Thursday, March 20, 2014

On This Date in 1999 (March 20)

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning, not a cloud in the sky, a blinding sunshine warming the earth, a work-in-the-garden kind of day. But, of course, it’s too early for that. Instead, I’ll concentrate on the list of chores I’ve prepared for myself. Write letters, finish yesterday’s pile of laundry, organize the hallway between the kitchen and the garage so it doesn’t look as though a tornado just passed through, transfer the scattered gloves and mittens and scarves to the chest of drawers in the garage, a piece of furniture that I bought when I first moved to Oshkosh.

JoAnna is spending the day at Shirley Abrahamson’s campaign headquarters. I know she has a lot to catch up on. Andy is sitting at the kitchen table doing his math homework, and Eddie is playing with his Lincoln logs, organizing them according to some complex plan inside his head. Although we brag about his artistic side, I think Eddie could easily move toward a career in engineering or architecture.

As I mentioned during our phone conversation yesterday, we made great time on the return trip to Middleton. We crossed the Indiana-Illinois border a few minutes before 2:00 p.m. and pulled into the driveway at 5:20. It was one of our easiest road trips.

I always seem to get the job of unloading the van. I pleaded for some assistance and initially my family responded. Very quickly, though, I saw JoAnna writing down her ten voice mail messages, Andy shooting baskets in the driveway, and Eddie watching TV. JoAnna went to the health club, and, feeling sluggish, I decided to work out on the Walkfit. For supper, the boys ordered pizza and JoAnna returned with the order I called into Grand China: shrimp fried rice, steamed potstickers (a meat-filled Chinese pasta is the best way to describe this entree), and crab Rangoon.

The visit to Warren almost seems like a blur now. Yesterday I spent most of my passenger time in the van transcribing my reflections of the funeral home visitation and Dad’s funeral on the message side of Ohio and Indiana picture postcards, six of them altogether. After reading Dad’s 1943 autobiographical sketch, I truly regret that I wasn’t more insistent that he write about his life experiences. Sometime during the late 1980s, I think I gave both of you blank books with the encouragement to write about your lives. I now repeat this encouragement, Mom. Your reminiscences will be something the boys will treasure when they are older.

I didn’t say this as articulately as I wanted to when we said our goodbyes Friday morning, but I just want to let you know you proud we our of you, Mom. You conducted yourself with such dignity and poise during the visitations and funeral. You were very gracious when accepting the many expressions of sympathy and made everyone feel at ease. I know you were an inspiration to the rest of us. I was concerned about how I was going to react once people started arriving at the funeral home. Let me start out with people I don’t know or can only vaguely remember, I said to myself. So who is the first person I see at two o’clock Wednesday afternoon? Yolanda Peroski. When we embraced, I lost my composure and blubbered some response to her expression of sympathy.

Later I wondered if some of my emotional reaction had to do with the fact that I didn’t take the time to visit her this past Christmas. After that, though, I was fine. The other challenge during our visit was reading the two scripture passages without being overwhelmed by another emotional bubble. Halfway through the 13th chapter of I Corinthians, I felt a pull on my vocal chords. Fortunately, the tension was quickly released. I did feel my body start to quake a little bit after I returned to the pew.

Overall, I felt that the funeral arrangements were handled very well. It helped me, at least, to put a big exclamation point at the end of dad’s life. What was evident at the retirement party for Dad in 1981 was again very much in evidence this past Wednesday and Thursday. Dad deeply touched the lives of many people.

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