Today, January 24th 2013 I said good bye to my father. He passed away 4 days ago peacefully and in dignity, surrounded by family at his home that he very proudly built 38 years ago. My father was 84 years old.
Today's funeral was the big bang he deserved to leave us with. Blue skies, lots of family, friends and neighbors attended. The wreaths took my breath away compared to the ones I remember as an altar boy in the same village decades ago. A rainbow of colors, no black anywhere in sight, all arranged by a local floral designer, who did an amazing job. The church service was packed with people who came to join us in saying good bye.
Mass was beautiful. The priest held a very personal sermon, including anecdotes and stories about my father's life. Though I do not consign to any particular faith, his recounting about the circle of life was incredibly passionate and it rang home. "Our death on earth is our birthday in heaven." Almost makes me want to be catholic.
Even way back as an altar boy, the best part about a village funeral was the "Zehrung" after mass, a meal for all those who participated. My mother stepped it up big time I say, because they served a three course meal including soup, Wiener Schnitzel, my father's favorite and Sacher torte with coffee. Not the meager Wieners of yesteryear......
My father ran the local village general store for the first 10 years we lived in Hinterstoder, before he embarked on broader things across Austria. Upon retirement he started to work in his daughter's Tabak Trafik pretty much every day until about five years ago. For fun and to stay in touch with the people (and I am sure to get out of the house....), but then my sister and mother did recognize the onset of Alzheimer's and thought it would be better for him stay home more.
When I thought today what single word fits my father best, the first image that popped up was Provider. My father, who came from extreme humble beginnings himself, did whatever it took to make sure his family had a better life than he did growing up between the wars and throughout that dark time of World War II.
The second image that came up was his sense of humor, all the way to the end. Never wavered that laughter and joking does good. That, besides his talent for closing a sale, is the best trait I inherited from my father.
He loved the the mountains and gardening, two traits I did NOT inherit.....
A great family man, who always always put us before everything else. As hard as I was thinking, I could not remember one person who did not like my father.
Happy trails Papa.
HUSBAND, PAPA, OPA, BROTHER
OUR VILLAGE CHURCH
EDELWEISS HE PICKED IN 1949
IN HIS MOUNTAINS
HE LOVED SKIING
GATHERING BEFORE THE FUNERAL
A LAST WALK THROUGH THE VILLAGE
THE LIGHT IN CHURCH WAS JUST AMAZING
HE COULD NOT HAVE ASKED FOR BETTER WEATHER
THE LAST GOOD BYE
A MEAL FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS
MY FATHER'S FAVORITE (AND MINE....)