We had Dad's wake this morning, and it was nonstop with hordes of relatives, friends, business contacts, neighbors... even guys that were on the basketball team at St. Matthias Grade School with Dad! There were surely over a hundred people at the Mass, and several hundred had come through the parlor. The funeral directors had to keep running back to print more holy cards, and in the end they ran out of the cards my brothers had selected (Blessed Virgin Mary with the Memorare prayer) and had to put Dad's info on Sacred Heart images (which is surely fine with Dad). The guest register only had one page left (but you can sign the on-line one).
My 15-year-old nephew offered the General Intercessions, and did heroically until the last petition, for the faithful departed. He struggled through it, and then went to the nearest pew to cry. Harold offered the Words of Remembrance, but to be perfectly honest, it was a eulogy in every sense of the word. Liturgical or not, it was fitting. More people than we could count were in tears, telling us that Dad was the finest person they had ever known. And it was no exaggeration. (Read the obit here.)
There were some funny moments, too. The pastor of my parents' parish called Dad "Joseph" in the first prayers, and at Mass called him "Mr. Sullivan" (at least he got the Irish part right!). Then he called my brother Harold "James." (When Mom and I went back after the interment to pick up the family pictures we had put on display, the funeral home also gave us our leftover Krispy Kremes. Only the name on the box was "Brennan.") (There must be a lot of Irish eyes smiling in Heaven today.)
After the service at the cemetery, we pulled all the prettiest flowers out of the arrangements to bring home. The house is filled with lilies and roses now. And food. Dad's law partner, the one Dad had mentored right out of law school, came over the evening of the death with a tray of sandwiches. The next day he sent over steaming trays of barbecue, and today he delivered a tray of mini-muffalettas (a New Orleans thing) while we were at the rehearsal.
Speaking of which, it was one of those rare things: a wedding rehearsal in which all the bridesmaids were in mourning attire. What a shift of gears! But it could hardly be more fitting: the wedding is at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, and my Dad was a lifelong devotee of Our Lady. From age five, he prayed three Hail Marys daily, and now Mom is continuing on his behalf.