in his backyard haven

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Wake

On Father's Day, Sunday June 17th, we had the wake for Dad. It is often referred to as a final "Viewing". For those of you across the world, this is common in Christianity to have family and friends gather at the funeral home and pay their last respects to their loved one. The deceased is dressed in his best. In this case Dad was dressed in his military uniform and the casket is draped with the American Flag because he served his career in the military.

The family gathers first - having alone time with Dad for an hour. Then there is a time period of two hours set aside for visitors to see him and then guests are invited to say a few words in remembrance of Dad. In our Catholic Faith we conclude by praying a set of prayers called the rosary. This takes about 20 minutes. The rosary is a set of prayers where we pray a series of prayers - some that were taught to us by Jesus and others where we ask Mary, Jesus's mother, to pray on behalf of us to Jesus in Heaven. It is common in the catholic faith for us to ask other saints in Heaven to pray on behalf of us. We believe that they have the luxury of time and can pray constantly on our behalf when we are not able to pray.

On this particular evening, many of Dad's friends and our family were able to stand up and share some favorite stories of Dad. His buddies in his model railroading club did a great job of sharing what they thought of Dad as a man and a friend. Others shared about his faith and influence in the church. Our sister Liz shared about what it was like when Dad was in what I would call the "Prime" of Fatherhood - all 5 kids still being raised at home. It helped round out the memories of who Dad is today with how we remember him as we were growing up. Finally, other family members shared what they thought of Dad. I recall one of my uncles sharing a story that exemplified Dad being a true hero in his work with nuclear missiles.

The viewing is the appropriate place to sob. (Of course, you can sob anywhere and anytime, but the viewing is designed for sharing memories and grief). For most of us, with kids in tow, we were a bit too tired to cry some more, so we found ourselves socializing much in the way Dad would have loved to. There were snacks to help us through the 4 hours and our kids had a private room to be kids and play games. It was much like a reunion of sorts and it was good. Dad would have enjoyed it.

Katie and Dad

Me and Katie and Dad

Amy and Dad

Mom and grandson Nathan

Dad in his uniform in his American Flag draped casket. I share this not to be disrespectful, but to show the honor of the setting and to help my non-American friends understand the purpose of this event.

Mom, Dad and us kids: Joe, Amy, Liz, me and Katie

with husbands and grandchildren: Jay, Jay and Ryan and Madison, Nathan, Zoe and Meagan

With some extended family - all from Mom's side. Dad was an only child.
Meagan, saying a pray for Dad

The private rooms, where the kids played games

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