15 August 2010

Norval G. Whisler 5/7/27 - 8/10/10
My father was a navy veteran; he served at the end of World War II and during the Korean War, so I should not have been surprised that there was a Naval Color Guard on hand for his funeral, but when they got out of their car I curiously asked one sister, "Are there here for him?"

Color guard bugler
Really, I should have asked if they were here for us, because I found the playing of taps and folding of the flag to be dignity that my father deserved, and it was incredibly touching. I hold deep respect for service members who serve for funerals; it takes a special sense of honor to be able to do that, and it requires utmost respect and care, something not everyone can pull off, no matter how badly they want to.

After the playing of taps, the folding of the flag, and presenting it to my mother, the minister spoke; he didn't drone on and on and never tried to make it seems as if he knew my father, which I appreciated; he picked the right scriptures, and kept his part of it short and sweet, and then began to read pages of memories written by some of the grandkids and of my sisters.

That's when the laughing started.

Appropriately or not, my father's funeral soon swelled with laughter; their remembrances were touching and loving, but some of the things they shared were flat out funny and we couldn't help but laugh. And the common thread was the funniest, something my father did that trickled down from his kids to his grandkids.

Every night my father sat in his chair in the living room with a canned drink--sometimes beer, sometimes not--and when he wanted a new one, he grabbed the can and squeezed until it crinkled. We all knew what that meant: get up and get your father (or grandpa) another drink. There was no question about it; we just did it. When my oldest sister's twins were little, they raced to the kitchen to see who could be the first to get Grandpa his drink. It meant something to them; they wanted to win, to be the one who got to get it for him.

Everyone remembered the crinkling of the can. And every shared page of memories made mention of that, it was so ingrained. And in looking back, it was freaking funny.

The funeral was simple and sweet, with mostly close family in attendance, which is what he would have wanted. And I think he would have loved that he left us with laughter.

Me, my niece Shannon, and her way-too-cute baby boy Caleb
It didn't stop there; after lunch (more laughter) the Spouse Thingy and I went home with my mom and sister, to just chill for the rest of the afternoon, until everyone else came over for dinner (they humored me and sent out for Schlotzsky's which I wasn't leaving Texas without having) and while we sat there, all of us somewhat drowsy and  fighting it, my sister Dorothy looked at our mother and said, "Tell them about his hand."

My dad, for whatever reason, was never a jewelry person; other than a wristwatch, I don't think I ever saw him with anything remotely resembling jewelry on. But when he was on a ship headed for Korea, he wrote my mom and asked her to get him a wedding ring and send it.

I don't know why; it was surely an all-male crew back then and he likely wasn't fending off unwanted female attention, but he wanted a wedding ring. So she went out and got it for him and sent it off. He wore it through the rest of his service time, but afterward he worked with machinery that made it a little dangerous to have a ring on his finger. I'm guessing that he rather enjoyed having the use of all ten digits, so the ring came off and went into my mom's jewelry box. He never wore it again.

Until now.

"I got the last laugh," my mother said impishly. "I'm sending him through eternity with that ring on."

I can hear my dad now.



kenju said...

My condolences to you and your family.

Lone Star Purrs said...

Our condolences on your loss. I know what you mean about the Honor Guard. i get chills every time I hear Taps.
~LSP Momma Becca and Family

Angel and Kirby said...

Your Dad earned the Honor Guard. He would have loved that you were laughing at the good memories.

I created a memory picture CD of my Mom and family for her services. They played it one last time after the family was seated. There were pictures on Mom with black eyes from nose surgery and knots on her head from falls. There were memories of her year in a leg cast We all laughed and had the whole church laughing before it was over. It made the saddest day turn to laughter and good memories .

I hope all of your family received copies to the written memories!

Anonymous said...

I hope when I go it is with laughter .
Life has enough tears .
Sorry for your loss !

hairball manager said...

Laughter is the best way to remember people and celebrate who they were. At my father's funeral the mortuary was 2 hours late "delivering" Dad. The automatic joke and the line of stories on my father being late to everything but his golf tee time was an impromptu celebration of the man. I know he was there laughing his head off. Just like your dad was.
What a great way for you to remember him. It helps with the pain....a bit.

Christie Critters said...

I'm so sorry about your Dad, but really happy for your family that you could begin the healing laughter right away. Remembering the happy and funny times is so important.

Chicka said...

You'll hear that can soon...he'll let you know he's around by doing that most often, I think.

For my dad, it's the smell of his tobacco and the *snick* of his Zippo lighter opening and he flint wheel moving all in one swift movement.

Heh... I'm glad it was a happy event. (I share your views on the color guard,'s a nice memorial but really, it's not for them. It's for the ones left behind -just like a funeral.)

Roses said...

Your dad got that ring.
My mom got rocks.


Anonymous said...

So sorry.

- Gryphon, Millie and Anonymous