~ A beautiful goodbye ~

I sit here staring at a blinking cursor.  Not sure of what to write.  I have so much to say but no words to say it.  Any words I use at this point would still fall short of what I actually feel in my heart for you people.

And by "you people" I'm specifically talking to each and every one of you who helped pay for my Dad's funeral.

His goodbye was simple and beautiful, and I've never met a man who deserved it more.  The line to greet my family at the visitation was winding out the door and through the halls, and his actual service was standing room only-  kind of like a playoff baseball game.  He would have liked that.  We were surrounded by people who love us - friends and family - standing by, strong and still.
We are healing, but it is still hard.  I allow myself to completely fall apart for 10 minutes each day.  Either on my bed, in my car, in the shower, wherever I need to do it...usually in the mornings before the kids are up, or in my car alone.  I just let the tears fall for 5 or 10 minutes because sorrow has a place here too, and it needs to be felt.  But then I wipe the tears and go on, because while his work down here is done, mine is not.

I gave his eulogy, we played Lynrd Skynrd during the service, and made sure there was a large-mouth bass right in the center of his floral arrangement.  He was surrounded with photos from his life; some that made us laugh, some that made us cry. 

I'm not sure if it's appropriate to take a photo at a funeral.  But I figured you guys paid for it, you might want to see it.

Do you see that little mallard duck in the middle?  Yeah, that's his urn!  How cool is that?

When we were at the funeral home, making his plans, we walked into the casket/urn room and took turns examining each one, holding them up and passing them around between me, my mom, my brother, my husband, and my aunt.  They were all gorgeous ornate pieces.  Many were hand-designed with top quality embellishments.   They were beautiful.

But none of them seemed to "fit" my Dad…until we saw "The Duck."  I held it up in my moms face  and said "Quack Quack" she instantly yelled "No way Kelly!  People are gonna think were hoosiers!"  

Really Mom… half my family looks like they belong on Hee-Haw and your porch furniture doubles as living room furniture on Holidays...suddenly we're concerned with our image?  LOL

But we talked her into it and now everyone just loves the idea…especially the grandkids.  It's really helped their healing to tell people their Paw Paw is in a duck and they can hold him or pet him anytime they want. 

Let's talk a little about these donations.

My husband was the one who set up the you caring website.

My Dad passed on Monday, I was laying in my parents bed Tuesday night, the same one my Dad had slept in the night before.  I was trying to get Libby Lu to fall asleep so I could as well (My brother and I took turns spending the night with my mom so she wasn't alone).  When Jimmy's email came through and I saw he had set the goal at $2500... I thought he was crazy.  I instantly wanted to lower it to $1000 - after all, there is all kinds of sickness, unfairness, and unjust things happening all over the world at any give time.  There are so many people who need help besides us.  

I cried myself to sleep that night-  a mixture of concern for how we would bury him and pain from missing my Dad.  I laid on his pillow, content smelling his stinky, outdoor, working man smell and drifted off to sleep.  When I woke up the next morning I learned that not only did we hit the $2500, we surpassed it.  By a lot.  The final tally on the you caring site was $4700 last I checked.  

Any attempt at threading beautiful words together to tell you how grateful I am of this still seems unworthy. 

I want you to know the actual cost  of my Dad's funeral was $3,500.   Which was the most bare bones, small scale event you could have.  With the surplus monday we've made a payment towards my moms overdue mortgage, which still leaves us with a little money left over that we are going to roll into the trivia account.

So what is the trivia account?  Well I'm glad you asked.   Only the most rocking, fun, trivia night you will EVER go it in your WHOLE life :)   After all, I will be there :) :) :)  You show up with 7 of your closest friends.  Pay $20 at the door (per person) and enjoy music,  games, and free beer and soda!   TABLES MUST BE RESERVED IN ADVANCE  CALL ME OR EMAIL ME 314-809-7625  or kellymanno@yahoo.com

So,  here's the deal.   This trivia event was planned months ago to help my mom with medical bills.  Never dreaming he wouldn't be here to enjoy it.  As you can tell by the wording above, I designed and printed these flyers way before he passed.

He will even has his own category at the trivia night that he helped me come up with; we thought he would be there to read the answers for everyone.

I thought about canceling the whole thing after the generosity and donations towards the funeral.  But I didn't for 2 reasons:

1. I've already made a large non-refundable deposit on the room.

2. There are a couple more things I'd like to get tied up for my mom in order to ease her into her new life.

It is very likely that my mom is going to have to take on a second job…which is okay-  she is young,  she can hang, and she knows this is a real possibility.  But I would like to get her mortgage paid up to date for the next 2-3 months so she can at least have a small grieving period before she has to start working 70 hours a week.

The heater and air conditioning in her mini-van also went out last year.  My Dad was going to "look into it" before it got cold, and of course that can't happen now, and with our horrible winters we have to get that taken care of. 

My mom is also self-employed and no longer has access to health insurance through my Dad's work. She is diabetic, so I'd like to get her into see her primary as soon as possible using the left over money to cover the visit and just make sure she is up to date on her bloodwork and medicine for as long as possible.

Whatever is left will start hacking away at medical bills.  

With our efforts, and the help of those who love us, I think we can make this transition a little easier for my mom.  And all you have to do is show up and have an awesome time!

Ways to help:

1.  Call or email and reserve a table for trivia.  I think between now and November 30th I will have at least 40 nightmares that I show up an no one is there.  Please consider getting together a group of your friends and family to attend.  I promise Granite City is not the other side of the world and only about 15-minutes from downtown St.  Louis.  Not many things would make me happier than looking out at the crowd and seeing a table of my photography friends, a table of my high school friends, a table of my St. Ferdinand friends, etc...

If you cannot make it to trivia, there are other ways you can contribute.

2.  Make a donation.  We're going to leave the website up through the trivia night if you would still like to make a contribution.  Click here.

3.  Donate something to raffle off.   Got a friend who has season Rams tickets?  Hit them up!  Work for a company that could donate a cool experience, hit them up.  Have some spare time and want to put together your own themed basket?  I would love you forever.

4.  If you can't do any of the things above then there is one more thing you can do.  You can share this story, and maybe it will reach someone else who can. 

Thank you!  This post is hard to write- asking for help is hard to do, even if it's not for me.  It's a little like those nightmares where you dream you're naked at school.  At this point I may have RATHER been naked at school than write this.

If you're my friend, family member,  a fellow client, or even a stranger:  If I've ever made you smile,  done a favor for you, extended a hand, etc.,  please consider doing the same in return.

And now I will leave you with some of my favorite photos of me and my Dad.

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