Getting back to everyday living seems so strange after Daddy’s passing … when they talk about a funeral being for the mourners, they really do mean that. Daddy isn’t in that beautiful casket; his physical shell is there, but Daddy isn’t there.
The memorial services were held at the Wrenn-Yeatts Funeral Home in Danville. The Wrenn-Yeatts folks were absolutely amazing. I have never seen such loving care by a funeral home. They cared for Daddy as though he was their own relative, and treated us as though we were their own family and were right there for us whenever they were needed. They did all they could to make our last visitations with Daddy before he was buried the best they could possibly be under the circumstances. I, for one, will never forget what they did for us, and I know that my baby sister Debbie and her husband Dana (who chose them), and the rest of our family will not forget either. There was not only the typical flowers and casket, but in addition there was a large collage of pictures of Daddy and each of us over time as well as some pictures from his military days and his youth. Plus there was a flat screen monitor with a slide show above and to the left of the casket with similar types of pictures to help ease the pain. They even allowed Debbie, her son Caleb, and I to visit the morning they were going to take Daddy down to the graveside.
The Graveside Service was held at the Halifax Memorial Gardens, with the lovely grave site right by the pond with the birds singing and fish catching bugs in the pond — right where Daddy would have wanted to be. It was absolutely beautiful there (we also stopped on our way home to Dendron yesterday to see Daddy and they had the flowers carefully laid on the grave and the canopy was still there to protect the flowers and the visitors from the heat of the sun. It was so peaceful.).
The pastor of Daddy and Mother’s church in South Boston Virginia, Rev. Bruce Hagy, who knew Daddy well for the last few years of his life, gave a moving tribute to Daddy, then his wife sang a beautiful song a cappella. After that, my baby sister Debbie’s husband, who is the pastor of Mother and Daddy’s current Church in Danville (Danville Christian Fellowship), spoke of Daddy, his father-in-law (who felt more like his own Dad), and I will never forget the love he has for Daddy. Richard Allen and another sweet lady, Debra Simmons, from the church sang a song each as well, and we were all blessed by their singing.
Despite the Memorial Day weekend, Taps and the Flag Folding Ceremony was performed and the flag presented ‘on behalf of a grateful nation’ to our Mother. I thank the VFW and Army officer very much for coming to do this for Daddy and our family.
My Jim helped get the nice battery driven PA system ready for the service and collected some songs (with the help of our friend Charlie in Michigan) that we all wanted to hear during and after the service. Jim handled this audio during the Graveside Service as well as making sure the music was available for Richard Allen and Debra Simmons, who each sang a song through the microphone on this cool little battery powered PA system, and also played the music after the service during the greetings and condolence time. In addition, Jim played ‘I Come To The Garden Alone’ (the copy our friend Adam gave us), near the time when the family members placed their roses of remembrance on the casket.
Our sister Berta, brought each of us a copy of the newspaper with Daddy’s obituary in it, and a CD with some pictures of Daddy and the family, as well as some pictures from the viewing for us to keep as momentos.
I know I am forgetting something at this very moment.
In Daddy’s proper style of keeping things lively and providing comic relief in times of need, the folks at the grave site had trouble with a root when trying to lower the casket in the grave (after putting the plastic casing around the casket). I am sure the folks at the memorial park were not happy with the situation, but they need not have worried. The situation provided the much needed time and relief when we really didn’t wish to see the casket lowered so quickly into the grave even when we knew it needed to be. By the time they finally got it past the root, and cut the straps loose (which were now a permanent part of the grave site), and lowered the casket the rest of the way into the grave…by then, we (or maybe it was just me) were ready to deal with it better (at least that was my take on it). We all knew this was just like Daddy … he always got his money’s worth on everything! 🙂
My baby sister Debbie and her husband Dana were totally amazing through all of this .. I was so very proud of both of them. They were the ones who were Daddy’s caregivers since the cancer struck last year right up to the end. Together, they are a wonderful team, and took care of all the details and pulled all the family together in such a loving and beautiful way. May God give them the peace and rest they need after this trying time. I am so thankful to Dana for being there and being such a pillar of support through all of this time to all of us, particularly to his wife Debbie and our Mother.
I am also very proud of my Mother, who handled herself so very well through it all and during the last and most difficult month in particular. As did all our family in this trying time. We are all so thankful to have had an extra year of good quality of life with Daddy because of the surgery last year.
Sunday morning before we went to the Graveside Service, we went to church and Dana and the entire church was so loving and supportive during the service. Also the following was placed in the Sunday Bulletin that was handed out for the service:
Memories Keep Those We Love
Close to Us Forever
To the Family and Friends of –
Robert Charles Bunker
Although words seem to say so little,
We hope they help in some small way
to ease the sense of loss
that you’re experiencing today.
Hold fast to your memories,
to all the cherished moments
of the past,
to the blessings and the laughter,
the joys and the celebrations,
the sorrow and the tears.
They all add up to a treasure
of fond yesterdays
that you shared and spent together,
and they keep the one you loved
close to you in spirit and in thought.
The special moments and memories in
your life will never change.
They will always be in your heart,
today and forevermore.
In Memory of Robert Charles Bunker
May 1, 1932 – May 26, 2005
Oh, Pappa, you showed us how to deal with sorrow, pain and so many things … I will try to be like you and get back to living and enjoying life as you would have wished …
May we have the strength to do that now. I know that time heals all wounds. I know this in my heart and that the waves of sorrow never really leave, but they will become further apart and we will be better able to handle them when they come as time goes on and they gratefully will soften with time. I rest in that knowledge now.
I will keep the wonderful memories of my Dad in my heart just as my Jim did with his Mom when she died 20 years ago. Jim says that this is how we can continue to honor them beyond the grave.
(Jim is playing “I Come To The Garden Alone” quietly in the background as I am writing this.)
Pappa, I will not say say good-bye, I will say “until we meet again …”