Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ties that Bind



As most of you know, just last week we left sunny southern California and flew back to a very snowy Kansas landscape to attend HOB’s father’s funeral.

Are all funerals and the associated gatherings a strange mixture of happiness and sadness? Just as we had used the air conditioner on the way to the airport in Burbank and had the heater on full blast as we drove from the Kansas City airport, our emotions ran the full gamut as well.

There was much joy at seeing our family together. HOB’s family lives in Florida and Nashville and so we do not get to see them very much. There were a lot of smiles and a lot of hugging and laughing as we greeted one another at the hotel and sat to share family tales.

Then, occasionally and suddenly, there was acknowledgment of why we were there and the tears flowed. My brain must have been staring at my emotions going, “What the heck? Could we just pick one emotion and go with it for awhile?”

At the funeral, so many friends and relatives showed up. Some drove great distances just to see us and be with us. Our gratitude was boundless. There were many happy faces around and then the service started and the tears flowed again.

At the reception after the funeral, more than a hundred people gathered to share food and drink and memories. Each story people told about HOB’s father was a gift to my boys. Over and over people spoke of his generosity and optimism—traits I know both of my sons inherited from him.

I saw my father-in-law in the faces and the small actions of my brother-in-laws. His presence was everywhere.


Before the funeral, as we were getting dressed for the service, I glanced over to see HOB, standing in front of the mirror with his sons, showing them how to tie their ties. I saw his hands deftly work the silky fabric and then he put his arms over their heads to help them with the movements.

From where I stood in the room, the mirror gave way to image after image of this father with his sons. Over and over again, the image appeared. The ties resembled colorful flags fluttering in the wind on ships, sailing off into the distance, getting smaller and smaller.

I stood there, a bit dazed by the sight and had the strange feeling that if I moved just one inch and looked, I would have seen HOB’s father there, at the very end of the line, smiling and giving us his familiar salute, wishing us all a good voyage.


56 comments:

Catherine said...

It's sad that sometimes the only time the whole family gets together is when there is a funeral. But everyone gets busy and that is what happens.

Beautiful post Betty!
xo Catherine

Seams Inspired said...

Lovely post, Betty! Your boys will always remember this moment in their lives too. It seems family reunions usually take place for two reasons: Weddings and Funerals. Sorry yours was the latter this time. Thanks for sharing your heart today. :o)

Momma Fargo said...

Beautiful post! I'm sure all the folks gathered to pay a wonderful tribute to the man. Funerals are bittersweet indeed! Hugs!

Anne Gallagher said...

Betty, I'm going to stop reading your posts. You keep making me cry.

Even I could see your father-in-law standing in the line with his arms around all his boys.

Lori said...

It does seem so bitter sweet doesn't it? For many of us, the only time we are are all together as families, is for weddings or funerals so while it is sweet to see all the loved ones, it is "bitter" to be gathered for such a sad occasion.

I think with people that lived great lives and left such a legacy it is that much more bitter sweet though. It is a joy to gather to celebrate their lives and how they touched our lives but still sad that they are gone.

This is a beautiful post describing the legacy your father in law left behind. What a beautiful picture you painted of your husband and sons. And I have no doubt that he was standing there giving a salute.

Madi and Mom said...

BB....you have an amazing gift of being able to put the most beautiful words on paper to make me feel as if I were with you in person at each event of your life. I thank you for the bottom of my heart for sharing your life here.
I know you must be saving your blog somewhere for your family!!!
Hugs,
Cecilia

Old Kitty said...

Awwww!!! Of course HOB's dad was there too feeling very proud and happy to see the never ending ties that bind father and sons! What a wonderful piece, thank you BB!! Take care
x

Velvet Over Steel said...

I believe he was there.. with his son and grandsons!!

Beautiful, touching and very emotional post!!! I have goose bumps...

Sorry for your lost, but happy for your memories!!!

Hugs & Much Love,
Coreen xoxoxoxo

Random Thinker said...

To say it's the circle of life sounds so cliche but it really is isn't it? Sorry for your loss but you are so lucky to have the comfort of your loved ones.

Random Thinker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
baygirl32 said...

very touching post Betty. Sorry for your loss

Jules said...

Isn't it at the most tragic event we find the most beautiful things? An emotional post I SO understand, thanks Betty :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Flartus said...

So beautiful...HOB is lucky to have a wife who can document his life in such picturesque ways.

Out on the prairie said...

One of the things I point out to people who lost a family member is the lasting legacy they left behind in each and every person the were around. It may be a way you laugh, tell a story, or in this case even tie a tie.I see my father everyday, ME.

Georgina Dollface said...

*sniff* This brought tears to my eyes. What a touching, moving moment to share with us. Thank you. - G

Pat said...

Your emotions are so raw and teetering on edge that they can easily go either way at a funeral. But you don't want to be sad all the time at the wake; it's nice to laugh and share stories of the loved who has passed, and celebrate their LIFE!

What a lovely image/tribute of your husband and sons looking in the mirror and putting on their ties. That image will stay with me for a long time.

Daisy said...

This post is very poignant, Betty, and I can definitely relate to the mixed emotions at an occasion such as this. It's exhausting to swing from one emotion to the other in such a short time. Hugs to you.

Baby Sister said...

This was beautiful Betty. Very touching. I'm glad you enjoyed your weekend.

Tabor said...

Funerals are dramatic roller coaster rides and you just have to hang on! It all comes to a slow level soon enough. And then you are left to be on your own and that is hard as well.

Gigi said...

This was absolutely beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time.

Pat Tillett said...

I have to admit, this got to me. Not just about the funeral, but about your husband showing your sons how to tie their ties. Beautifully written my friend...

Ashley King said...

i LOVE the image.... i wonder one day (if jason ever learns how to tie a tie, if he would be doing the same thing)....

it took me back to my dad teaching me how to tie a tie while facing him.... he said i'd have to learn to do that one day for my husband.

thank you for the image....
thank you for the memory.... *hugs*

Hilary said...

I have no doubt that's exactly where he was, and will always be. Beautiful post.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

That's such a sweet, wonderful image - and a great name for this post.
Blessings, Betty.
xoRobyn

Marlene said...

Beautifully written. Brought a tear to my eye.

The Adorkable Ditz said...

I remember when I went to my grandfather's memorial service. I couldn't do anything but cry. But the imagery you gave with the ties was just gorgeous.

http://theadorkableditzmissteps.blogspot.com

My Big Secret Blog :) said...

This story tugged at my heart. May peace be with HOB's Dad.

Ann said...

funerals seem to be the only time my whole family every gets together.
Again you put together a beautiful post. Now I need to go find my tissues.

Peggy K said...

I can't describe how I find such peace in your words. You brought us right into the room with you, watching HOB help the boys. What a wonderful tribute to your father-in-law.

Peggy K said...

I can't describe how I find such peace in your words. You brought us right into the room with you, watching HOB help the boys. What a wonderful tribute to your father-in-law.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What a moment of peace!

Brian (not the cat) said...

Sounds like a really positive experience for everyone in the family. Funerals are never fun, but they can be life-affirming. Welcome home.

The Green Streak said...

My weekend plans include a goodby and bittersweet memories of my beloved friend. I know that in her son and grandchildren, I will see her and know that her life carries on in them and in memory. I know I'll experience both laughter and tears and will be comforted by both.

Jimmy said...

Nice Betty, I am sure HOB's Dad was very proud to have you all there, I know he will be missed but at the same time remembered each time his actions are viewed through your Husband and Sons.

Joann Mannix said...

Wow. What a beautiful vision. HOB's father was with you. I believe in that so strongly, that when our loved ones leave, they're still with us, always.

I am an Irish girl with a giant Irish clan. We mourn the only way we know how, with many a toast and good story and always lots and lots of laughter to celebrate our loved one home.

KLZ said...

I'm sorry to see him go but happy your family is filled with love.

faye said...

Wonderful post.. your observations are always 'spot on '..

ethelmaepotter! said...

Your imagery is so brilliant that I can actually see those ties and the hands working them and the fathers and sons in a row...

Beautiful. Really. And so true, how we run the full gamut of emotions at funerals. Funerals have become the new family reunions, now that families are spread out all over the world. It's only natural that everyone should have good times as well as sad.

Nashville? I'm wondering if I could know any of your family!

jenny_o said...

Great post on a difficult subject. Other commenters have said it all.

Thank you once more.

Joyful said...

So poignant and beautiful. Hugs xx

Zuzana said...

Reading this send chills down my spine...
What a candid recollection of a very sad day, full of emotional sadness and mourning. Your description of the image in the mirror, symbolic or otherwise, is uncannily beautiful and reflective, describing in such a poignant way the circle of life...
Beautiful post that touched me...
xoxo

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

Touching. Lovely post on the loss of your dear father in law.

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

It's happy to remember a full life, but so sad to be missing your loved one. I think HOB's father will always be there for you guys. I hope he's on a good voyage.

Pam said...

Okay, I'm crying at all the mental images this post is sending to my brain. Sorry for your loss.
I've never heard the word "deftly" but, I like that word. Must go Google now.

floweringmama said...

I truly could visualize your hubby teaching the boys to tie their ties. You are a gifted writer, Betty.
Cathy @ Country Cathy

Linda Myers said...

What a nice post! I can see the repeated image in the mirror of one generation teaching another to tie a tie.

Macy said...

At both my partner and my dad's funerals I was overwhelmed to see the number of people who materialised - from the past, from abroad, from wherever... big tidal waves of sympathy and good memories.

scrapwordsmom said...

Such beautiful words, Betty. I am so sorry for your family's loss. Death is never easy. My husband lost his Mom at age 52 and I lost my Dad at age 59. Two very sad occasions.

My heart goes out to you.

Sarah said...

I'm sure he is standing somewhere, with a smile on his face, sending you guys off to life's journey with a salute.

Shan said...

I can almost see him, too. It's wonderful when a funeral can be filled with such love and joy, along with the sorrow it naturally brings.

Love ya,

Shan

Powdered Toast Man said...

very moving. You have a way with words.

Cool Gal said...

Very touching post, Betty.

You are such an exceptional writer.

Lin said...

Beautiful. :)

CherylK said...

Well, I think I'm all caught up since your birthday which I'm very sorry I missed. I'm sure you got lots of presents and the cake, too, right?

You've certainly been on an emotional roller coaster these past few weeks, too. My condolences on the loss of your father-in-law...you wrote about him so lovingly.

I'm curious about where you were in Kansas...need to read your archives, I guess. Which lake is that, if you don't mind my asking? We lived in Overland Park for seven years and our middle daughter lives there, still.

Your photographs are just excellent...I love the shopping trips, especially.

I hope you have a great week and that you and HOB are comforted with those special memories.

Green Monkey said...

a very touching, lovely post Betty. thank you for sharing your life with us.

Yaya' s Home said...

I can see that your family is very blessed to have had Hobs' father in your lives. But I can also see that he felt the same sense of joy an' blessing to have have each of you.

I truly enjoyed your description of the emotional upheaval that we all experience when we lose a loved one. I have never heard it described more clearly.

~ Yaya