The memory remains…
There are many ways to continue to honor and remember our loved ones. While my mundane profession affords me the freedom to purchase different types of memorials in Patrick’s honor, remembering the one you lost doesn’t have to cost a thing.
When my dad died, I certainly wasn’t in the financial position I am now, but there was no way I was going to allow it to be a routine funeral service. You know the type, people you haven’t seen in years with the solemn looks on their faces standing around never really knowing what to say to you anyway. I was mortified at the thought off all the people telling me what a great guys he was, how he was one of the best of course, and he is now in a better place. PUKE!
He was one of kind, he was a unique character with antics that shaped him into greatness, and he was the best friend a girl could ever have. So how do you prevent his funeral from being like all the rest? Well as always, I took to writing. I created a booklet with my favorite stories and events over the years. I literally stayed up all night the evening he died and wrote it and went to print in less than 24 hours. After all, I couldn’t sleep anyway so might as well put all my energy into something useful.
I remember getting to the funeral parlor early and placing the booklets all over the tables in the room and hallway. My sister looked at me with surprise and asked “what in the world are you doing?” After explaining what it was I created, she still looked at me with concern, and asked “is this appropriate at a funeral?” The simple answer is yes it was! This was my way of celebrating the life of my best friend.
I had done something that most people have never seen at a wake, I told my father’s story in my own words, I actually gave people something to do while they were sitting around, and it sparked conversations in a situation where people usually say the wrong thing anyway. But most of all… it made people smile, it made people laugh, it made people understand the man he really was.
Feel free to get to know my dad… here is the booklet. MyDad
We had Patrick’s funeral out of state and all traveled down to Florida to be with his mother. At the time, Hospice Buffalo was having their annual angel ornament and teddy bear sale. I literally cold called the head of the event division of Hospice Buffalo and stated I needed 200 angles and 25 teddy bears ready to be mailed to Florida in the next three hours. While I believe the gentleman initially thought I was off my rocker, he accommodated my request and I went from Hospice to UPS and shipped all of the angels and bears down to Florida.
The children in the family no matter how old received a teddy bear and Patrick’s family and I bundled the angels with his Mass card and handed them out at his funeral service. Did I really just give out a ‘party favor’ at a funeral? Yes I did!!! Today, these 200 angels are all over the country hanging on Christmas trees or simply displayed every year in a variety of homes with one single purpose, to honor the person I love the most.
For my Patrick, I have a brick in the Hospice memorial garden; a memorial park bench in City Park, New Orleans along with adopting a horse from the NOLA Police and Justice Foundation in his honor. Every year, I partake in numerous charities and memorial events to remind the world his spirit alive, he is with me everywhere I go, and he will never be forgotten.
Aunt Delores and his mother Joanie have had dedicated Requiem Mass for Patrick, also known as Mass for the dead which is a Mass in the Catholic Church offered for the repose of the soul of a deceased persons, using a particular form of the Roman Missal.
My brother the firefighter purchases us every memorial firefighter t-shirt he can and always sends me one. We have so many; it’s like our everyday uniform. It is irrelevant to us if we know the person or not, these shirts represent the memory of fallen heroes and his brethren, we wear them with pride and honor daily.
Throughout my grief, I have learned a new appreciation for those who died and those left behind. I stop and read or take a moment in silence when I see other memorials, whether it is a plaque, a dedication site, a memorial statue or a charity event or just someone walking by in a t-shirt.
I take a movement to appreciate someone who was loved and also the someone who has been left behind on this earth without them who is in pain and understands exactly how I feel every moment of every day.
How do you memorialize your loved one?