I had planned to go to Texas to spend Father’s Day with my father, Ralph W. Cawthon. Instead, I spent this past week (the week before Father’s Day) in Texas burying him.
I am back at home in Oklahoma today. I am exhausted – physically, mentally, and emotionally. My heart is hurting. I am not with my father. Not exactly what I had planned for Father’s Day this year.
The thing is, this past week was, in many ways, a Father’s Day celebration – a celebration of a man who was loved and respected by many people.
The funeral parlor had to keep turning the air conditioner temperature down because of all the people who came to the visitation/viewing on Wednesday night.
The funeral on Thursday morning was attended by many, and there were many who contacted us to express great sorrow that they would not be able to attend the funeral. Many nurses and aides who had cared for Dad at the center attended the funeral. The funeral service, gravesite service, and luncheon were uplifting and wonderful. My two lovely nieces each sang a favorite song of my father’s, and sang beautifully. My younger daughter shared a favorite family story about persuading hard-headed Grandpa to build her a tree house when she was a child – a tree house that was enjoyed for many years by numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My older daughter shared a favorite memory about Grandpa and one of the songs that a niece had sung. Many others shared memories they had of my father – some touching, some humorous, all a celebration. Numerous family members and friends helped with preparations and these celebrations. My sister and brother were by my side helping with all aspects and taking care of Mother. The church family provided an amazing luncheon.
Then on Friday afternoon, we had a memorial service at the independent living center where Mom and Dad have lived for the past three and a half years. There were many residents who were not able to attend the funeral, and they had asked if we would give them that time to remember Dad. This turned out to be a very special occasion. Almost every resident who attended the informal memorial service shared a poignant memory of my father. It was such a blessing to my mother and those of us who were in town. One resident told us about a conversation he had with a new resident. She said she and her daughter had visited several centers when deciding where she should live. She decided to move to this center because, when she and her daughter were visiting there, Dad had been entertaining several residents by playing his harmonica. She said she wanted to be a part of such a happy place. Many residents commented about Dad playing the harmonica and about the obvious love between my mother and father.
The week was truly a series of celebrations.
Was my father perfect? No. He was human and made mistakes throughout his 85 years. But it was clear that he touched many people’s lives and hearts over that period of time in a very positive and memorable way. He always strove to live a Godly Christian life.
I had planned to celebrate one specific day with my father. Instead, I was part of a week-long celebration of my father and his life.
I love you, Daddy. And I will miss you. I imagine you are celebrating Father’s Day with your father and your Father God.
Happy Father’s Day.