose father was friends with my dad, and whose father passed away days before Dad—she was so kind to check on me this morning) told me that night eight years ago that grief comes in waves, and not to be surprised when you laugh during the funeral at a silly memory, or break down in tears of gut-wrenching sadness at what should be a happy experience.
She was so right! Most of the past few years have been relatively easy. I acknowledged the day, checked in with my mom and one or both of my brothers, made sure my sons and husband were doing well, and moved on. We had the visitation for my dad on Palm Sunday, so the beginning of Easter week now seems to be a bit more challenging for me than March 26.
It hit me during church yesterday. The music was fabulous for Palm Sunday, and my dad loved Southern Gospel music and hymns. Many of my favorite memories include standing between my parents in church singing. Mom’s a gentle soprano, and Dad was a deep base. We were not a talented musical family by any means, but we loved Jesus, and we loved congregational singing. The man sitting behind me in church yesterday had a strong deep base voice, and… it wasn’t my dad.
Did I mention my dad loved Southern Gospel Music? (That’s a shout out to his friend Don Davis, who helped coordinate the music service at Dad’s funeral.) Oh, he did! About as much as he loved traveling. We traveled a lot over the years, and there was always music playing on the radio, 8-track, cassette, or CD depending on the decade, or we were singing. By the time I finished high school, my parents were coordinating monthly Gospel Sings for the community. They were well known in the area for supporting, promoting, and encouraging musicians. Dad actually left this life as he was finishing getting dressed to drive a group of friends to a Friday night Gospel Music concert in a neighboring city. So it was only appropriate that Dad’s “Going Home Celebration” was predominately music. Friends and family came from all over Texas, Louisiana, and as far as Tennessee to honor him with song.
Dad’s pastor and friend, Dr. Gary M. Orr, asked me and my younger brother to write something that summed up our memories and experiences with Dad that he could read on our behalf to all who shared that day with us. Kenneth and I talked about it off and on during the two days leading up to the Monday afternoon service. (Our older brother, Syrus Frank Jr., lives in California, and had just been to visit Dad a few weeks prior, so decided to keep those as his last memories of Dad rather than travel back for the funeral.) So much to do to contact everyone, arrange a funeral, plan the visitation, welcome guests to town, and wow, such a short time-line. I actually wrote the words for Brother Gary, longhand, in the back of the car while Kenneth drove us to the service—it’s a miracle the pastor could read it. That little collection of thoughts that we put together is what I want to remember today:
Remembrances from Kathryn and Kenneth…
“Dad’s over-riding priorities were God and family. He taught us to treat everyone with respect and kindness. He gave us a sense of humor and spontaneity. He gave us the courage to overcome obstacles, and not to accept being told that we were incapable of doing anything. Kathryn especially inherited his desire to learn, and his curiosity about everything. Kenneth inherited his organizational skills and his desire to build and create and manage. Both Kathryn and Kenneth will be eternally grateful for the gifts of travel and exploring and camping and hunting, and the art of accepting and making the best of every change of plan. We learned and experienced that making plans is important, but everything is ultimately in God’s hands. We just need to enjoy the ride and find the joys in the detours along the way.”
Miss you, Dad. I know you are enjoying singing with the angels, and listening to praise and worship we can only imagine. Looking forward to catching up in a few more decades. xoxo