Sunday, August 2, 2015

A letter to Mom and Dad

August 2, 2015—I am writing this as a letter to Mom and Dad:

Dear Mom and Dad:

Yesterday we celebrated your lives. Dad, you have been gone for eight years, but we have not forgotten you. All of us got together in Arizona after you left us, and we celebrated your life. Mom, you left us in March. It was now time to say our good-byes to both of you.

According to your wishes, the seven of us (as well as most of your grandchildren and even some great-grandchildren) gathered and had a true celebration of your life. We reflected on how well you raised us to become successful adults and parents.
The Seven Siblings, from the top in order: Judy, Linda, John, Nancy, Michael, Dawn, Sally

We gathered; we ate; some enjoyed wine; and we talked and laughed until late each night.

In honor of our heritage, Dawn arranged for our Friday night dinner to be stuffed cabbage, Polish sausage, and (because you really liked it, Mom) Italian beef. Everything tasted great.

Saturday, we again met at Dawn’s in the morning. And we each said our good-byes to you. We made this a happy occasion, Mom. Not because you are gone, but because you gave us each other. No gift could be so great.

When our laughter, our memories, and our tears were done, we climbed into our cars and drove down to Lake Michigan. It was there that we dispersed your ashes. It was a fitting place.

I know that when Dad courted you took you, Mom, to Lake Michigan on dates, although when you were young you did not swim. As we were growing up, it was a special treat when you and Dad took us to Miller Beach or the Dunes State Park. The water was always so cold! We were always faced with the decision: Do we jump in and get wet in one, quick splash, or do we dip our toes in, sink down to our knees, and acclimate ourselves to the cold lake water little by little? I think I usually chose the bold approach.

We loved it when Dad would play with us, throwing us in the water from his shoulders. What great memories!

I always hated, though, walking on that hot sand and getting sand up under my bathing suit. The sand was not any cooler yesterday. I made a beeline over the hot, soft sand to the cool packed sand of the lakeshore.

Each of us, even the grandkids, took part in our private ceremony. We each said our good-byes in our own way.

Afterwards, we went to Innsbrook Country Club, where we had celebrated your 50th wedding anniversary. We had a room to ourselves, and we had a great time.
Finally, we ended up back at Dawn’s, where we again ate and talked and talked and ate. It was as you would have wanted it.

Mom, I think you were always concerned that the seven of us would not get along and we would no longer get together after your passing. When we were kids, it was natural for us to bicker and tease. That is the nature of kids; they do that. As adults, we moved away (at your urging).We are scattered throughout the country, from California to Florida. Distance —and the fact that we are separated by age—has made it difficult to be close friends.

But somehow, when we get together, age, different interests, and distance are forgotten. It does not take long to reestablish the natural bond between siblings. We can have our differences, but we respect them. We enjoy each others’ company.

So, do not worry, Mom. We are family; we will always be family. Yes, we live our own lives. Yes, we have different interests and goals. And yes, we have different economic bases. But each of us has had a successful life, due in large part to your urging.

We don’t want to wait for another funeral to get together again. It is hard to come together, because we are so scattered. You wanted us to be independent and to get away from the Calumet area, and most of us succeeded, to the point that, as you know, we are from coast to coast.

But we will reunite, hopefully without waiting too long.

For now, Mom and Dad, I want to say good-bye one more time. You have left us, but in reality you are not gone. Almost every day I want to share something with you, and I do, in the privacy of my thoughts.

You will always be with us in spirit. We love you. I love you.


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