Dad was cremated today. Adrian will spread Dad’s ashes, possibly Jan. 31, in Puerto Rico and I will probably go with him.
It seems to have stopped now, but even while I was in Miami for the funeral, every time my phone rang I kept expecting that it was Dad calling to say that he was fine and it had all been a mistake. Now when I see things that remind me of him, I remember that he’s not at home anymore. I can’t just call him up anymore to see how he is or talk about Max (Adrian’s dog was keeping Dad company for a while) or tell him off for eating things he shouldn’t or lifting heavy things…. If I see things that make me think, “Ah, he’d like that for his Birthday or Christmas,” I remind myself that I don’t have to think about that anymore. I keep remembering anecdotes about him. I keep reminding myself that he was in a bad way, in a lot of pain, and now he’s not anymore, so it’s a good thing.
I was surprised by the turnout at the funeral. So many family, even from far away, and neighbors that I did not know he had talked to, came to say goodbye to him. One of my aunts said that if he were still alive and it had been a funeral for anyone else, he’d have been the first to arrive, ready to socialize. The neighbors all said that he had always treated them like family and they would miss him. Family said that he would have come to see them if they were the ones in the box, and it was only right to do so for him. There was much talking and laughing, and talking and crying. People liked the photo slideshow Adrian and I put together. They appreciated that we chose to play music that Dad liked. Everyone walked in to raucous salsa music rather than depressing hymns and soppy ballads. (I thought we should have ended with this. For non-Spanish speakers, it’s a song about a crazy party and having to kick out a whole lot of people by the end of it. Shooing people out after Adrian and I had been there for 8+ hours and the place was supposed to be closing proved a challenge.) I think Dad would have been happy with how it all went.
I wrote something for the service, which the pastor read parts of, which got a little chuckle and I was relieved about that:
“Dad always loved Christmas. He especially enjoyed making Christmas Cookies. When Adrian and I were little this was a huge production. It took one to two full days. Dad would crank up the music and we would all start the cookie assembly line. We would talk and laugh and, by the end of it, get thoroughly sick of cookies and anything to do with them. I think a big part of why Dad liked making Christmas cookies every year was that he was the only one who could make the mantecaditos come out right and they happened to be everyone’s favorites. He had the biggest, warmest hands, so he was the only one who could make the masa do exactly what he wanted. Not only did he love making the cookies, he loved giving them out and seeing how happy everyone was to get them.
One of the last conversations I had with him was on Christmas Eve. He was so excited about seeing everyone and giving presents out. He mentioned that he would have liked to make mantecaditos, but they were so much work to make by himself that he just bought cookies instead. He couldn’t really afford to be giving people presents, but he said he hadn’t been able to give presents for awhile, and felt bad about that, so he figured, what the heck? He said he had splurged and got everyone the “good cookies,” the Swedish butter cookies that he had always liked. He also described to me all the presents he got for the little kids and just sounded so excited.
That was Dad. He always loved his family (even the ones he happened to be arguing with) and he was generous to a fault.”
My cousin Tito said he’d had that exact conversation with him on the day Dad bought all the presents.
I was impressed by my family and reminded how much I miss them. I expected nothing like what actually happened when I got back to Miami. There have been some uncomfortable holiday gatherings that led to us drifting apart or avoiding gatherings altogether. Those who have been toxic to the rest of our relationships will probably remain kept at a distance until they can behave well with the rest of us. I will make more of an effort to keep in touch with those who are truly interested in being family. Unfortunately, I am terrible at keeping in touch. I always feel like somehow I’m bothering people or intruding on their lives. Stupid, really, but it’s one of those weird anxieties that I haven’t grown out of. (I’m also pretty sure it’s something I’ve inherited from both sides of my family.) I’m working on it though. I hope they’ll all bear with me. I have applied to more jobs in Florida so that there is more of a chance that we’ll see each other. We’ll see how that goes.
In the meantime, I’ve been contacted by the nice lady who interviewed me for a job over a year ago that they will be interviewing for a part-time, Technical Analyst position. She wanted to know if she could put my name on the list to schedule an interview. While I was in Miami I was thinking that when I got back home I would look for a part-time job, any job, to make money while I wait to get a job more in line with my career goals, and use the rest of my time volunteering at a library to get experience to put on my resume, so this Technical Analyst thing seems perfect! I still have to actually get the job though. Oh, the programming…. I’ve also found out about a summer internship at Ringling Museum in Sarasota that would be great experience, even though it’s only for 3 months and rather a long time from now. There’s a rare book fellowship at Yale that would be amazing as well, but it’ll be very competitive to get that and I happen to be a bit of a pessimist when it comes to competition. We’ll see.
There’s also a lawsuit against the hospital that Dad last visited the day before he died. Adrian’s taking care of all of that. I wish I was there to be more of a help. I signed over power of attorney to Adrian over any decisions to do with Dad’s “estate” to make all of the paperwork etc. easier for him. No need to fax things to me to be signed and wait for them to be faxed back… not much of a help, but enough for the moment, I suppose.