And so we had a funeral—a celebration of Ted’s life really. It was difficult—more than difficult, but we got through it. Friends and family attended Ted’s funeral, bought food, sent condolences and supported us in ways too many to number. So many attended Ted’s funeral. He would have been so happy. He typically underestimated the impact he had upon people.
Much of the planning had already been done. I knew exactly what Ted wanted, his obituary had been written months before and so, when we met with the minister to discuss funeral specifics, there weren’t a lot of blanks to be filled in. My minister wanted to know something about Ted. Though I was an active member of my church, Ted did not attend so the minister asked many questions—trying to get to know Ted in anticipation of his eulogy—looking for his essence. I remember it like it was yesterday—Lateef wanted the minister to know that even though Ted did not attend church and was not a religious man, he was a good and honest man who did believe in a higher power—he told the minister how instrumental Ted was in his life and the lives of others and directed him to the video that Rashida had put together to get another dimension of this man we were mourning. The video became an integral part of the minister’s speech. Happy Feelings became the theme of Ted’s funeral.
The picture below shows our family at Ted’s funeral. Left to right: Rashida, Me, Lateef, Jade (Lateef’s 13-year old daughter), Aileen, Ami (Lateef’s 8-year old daughter). Seated is Nana (Ted’s mother). To the right are pictures of Ted on the memorial table. Looking at this picture, I wonder why we’re smiling? Perhaps we’re only smiling because that’s what people are programmed to do in front of the camera. Nana’s face shows the real pain we’re all feeling.
I continued the work necessary to put our home on the market. Ted and I had already decided to sell our “retirement” home. We enjoyed it so much and it was such a peaceful home, but it was way too big for us and when Ted got sick and could no longer take care of the lawn and all of the other strong arm work, we decided we’d better move to something smaller. So for the past year, we’d been weeding out, getting rid of things we no longer needed in anticipation of a move. I continued on with that work.
On February 24, 2014—1 month from the date that Ted passed away, I left our home with a For Sale sign in front, got in my car and drove down to Atlanta. The plan was to visit with the grandchildren for a couple of days, leave my car with Lateef since I would not need a car in New York, then fly up to live with Rashida. Ted had asked me a few weeks before he passed away: “What will you do?” I understand now that that was “the conversation” that people who are dying have with their loved ones. Most times there’s more discussion than that but Ted and I had talked about everything else so this was the only question left. I told him that I would live with Rashida in New York. He seemed pleased and relieved that we would be together and said “Two can live more cheaply than one”. So I continued on with what we had planned.
Little did I know that in five days my son would pass away and within another week, our family would be attending yet another funeral.