Things have been real for me and my family since my father, Harold R. Delaney, died one week ago today. I pulled a full day at work last Friday, never complaining. My colleagues offered their condolences, which were most welcome. I kept on moving in life, knowing that would take my mind off my father's passing and that my father would have wanted me to keep going in life.
I went to Smalls Tea and Coffee in south St. Louis last Saturday morning (19 July) for a gathering of the Saint Louis Singles Group: Ages 40+ Meetup. There were two others with me in the place, a small establishments I had never been to before, but that was the point. It was a quiet get-together, an opportunity for me to really enjoy conversing with others without all the background noise. We had a nice time with this and I plan to attend another such Meetup next month. Also on the weekend, I did a bit of shopping at CRM Hobbies, and delivered flyers for the IPMS/Gateway show in September to two other hobby shops.
My brothers and their wives started coming to town on Monday (21 July) to be with my mother and I. I kept with my schedule of events, including work and the IPMS/Gateway business meeting Tuesday night at the Jefferson Barracks Heritage Foundation building in south St. Louis County.
The next morning (23 July), the family assembled at Lord Funeral Home near Sylvan Springs Park for the trip to nearby Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. My mother, three brothers and their wives, my cousin Bertice Brown and her husband Ed, and our friend Cindy Strohm were joined by Rev. Emma Dobson, the pastor at Calvary Presbyterian Church. After a short motorcade into the cemetery, we arrived at the shelter where the interment ceremony would take place. The container with my father's ashes was placed on a table, with a folded American flag and a challenge coin placed nearby. We sat in two rows of benches facing the table, and Rev. Dobson conducted a short service of prayer. Then, a nearby rifle squad of three men fired three volleys in salute, followed by the playing of "Taps." Two soldiers unfolded, then refolded the American flag, and one of them presented the flag and the challenge coin to my mother, as he said, "On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Army, and a grateful nation." We each placed a red rose beside the remains to conclude this service and we then drove home. My father's ashes will be placed in a nook at the cemetery.
That afternoon, there was a standing-room-only crowd in the sanctuary of Calvary Presbyterian Church for the celebration of my father's life. Rev. Dobson led the service, which included the singing of two hymns my father liked a lot, "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" and "Pass It On." Attendees were invited to share memories of my father, and I told of how much my father wanted me to stay positive and not think I had disappointed him in life. I also read three stanzas of "Amazing Grace" to the audience. After the service, there was a reception in nearby Lewis Fellowship Hall. I met a number of people I had not seen in years, and my family was most heartened by how much they regarded my father in life and how they well remembered him now. (I got Wednesday off from work for these events; I told my boss that I only needed this one day off, with the next day being my day off and I would be back to work on Friday.)
My brothers and sisters-in-law all departed for their respective homes last night, except for Brian, who flew out today. Mom and I took him to the airport, then we stopped at Denny's for lunch on the way home.
I am holding up very well under these circumstances, and so is my mother. We will need some time to get fully adjusted to life without my father, but I am confident we will do well in the years to come. Thank you to everyone who has expressed their condolences to me and my family. Your kind words are most welcome.
Before I go, I've attached a photo taken of my father in 1991, when he completed his time as Calvary's Clerk of the Session (the elder who serves as recording secretary for the parish in a Presbyterian congregation), along with a photo of the American flag and challenge coin my mother received at yesterday's service.