Saturday, September 29, 2012

On a high note

Last week I was so thrilled to have found a place that would take in my furniture. I was all set to bring my items to Rustic and Refined Interiors this past Tuesday, but it turns out life had other plans in mind for me.

My father had been in the hospital sick with cancer for several months, and though we knew the end was near, nobody knew precisely when. The call came last Sunday.

I'm here in Ontario and my family is in Montreal. I'm far and it's hard to get away to visit, so I felt helpless. I wish I could have been by his side. But then again, I had made the trip a few weeks ago. When I saw him then, even though the disease somehow made him suffer from a form of dementia, we were still able to have a good conversation and share some laughs. When I left, I said I loved him and deep down in my heart I said good-bye as I knew this was the last time I would see him...I'm at peace knowing that my last words to him were "I love you".

This week was a whirlwind: travel arrangements, getting the girls home from university, making arrangements for all the furry critters at home, packing, etc. Once in Montreal, I was the one to go and make all the funeral arrangements with my stepmother. Then the dreaded funeral day came. Getting dressed. Going for breakfast. Arriving at the funeral home. Greeting visitors. Making small talk with people you don't know. All the while trying to hold it together.

I did fine until the end of the ceremony. My brother was in charge of the music. You see, my father loved jazz and classical music. And so, very appropriately, my brother chose "What a Wonderful Life" by Louis Armstrong to conclude the ceremony. At the best of times, that song touches me to the core of my being, but on that day, it was the key to the floodgate. The tears came uncontrollably. My sweet daughter came to sit by me and held me.

Through my tears, I tried to focus on the words, and I then realized that my father did have a wonderful life. He laughed. A lot. And he made so many people laugh. He was a "bon vivant", a jokester, always coming up with a line, always trying to crack you up. Everyone who knew him said it. In fact, he ended all our phone calls with a joke. On a high note. And by the time the song ended, I was smiling. Remembering the high notes.

Have you ever noticed how Louis Armstrong also finishes the song on a high note?

"Ooooh yeaaaah!"

A fitting tribute.