Taking Dad Home

Per Dad’s wishes, we brought his remaining ashes home to West Virginia this past weekend. It was the second service for us but the first for Mamaw, Aunt Gloria and Dallas, and other family members and friends. We didn’t plan a fussy service because Dad absolutely would’ve rolled his eyes at that. Instead, we split the tasks among us kids and kept it personal.

Dad wanted his remains split between Wallace Memorial Cemetery, where his father is buried, and the family cemetery behind the farm in Meadow Bridge, where his grandfather is buried. Both places in Greenbriar County are sentimental and easy to accomplish, and both have breathtaking views of the countryside.

A handful of family members and friends met us at Wallace on Saturday morning to inter Dad’s ashes. Becky, Jeff, and I each read something special, Chuck interred the ashes while Owen played his trumpet, and Uncle Bob closed the service in prayer.

When we finished at Wallace, we drove a short distance to the old farm, which my grandparents sold in the 90s when it became too much to manage. The farmhouse eventually burned down, so no one lives on the property anymore. It’s home to cattle now, but it’s just as beautiful as I remembered it to be.

This is the view from the cemetery on the hill. It was in a rowboat on that pond where I encountered my first snake and subsequently became scared of snakes for the rest of my life.

Homer and Nancy Treadway were my dad’s grandparents. Dad has dozens of stories about fishing and hunting with his grandpa, so it was proper to carry out his final wishes here.

Directly in front of their plot is a huge rhododendron bush, which seemed like the perfect place under which to spread dad’s remaining ashes.

We spent a little bit of time looking at the various family and non-family plots there, many of which date back to the 1800s. It seemed like there were only two types of graves in that cemetery – those for people who lived nearly a century and those for babies who didn’t make it past one year.

We took some photos together and shared some stories, again making sure we honored Dad and told our boys how special the farm was to all of us. This photo, obviously taken in winter on the farm, was sometime in the mid-80s before we moved overseas. Perhaps 1984 or 1985? Dad must have taken it with his Canon. You can’t really see him, but our little black dog Peanut is sitting in front of Mom. Becky and I are touching his head.

It was strange to be on the farm without Dad, but I’m grateful he wanted part of his ashes spread here. We were extra grateful to the cousins who’ve kept the cemetery in good shape for all of these years.

Couldn’t leave out these two! Surely they deserve a medal for how they’ve helped us manage over the last year and a half.

Honestly, I think Dad would’ve been proud of how we handled everything over these last 18 months. I can hear him saying, “Now get on with your life!” It’s true. He would not want us to dwell in grief one more minute. Now that we’ve completed his wishes, I have a clearer view of what’s ahead.

Life is short. Don’t waste time.

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