Visitation is over, at last. Call me selfish, but I'm glad it's over.
We've had a houseful of visitors today, and—in the great Southern tradition—they all brought food. The fridge is full to bursting, and we have drinks and paper plates and sandwiches to spare.
To quote my brother-in-law: "Don't eat that cherry pie."
"Nah. I'll eat it. Wouldn't want y'all to get sick or anything."
Last I checked, Carl had eaten about three generous slices of pie so far. There's one piece left, and I fully expect that Carl will come over and polish it off with lunch.
We had a bit of a fracas today when we learned that at least one of the local florists told their customers that Dad's visitation was from 6-8 p.m. today instead of the 7-9 p.m. that it actually was. In order to prevent any hurt feelings, Jeff and I were at the funeral home just before 6 so that the people arriving early would see at least one member of Dad's family.
Like I said, call me selfish, but Andrew and Joy can attest to the fact that visitation tonight was a packed house. Both of them looked around with a mingled look of fascination and shock at the sheer number of people who were there to pay respects.
A couple hundred people showed up.
Most of Tull showed up.
Virtually all of Mom and Dad's families showed up.
On one side of the casket is the standing flower arrangement from the fire department. The other is from the city, denoting his status as a city councilman. On top of the casket are his fireman's hat, his hard hat from work, and three roses—white ones for my sister and I, and a red one for my mother.
Beside me tonight were more family than I've had around me in months. Years, even. I've always heard jokes about how southerners from large families can reel off relationships without blinking an eye. Sure, I know that Mary Faye is actually my great-aunt, and that Holly is my first cousin once removed, and that Phil's new grandchild is my second cousin once removed…
…but I kept turning around and spotting the quiet, still figure in the casket, and staring at the rose on top of the casket that represents me.
I'm a lot of things: a sister, a cousin, an aunt, a friend, a spouse—but right now, more than anything, I'm a grown daughter who misses her father very, very much.
The funeral is tomorrow. I don't quite know how I'll manage to get through it, but I must.
(Notes to friends and family who read this site: Rachel, we took the pictures of Dakota that you wanted. Eleanor and Andrew and Joy, thank you for showing up tonight. Geof, Eleanor gave the hugs you asked her to give. Heather and Andy, the lilies should bloom tomorrow; Steph, the arrangement you sent is beautiful.)