Saturday, October 03, 2015

Dad's Memorial

Last Sunday they held an informal memorial service for my dad at the Cokato Cemetery in Minnesota.
Was a beautiful sunny day. 
I talked to Mom that night and she was very happy with the whole day. 
People stood up and told stories about Dad.






I wrote a couple memories and Dagan read them for me off his cell phone.  :)  
Looks like there was a lot of laughing and happy recollections. 
 Mom spoke, too.
They had a table set up with a few pictures. 
Dad's ashes were buried with his hat right on top.  I loved that!  He didn't go anywhere without his hat.  :)
Afterwards they went to The Red Goat. 
Pretty silly, eh?  White goat with a red beard.  Mom says they have good food there.
Ian was one happy boy!
Here's the picture of Mom and Dad--young and in love. 
Well, many of you have heard the cottonwood tree story before, but since my mom asked me to post what I wrote for Dagan to read on Facebook I figured I would post it on the blog, too.   So here are a couple of Dad Memories:
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My early memories of Dad were of his big black lunch pail and goulashes.
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 We moved to Fridley when I was five years old.  One day Dad was pulling weeds around the cement block basement and window-wells of our new house and I came to watch him and ask questions, as was my job. I know I asked enough questions about weeds to find out that this one larger one (that looked like two till Dad pulled it up) was actually a baby tree! I begged him to leave it there to grow. Too close to the house, he said.  It tore my heart out to kill a tree.
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I missed trees so very much! Fridley was a brand-new, stark-naked suburb--barren--blank. I missed the "old" feeling of North Minneapolis. I dearly missed trees with birds and squirrels.
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I begged, pleaded, cried, and promised to water it--until Dad finally agreed to move the sapling. He planted it in the corner of the yard down by the street near the driveway. Just dug a little hole and stuck it in the ground...said he'd just forget and run over it with the mower. No--you won't--you won’t. I could tell he thought it was a foolish thing to do to his brand new sod and figured it would just die anyways or I would forget about it.
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But I remember standing guard when he mowed...and carrying glasses of water out to the tree.  Dad seemed surprised that it survived.  I remember spying one day and seeing him watering that tiny forked tree with the big green hose.  So I knew he had been won over.  Dad grew careful about mowing around it. I remember how excited I felt when it outgrew me and how annoyed Dad was--every single year--with the sticky pods all over the lawn.  (It happened to be a male cottonwood.)
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That two-trunked tree stood tall over the neighborhood. Was a landmark for directions.  I loved listening to the leaves tremble in the wind and watching them silver-shimmering in the sunlight. It is almost 60 years old--if it is still standing.  Towering over the block with deep roots that pushed up the asphalt road a bit along the edge of the yard. That tree and Dad have always been intertwined in my memory.
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I also can’t think of color TV without remembering when we got our first one.  I may not remember the year but I remember that after it was delivered no one was allowed to touch it until Dad got home from work.  Us three kids gathered around on the floor in silent excitement as he plugged it in--knowing we could be banned from the room if we disturbed him while he figured out this thrilling new appliance.  He gently moved the console back into place and found the on button.  We could hear the tubes warming up and all four of us gasped as Johnny Quest emerged from the blackness in bright-cartoon-living-color!
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Of course, Dad--being a lithographer and perfectionist--wanted to find another program that was being broadcast in color (remember the days when only a few programs were in color?) that had real people on the screen so he could adjust the flesh color.  We begged him to let us watch the last five minutes of Johnny Quest first.  To our amazement--he did--and sat there with us until the cartoon was over.  I think he was as blown away by the color as we were.
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Dad was notorious for fiddling with the tint to get the flesh tones just right.  He’d always tell us, if the flesh tone is right then everything else would be right.  
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The tint knobs were in the back--obviously to keep mere mortals away from the dials meant for the TV repairman only.  But they didn’t know my dad.  He’d be on his knees reaching back there turning knobs, asking us if it was better, never taking our word for it, popping his head around...back and forth...back and forth...just generally driving us nuts and making us miss the beginning of shows.  
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He finally settled down about flesh tones and they didn’t have to be perfect, but I think he hated it when color TVs started being sold with no tint adjustment.  There used to be quite an art to the various knob adjustments.  As the oldest, long before remotes, I had to learn knob skills.
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Dad loved Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Ed Sullivan...and HeeHaw!  He loved puns, slap stick humor, and any plays on words.  I loved to hear him laugh.  I guess that’s how I want to remember him--smiling and laughing.
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Love you, Dad. 
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Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
And Immortality....
~Emily Dickinson, c.1863 

18 comments:

  1. I loved the idea of burying your dad's ashes with his hat. My dad never liked to wear a suit & tie, so we buried him wearing a polo shirt so he would be comfortable throughout eternity!!

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  2. It looked like a beautiful day for a memorial service. Everyone seemed to have fond memories of your dad. Your early memories of your dad are very touching. Sending hugs your way.

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  3. What nice memories of your dad, a lovely memorial and I am so glad that the big tree is still standing. You had the right instincts, you turned that barren piece of land into something special and distinctive.

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  4. Do treasure the good memories, and what a fine memorial filled with happiness and joy. Greetings and warm wishes.

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  5. it looks like a beautiful day for the memorial. loved your tree story. and your father sounded a lot like mine in his taste for tv shows. :)

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  6. This is a beautifully moving memorial to your father, and that tree story was most certainly a winner.

    My grandparents didn't allow a TV in our home while I was in school, but the day I graduated, my grandfather went out and bought one. I'm sure by then, they were quite refined, and your dad would not have been able to adjust them.

    It looks like everyone was really happy, and I suspect waiting to have a celebration rather than a funeral was much more enjoyable, too. The hat with the ashes seems like a great idea. Glad they had a perfect autumn day for this loving tribute to your father.

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  7. Sorry to hear about your Dad, Rita. It looks like a beautiful memorial for him; and people were recalling so many good memories. Take good care of yourself as you go through the grieving process. I know it isn't easy (my dad died in January 2012 and my mom just died on August 15, 2015).

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  8. My heart is open and loving you, Rita. Thank for sharing this.

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  9. The memorial was beautiful, and your story made me smile ( with memories of my own, and tears for yours). Television has sure come a LONG way in our life time.

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  10. Sounds like a really lovely memorial. I like the hat on the box. Nice touch. Your day would've like it, too!

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  11. That seems to have been exactly the right service. I love your story about the tree. I remember when the networks advertised that a particular program was shown "in living color." It didn't matter in our house. We were the last people in the world to get a color TV. My father wouldn't allow such a thing until the old TV (the very first TV my parents owned, which they purchased before I was born in 1959, though I don't know what year they bought it) was broken beyond repair. It only got one channel anyway (CBS). I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when cable TV arrived. Ian is darling in that photo in the restaurant. That photo of your mom when she was young looks a bit like you.

    Love,
    Janie

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  12. Oh this was so bloody great what a wonderful way to remember you dad and to bury his ashes with his hat yes I like that idea.

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  13. It sounds like it was a beautiful memorial, Rita. Lovely memories of your Dad too

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  14. Beautiful.

    May there always be a cottonwood tree somewhere near by.

    Hugs you tight.

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  15. A lovely memorial to your dad ♥ The day looked perfect and I love that his favorite hat was buried with him.

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  16. Dear Rita, I looked back at a few of your postings to discover when your dad died, but I couldn't find a date. From your posting of the two stories about him, I know that you have some wonderful memories that will comfort you as the days pass. I'm so glad you posted the photographs. Your mom looks happy to see all your dad's friends there and to hear the stories they tell. What a lovely memorial to your day. Peace.

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  17. Your Mom looks good, and it looked like quite a turn out to honor your Dad. I so enjoyed your stories! Ian will appreciate them some day! :)

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  18. How nice your Dad is with his hat! Love your memories of your Dad. How nice to remember him laughing.

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Have a really great day! :) :)