Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sad Tidings

My best friend's father passed away on January 26, 2011.

He was a wonderful man who lived a full life.  His funeral was in Louisiana and it was beautiful.

It's the first religious funeral that I've been to conducted in one of the main stream Christian faiths.  This funeral was much different than the Hindu one I attended about 5 years ago.

Mr Hay was Catholic, as is my best friend, and the service was conducted by the most wonderful Catholic Priest.  He was an elderly gentleman who himself had beaten cancer, but had lost part of his jaw and I think maybe some of his mouth due to the treatment.

As a result he sounded a bit like the Priest on the Princess' Bride.

Listen here...  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sbqv3MwwVd8

It brought a bit of levity to the ceremony which was so moving.  The Priest was really good - he knew Mr. Hay and so he was able to really personalize the service and when he would talk about Mr. Hay he would touch the casket to bring him into the service.

It was really touching.

And moving.

After the service we drove out to the Hay family plot.  Mr Hay had been in the Air Force during the Vietnam war so he was given Military Honors at the grave site.

I cannot tell you how affected I was when the bugler played taps while the two other soldiers folded the flag.

It was inspiring.

And when they gave the flag to Mrs. Hay, it was gut wrenching.

I don't think there was a single person who wasn't moved or crying.  I could hardly contain myself at this point.

There is something about a military person saying the words:

"On behalf of the President of the United States, the Department of the Air Force, and a grateful nation, we offer this flag for the faithful and dedicated service of your loved one."

while handing over the flag that had rested on the casket, it's almost surreal.

Especially during a time of war, knowing that the person being laid to rest had also been to a war.

The whole funeral was an incredibly beautiful send off for a man who touched so many. I heard so many wonderful stories about Mr. Hay that made me laugh. Stories that made me sad that I wasn't able to get to know him as well as I could have.

But I am glad I was able to meet him. And I am so glad that I was able to be there for his send off.

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