Mar. 29th, 2017

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It was while driving the familiar twisty narrow road with the long Welsh name up the hill that it hit me in that visceral way: when I get to the house, my father won't be there.

My stepmother and her immediate family, all of them close to my father, were there, however, and so were my brothers, and that was comforting as we prepared to pile in to the limos and head off to the crematorium. As I've found before, being a pallbearer is more about the physical effort and care of what you're doing than about what it symbolises. But the ceremony was dignified. Though secular, it included a recording of a choir singing a Sabbath hymn to acknowledge Jewish heritage, plus the group singing of one church hymn in Welsh, and the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

(And suddenly I incongruously remembered something else my father had done for us. The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Allan Sherman parodied that on his first album. My father introduced us all to Allan Sherman's work, buying each of his albums as it came out and bringing it home with some ceremony.)

The small chapel, or whatever one calls it, was packed. He was well-respected in this small Welsh town, almost (not quite) the only American there. Interesting after building a fair community reputation back in California, he retired to Wales and then did it all over again. One of the first things he did here was get the British branch of Rotary International to establish a doctor bank for third-world countries, and to himself go to Pemba (an island off Tanzania) to deliver babies for a couple months.

So I have my memories, and a few mementos to bring or have shipped home. Did a little else here, which I'll save accounting of for my return.

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