Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Showing Up

This won't be a long post today.  I just wanted to drop in and thank all of you for your kind, supportive words regarding my Dad's death.

To all my dear friends and acquaintances from out of town who called, e-mailed, facebooked, and sent lovely hand-written notes, thank you.  I can't tell you how much it means to me.

You should've seen Dad's wake.   There wasn't an empty parking space at the funeral home, because so many people came to pay their respects to this brother, uncle, friend, colleague, and teacher they knew and loved.

Dad's former students were the ones that touched me the most. You may remember from an earlier post that Dad was a high school shop teacher for several years (although he hated that term, and insisted we call it "Industrial Arts.").  His students were often not the most  academically gifted in the school, but Dad's class offered them a chance to excel at something else; working with their hands and creating something to be proud of.

Imagine how much it meant to my siblings and I to have these grown men approach us as we stood next to Dad's casket, and tell us how profoundly Dad affected their lives.  They could have bought a sympathy card at the grocery store, signed their names at the bottom, and mailed it to the house.  But they didn't.  They showed up. And I'll never forget it.

They put on suits and uncomfortable shoes, combed their hair and drove a few towns away, just to pay their respects in person.  They grabbed our hands and looked into our eyes and told us how much they appreciated our father.  And I'll never forget it.

There were others who showed up, too.  Like the now grown-up boys who lived next door to us thirty years ago.  They used to make Dad crazy because they mowed the lawn in their bare feet (safety hazard) and yelled loudly at each other during spirited games of whiffle ball played in their backyard.  We hadn't seen any of them in years.  Yet, there they were, to grab our hands and gently say, "So sorry to hear about your Dad."  They showed up.  And I'll never forget it.

Then there were my friends.  Not friends of Dad's, mind you (although there were plenty of those, too), MY friends.  High school friends who didn't know Dad that well, but came to comfort ME.  They showed up with warm hugs, handing me their phone numbers written on slips of paper for "if you just need to talk, or get away for awhile."  Gay, my childhood friend, and her parents, whom I haven't seen in over two decades, showed up.  And I'll never forget it.

Many of the people I've mentioned above don't read this blog, and will probably never get this message, but I hope you'll indulge me as I send it anyway:

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  Not only were you a tremendous comfort, you taught me an invaluable lesson.  Showing up means much more than I ever imagined.  Before that evening, if my childhood next door neighbor had passed away and I learned about the funeral,  I may have penned a quick note to their children and dropped it in the mail, feeling really good that I "reached out."  But now all that has changed.

I will show up.  I will curl my hair, put on makeup, hose, and a dress, and I will be there.  I will wrap my arms around you, and remind you how loved you are.  You have my word. Because based on my experience, it's the absolute best thing I can do.

Thanks for Reading.

33 comments:

Jessica said...

:)

Krista said...

Wow! This is a poignant reminder; thank you so much. *many hugs* to you and yours.

A Vintage Chic said...

Dear Joan...

Again, I'm sorry about your father's passing.

What a gift you've just given me, though...I have so many times been guilty of just sending the note or making the phone call, too. From now on, I will make the effort to "be there". That really struck a chord with me...

And every time I do, you and your father will come to mind...

Julie

Sylvia K said...

My dearest Joan, I am so very sorry to learn about your Father's passing! And such a moving post with a message to all of us to take the time to do more than send a note of sympathy. Unfortunately, that's all I'm able to do considering the distance, but I do want your to know that my thoughts are with you and your family. Take care.

Sylvia

Mumsy said...

This was a wonderful post and those who miss it have missed a blessing. Keeping you and the family in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs

Andi said...

Take your time and ease back into it, we will be waiting here with open arms and open hearts. Take care.

rxBambi said...

I'm sorry I didn't hear earlier about your dad. I think losing a parent is so hard, it doesn't matter how old the child is. Hugs xxoo

just call me jo said...

Your dad is proud of you and happy for the turn out, I'm sure. He seems like one great guy. So sorry. Loved the reminder to go that extra mile.

A girl needs 2 Talk said...

You just made me tear up. My friend is so strong and nice. I love that she knows to see the silver lining of every cloud!

You warm my heart, dear Joan! I am praying. God will always bless you for having a heart as nice as yours. Warm hug. :)

Tuppence said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. I lost mine over ten years ago so I know that what you are going through right now is unbearably painful. You will get through it though, just let the people around you give you the love and support that you need and little by little things will start to get better. You don't ever get over these things, but you do learn how to live with them better.

You're in my thoughts.

Hugs

T
x

Noelle said...

This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us.

KathyB said...

It was really profound to see all those dear folks - just like you said. You expressed it all beautifully, Joan.

Eva Gallant said...

Obviously he was a wonderful man to have so many come and show their respect.

Rachel Cotterill said...

I love that so many people showed up, to pay their respects and to support you. It says a lot. My thoughts are with you.

Teresa Evangeline said...

How wonderful. How respectful. I will keep this in mind as parents are lost to my friends, even those from out of the very distant past. How blessed he was and you, as well.

Red Shoes said...

What a loving and wonderful post.

Yes, 'showing up' IS everything. I remember the people who came to Mom's and Dad's funerals. To see them... to hear their words... to share their hugs. When we experience these things like you have, dear Joan, we better understand the meaning of it all.

It seems your Dad touched the lives of so so many people. That is a sign of a successful Live... and of course, having a wonderful daughter like you helped!

~shoes~

Looking for Blue Sky said...

There were tears in my eyes just looking at the pictures, before I even read your very moving words. Your Dad's funeral sounds very special - and a bit like an Irish wake. I'm so glad for you that so many people made the effort to support you and your family and to show you how much your Dad meant to them xx

Charlene said...

That is such a wonderful tribute to your Dad. People doing their every day work every day are so often not acknowledged but they have a good impact on individual people. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Kat said...

Joan, this is beautiful and very touching. You have such a way with words.

Miley (woman:confused) said...

I am so glad that not only were there tons of people there to show their respects to your father - who was obviously an AWESOME guy - but also to be there for you and your loved ones. That's just... wow.
In the darkest of times, I think that's the best thing anyone can ask for. You may not feel fortunate with your dad's passing but you are so loved and cared about by so many people, which makes you fortunate in other ways.
Take care.
~Miley

jel said...

huggs

Anonymous said...

Joan, I understand completely and have experienced this myself. When my father-in-law unexpectedly passed away at the age of 66, I was so moved by all the friends and acquaintances from work (my husband and I had worked together for the same company for 8 years at that point) that drove to the opposite side of town to attend the wake. For this very reason, I try very hard no matter what is going on in my life to make sure my husband or I attend, and this is why I was late to my son's open house (shh, he doesn't know) so I could be sure I stopped by to support all of you in any small way I could.
I am sure your amazing family will be great support for each other. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Shan said...

Clearly you and your dad (and I'm sure the rest of your family) are worth showing up for. What a testament to you all, these friends.

Being Me said...

Hey Joan, it's so great to see a post from you again, I have wondered how you are getting on. This is a tremendously important post - yet again - you never cease to amaze me, the depth with which you can reach your audience. It permeates, know that.

Go gently xo

Joanie M said...

My condolences on the passing of your beloved father.

It's wonderful that all those people came to show respect for your Dad.

I didn't realize how many friends my Dad had until hundreds of people showed up for his wake. Simply amazing.

Cheeseboy said...

I just hope that at my funeral I have one or two former students that remember me. so cool that your dad touched so many.

Yankee Girl said...

What a beautiful post. Being surrounded by so many people who love a lost family member does make things just a tiny bit better. It is important to show up.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Hopefully knowing that so many people care about you and care about your dad can help you through this difficult time.

Langdowns said...

I haven't checked in for so long!! Oh J, I am so sorry to hear of your Dad's passing. Oh my goodness. What a wonderful tribute on your blog though and a great legacy. Hang in there and know that you have hugs from oceans away.
Cyber cuddles ...
Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

themommydaddy said...

I'm very sorry for your loss. Your post is beautiful and made me think about my own father. He's still here but very old. I'll be thinking of your post. I copied it and will keep it.

The Empress said...

I am so very sorry to hear that you lost your father. How affirming of his life, to have so many individuals show up and say, "he mattered in my life."

That is something I"d love to and hope to hear. Vestiges of a well lived life.

Keeps us all hopeful that we may have such a wonderful memorial, also.

Again, I am so very sorry.

The Fitness Guru said...

Thanks for this. As my dad loses his battle with cancer I know I will soon have to go through the loss of a parent. I'm going to follow your blog as a new blogger myself. Please check out mine if you can. Thanks!

makingmyway2010.blogspot.com

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

You know, you are so right about how much it means for people to show up. I hate the bother of getting dressed and driving across town, but reading your words made me resolve to do that whenever it's called for. Sorry for your loss.

Katesteele said...

My father worked part-time at Johnson-Romito for about 25 years, and grieved alongside countless families. So often over the years, people have approached me to mention my father's easy smile and the comfort he provided when they needed it. My father always stressed that you go to the wake and/or funeral for the living. I didn't appreciate that sentiment until my own dear old dad died 22 years ago, but you expressed much better than I ever could, the importance of being there.

When my son's former teacher's son died suddenly a couple years ago, as I headed out to the funeral home, I was so proud to hear my son, who was about 10 at the time, say, "Wait, I'm coming with you. You go for the living." And his presence meant more to his former teacher than Roy could ever comprehend.

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