Dad’s Viewing

We held my father’s viewing today. Many people attended. Dad looked very good, lying in the casket. The Lindquist Mortuary in Kaysville, Utah manager, Norris R. Nalder, personally prepared his body. The Nalder family members have run the mortuary for as long as I can remember. Norris’s father managed the business when my grandparents died, and prepared their bodies. It is a true talent that they possess in ensuring that the bodies look more like their sleeping than dead. Throughout the viewing, I couldn’t help but wonder if Dad would sit up at any moment and yell “Surprise!” That would have been a real shocker and certainly induced some heart attacks amongst the senior citizen attendees, resulting in more business for the Nalder family.

Dad didn’t sit up, though. He just peacefully lay there while throngs of people passed by him to pay their last respects. Those who came were a diverse crowd, as Dad positively affected many peoples’ lives in his brief 75 years of mortality. The viewing room was filled beyond capacity. At times, people lined up outside in the foyer, waiting to get in. My mother had directed us, Dad’s immediate family members, to mingle amongst the crowd. This plan quickly changed, given the vast number of people who attended the viewing. We quickly formed a receiving line, so that everyone could give their condolences. That moved it along pretty quickly, and all were in and out in a matter of a few minutes after that.

The majority of those who came to the viewing were lifelong friends of Dad’s. I lost count of how many of them said they knew my father from his schooldays. Several of the men said that they played sports with Dad: baseball, football, and basketball. Others told me stories of how Dad helped them build things, everything from their houses, to add-ons, to tool sheds. Still, others knew Dad from his service in Church, he having been in the bishopric of our LDS ward and on to a high councilman. Some of them I had never seen before. Some of them I hadn’t seen for years. From the latter group, I usually recognized the faces, but couldn’t place the names or the specifics of their identities.

My childhood friend, Kenny Colemere, attended the viewing. I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t recognize him when he approached me. He reached out his hand and introduced himself. I was shocked. He appeared very different from the last time I’d seen him, some 25 years ago. However, after speaking with him about his life since then, I looked into his eyes and realized it was him. For some reason, his eyes impressed upon me that this was the friend who I had spent countless hours with throughout my childhood. We exchanged pleasantries and generalities about our years apart, and then Kenny said he had something important to apologize to me for.
No more than two weeks ago, I had been discussing an event in my childhood with my wife, Shu Mei. It involved an incident where I was furious at my friends, Kenny and Curt. I was so mad that I lay in the weeds beside the road with a stick, as they road their bikes toward me, one behind the other. When they drew near to me, I jumped up and swung the stick like a baseball bat at them. For some unknown reason, the stick went up and over their heads, barely missing them. Since that time, I have felt very guilty about the incident. I mean, I could have killed them! Luckily, I didn’t, though. I told Shu Mei that I had racked my brain for several years, trying to remember what it was that caused me to be so angry. I couldn’t remember, though.

The “something important” that Kenny had referred to was about that happening. He said that he had carried around with him great guilt all these years for what he and Curt had done to me one day. According to him, I had caught a bunch of grasshoppers and was keeping them in some jars in the garage. He and Curt snuck into the garage and smashed the jars, freeing all the grasshoppers. When I discovered this, I was furious and chased them away. Then, I surprised them from the side of the street, swinging a “bamboo stick” at them as they rode their bikes down the street. Kenny said that he carried deep remorse with him all these past years for having done that to me. I explained to him that I, too, had felt great sorrow for my actions that day. I hope that the sincerity of my apology lifted the weight of his burden as much as his did mine. In the end, it was just a childish happening and something neither of us should have harbored all these years. Funny how little things can stick with us for so long. I wished him well in all his future endeavors, and he did likewise. I’d like to see him again soon and catch up more on past, but that’s most likely not going to happen. I am glad, though, that we settled that little bit of nonsense, though.

My good friend Jeff Apgood also attended the viewing. Opposed to Kenny, Jeff and I have maintained contact since we attended high school together. Sadly, we stopped communicating after the election of President Obama. During that presidential campaign, our emails got fairly serious about the issues surrounding it. We were polar opposites on most of the issues, Jeff tending toward the conservative viewpoint and me toward the liberal viewpoint. Unintentionally, I may have gotten overzealous in my explanation about why I viewed things the way I did.

Consequently, Jeff quit sending me email as soon as Obama won the election. To be honest, I never sent email to him either. This may have been another misunderstanding, similar to that between Kenny and I. I took Jeff’s silence to mean that he was personally offended by my remarks in those email messages and just harbored ill feelings toward me. He may have thought the same was true about how I felt. No matter what the truth is, we spoke and decided to get together this week. Hopefully, we can put our political differences aside and realize that we are, indeed, good friends. He is a terrific guy and would do the world for anyone. I will do my best to avoid offending him by bringing up politics in the future.

I also met briefly with David Barnes, a friend of mine from my youth. I hadn’t communicated with David since he was one of my best men at my first wedding (along with Jeff and Ramon Zabriskie). That was well over 20 years ago. However, the years have not affected Dave as much as they have the rest of us. For the most part, he still looks the same. His wife, who I had never met before, also attended Dad’s viewing. I could tell right off that they were meant for each other. Their personalities jelled well together. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t have the same kind of character, but they seem to compliment each other well. I think they have a lot of fun together. I gave David my email address and hope he communicates with me.

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