Thursday, November 29, 2012

Anger is Just Part of Grief

There have been a lot of messages of condolence, messages of love and sympathy for the my dad's death. There have been people who have been kind, helpful, generous and loving. And there are people, who never once acknowledged his death to either my mother or me. There was one, half-hearted comment on a FB post, but it wasn't to me. 

Naturally, there were family members who who couldn't attend his rosary, funeral or his reception for one reason or another, but they sent a card, a note or called to offer their condolences. We knew not everyone could attend. It was the day before Thanksgiving. However there are family members who did not even attend the funeral and for that,  I am not ready to forgive. I should do the Christian thing and let it go. I even talked to a priest, albeit briefly, about it. But the anger still prevents me from letting it go. 

I've thought about being passive aggressive and sending one of them a thank you note for the food she sent for the reception and then stating how hurt I was that she didn't attend the funeral, but I should let it go.

I suppose it's not my job to educate the clueless. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I'm Numb; Going Through the Motions.

Funerals are a big business. We went to the funeral home on Wednesday. We went through the litany of forms to fill out for the arrangements,  then there is cremation or burial, prayer cards to pick out, questions about flowers, do we want a video and a memory book and more?

We nixed the limo. Mom chose cremation and I decided against the video and memory book.

It's all part of the package. It's to help create memories. It's all sales pitches.

Well, by Friday, I started to freak out about having my father cremated. It's perfectly acceptable according to the Catholic Church, but not to me. I started stressing over the thought of it and I just couldn't do it. I was honoring my mom's wishes. Dad never talked about what he wanted, so my mom decided that sounded best. But then, I spoke up and we decided to have him buried. It didn't make any of these any easier. He's still dead and never coming back again, but I found some peace knowing his body is still whole. I certainly don't want cremation for myself and could not make that choice for him.

So... trying to change funeral plans on a weekend when the cremation is set to take place the following Monday-- after the Rosary earlier in the evening. I made a few phone calls, sent emails and first thing Saturday morning the director on duty called me back and said it was no problem to make the changes. When I talked with Stephen, the day of the Rosary, he said he completely understood. He was very kind and accommodating. he made us all feel at home at the mortuary on the day of the Rosary.

I didn't know what to expect for the Rosary. We arrived at 4, the allotted time for family and close friends. My cousin came up from Silver City and other family came and visited from the 4-5 p.m. visitation.

There were people I never expected to see there, distant family, one of his caregivers and some of my friends came to show their support. It was overwhelmingly good. There was a lot of love for my dad there and it meant a lot to me that so many dear friends and family came. One of my other cousins came, but didn't stay for the Rosary. She had a good excuse, at least she believe it and left.

We had a break on Tuesday. The funeral was Wednesday and incredibly lovely. I was so glad we had it at the Cathedral and Fr. Adam was able to celebrate the Mass for us. Again, faces I didn't expect to see where there and sadly, faces I expected to be there didn't come. I don't know why they chose not to come and honor my father's memory. If it was because it was at a Catholic church, if they were truly busy or just felt unwanted/unwelcome. I will never know because I won't ask them. Their absence said it all especially as they showed up at the Burial as if nothing else happened that day. Stephen, our funeral director was awesome in how he kept us moving on time at the cemetery and we didn't have to interact with too many people until after the burial.

I thought the ceremony at the National Cemetery would get to me. We had a full honor guard but it was very moving and poignant. I think my father would have liked it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

And There Was Heartache

A week ago my beloved father died...

You'd think that it just happened. The loss is deep, heartbreaking and all-consuming. The pain is great, the yearning huge and the tears never ending. He'd been sick for nearly a year-- he was strong and determined-- but in the end the cancer that he tried to beat won. When the end came, I think he found peace. His last 24 hours, he slept peacefully until he finally drifted away.

There is so much to say about my father, yet the words aren't flowing. He was a passionate, kind, strong-willed, stubborn, generous, loving and wonderful man. As we prepare for his funeral tomorrow, I sit here quietly reflecting on my father's life and feel such a huge void in my life. I am not alone as I grieve and I am not alone in my loss, but my world has suddenly gotten a whole lot smaller. My father, that larger than life figure, is gone. I still see his face when I close my eyes and I can still hear his voice in my head, but to know I cannot touch him physically anymore breaks my heart.

My faith is weak, yet I believe that there has to be something beyond this life, beyond this vale of tears. I think, as I was watching him slip away these last few weeks, I caught a glimpse of what just might be beyond this life. I think he could see that there was something beyond this world; it was like he was reaching out to his siblings. The loved ones that have gone before him. Maybe he could see his mama and his papa. Their names rolled off his lips like a litany of prayers, it seemed like  he could see them calling out to him, yearning and waiting for him as he reached out and tried to touch them off in the distance. Thinking that gives me peace anyway.

I have great memories of my father. We'd spend hours star gazing, going for rides, talking on the phone or watching the Lobo game. He was passionate about sports, politics and loved the Golf Channel and used to watch General Hospital. On Saturdays, he loved getting up and going to breakfast at the Village Inn. He taught me all about love, morality and respect. We argued like cats and dogs but we always made peace. He was stubborn and opinionated and knew how to do everything, yet he taught me so much. He was just and kind. We always managed to have a laugh or two. Sometimes, I felt like the son he always wanted, but honestly,  I think he liked having a girl better. He treated me like a princess, yet I grew up independent and strong because of him.  Yes, he spoiled me rotten, but he also taught me about the value of work and an education. He always wanted the best for me and even when I failed, he never failed to tell me he loved me. I am a better woman because of my father and I cherish him deeply. He cried on my wedding day, but I think he also know that I was marrying a good man, a man who like him, I loved and adored. And I know he was happy that day as well. 

So tomorrow, we celebrate his life with a Mass of Christian Burial and then we lay him to rest at the Santa Fe National Cemetery. I'm not ready for it; I'm a little saddened by the thought of it, and I'm a little scared. I know I can "live" without my daddy. That's the nature of life; children usually bury their parents, but I'm just not ready to let him go.

Here is a slide show I put together in his honor.

And this is the obituary I wrote for him.

Roman Jose Salazar, 84, a life-long resident of Santa Fe, died peacefully Tuesday, Nov. 13 at his home after a lengthy illness.

Roman was born in Española, NM, on April 17, 1928.  He was the youngest of seven children. He came to Santa Fe as a young boy to live with his brother Ramon and wife, Dulce, so that he could attend St. Michael’s, where he attended from elementary school through high school. He excelled in football and basketball and was captain of both teams his senior year. He was also a member of the Sodality of Mary. He graduated in 1947. He received a scholarship to St. Mary’s College in Moraga CA, a small university run by the Christian Brothers. He received a football scholarship, but the intention was for him to play basketball as a walk on. He played a season of football, but was sidelined after a knee injury. Soon after his second semester of college, he returned to Española to help care for his sick mother. He then worked at various jobs, mostly as a carpenter, until he was drafted into the US Army in 1951. He served for two years and was honorably discharged with the rank of Corporal in 1953.

He enjoyed the life of a bachelor until he finally found a soul mate, in Theresa Olivas. In 1965, they married and few years later, they had one daughter, Maria Feliz. They had great adventures as a family. He enjoyed playing sports of all kinds, but found his passion playing golf. He spent many years happily playing the links at the Santa Fe Country Club, winning many tournaments with his best friend Lee.  He also enjoyed watching Lobo basketball and attended as many games as he could at the Pit with his daughter.  He retired from Public Service Company of New Mexico in 1988 after nearly 30 years of employment.  He loved tending his garden, most especially the greenest patch of lawn in town. He enjoyed spending time with friends and family. Wherever he went he always bumped into a friend.

He is preceded in death by his parents Pacomio and Vincentita Salazar; brother Ramon Salazar; sisters, Cleofas Salazar, Antonia Martinez, Celida Maestas, Elizama Brazeal and Romancita Salazar. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Theresa Olivas Salazar; daughter Maria Feliz; son-in-law David Duran and beloved poodle, Noche. He is also survived by special friends, Lee and Sara Sanchez and their children; many nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.

Public visitation will be 5-7 p.m. and a rosary will be recited at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19, at Berardinelli Family Funeral Service, 1399 Luisa Street, 984-8600. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21 at the Cathedral Basilica, 131 Cathedral Pl., 982-5619. Interment will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the National Cemetery, 501 N. Guadalupe St., 988-6400.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to the Tuition Assistance Fund at St. Michael’s High School, 100 Siringo Rd., Santa Fe, NM 87505.

I love you and will always miss you, Daddy. 
Peace and love to you on your new adventure. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's Over

My dad died today at 1 p.m.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

All Saints Day

Back in the days when I blogged here regularly, I would post a reflection or commentary on the event of the church. Today is All Saints Day, a feast day in the church. A Holy Day of Obligation in fact.

Today, Fr. Adam, our former pastor, came over to the house to perform the sacrament of healing for my dad. He also gave him last rites.

It was a powerful sacrament to witness. The anointing of the sick is an amazing sacrament. I can attest to that. But the last rites is even more powerful. Dad was aware of all that was going on, but he wasn't having a good day. He seemed to be grateful that Fr. Adam came out. Getting a priest out to the house was a challenge. For whatever reason, our new pastor, Fr. Dan never replied to my message asking for someone to come out. Another priest I admire is out of town and won't be back for another week or so, so Fr. Adam took time and came out.


Nonetheless, it all brought peace to our family and I'm grateful to be able to have such powerful, amazing and beautiful sacraments.