Several years ago when my Granddaddy died, my mom spoke at his funeral. My dad asked me if I could please do the same for him. He also reminded me of this several times, so lets see if I can make it through this…
One of my dad’s favorite sayings was, “Give the flowers to the living.” He would go on to grumble about what good are they when the person is in heaven. I would mention that it might be nice looking down from heaven and see the flowers someone brought for the funeral, or placed at your graveside, he would look at me like I was an idiot. A reminder that we have no idea the beauty in heaven…can you imagine how beautiful the hydrangeas are up there?
When someone you love dies, it really sucks. It is so hard, and feels so very heavy. Like a typical women, I cannot seem to get my heart and head together to even find a place on the stages of grief diagram. One minute I am accepting, the next minute I am so saddened. I have also been a little mad. I walked downstairs into the hotel lobby Friday morning with my hair unbrushed, my comfy sweatpants, and looking like a haggard old lady. They weren’t, but I felt like people were looking at me strangely, so I told them, “Leave me alone. My dad died.” (I said these words in my head only.)
I am mostly in the shock and disbelief state. Just yesterday at my Aunt Kathy’s house, I looked out and saw his truck, and thought, “Yay- Dad is here!” The next thought in my head reminded me that he wasn’t there.
My dad has been sick for several years. So, I have traveled these stages of grief with my dad many times. Although he never died…he was pretty close many times. But now that it is really here I am having a hard time accepting it. For someone who hated cats as much as my dad did, he certainly had 9 lives.
My dad was a bleu cheese hating, water-loving, amazing man. I have so many awesome memories. As an only child I was his world. I know people say all the time that their dad is the best, but mine really was. As a little girl, he would take me to the pool, and instead of laying on the lawn chair, he actually played games with me and all my friends. I was always allowed to have friends over to spend the night. And not just a couple friends. The whole cheerleading squad would come over to his apartment, where he would make us his famous potato soup, or my Uncle Jack’s sausage gravy. We would watch 90210 until he told us it was crap and forced us to watch Jag, Oklahoma, or The King and I. Or even worse…MASH. I still cringe when I hear that intro music.
He took me to Carowinds weekly, and Disney World yearly. He was always FUN. Always laughing, joking, and playing games. I will always remember our drives to Tignal, GA and Jacksonville, FL where he would listen to 1110. I mean this was the late 80s…who listens to AM radio?? I could finally convince him to put it on FM, and he would bust out Whitney Houston’s, I Wanna Dance With Somebody.
He loved going out to eat, and was a high maintenance customer. No one cared, because he was so fun and a good tipper. He taught me percentages by calculating the tip. He also taught me that you can order whatever you want at a restaurant…even if it is not on the menu. So I guess I learned the gift of being so high maintenance from him. My dad taught me how to change a tire, drive really fast, and to memorize your drivers license number.
Looking back, I can see where he struggled financially. I never felt that struggle. Except maybe in high school when I had to take a Pig sauce sandwich for lunch. Yes. That is 2 pieces of bread with barbeque sauce inside.
When he met Peggy, her family welcomed us with open arms. She had no idea what she was getting into. She thought she was marrying this jolly fellow with a daughter in college. No baggage, right? The first time I met her, I brought along my mom, and step-dad for
the interview dinner. She did not melt under that pressure, so I knew she was a tough cookie. And so we all became one big family happy, slightly dysfunctional unique family.
Heaviness gets a bad rap in our society. We use it to describe being overweight, or carrying emotional baggage. But heaviness can also be comforting, like a really thick warm blanket. Settled, established, grounded. When you are grounded, you are supported, open and accepting.
A few years ago, I left the world of teaching little ones to become a blogger and a yoga teacher. My dad was baffled at the idea that I could actually make a living doing this, and proud when I actually did it.
My favorite style of yoga to teach is vinyasa. This style links movement to breath and is powerful, fluid, and if you are in my class, it is HOT. I like to sequence my class in line with the cycle of life. We start in child’s pose and end in corpse pose. In the beginning of class my students are curled up, forehead to the mat, just breathing. Then we flow slowly, building up heat and intensity. Just like life, it gets really hard and I know the they want to quit. But they They keep pushing because they know what is coming. Savasana.
Savasana is Sanskrit for corpse pose. Being still. Letting the earth hold your weight. Being heavy. Feeling grounded and at peace.
There is an Native American saying when you go to heaven there is a scale. On one end of the scale is a feather. One the other end you place your heart. If your heart is heavier than the feather, you have to go back and live your life again.
I held my dad’s hand last Thursday night, and I told my dad this story several times. Over and over. I reminded him that his scale was finally balanced and it was okay to go.
He is grounded. He is balanced. And he is at peace.
My dad said several times that he wanted his funeral to be a celebration. And although we feel sad, and grief heavy…his heart is a light as a feather. So like my dad’s favorite saying goes…Go give flowers to the living. It doesn’t even have to be physical flowers; smiles, hugs, prayers, notes of appreciation, and gifts of gratitude.