Yesterday evening, we held the memorial service for Aaron’s Dad.
The funeral home put together the classy slideshow above using photos and musical selections we provided, and it was playing when we arrived before the visitation. It was much better than any sort of posterboard display we could have made from the same photos, and it was really a highlight of the visitation for all of Bob’s loved ones.
So many people were touched by Bob; we hadn’t realized. Aaron’s family was there — aunts and uncles and cousins on both sides — but many of Bob’s co-workers and bowling buddies were there, too, and so were friends of both Aaron and Matt. I met Schnuth relatives I’d never seen before, or hadn’t seen since our wedding, and Aaron met friends of his Dad’s whom he’d only heard about in bowling stories.
Cousin Nate and Aunt Dee were both more than happy to wrangle Connor so I could mingle and talk with family and friends without trying to pacify my overtired four-month-old. I did spend some time feeding Connor on the couch in the nursery (only my third venture into “public” breastfeeding, and my second in a dedicated nursery area). Aunt Dee volunteered to take care of Connor during the service itself, which was such a blessing — it meant I could be there more fully for Aaron.
Reverend Barbara Jean Pope opened the memorial service with prayer and with a treatment of John 14:2 (“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you”) in which she suggested that everyone’s place might be different. Maybe, she said, Bob’s place has a bowling alley and a comfy La-Z-Boy.
Afterward, she invited family and friends to share their memories of Bob.
Aaron’s brother started things off with a eulogy, which came off surprisingly well, considering his combination of nerves and grief.
Aaron stood and spoke about how his Dad was always there for him, and told the story of how his Dad ran money down to him one afternoon when his car broke down, even though Bob hadn’t been to bed yet after a night of work and a morning of bowling.
Uncle Pete spoke about how Bob was always very reserved, and mentioned that the black-and-white photo we had sitting on the table was the one that his sister Tina had shown him back in 1969 to prove how handsome her new boyfriend was.
I lamented the fact that I never really got to have a personal relationship with Bob, even though Aaron and I have been married for almost nine years, and dated for seven years before that. I mentioned how humble Bob was about his multiple perfect 300 games, and how he’d show up to holidays with a new jacket or ring and play it off. I told the story about when Bob came over to help us change a car battery, and we convinced him to play Wii Bowling with us. Where I finally choked and had to sit down was when I described how he lit up when he spent time with his grandson, and how I’m so saddened that they won’t get to know each other, but that each of us will tell Connor all about his Granddad.
Cousin Nate also mentioned how quiet Bob was at family gatherings, always sitting and listening and taking everything in. He told a story about when he was in his early teens, opening Christmas presents with his new pocket knife, and Bob tried to warn him that he was doing it wrong by saying, “Ouch… ouch… OUCH!” He also pointed out that at least Bob hung on long enough to meet his grandson.
Pastor Barbara Jean closed with a benediction and The Lord’s Prayer, then encouraged everyone to stay for a while and share memories and condolences with the family. Which everyone did. We made some new connections with Schnuth family members, traded addresses and emails, received a gift for Connor from Aaron’s godparents, and agreed to keep in touch with friends we haven’t seen in some time.
After everyone had left but Uncle Pete, Aunt Dee, and Cousin Joe, Aaron and his brother finalized the arrangements with the funeral home director, and we all went out to dinner at Loma Linda, a Mexican restaurant nearby. Poppa, Aaron’s grandfather, used to love Loma’s, and Pete realized he’d never actually been there. Plus, Aaron’s brother used to work there as both a dishwasher and a cook, so it was appropriate. We had a delicious dinner, all six of us plus Connor, and the management picked up the bill (sans beverages) because they’d heard about Bob’s passing, and wanted to offer their condolences. That was highly unexpected, but very classy.
It was a rough evening, and a late one, but we came out the other side with a greater sense of family and friendship, a new appreciation of those, and two new potted plants.