Sunday morning, August 28, 2016.
We buried Father Blonde yesterday, and here's the happy news from the funeral. Yes. Happy. If there can be such a thing as a happy funeral, then Old Father Blonde's was a happy one, which is in keeping with the spirit of the man. Thank you one and all for your expressions of love and support and for your encouragement and prayers. Joe was never a fan of the internet himself but he liked hearing about my adventures in blogging and so he knew you were out there, he knew many of you by name, and he was always glad to learn of your news. Mrs M, the Mannion guys, and Old Mother Blonde send along their thanks too.
I have to say the Navy does right by its veterans. They sent an officer and a sailor to the gravesite to play taps and perform a flag ceremony. And they provided a locker for the ashes. An actual locker. A small one but handsome. Navy blue with brass fittings and gold trim and the Navy seal and Joe's name and rank in gold letters. Joe only served for three years after college but they were three of the best years of his life and he'd have been proud.
He'd have been prouder to see the line of fine young men who are his grandsons lining up to bring the communion gifts to the altar during mass and delighted to hear the talented young woman who is his granddaughter sing the hymn of St Francis. Francis was Joe's middle name.
Catholics still do death best. But what was best and most Catholic about Joe's mass wasn't the mass itself.
Growing up Joe's two best friends, Roy and John, and he were scourges of their neighborhood. They weren't vandals or delinquents, and they weren't bullies---exactly. They were incorrigible teasers and pranksters. And their two favorite victims were Joe's sister Joan and John's little brother Jimmy. Joan fought back but Jimmy took it like a saint. He adored his brother and his friends and followed them everywhere, no matter what punishment he had to take for it. He especially admired Joe who besides being a good athlete was the smartest kid in their school.
Roy and John are gone. Joan's gone too. But Jimmy's still with us.
Know what he's doing these days, although he's semi-retired?
Father Jim assisted at the mass and delivered the eulogy.
He said nothing about all the teasing.