The three of you reassemble downstairs and you all start making your to-do list:
Call Jean Hurlburt (the wife of your dad’s oldest brother)
Program for funeral
Get in touch with minister
Talk to Jane (your mother’s sister) about remembrance
“Because He Lives” (song your mother wants sung at the funeral)
Etc. You discuss/talk/make lists for a couple of hours until finally, exhaustion. You give your mom a hug and kiss and say something comforting (you hope . . . you can’t even remember what you said) and go home.
You can’t remember if you cried on the way home, but you must have. You open the door to your house for the first time having no father. You catch yourself thinking that you’re doing everything now for the first time since your dad died. You can’t remember if you took a Xanax to go to sleep, but you probably did.
You awake with a thousand things to do. You attack the list from last night; you assume Sandie and your mom are attacking theirs. You work like a madman on the eulogy. You’d made some notes conceptualizing how you wanted it to go . . . but now it’s real life and it has to be right, it has to honor him, it has to live up to him. You do . . . a thousand things in a blur (and today, writing this, you can’t remember ten of them). Where did you eat? When did you go to bed? How many words did you write? How many times did you rehearse “Brokedown Palace” (the song you and Rebecca and Jenny will sing at the funeral)? Who did you call? How is you mother? You have no idea.
You finally get in touch with Holmes (he was out of town yesterday) and get the program together. The front and back covers are paintings your dad had done over forty years ago. Holmes, no slouch of an artist himself, said, “Wow, these are really good.” They are, and you have several others, but you wish he would have painted more. Painting – a silent, solitary pursuit – suited him. (Note to self: get your art – writing, music, photography, whatever – done now, because one day you can’t.)
On the inside-left page you’ve placed Philippians 4:8 (“Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”). Christopher Hitchens used this verse at his father’s funeral “because of its non-religious yet high moral character,” and he goes on to say: “Try looking that [verse] up in a “modern” version of the New Testament and see what a ration of bland doggerel you get. I shall never understand how the keepers and trustees of the King James Version threw away such a treasure. But that very thought, if you like, is partly taken from my father’s legacy of suspicion of change and of resistance to the rude shock of the new.” To which you say: Amen. On the inside-right is the order of service.
Rebecca comes over to rehearse a bit; she’ll pick up the programs from Staples later. You write solidly throughout the day. You’re on the phone a lot. You’ll never get everything done, you think, and you wish the funeral was Friday.
Rebecca calls around dinner time from Staples. “What’s my name?” she says. Uh . . . Rebecca? you say, wondering where this unique line of questioning is going. “What’s my last name?” she says. Well, this one’s easy; but you say, uneasily, and with that question mark at the end: Hurlburt? You still don’t know what she’s getting at. “Dad,” she says, “I’m married, my last name is Causey.” Shit. On the program you listed her as Rebecca Hurlburt, not Causey. Way to go, D. At least we laughed about it.
Rebecca brings over dinner and the programs. Jenny’s supposed to be in from NYC around 8:00 to rehearse. Her plane is delayed and then she has to change planes and that’s delayed and she ends up getting in at midnight. (In the process, she leaves the funeral remarks she’d been working on on the first plane. She’s up til three rewriting them.) You run through the song a few times with Reba. You hammer away on the eulogy.
An invisible sun rises and the morning comes muggy and grey with the promise of rain. It came in darkness for you. After waking up at one, two and then four o’clock, you finally decide to just get up. The eulogy you’ve been working on for two days could still use some polishing; you’ll deliver it one-time-only, about six hours from now. It better be good.
The girls come over before eight; you sing “Brokedown Palace” a few times. Phillip shows up. You assemble everything – eulogy, chord/lyric sheet, guitar, guitar stand, music stand, phone, etc. – and hope/pray you haven’t forgotten something.
more to come . . .
more to come . . .