Friday, August 28, 2009

Dad Woulda Love It

I honestly think that our family sort of alarmed the funeral home people at the church where Dad's funeral was held. I don't think they were quite used to a semi-rowdy visitation. I think they probably went back to the funeral home and compared bewildered notes saying, "That family! They were so . . . so . . . loud! And . . . and . . . so cheerful!"

Our family is large and our family is loud. And even at Dad's visitation, we were pretty much prone to conversation and laughter.

Dad woulda loved it.

At his funeral, the sanctuary was reserved for the casket and a quiet meditation area and the lobby was set aside for a "visiting with each other" area. During the time right before the funeral, the lobby was full of people who hadn't seen each other in a very long time. In fact, Sarah and Nathan were introduced to so many previously unmet relatives, their heads were no doubt spinning.

"Sarah, this is your Grandpa Campbell's sister's son-in-law's daughter." (Or something like that.)

She and Nathan gamely smiled and shook hands with oodles of Wonderful Relatives Who Were Hitherto Strangers. They hugged and chattered and chatted for ninety minutes straight and seemed to enjoy every moment of the cheery familial chaos.

Sarah actually happened to know these particular relatives--my brother Phil and his daughter, Jessica.

Phil, Sarah, and our "adopted brother," Ron.

Ron loves to act goofy and get other people to act goofy with him.

At one point during the morning, I went into the bathroom which was just off the lobby. I stood for a minute and listened to the hullabaloo going on beyond the bathroom door and I thought to myself, "That doesn't sound like a funeral visitation. It sounds like a party!"

Dad woulda loved it.

The funeral included two 15-minute sermons; one by Steve and the other by my brother-in-law, Rev. Randy Mantik.

The funeral also featured drums (with playing duties shared by Debbie and Nathan), electric bass guitar (Steve), electronic keyboard (me), great harmony, (Debbie and I, singing with Randy) a couple hymns and one really rockin' praise song.

Here's Debbie, in her natural habitat. (This was during rehearsal the night before the funeral.)

And here's Debbie's big sister, doin' her thing.

Randy, filling in on the bass during rehearsal until Steve could get there from the airport.

Steve and Debbie goofing off together after the rehearsal. After traveling seven years together, the two of them are as close as blood brother and sister.

It was so wonderful to make music with my family again. It was great to have a wonderful blend of traditional music (It Is Well With My Soul) mixed in with a kickin,' fast song. And it was especially heartening to see people on their feet, clapping, smiling and singing with the greatest gusto,

When we all get to heaven
What a day of rejoicing that will be
When we all see Jesus
We'll sing and shout the victory.

Dad woulda loved it.

Dad loved music. In fact, he and Mom spent the eight years before he died faithfully making the rounds of twenty-two nursing homes in the area, singing and playing their instruments. (Even when failing health should have kept them home.)

He was all about music. He was all about sharing his love of music and his love of the Lord.

We got to join them on a nursing home visit when we were visiting them at Christmas. What a treasured memory.

Immediately following Dad's funeral, my children happened upon this particular item in the youth hall at the church.

I found it especially appropriate that they would be playing Foosball on the day of their grandpa's funeral because for seven years (back when I was a teenager), Mom and Dad ran a youth center in Sparta, WI. It was a place for teens to hang out and listen to Christian music, read, talk, and play games like Foosball, pool and table tennis. (Dad loved Foosball but was especially good at pool. )

His Place attracted a wide variety of people--soldiers from nearby Fort McCoy, drug pushers, church kids, troublemakers, high school sports heroes, troubled kids, good kids--at one time or another, most of the kids in our small town made their way into His Place.

In fact, I got an email yesterday from a dear "lifetime friend" who grew up in Sparta and was often at His Place. She had these memories to share:

I remember your Dad fondly for all of the hours he put into His Place. His love and concern for the youth in Sparta was amazing. I couldn't fully appreciate it at the time, but I look back and see nothing but the unselfish giving of himself and his finances so that others would hear the Word of God, be saved, and walk in new life. His heart and his passion was to see people come to know the Lord.

God used your Dad to make a huge impact on the lives of so many young people, including me and my brothers. During those critical teen years when so many "opportunities" tug on your heart, His Place offered a refuge, a safe haven, and a fun place for kids like myself to hang out, be encouraged in my faith, and have that support from other Christian kids. Your Dad also served as an informal mentor and father figure to the kids who came and went from His Place.

I'll never forget one night I was down there showing you and a few other people my graduation pictures. One guy named Dan was there and looking at the pictures. His comment was something along the line of, "Those pictures are good enough for Playboy."

Your Dad was standing there and immediately corrected that young man, saying that women were to be respected and that comment was out of line.

That conversation continued as your Dad wrapped his arm around Dan's shoulders and walked him away from the where we were all standing, talking in a lowered voice for just the two of them to hear, as a Dad would with a son.

So many memories...God rest his soul.

And so, having said all that and given you all that history, I thought it would be safe for me to close out this post with highly incriminating pictures that will prove to the whole world that I was actually spotted playing Foosball mere moments after my own father's funeral.

Dad woulda loved it.


By the way, I'd like to thank those of you who sent cards (AKA envelopes full of joy) to my favorite Mom. I actually got to be there when she retrieved a few of them from the mailbox and it was so great to see her excitement. She said that cards are still continuing to arrive.

Tomorrow I'll close out the Trip to Wisconsin series with a story about our family's post-funeral jaunt through the Wisconsin countryside to a place where we experienced laughter, music, tears and memories. (Not to mention outhouses.)

8 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Georganna said...

Becky your sister look so much like you... Iam glad you and Steve and Sarah and Nathan was able to see their family again. Tell Sarah I lost my Grandfather on Oct 21st 2008. It hasn't been a Year yet.. I still miss him. Even If i call my grandmother house it still weird because my grandfather always pick up the phone first. My nana has to make her coffee every morning now. My grandfather always made coffee.. Just little things i miss about him.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful stories and memories...........thank you for sharing.

MaryH said...

All those "first" - like that first call home - are so very difficult - the tug at your heart is always there even after the "firsts" have passed but thankfully, it is not as great.

Becky, I am so sorry I didn't get a card to your mom - I will try and still do that - my mom has been having a difficult time lately and I completely forgot - I am glad so many did send her greetings - it is such a treat to get something special and cheery in the mail - instead of all those bills - right?

Your celebration for your dad was just perfect - I remember my dad's visitation - we were a little loud and laughing and one of my older relatives commented that it sure didn't seem like a funeral - and I said - You know, dad is loving this! Just like your dad surely did.

Prayers for a peaceful, restful, strength gathering weekend.

How are the school plans coming for Sarah?

Sue G said...

Mornin' Becky. So nice to wake up to another lovely memory. Only a true Christian is able to celebrate life AND death because we know that death IS life. Your father lived a precious and priceless life. I wish I had the privilege of knowing him. I haven't met many people like him in my life. (Sometimes I think I'm the Statue of Liberty and have "give me your troubled" plastered on my head. Haven't met too many pure, untroubled people with love and wisdom to least not consistently.)

I once was asked if I could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be. My answer was Jesus and Sammy Davis, Jr. (And I wonder why I attract the people I attract???)

From now on, my answer is Jesus, Sammy, and your dad.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute to your dad. I too grew up with music. I cannot imagine what my life would have been without it. I am proudly passing on that love to my children. My grandmother would be so proud. I grew up going to the 5 am Easter sunrise service to hear her play her organ. The memories that music makes. Thank you for sharing stories of your dad.

Karo said...

Hi Miss Becky! I was just noticing how much you, your Mom, and your sister Debbie look alike. And I love the pictures of your Dad. So much life and expression is his face! You can tell by looking at those photos that he truly enjoyed what he was doing!

Ann Martin said...

Sounds like you had a great celebration of your Dad's life not a "funeral." Can't believe you and Debbie have the same hair cut/style (at least from the pictures). You know how we enjoyed talking with each other at my Daddy's visitation three weeks ago tonight. We celebrated my great niece's 10th birthday tonight. First one "Da" has missed but we made it happy for her. My Daddy would have loved all the people attending his visitation and service. His desire was to see the church building full again and it was for his service. God does answer prayer! I think we can play and laugh because we have hope that the world does not have. Today I heard a song on "Go Mix" that I don't remember hearing before. It was "Hello After Goodbye." The words told the story how after the last goodbye and the funeral is over there will be another hello which will last much longer than the goodbye time. I think you would enjoy hearing it. Don't remember hearing who sang it. Good night and have a great week end. God bless. Love you!

Nancy said...

What beautiful pictures of your Dad. I felt it pull at my heartstrings. I just wanted to say, you and your sister loook sooooooooooo much alike!! You have a beautiful family