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Monday, June 26, 2006

The Requiem Mass and the Burial

I was resigned to the fact that my dear Father had passed away. After yesterday, I was feeling pretty good about things. I got up, and prepared myself mentally for the day ahead. Today was the day that Dad would attend his last Mass, and would be buried. In order to give him the best possible send-off, I steeled myself to sing all the Propers for a Requiem Mass. I love the Dies Irae, among many of the other Requiem Propers, but I didn't know if I would be able to sing them well for Dad. But I felt like I had to. He had only heard me chant twice: once at Sanger where it was me leading the group of men, and the second time at Christendom, where it was just a duet. He seemed pleased with it, so I wanted to make sure to assist in giving him the best Requiem Mass that could be done.

Anyway, I put on my black suit, black shirt, black tie, and black vest, and Mom and I went to the Church. We got there about an hour early, so I went to confession, and spent some time praying in the Church. I went outside, was fitted with a pallbearer's flower, and then prayed for the strength to handle the casket.

Ten minutes before Mass, the casket was brought out of the hearse. Dad was carried by James, Gilbert, Uncle Nelson, Mr. Janis, Soma, and me. We carried him from the hearse to the Church, and when we entered the Church, we were met with a cart, on which the casket was placed. During this time, from the minute we got the casket in our hands, my poor Uncle was crying. My uncle is a military man. He doesn't cry about stuff. The finality of the whole ordeal must have really sunk in. After we placed the casket on its cart, my Uncle really let it out.

Mass was beautiful. I can't say my contribution was anything to write home about, so I guess it's a good thing I was home -- I didn't have to waste postage.

After Mass, the pallbearers carried Dad back out to the hearse. The casket seemed heavier going out than coming in. Perhaps it was just me...

The funeral procession to the graveyard was easy enough. The thing that really bothered me is that I remember back in the days when highways would stop for a funeral procession. Why? Out of respect for the deceased and their family and friends. What do they do now? You're lucky if you can get modern man to not cut into the line. They don't slow down -- they speed up. They don't pull over to the side unless forced over by a police officer. Hats are not doffed, but instead pulled down further over one's eyes to facilitate a pretense of noticing. Where is the respect in any of this? I, for one, plan to give and to continue giving as much respect as I can possibly give to funeral processions.

Oh yeah, and a side note: turn on your hazards and/or your headlights, whatever the lead car is doing. It shows that you are a part of the procession.

When we arrived at the cemetery, we were given instructions, and we continued following the hearse to it's final destination. The service was performed by the honor guard, the flag was folded, and Taps was played. All very well done. Father's part was also quite simple.

After the final blessing for the deceased, the family stayed around and talked to people. I thanked Father for all his help in this ordeal. After that, I began getting caught up with a number of people I haven't seen or heard from in years.

Mom and I invited a small group of people over to the house. Food was served, and there was plenty for everyone. Sarah H. and Joe P. were in town from Front Royal (they had arrived the previous night), and Kelly P. had come to the funeral, so they got to meet a number of close friends: Dominic C., Tim B., Soma, Mr. N., and Joe H. It was fun, at least for me...

Later in the day, Liz, AJ, and Anya came by while everyone was still there. We all got to talk for a little while, and then the party broke up.

I went to bed quite late -- perhaps too late, because I planned to work the next day.
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