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A Series of Goodbyes

I’ve been thinking about how many times I’ve said “goodbye” to my Dad since he died on New Year’s Eve.

I said goodbye to him the minute I found out he’d had a heart attack and was not expected to make it.

I said goodbye when I called his hospital room and asked that the phone be held up to his ear, even though he was not only unconscious, but probably had no brain activity at all.

I said goodbye when I got the call that he had finally died.

I said goodbye when we went to the funeral home to make arrangements for his cremation.

I said goodbye when I called Arlington Cemetery to make the arrangements for his service, which was held two days ago on May 10.

[Speaking of that, there’s something to be said for waiting four months to have such a service. It gave us ample time to plan and so many of my Dad’s friends and family were able to attend and it also gave us time to grieve. It was not a tough day. It was full of laughter and some tears, but mostly fantastic memories.]

I said goodbye several times during service. How he would have loved to be there!! Yes, I know he was there, but that’s not what I mean. The weather was perfect, the U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard was formal, meticulous, and reverent (as if it could be anything but formal, meticulous, and reverent). The 21-gun salute took my breath away. And then a lone bugler played taps.

As Dad’s urn was placed in the designated niche of the columbarium wall, which runs for half a mile parallel to the Potomac River along Route 110 on the eastern edge of the Cemetery, I said goodbye.

Yesterday, as we drove to Reagan National Airport, I realized that we were driving along the other side of the wall and so I called out the window, “Goodbye Dad!”

And then finally, when the plane took off, I looked out the window, in the general direction of Arlington and I whispered, “Goodbye Dad.” Although I have a small keepsake urn with some of his ashes, Arlington is where I’ll think of him being from now on.


  • Posted May 12, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    What a sweet post about your dad Karen. Glad so many people could be there for his memorial and that there was more celebration than sadness. *hugs*

  • Posted May 12, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    This was so sweet and moving Karen. It’s very clear you had a wonderful relationship with your father. How fortunate you are!

  • Barb
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Very nicely written Karen. Very moving. I echo the sentiment that it 9is apparent that you had a wonderful relationship with him.

  • Posted May 12, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    This is beautiful and really hits home for me because I have often said how I wish I could have said goodbye to my own dad, who died unexpectedly 24 years ago. But now you make me realize I have said it in many other ways than the one I was thinking of. Thank you.

  • Posted May 12, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    So touching and lovely, Karen. Totally teary.

  • Posted May 12, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Gosh, what a great ceremony. I don’t think I realized that’s what *that* wall was, even though I’ve driven by many times.

    I don’t feel like I’ve said good bye yet.

  • Posted May 12, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    HUGS! I never got to say goodbye to my dad either.. he was in a coma by the time I got to the hospital… I have ashes of both my parents. A beautiful tribute Karen * all I can say is HUG!

  • Posted May 13, 2011 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    Very tender, very touching. I’m glad you got to say good-bye… and as many times as you need to.

  • Posted May 13, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    This is so touching, Karen. Thank you for writing and sharing this.

  • Patricia
    Posted May 17, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    Karen, thank you for sharing this! What a lovely tribute! Reading about the Marine Corp. being there brought back memories of my own when I had my husband’s funeral. :-) HUGS

  • Posted May 18, 2011 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    This is one of the things that we have shared this year. I said several good bye’s myself over the past 4 months but the most important one was when we had that chat that started healing everything… It takes so much time to heal and grieve because no matter what any one is willing to admit..while there is sadness, there is a small part of a freedom when a parent passes.

    *HUGS* (and this new appearance LOOKS good on you!)

  • Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    This is lovely and left me with a lump in my throat. What a blessing to have had a relationship that leaves you wanting to say many many goodbyes.

  • Posted May 24, 2011 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    What a lovely tribute to your father. The circumstances of my father’s own death are quite similar. I chose to tattoo my left wrist (he was left handed) with an image of a train (he was an inspector for the FRA) that I had drawn for him when I was very young. My dad passed two years ago and I no longer say good-bye, but when I look at my wrist I say thank you. Thank you dad for loving me and helping me become the person I am today. Peace to you Karen and I am so glad to have met you in Baltimore.

2 Trackbacks

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    […] remember the day, a little while after your service at Arlington, realizing that I was feeling a little less sad. Or maybe a better way of putting it is that the […]

  • By Reflections On Awe | KCLAnderson (Karen) on December 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    […] showed up during your service at Arlington and realizing how many times we say goodbye, but not […]