I wake up this morning surprised. I went to sleep last night expecting that I would a wake to one of those electric mornings. I slept until six, with no jitters. Was it because of the injection I had on Monday to boost my white blood cells? Is it because I started taking vitamins? Whatever the reason, I slept well.
My neighbor Polly stops by with a collection of black clothing from her closet. The only appropriate thing I own is a dark grey wrap dress that Polly gave me last week when she was cleaning out her closet. I had asked her earlier if she might have a black sweater I could borrow, and she brings me an assortment of things to choose from.
Filipa comes by to help out with daycare. We make cupcakes and cards to celebrate the third birthday of one of our friends. Alex and Filipa watch the kids so I can go with Steven to his doctor's appointment. Because Steven and I arrive home at the same time that a mom comes to visit, we end up having an upside down lunch today. Upside down lunch is when we get to have dessert before we eat our lunch. Oftentimes it is because something has interrupted lunch prep, or I am not quite ready when the kids are and I know they are hungry enough and like lunch enough that they will eat it even after having something sweet first. Today I am not so sure that everyone will like lunch, but we sing "Happy Birthday" frost our cupcakes and gobble them up. To my surprise, everyone eats lunch too!
Kaileigh texted me that she is coming in from Somerville to have dinner and hang out. This may seem very Rhode Island of me, but I can't believe she wants to come down again with such a traffic riddled drive. When she gets here, we manage to gather everyone together, Kaileigh, Ayla, Alex, Chauncey, Filipa, Steven and me, and we go to the Gourmet House to get some dinner.
We figure out what time we will have to meet for the wake tomorrow and say our goodbyes.
I awake early feeling jittery, these side effects are late this week. My right ear is plugged up and I can't hear well, so I decide to put some drops in it to help clear it up. While I am waiting for the drops to work their way into my ear, I fall back asleep until six. If only it could always be this easy.
Steven is up already gathering laundry. It is unusual that he should be up before me, but this week he has had a burst of organizational energy. Because of the funeral on Saturday, he won't be able to get laundry done before he needs to leave for the Climate Change march in New York, so he is getting it done today.
When I get up, I debate whether I should shower now or later. The weekend where my bags don't stay adhered is here, so I put too much thought into this matter. I decide I will be rushed later, so it will be better to shower now, and start the day with a fresh bag. I apply one of the bags I haven't had a problem with. I dress in a wool blend dress with leggings, but it is cool today and I am still cold, even though I wear a coat and gloves outside. Time to start doubling up on the leggings.
There are only three children today, which makes a very easy day. Filipa is coming to help so I can leave for my father's wake in the afternoon.
Once the kids are down for naps, Steven, Alex and I get ready. Ayla comes by to pick us up, and we arrive at the funeral home half an hour early. Kaileigh, Josh, Tim, Jill and Sara arrive shortly after.
We go in to get ready for our night. My father lies there in peaceful repose, a rosary laced through his fingers. This seems so odd, because I don't ever think I have seen a rosary in our house growing up. This was important to my dad though, to have a Christian burial, and this is part of it.
My dad is dressed more casually than anyone who is coming to see him tonight. He has on a white tee shirt under his flannel shirt, and his USS Barcelona jacket that he wore pretty much everywhere. His baseball cap rests on the edge of the coffin. This is classic Freddy.
The funeral home has made a video collage set to music that plays softly by the entrance to the room. There are flowers around the coffin, a heavy curtain behind. A plush funeral kneeler is beside the coffin, chairs placed along the right wall for family to greet mourners. There are only a few chairs, but we pull more over to accommodate my dad's sisters and brother. One of his brothers and his mother are not able to attend.
We sit in a long row, greeting people after they pay their respects to my dad. Jill, Sara and Tim are at the head of the line. I come next, and my dad's sisters, Sandra and Anne Marie, and then his brother Dana holding the last seat.
Many people come through. Some are friends of family or relatives, some relations we have met at family events and not seen in a long time. There are relations we have only heard of and never met. There are people my father has known for years, some that knew him as a child, people he worked with. Some younger than my father, some peers, some older. So many people my sisters and brother and I have never met before. It is a short three hours, spent greeting many, many people.
This is gratifying and surprising. If you were to ask me who may father's friends were, I would only be able to list a few names. It turns out my dad had this secret life away from us, where many people loved and respected him. There were stories of sweet things my father had done for people, ways he helped them out, encouraged and inspired them. This was clearly a different person than the one I knew growing up, where he would come home from work exhausted falling asleep in an easy chair snoring until late in the night. This was my quiet dad, illuminated by the love of those who knew him. They were here to express their sorrow and grieve for their loss, but sharing stories of a man they loved and cherished. A man who would help out his friends and family however he could. This was a man who didn't compromise his ideals, lived life on his own terms and in the end is remembered by the kindness and love in his heart. Who could ask for a better legacy than that?