Respect all people, be kind to animals, keep your finances in order, work hard, laugh often!

Be responsible, show up, there is no excuse for being bored, there’s always a book to read, a story to write, nature to walk through, a wild bird to identify.

These are some of the values my beloved Father, who passed about last year, March 7, 2012 instilled in me.

That’s the first funeral I am thinking about as I write.

Then there is the wedding, and maybe I should have started with wedding, funeral, wedding, funeral.

First there was our son getting married May 11, 2011, and my beloved Father, our son’s Grandfather was in attendance. He said to me at the dinner,” lease help me up and get me over through the wedding crowd to hear my grandson sign to his dear wife.” I helped Dad with his walker, I cleared a path saying, “Excuse us, this is his grandson, who is singing as a surprise to his new wife, please let us through.”  The crowd parted like the Red Sea. My picture in my mind is of Dad’s joyfully smiling as he listened to Eric’s deep voice as he sang to his bride, Sarah.

Then there was the funeral, March, 2012. I received a call, “Your Dad is not responding, the EMT’s are here.” I got in the car and drove to the assisted living apartment complex. The ambulance was in the circle drive, a fire truck was there, and a police car. I went into the front reception area. It hit me, Dad is gone from this earth. “We are waiting for the coroner,” was the conversation. Someone headed to the elevator, and my instinct was to follow them to the third floor. “It’s not a good idea to go in there (Dad’s apartment), the coroner must arrive, you don’t want to go in there.” I said, “I guess not,” turned around and went back down to the main desk on the first floor. I had called our son Eric, and my husband Rex, who was en-route to another state for a conference (on a plane). Eric arrived, and shortly after, Sarah arrived (his new bride). I broke down and cried. I kept having Eric call Rex and finally about an hour later he called us to say he would turn around and come home.

“Where will we take the body?” they asked me. “Oh, I know Dad had a pre-paid funeral plan and where the funeral home is in Shawnee, but cannot remember the name of the funeral home.”  So, I called my brother, who I always protect at first, since he was diagnosed as a teen with major brain issues. He remembered the funeral home name (it is three blocks from where he lives).  Anyway, the funeral was a blur, but I was pleased that Dad’s huge family showed up (Dad was one of ten living children). Friends showed up from tennis and church, and Rex’s workplace. I know Dad’s military experience was so major in his life, since he was a WWII veteran, in Flying Fortress, as navigator of B-17 bomber and did his duty for his country and to free Jews from horrible concentration camps (he reminded me). Dad said, “Too much is made of war, and we should be reluctant to go to war, but in this case it was necessary, especially after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.”  But, “Dad, what did you think of conscientious objectors of your time, who did peaceful service? ” I asked. He said, “It was not something I even considered, I felt protective of my country, I felt that I must put my life on the life for my loved ones. I did not consider any other options. I went down and signed up and the Army recruiter told me I could finish my community college classes before the Army would send me to boot camp. I believed them, I signed up. Within 2-3 weeks I was sent a letter that I was to report to boot camp. I was flabbergasted, I thought I would get to finish community college. I was 19 years old.”  My Dad sent his money home to his dear mother, who had Dad’s youngest sister of ten children in 1944, during WWII. Three of the eldest of 7 sons were in WWII-George, Warren (Dad), Harold Neal and came home. Then later more Neal boys would go to the Korean War and come home, then Mike White would die in Vietnam, the grandson/nephew of  my Neal Family. His family had always been strapped for money, but always worked many jobs. It was the Great Depression that Dad endured. Dad was 88 years old when he passed away. He had been a lawyer (going to university on the GI Bill) and practiced law on both the Kansas and Missouri sides of the state line, and helped to raise my brother, working out of our home in the late 1960-1970s, as a private practice lawyer.  He probably saved my brother’s life by doing this, since my  older brother had a brain disorder that no one could quite figure out for a while.  My  mother had proceeded him in death in 2005 at age 81 years old.

Then came our daughter’s wedding in October 2012, about 7 months after my Dad passed away. I flew to Seattle, Washington in June, then in August, then again in September helping plan it with our daughter. The trips to Seattle, WA and the excitement of a wedding side-tracked me some from grieving for Dad. Our daughter had the dream wedding she so desired, and we all had fun, and got to know new family, see old friends, and see family we rarely see. I missed having Dad there to make his way in his walker to see something special about his grand daughter’s wedding, like he had in his grandson’s wedding. Maybe, it was now my turn to see something special.  So, indeed, I heard a kerplunk, and looked over to the wedding cake area, watching the robot topper hit the floor.  A “groom” robot and a “bride” robot had been carefully placed atop the wedding cake in honor of the groom’s working within engineering and with robotics during his college years.  Anyway, Christina, the Matron of Honor sashays over to the dropped “groom” robot and says, “Lane get back up on that cake, you’ve had enough to drink!” I laughed when we caught one another s’ eyes. Humor… there it was at our daughter’s wedding! Pay attention, I could hear from my dear Dad.

The next funeral right after our daughter’s wedding, was for my Dad’s eldest brother, George, who passed away the end of October, 2012. I was not able to fly out to Dallas to be with his grown children. Uncle George’s wife had proceeded him in death. Uncle George, an accountant, was still doing some accounting up into his 90’s. He was 91 years old when he passed away.  I remembered Uncle George and Aunt Evelyn coming to our Neal Family reunions at Uncle Wayne’s house in Merriam, Kansas,  about every two years. The Neal Reunion happened every two years until about 2004.  I helped to organize, find a building in Mission, Kansas at Powell Center for this last big Neal Reunion.  It was about a year later  that Mother died, so I’m glad she got to greet, laugh, talk to the Neal family she had known for close to 60 years.  Mom and Dad had their 50th wedding anniversary in 1995, and I organized it from Maryland to be in Lenexa, Kansas at a hall my Aunt Doris (oldest girl of the Neal family) had suggested I get. I remember, our grade school aged daughter Rebecca sang, “The Rose,” in honor of her grandparents.

Here I sit at the computer writing on another snowy February day in Kansas City. My husband is in D.C. again for about the third time this month, I have shoveled heavy, wet snow, all but the three car driveway. I called a snow blower group that has been here before, and they said they are running behind, but will be here late afternoon.  I have emailed my husband’s Executive Assistant a few times in response to her emails, and she is getting cabin fever at her place without her office computer, she says.  She’ll be glad to get back to her work computer she says. She’s trying to do work from her I-phone and through phone calls today. I am still working with the photographer on the parent’s wedding album from our daughter’s wedding, online, through a website that helps design wedding albums. I am ready for it to be printed and to receive it soon!

I have gotten a few photos of this most recent snow,  photos of a robin (which I cannot believe is still here in the snow), and a cardinal, with my new camera my husband gave me for Christmas.  We first got a snow dumping the end of last week and just got dug out, and now got a good heavy snow today. Snow, winter, cold makes me want to burrow away somewhere and read a good book.

I have looked for my NOOK tablet ( nowhere to be found) for the connection cords to make my camera available for downloading some snow pictures to Facebook. I need to work upstairs in my business office soon.

Peace in, peace out……….JKArcher

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