So I have been asked to take point on the technology side of things for my dad’s memorial service which will be this Saturday. We have gone with a Unitarian church that my grandmother attends since, although Dad was raised Catholic, he was more Buddhist in mindset but had no formal religion for the last 30 years of his life, so a formal mass doesn’t make much sense to us (although his Illinois relatives are having one since they can’t make it out to California). The Unitarians are a pretty much “anything goes” group for services so we have almost free reign about how we want the service to go.

Painting of my dad’s plants by a family friend

So I was first asked to just read something. That sounds fair. My uncle K and I are both reading something. I don’t know what he is planning on reading - I think childhood memories he is gathering from my 6 other aunts and uncles. I am also writing my own piece about my memories of my father as his daughter and as part of his immediate family. The reason why I think both of us decided to write our own pieces is because a lot of readings out there are religious. (Or from Winnie the Pooh -which although I love the sentiments I definitely associate it with my mother). I don’t mind reading something and I have been rehearsing it so I am not a total mess at the event.

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So now I have been also asked to help with the techonological aspects of it. Again - this isn’t really a problem. I am probably the most tech savvy person in my family- fixing my mom’s smart phone, helping my grandma with her computer and of course working with websites and technology as part of my day to day. So I helped my mom create an imovie set to music for the service and also have been assembling a memorial playlist to have going during before and after the service.

The weird thing about this to me is although I love listening to the music I grew up with, its all very upbeat hippie rock music! We have a ton of Cat Stevens (obviously). But also: The Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, The Doobie Brothers, Led Zepplin, Jethro Tull, The Byrds, Neil Yong, Eagles, Simon and Garfunkle, Crosby Stills & Nash and Loggins & Messina. This is a happening playlist! I have tried to choose music that intersects with my dad’s favorite albums and artists as well as being tonally appropriate where I can. The in service songs my mom has chosen is Heart of Gold by Neil Young, Helplessly Hopeful by Crosby Stills & Nash and Morning has Broken by Cat Stevens. Somber enough, but also very old school rock.

The other weird thing has been having friends agree to come to the memorial even if they never met my dad (or only met him once). I explained to them it would mean a lot to my mom to fill the church as well as having the emotional and physical support of my friends against some potential drama that my dad’s side of the family could generate. Backstory: a few of my uncles and their immediate family hate my mother because she’s outspoken and educated and “turned” my dad against his ex-wife of two years who was an alcoholic, addicted to meth and had a kid that was not his (who occasionally still cropped up to try get dad to leave my mom and his two kids). Sigh. Drama.

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Also final weird thing - instead of flowers, we are bringing up bonsai plants. Because... of course we are. What best shows off his artistry than those?

Finally the people who have turned out to be supportive and the people who have been completely silent. Some people have just been “I am bringing you food” and then are willing to sit for an hour or more while I just talk about him like he’s still here. Other people... haven’t even said a word to me or if I bring it up change the topic. I know everyone deals with it differently. A friend of mine pointed out, those who may not have dealt with this kind of grief don’t realize they may need to modify their behavior and expect you to behave the same as always.

Wow. This was a lot longer than I anticipated writing. I joked to my mom who wrote the obit that she and I are too much a fan of my dad as we tend to overwrite - I wrote four pages of reading and she wrote almost an entire page of news print before we both cut down and edited things. Fangirls.