It is Halloween and it is the fifth Thursday since Dad died.
What am I doing for my dad today? Oh, the usual. You know. Planning a celebration of his life that will be held on Sunday, November 3 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at First Congregational Church in Sheboygan, not far from Lake Michigan. There will be friends and relatives coming from near and far. My Aunt Helen, my father’s sister will be here. My cousins will be here. Old school chums and students of my father’s. All here.
There will be many people at the service who never actually met Georg, or only knew him briefly, but they know me and they want to lend their support. For that I am extremely grateful. There are friends bringing coconut macaroons and raspberry tarts and brownies for after the service. For that too, I give thanks.
My mom, my sis, my bro-in-law, and my ex will be here. Georg’s grandchildren, all present and accounted for: my son, my niece, my nephew. Owen and Kaleb will stand as ushers at the door of the sanctuary and hand out programs to the guests. My niece, Ella, has contributed a poem for the occasion. The poem appears on the back of the bulletin and goes like this:
Be with You
Spread my life
when I’m gone
to live once again
I will wonder
She is nine, my niece. She wrote that poem a year ago. How on earth did she do that?
I hope everything goes smoothly. I hope I do not come unhinged when I look out at the crowd and welcome this diverse group of people to my father’s memorial.
If you had asked me a year ago what I would be doing on November 3, 2013, it never would have occurred to me that I would be honoring my father in this way for this reason. A year ago, he was excited about a new show of his art work opening in the Detroit area and he was getting geared up to start a new “winter studio” in Florida.
Furthermore, he was busy eating healthy and losing weight. He was buying everyone he knew copies of a book about how to develop better eating habits (more veggies, less meat) called Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman. My dad was on an upward spiral, or so it seemed. The thought that he was going to be dead and I would be speaking at his memorial within the year would not have been anywhere near the top of my list of possible outcomes.
My sister and I have our ducks pretty well aligned for Sunday’s event. The church bulletin and the remembrance card have been designed and printed, using images of Georg’s feathers. They look beautiful. We made special note cards featuring one of his Regatta pieces that we can send to various friends, doctors, and nurses who helped us along the way these last difficult months.
We know what we are going to say at the service. Well, my sister does. I haven’t gotten my actual words written down yet. But, I will do that very soon. I tend to work best under extreme deadline pressure.
Meanwhile, there is something I cannot get out of my head. It is the Beatles song, I am the Walrus, from Magical Mystery Tour. All day yesterday and into last night and still again this morning, I have this funny, altered lyric in my head:
I am the eggman
They are the eggmen
I am the ONION!
So, today Dad, on the fifth Thursday since you died, I put on my fairy wings for you and for Halloween and I give you a song. It is a song that you introduced me to when I was a little flower child of two flower children way back in the day. Eons ago, so why does it seem like just yesterday that we lived in the house on Brown Street? There you are in the kitchen, cooking up an amazing Greek meal for a bunch of artist friends of all ages and listening to the Beatles. And Illia and I are with you, stirring a sauce or cleaning some parsley.
I like to think that you are on a new kind of magical mystery tour of your own now. I am sure wherever you are, the weather is fine, like Florida in February. There are big walls on which to make art, lots of fresh vegetables to eat, good music, a kind walrus, some eggs, some old friends, and for sure, onions. Lots and lots of onions.