Friday, November 1, 2013
All Saints' Day at My Desk
On this All Saints' Day 2013 I'm at my desk that I set up to care for the correspondence that needed to be done after my father, the Reverend Stanley C. F. Hayes, died in early May. There have been cards and gifts that I have responded to, letters for financial matters, pieces of historical information to record, and thank you notes to write.
Most of that work has been completed and I am about ready to move the paperwork into the large shoe box file that now holds all of the sympathy cards and other paperwork from my supervision of his funeral week. It has been a lot to care for, but it has been a wonderful time of remembering, and I have had the support and help of all of my sisters and my brother.
Sometimes I have stopped to move over to my computer and print out a photo from a file that we call "Stan's Slides." My sister, MB Hayes, scanned lots of Dad's 35 mm slides into a digital file. I have called upon those images often as I have written notes to people and thought about how much they would enjoy seeing a photo from the past. The scans date back to the early 1950's, so they are a treasure.
For my father's clergy colleagues, I have sometimes included a copy of a photo of the committal service (for those of you who are not part of a clergy family, the committal service is recited at the graveside by a clergyperson) that we think Dad had memorized. I found it, neatly folded, in one of his little black service books in his desk. Several of Dad's colleagues have even taken the time to let me know how much they appreciated having this piece of Dad's ministry.
When you grow up in a parsonage, you learn that you often come in second. Others come first. Your clergy parent is often out the door to take care of the needs of a parishioner or to write a sermon or to make hospital calls or conduct a service here or there. I grew up wishing that my Dad could be my Dad more often. As a matter of fact, that's why I did not want him officiating at my wedding ceremony. Lots of people could officiate; only one could be Dad.
Those feelings, while they still exist as memory, have been shoved aside as I have moved through the process of dealing with correspondence in these last six months. There are a few notes to write yet; I saved the most important ones for the last. And there are names of people who came to the visitation or sent a gift to the food pantry whose addresses I am still hunting for. That search, with the help of some Wisconsin contacts, will soon be over.
Now comes the saintly part, that of remembering both my mother and my father for the wonderful human beings and kind parents that they were. Those memories, and they just keep coming, will sustain the moments when I still wish they both were here. I think of my mother-in-law who died in September that way, too, and know that for my husband Ed and his sibs, the work of grieving and remembering is only beginning.
So, on All Saints' Day, I can truly give thanks "for all the saints who from their labors rest," these good people who have gone before, those saints who, this year especially, are my saints.
Stan, and Val, and dear Pauline -- I miss you so.