What a beautiful funeral! My hubby Richard rented us a minivan so that we could all ride comfortably from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, and he did a great job driving us, as he always does. The day was nicely warm and very very windy, in only the way an Oklahoma day can be. The tent that was set up sheltered us from the wind quite nicely, though.
There were friends of Daddy's from the independent living center who came, and other old acquaintances, and family who could make it in. We had my Cousin Robert and his lady friend, Kathy, from Dallas, TX. There was my "Aunty" Marilyn and her three adult girls, "Cousins" Jackie, Susie, and Carolyn. They aren't exactly my aunt and cousins, but Marilyn is my Dad's cousin and we grew up around them all, so we call them Aunty and Cousins because we're all so close. My best friend and her husband came to support us, Dana and Roger Price, from Tulsa. My brother's two sons were there, Tony and his wife, Sam, from Byers, TX, and their two kiddos, Hailey and Bryson (the great grand kids!), and younger son Steven. Tony wore his Army uniform. Our two children were there, Roger and his girlfriend Chelsea, and our daughter Katie. Roger also wore his uniform. The two young men looked so dashing! It just happened to turn out that my in-laws from England, Pat and Reg Sawkins, are here visiting for two weeks, and so they of course attended.
We all stood while the six-man Air Force Honor Guard team removed the flag draped casket from the hearse. They very slowly and deliberately walked it across the ground to under the tent, setting it in place. They removed the flag from the top and folded it according to tradition. There were so many different and precise movements of hand and arm that they did, very beautiful! Once the flag was folded and the end tucked in, all but one of the Honor Guard stepped back and moved away. (My brother and I had already decided that his son, Tony, would receive the flag. This is because Tony has served active duty in the Army and has seen action overseas. While he is now retired, he was the first to follow his Grampa's footsteps into the military.) The young man holding the flag turned and walked very deliberately towards Tony. He bent down on one knee and presented the flag to him. We were all choked up at this time, and Tony was obviously moved. Tony took the flag very gently and carefully and cradled it to him. The Honor Guard member walked away.
Over some way from the tent, the Honor Guard was now in place to give rifle honors. Daddy was a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force, and as such was entitled to 9 guns, or three rifle volleys. Again, the precision of motion of the Honor Guard team was beautiful to see. Then taps was played.
This is where I lost it. While I had been tearing up and sniffling, it wasn't until taps that I actively began to cry. As the notes lingered in the air, we all sat down. Cousin Robert played the guitar and sang a hymn. Then the minister gave a lovely synopsis of Daddy's life, and a very short sermon. He did a very nice job and kept to our wishes that this not be a dirge or doom and gloom sermon, but rather a celebration of Daddy's life and accomplishments. After he was finished, Cousin Robert played one more song on the guitar. The service was concluded.
A very nice touch came next. The Honor Guard had picked up the spent cartridges and given them to the funeral director. He approached both my son, Roger, and my nephew Tony, and gave each of them three cartridges. Both young men were obviously touched by this gesture, and so was I.
After talking a bit at the graveside, the family went to Mamasita's Mexican Restaurant to relive old times and to reconnect. I am so thankful for all the love and support my family and my brother's family received today. We were able to say goodbye to our Father surrounded by love, and to honor him as he deserved. We miss you Daddy, but we know you're with Mama and Kenny now, so we'll be okay.
I love you, Ole Bes' Friend, from Daddy's Little Dolly.
Here is a link to the Memory Book for my Daddy that the funeral director put up. It's got the actual obituary in it and some other neat stuff.
My nephew Tony holding the flag, and his wife, Samantha.