Funeral Singer

I took a break off of social media, for the most part, because there were some life passages I had to go through, and I did not think I could go through them publicly. The death of a parent is nothing you can casually comment about.

I do not believe I will list it as a public performance, but I sang at my own father’s funeral. I only could do it because I felt it was a service to my family and the those who came out in droves to attend. By way of video clip, even more powerful, was my father speaking at his own funeral, about that which was most important to him for others to know.

I selected two hymns, for sing along. The first was to bolster up our family for the coming hours, weeks, months and years. The closing was with my niece, who is a professional singer and actress. We choked our way through.

My mother requested that I sing an original song, and suggested “While My Father,” but while planning the service, that song felt like it would be a performance, and did not feel appropriate, even though the story part of the lyric is compilation of childhood memories with my father. Instead I chose to sing ‘Waiting for Heaven, because the last week of my D ads life, we lived into the story behind that song as wee surrounded him, keeping a 5 day vigil.

This post is a 2 for 1 deal- 2 Stories behind the songs, in one post.

“While My Father…” Do you remember falling asleep in the car, and getting carried into the house and tucked into bed, “as is?” Your parent left you in your clothes because you were out like a light, but alos somehow you recall it. Did you ever wake up when the car stopped in front of your house, but fake being asleep, just the be carried into the house, just because it felt like love? That vignette is in my lyrics. Another childhood scenario surrounding the moon appears-what person, child or adult is not captivated by looking at the moon. I recalled cozy nighttime car ride thought- questioning if the moon is moving, as if following the car. As usual, my mind is never satisfied to think one thought at a time, I recalled a more specific memory or series of memories in which my father was my knight in shining armor…

Cats…they like me, because I try to avoid them as much as they would like to ignore and avoid me. Sensing my kindred avoidance, they then begone to pursue me, and then the trouble begins…the sneezing and wheezing, runny eyes…I am allergic to cats. My Grandmother lived in a trailer and had two of them. Each Christmas, and after waking up early to open presents before my Dad went to work, we would leave our little pile of presents and my mother would take us to our Grandmother’s, where their would be Aunts, Uncles, and cousins, and well as great Aunts Uncles and 2nd cousins. It was sardine packed, and not only was it hot and catty, the cigarette smoke was a thick as a cloud. I faced that long afternoon and evening with unspoken dread. I looked forward to my Dad’s arrival after his workdays was through. Dad was also allergic to cats, so when he arrived, my own exit was secured. After he made up a plate form the compilation of yummy leftovers, he stayed just long enough in order not to be rude, and we would be out. I’d have been sneezing for hours, and he would kindly open the window if it were not bitterly cold, so the fresh brisk air could cool my face and burning nose. One such trip I recalled looking at the stars in a clear sky, and singing contemplatively about the moon, and asking if it as following,…I really WAS always singing and making up songs.

All those childhood scenes made it into that song as well as the feeling of being loved, taken care of, and taken home…it gets existential, and I convey that I anticipate that my ultimate home-going will be equally or more so attended with such love and care. As the song is about MY hoemgoing, and my memeores, ablet my best memeies of my Dad, it was too mch !st person.

I selected another song about home-going called “Waiting for Heaven.” For the reason stated already above, it acknowledged the long journey our family had just been through, while also pouring out so much hope!

“Waiting on Heaven” was a song inspired as I watched a mother lovingly tend to a grown son, who had gotten very ill in his infancy, leaving him in a state of infancy for the rest of his life. I wondered what it was like for the young man. I marveled at his loving mothers, and I witnessed first hand times where his blind eyes looked toward, and his open syllables expounded some sort of joy and longing when he was at church…it was sacred. What must it be like for souls stifled inside such physical brokenness. Hos mother was one of the most joyous and resourceful people I have ever known, genuinely encouraging others, and I believe genuinely content. I sat and wondered what was going on…The song begins with a toneless but deliberately heart beat speed of a cajon…the climax of the songs is a series of two-word questions, and two word answers, “Wasting away? {NO!} Wasting NOTHING!!!” “Going Away??? {Nope! } Coming HOME!!! Followed by a small piano riff that to me sounds like a royal pronouncement—Hear Ye! Here ye! So and so has just arrived!!!

Children and Grandchildren came to catch a few of my fathers last moments, and at the appointed time, some of us were there in that when my Dad’s soul, trapped for days in unconscious not so restful sleep departed his earthy failing body. We watched for another pitifully labored rise and fall cycle of his chest, there was none, and in the silenced it was we who gasped, in awe that we had witnessed the very moment his soul also began to experience ultimate aliveness! That song kindly walked through the labor, the questions, and hope.

What more can be said….


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