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January 19, 2010
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My dad passed away on Friday, January 8, 2010. His very long struggle with a dying heart is over. His death has brought out so many emotions; I hardly know how to explain all of them. I am extremely happy that he is no longer suffering, and now is whole in heaven with the Lord. I am relieved that I no longer will be required to visit my step-mother and act like everything is ok when it’s not. (Is anyone going to talk about that big elephant in the room?) I miss the daddy I grew up with. I thought that I had already come through that emotion, since I didn’t really identify the current Mark Jones with the one who raised me. And that brings in some confusion.

Preparing to go to Texas for the funeral was an ordeal. Trying to decide who would go, and when that was done, getting everything in order to drive down was a lot of extra hassle when dealing with the emotions. My house was a mess and would stay that way… no one would see it when we were gone. I didn’t even bother calling in a prayer request to the prayer chain. I figured everyone would know within a couple of hours of me making one phone call. I was right. I read later that it had been put in the prayer chain, no names given, just my age… was that important to the prayer?

My brother and his wife gave us their frequent flier miles (thank you SOOOOO much!) and got all five of us on a plane to Tulsa so that we could be with family before and after. Sure, it made us have to drive to Seminole, but being with family made that ok. So, we repacked for a flight, got together all the homework assignments (that went over well with #’s 2 & 3), made plans for the animals and replaced 4 of us for the Wednesday night, Saturday night and Sunday morning services, and waited to leave. It is surreal, I found, when someone dies. You can’t hardly believe that the person is gone, and so very suddenly you find yourself on your way to say goodbye. I have not found myself on this side very often.

Once in Tulsa, I thought it would be less surreal. Nope. Driving down to my aunt and uncle’s house (thank you M& S!), we talked about memories of good times and bad. I collected thoughts and told stories, we laughed and teared up a little, and I wondered if this was going to be more the funeral than the actual day.

My step-mother and her family planned the service. There was to be a lunch before for the family. None of us had wanted to go and Matt called Freda to tell her that since Mom and her parents were planning to come also, we felt it was important to stay with her. That didn’t go over very well. He was told in no uncertain terms that Mom would not be allowed to sit with the family. So, we chose not to sit with the family at our father’s funeral.

On the day of the funeral my aunt and uncle (dad’s brother) went to the lunch. We stayed and ate with Mom and some of her family. It was good, with a lot of loving and caring for each other. We got ready, ate lunch and made our way to the chapel in Seminole.

Once inside at the back, we could not sit down. People were getting up out of their seats to come and hug us and talk a minute. The funeral home directors were trying to seat us so that the “family” could be seated (everything was so formal.) I told them we were family. Later, we found out the group waiting to be seated was standing out in the wind while they waited. It wasn’t our fault, I guess. People kept coming back. We finally got seated though, and the family walked in. Very few looked out way, and I found it fairly ironic that out of the 5 ½ rows they took up, one of them was actual Jones family. The rest was Freda’s family.

The funeral was pretty normal, as funerals go. Dad’s church’s worship team sang a few songs that he had written and some that were his favorite. At some point, a few of us in our row got tickled and were hard put to not laugh. Some of the team spoke about Dad. To them, he was a good man who loved, taught, corrected and repented often (that one was interesting to hear.) He gave so much to everyone he met. We heard the same thing over and over about his ministry to them through the years.

Then, Matt got up. Matt spoke of Dad as his (our) father. He told everyone about how Dad had instilled a dedication to hard work in him. He told a beautiful story about his own son. When Matt told his son that “Pawpaw” had died, N understood that Dad had gone to heaven. But, N was with Matt when Matt told his daughter. Matt had to explain to A who Pawpaw was. When N realized that “Pawpaw” was his daddy’s daddy, he said, “But your daddy’s your favorite!” So sweet, so true. He was our favorite daddy when we were growing up. He did good things, he taught us well, we listened, and now we are a testament to his wisdom and obedience to the Lord. And for all that, I am grateful. It was a good way to end the “open mic’’ time.

I honestly can’t remember much about what else was said at the funeral. I remember some of the same scriptures that are used at most funerals. A song or two played, a photo slideshow displayed (there were 2 pictures that had anything to do with us.)

Then the funeral director had the people come up to do the viewing and give condolences to Freda and her family. As the line moved by our position toward the back of the room, I tried to make eye contact with the people passing. Some did not look… most of those were people who didn’t know us, they came to Dad’s church after we were all gone, or they had aligned themselves with Freda and therefore did not agree with us about the elephant in the room. I mouthed thank you to the worship team as they passed. And then I noticed something so lovely. The line moving down the aisle was stopped and backed up all the way to the front by Freda. I looked behind me to where Mom sat, and saw all these people stopping to hug her and talk for just a minute… holding up the line all the way to the front! It was so beautiful and such a tribute to my family. I think we all needed to see that.

When it was our turn to go up, I took a small glass ladybug (Dad’s nickname for me was “Ladybug”) and laid it on his shoulder in the coffin. He didn’t look like the man I knew. I dreaded this part, but I was relieved to know that it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it might. That wasn’t my Dad and I was able to be disconnected. I turned and hugged Freda and two of her kids who sat with her on that front row. I said thank you to them for taking care of our Dad (I found out later that my brothers and mom had not said anything to her.) As we passed the rest of Freda’s family, some of them stopped us to say they loved us and were sorry that this had happened.

When we reached the back of the chapel, there were so many people there waiting for us. We were all so touched that they would make the effort to be there that day. People I hadn’t seen in years, but who Dad had touched with his life so many years ago. People who loved us and wanted us to know they were there for us. It was a blessing.

At the gravesite, I once again found the irony in the fact that Freda sat on the front row with her children, while we were relegated to the back row, standing, but we were with Mom. It was good, and we were right where we were supposed to be. At the end of the day, my brothers and I decided we had made a team… Jay stayed with Mom and was her support through all, Matt spoke for us at the service and I thanked Freda from us.

And now, it’s over. All the tears, the waiting, the wondering, the hurt, the loss, we can be done with it all. There is no need to rehash conversations, there isn’t even a desire to go there, and that makes me extremely happy. My Dad is restored in heaven!

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”              1 Corinthians 15:54-58

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