Wednesday, May 26, 2010

We Danced at His Funeral


I haven’t written about this much. Some things are so heavy, they press in on the heart with such pressure, writing about them could incite an emotional combustion. Besides, I’m a mom and as all mothers know life doesn’t stop for me to feel. There are soccer games to attend, dinners to prepare and Peter Pan to read for the 100th time (which reminds me I need to check to see if my three-year-old still thinks Tinker Bell died on a cross like Jesus).

Anyway, you get my point. To remember, I mean really remember all that I endured two months ago carries the potential to unleash a firestorm of feelings. But when I do reflect upon my father’s death, having grieved the loss, I try to think of one image the most.

The dancing.

We had a brief meeting with the officiating pastor (one of my dad’s best friends) a few days before the memorial service. I really don’t think he had any idea of what he was in for collaborating with us. He slid a notepad across the table, on which he’d sketched a few ideas. That’s when me, my sisters and my mom whipped out Powerpoint and began our presentation of how we wanted things to go down. Well, not really. But us Paine women—no one could ever accuse us of not knowing what we want. We envisioned a video montage, we’d chosen people to speak, we had a poem we’d selected to read, and last but not least…we had the songs. (Here might be a good place to add that while my father had lung cancer, he’d received a good report from the oncologist the day before he fell and died of a stroke. We had little time to prepare. But like anything, we were up for the challenge.)

I cannot describe what it felt like to walk into a crowded room of people gathered to say good-bye to my father. Old business partners, neighbors, church members. Friends. Family. The messages of those who spoke were beautiful—messages about how my dad encouraged and stirred creativity. One speaker called him a one man tsunami. A video montage flashed on the screen. I read a poem my mother had written to him years earlier, appropriately titled The Dance, a metaphor for life.

And then came time for the end. My oldest sister introduced Life is a Highway. For years my dad informed us he wanted this song to be played at his funeral.

And play it we did.

Not only did we play the song…we danced to it. First our table—the immediate family rose to our feet. Then, slowly, table by table, every single person was on their feet.

Dancing.

A room full of Presbyterians (Presbyterians, mind you) clapping and dancing—dancing as we said good-bye.

Dancing at a funeral.

It’s the way he would have wanted it.

It’s the memory I hold onto.

44 comments:

  1. I am crying as I read this Wendy. Your dad is smiling (yes smiling)in heaven as you share this with others. I didn't realize the stroke came-- I thought it was the lung cancer. I am so sorry. But reading this about the kind of man he was and how he wanted to share his final memories makes me see what an awesome dad you had!

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  2. That's so beautiful. I'm sorry though, for the pain, but glad you have that memory. Your dad sounds like a wonderful person!

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  3. Aw, Wendy I can just picture that in my mind. What a lovely memory. Makes me very emotional.

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  4. Yes. Every bit of this, yes. Makes me think your dad and mine would get along very well.

    It was just Saturday for me, but it feels like weeks and weeks ago.

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  5. Oh wow! That's beautiful, Wendy! You brought tears to my eyes this morning! :-)

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  6. What a beautiful story, Wendy. This is the kind of situation that I think many people would like to do, to really give themselves over to a celebration of the life, but constraints hold them back. Kudos to you and your family for following your hearts.

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  7. Dancing in celebration of a life, and in celebration of a life that moves from this world to heaven, is a beautiful, unselfish tribute. I've always admired the cultures that do celebrate death for they know in their deep places of the heart the soul is moving on to greater things God planned. I agree with Joanne: kudo to you and your family. And Tom Cochrane's Life is a Highway is a great song!

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  8. Just coming back to say I'm here for you, too. Just an e-mail away.

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  9. Oh, Wendy, thank you for sharing this with us. I'm so glad you have a memory like that to hold onto.

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  10. I am so sorry for your loss, Wendy. But thank you for this - it made me tear up as well. Since I love music and dance, I would hope folks would dance at my funeral as well. It's what I would have wanted to do. Your family sounds amazing.
    Karen

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  11. Hi there Wendy. Just blogging around a bit and stumbled on your site. I'm sure writing about your father's funeral was a daunting task. What a beautiful memory though, all that dancing. I'm sure heaven was rejoicing!

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  12. That is so beautiful and I am sure he was dancing along with you. Your family has been in my thoughts.
    Blessings,
    Amy

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  13. Wendy:
    You did a very sweet thing to honor your dad. My eyes moistened up as I read this tribute. It sounds like your dad was well loved.

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  14. This made me cry. Thank you for sharing, sweet Wendy!

    Amy

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  15. All I can say is that ROCKS! Having experienced this emotional roller coaster myself, there is nothing quite like honoring a parent in the way you know they would want it. I like to think my dad was grinning ear to ear watching us. I know yours was too.
    Dance away!
    Jen

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  16. Gorgeous! I'm glad you stood up and danced. I bet he's doing the same thing with Jesus right now. HUGS!

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  17. Oh, Wendy, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your father. I cannot imagine how you could address it so beautifully. My husband and I were just talking last night about what we would want people to remember us for when we were gone. Your father sounds like he nailed it. What a beautiful memory and celebration of an obviously loved and vital man.

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  18. This made me cry. Thank you for sharing such a personal story with us. I'm so sorry for your loss, and thankful for your good memories.

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  19. That is so inspiring! I think your dad and my dad would have gotten along great! Thanks for opening up to us. And if you ever need a night to yourself to think, I'm sure Adam and I could watch the kiddos for you. We definitely don't mind!

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  20. What a moving post, Wendy. Thanks so much for sharing, even though it had to be tough to do so. I love that you danced in honor of your dad.

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  21. So beautiful, Wendy. And what a tribute to what sounds like a wonderful man/father. You even made me laugh with the whole "Presbyterians dancing" thing. You're amazing, mom to mom. ;)

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  22. That's wonderful Wendy. What a great memory to treasure along with all your other ones of your Dad. This made me cry, but that's not a bad thing.
    Hugs and blessings,
    Karen

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  23. What a fantastic way to pay tribute to your dad. I want dancing at my funeral too.

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  24. A beautiful tribute.

    We're coming up on the first anniversary of my MIL's death, and to remember her, her daughter and I are planting her flowerbeds for her this Friday.

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  25. Okay, Wendy, I'm crying now. That was a beautiful tribute to your father. I know how difficult these months have been, and I'm so glad you chose to share the bittersweet with us. You're a very special person.

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  26. This is so beautiful, Wendy. What a perfect tribute to your father - a room full Presbyterians dancing to "Life is a Highway"!

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  27. This is wonderful. Your father must have been an amazing man. I certainly hope there is dancing at my funeral!

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  28. I know everyone has already said it but I just stumbled on your blog and I empathize so much. I know your pain, and the love you have for your father. God bless.

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  29. Wow. What an incredible--and worthy--tribute!

    I'll never forget my friend laughing at his wife's funeral. Not because he was glad she was gone, but because something was actually funny. Laughing through tears. It was so vital.

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  30. Oh, Wendy. That's just beautiful! I know he was dancing in heaven with you! Blessings and ((hugs))

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  31. Your comments have blessed me. Thank you.
    ~ Wendy

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  32. Dancing!!! How wonderful. What a great way to celebrate a life! I am sorry for your loss though :)

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  33. I am sorry to hear about your and your family's loss.

    This is a fantastic way to honor the memory of your father. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    Here's hoping each day it becomes a little easier.

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  34. You and your family are very special to celebrate with joy even in a moment of loss. Thank you for sharing this. Now I'm going to be singing all day. Blessed be your name/On a road marked with suffering/Though there's pain in the offering/Blessed be your name

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  35. Beautiful, Wendy.
    I always thought your dad was a neat guy. And now that I have daughters of my own, I surely can appreciate him even more.
    Let his memory live forever!

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  36. That was amazing! What a way to go out - not in tears, but dancing! And what a gift he gave you beforehand, so you knew exactly how appropriate it would be! Bless you in the grieving process. I'm actually teary as I write this. My mom died over ten years ago, but I'm not sure you ever get over that kind of a loss. Take each day at a time, your kids will definitely keep you grounded, mine were five and nine when Mom died and like you, I didn't stop too often to think about it. But I believe its important to share those feelings. Thank you for trusting us enough to let us into your heart today. Hugs and prayers.

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  37. Oh Wendy- I am so sorry for your loss and blessed by your perspective.

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  38. PS I sent you an email to the addy listed on this page - did you get it? If not, my email is cathwest@logic.bm Let me know and I'll send again if need be.

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  39. What a beautiful touching post! I am so sorry to hear of your loss.
    May God bless you.

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  40. You were celebrating your dad's life and honoring him. Blessings and hugs as you grieve. Hold tight to the memories. Let this loss bring you closer to the ones you love here on Earth.

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  41. I am so very sorry for the loss of your dad, Wendy. But oh, the joy and beauty in your goodbye ceremony. Dancing! That is amazing. You're right...you Paine women do it up right.
    Blessings and love to you and your family,
    Michelle

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  42. Wendy, thank you for sharing someting so beautiful and touching. I'm glad you have such a peaceful memory to hold on to. Your father is smiling on you!

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