04 September 2007

A very hard day...

We had a visitation and memorial service for my father today.

I made a video for the visitation. We scrambled for photographs, searching my mother and sister's numerous photograph albums, bought a scanner (my mother's had quit working ages ago), and I scanned about 30 photographs, color corrected and optimized them in Photoshop. I did not overly repair them. I wanted people to see the age of the photos - I just made the colors and contrast a bit better if the photograph was too faded. The wear and tear of old photographs is a big part of the story that each of them tells, to make them too pretty would be akin to telling a false story and I wanted to tell my father's story right and true. We found two of my father's cds - a jazz one and a classical one. I took one track off of each of them and imported all of it into Premiere, added timings, transitions and a title slide and rendered the whole thing through Encore to make a DVD that was set up to loop the movie over and over.

At the visitation people seemed to really enjoy the movie. They sat there smiling through their tears, telling stories about my father.

I mentioned before that he did not want to be displayed at a funeral. He did not want people looking at his body and "carrying on." I think I agree with the idea of being cremated. It was a very peaceful ceremony, and I am not sure it would have been so restful if there had been a body to cry over. I do not know, hopefully no one will be stuck without a way to heal because they did not see a body. The body is not the person. And cremation is what my father wanted. My mother did not agree, but she said she would do it for him. She said she did not want to be haunted. I am not quite sure if she meant that literally or not... she is a Celt after all.

Two ministers spoke, even though my father was not a church goer. One minister was the one from my mother's church. He is new (and very young - not actually a full minister yet, I think), and did not know my father well. He came over once during the last few weeks of my father's life and spoke with him. Even though he did not know my father well, he did very well presiding over the memorial service. The other minister was a friend of my father. He was one of my father's McDonalds breakfast compadres. He had a personal relationship with my father, and was able to speak about him directly.

After they both spoke the presiding minister asked if anyone else wanted to speak. I did not have anything prepared, but I could not let go of the tightness in my chest without speaking about my father. I spoke about his kindness and generosity, about the stories he told us, the stories he created just by living a true life. Actually I am not sure exactly what I said. I did not break down, but I got a bit weepy at the very end. My sister and mother and one brother thanked me for speaking, the other brother looked me in the eye and nodded. I took that as his approval.

After the service we went to a luncheon that my mother's church had prepared for us. Everyone at the service was invited, but only family and the church people came to the luncheon. We thought it was going to be a chore, but it was not. It was a very relaxed and peaceful meal.

No comments: