Celebrating the Life and Memory of John Sheridan Sr.

I’ve needed some time away from blogging since my father passed away on December 30th. It was genuinely the best thing that could have happened, both for him and for those of us who loved him. He was diagnosed with dementia over 3 years & 10 months ago, and his mind as well as his personality was almost completely gone a year ago, along with his quality of life. His passing on was more merciful than it was heartbreaking.

My Dad was a highly intelligent man with a very charismatic personality, and a great sense of humor. He accomplished a great deal during his long life, and he also touched and improved the lives of many others with his articulate wisdom, his delightfully quick witted and clever sense of humor, and his sincere compassion for other people, that he shared with both his words as well as his deeds. He continued to live a very full and active life well into his senior years, until the disease of dementia finally so thoroughly destroyed his mind, that it robbed both him and us of his very identity.

The total degradation of his mind and personality was a very long and agonizingly slow process that was far more heartbreaking and tragic for him and those closest to him, than his final liberation from all suffering, that came from the release granted on the morning of his death.

Per his wishes, my father’s body was cremated two days after he passed away. His memorial service was held on Saturday, January 12th. All who attended, agreed that Dad’s memorial was a beautiful and truly moving tribute to his life. My mother contributed the most to the content of Dad’s memorial service, and her thoughtfully artistic sensibilities combined with her deep love of her husband of 65 years made his memorial a very worthy send off for Dad. His memorial included some moments of genuine grace and beauty that I will never forget. Moments that evoked powerful feelings of both happiness and heartache within me and many others there who loved my father.

While Dad never had a daughter of his own, he treated my first and former wife, and also my current wife, as if both women were his own daughters. He made them both feel loved just as much as if he was their father. They loved him just as much in return, and both my ex-wife and my current wife attended his memorial service. It was a somewhat surreal moment for me, when I watched them embrace, and whisper words of comfort to each other for the shared pain of loss they both felt, for the man who had loved them like a second father. My ex-wife and I also embraced, and for that brief moment, all the pain and bitterness of our past no longer existed as we comforted each other with a gesture that felt pure and natural, instead of forced and awkward.

I had not shed any tears for my father, from the morning he passed away on December 30th, until his memorial service two weeks later. My tears finally flowed freely but not profusely, and without sobbing, while singing the first hymn of the service, “Morning Has Broken”. It was one of my father’s favorite hymns, and also one of my favorite songs from the years of my teenage youth, in the version covered by Cat Stevens. Singing that hymn was powerfully evocative for me of the time when during my adolescence, my Dad was teaching me with his words, and by his own life example, how to be a man.

 

Including contributions from my mother, myself, my wife Jean, and other members of our family, the Minister told the story of my father’s life, skillfully and effectively, in a way that even those who didn’t know him well, were able to gain a sense of who he was.

I was moved to tears again by the music at the end of my father’s memorial service, while a man who is a pianist for the orchestra that plays with the Boston Ballet, played a perfect rendition of “Grand Waltz Eb Op 18″ by Chopin. This is music that was very dear to both my mother and father, and it was my mother’s choice to have it played as the postlude for her husband’s memorial service. Mom’s choice was the perfect choice to close out the memorial that was more a celebration of my father’s life, than a mourning of his death.

 

When the music concluded, over one hundred people who were there, broke into spontaneous applause. It was truly the perfect ending for Dad’s memorial service, and a unique moment that I will never forget, for the rest of my life.

 

About Chris Sheridan

I’m a 56 year old guy who is young (and immature) at heart, and I love humor and laughter. Married for 22 years, but still enjoy all the glories of womanhood everywhere, even while dedicated to one woman only - and I hope my wife never finds out about her!
This entry was posted in Personal and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Celebrating the Life and Memory of John Sheridan Sr.

  1. Elyse says:

    Dear Chris,
    A perfect tribute to your Dad. Beautifully written, heart-fully felt.
    My condolences.
    Elyse

  2. Sorry to hear about your Dad’s passing, Chris. You’ve written a wonderful tribute to him reflecting how you were touched at the memorial service and throughout out your Dad’s life. All the best to you and your family.

  3. benzeknees says:

    So sorry you lost your Dad Chris, I know you were close. But at the same time, I am sure there is some relief in that his struggle is over. I hope you & your family can carry on with your memories of the wonderful man your father once was.

    • Thank you Lynda. My Dad and I were close, but just as you mentioned, there is a great deal of relief for me, my mother, and other family members, now that we know he no longer suffers. Our memories of my father in his prime are a genuine comfort for us, and so much better than being forced to witness what he had been reduced to, in the final year of his “life”. Thanks for taking the time to write your kind words of comfort and sympathy here. I sincerely appreciate it.

  4. RFL says:

    This is a beautiful tribute to your father. Again, my condolences to you and your family. Beautiful music choices as well. There are never adequate words for these things so just know I feel for you, I felt this post, and my heart goes out to you and yours.

  5. snarkysnatch says:

    Chris I am very sorry to hear about your father. I lost my step father a year ago this month so I know there is nothing a person can say to serve as an elixir to loss. Please know you are very much in my thoughts today after reading your heartfelt tribute. And major props to your recent blog post. So daring. I had to check to make sure I was still on your blog page. ;) Hugs my friend.

    • Thanks for your comment here Kat. Your sympathetic understanding is sincerely appreciated. I’m sorry that you lost your step father a year ago, and I do understand that recovering from the loss of anyone we truly love, is a long and ongoing process.

      That recent blog post? Well I’m glad that it impressed at least one person other than myself, in a positive way. Lol ;-) So daring? (smiles wryly) I’ve been long on “daring” but often short on common sense for most of my life. I think that 99 % of my readers who follow this blog enjoyed that post, about as much as the folk music purists enjoyed Dylan playing loud and electric Rock ‘n Roll. That post didn’t make a very positive impression at “home” either, if you know what I mean… But she’ll get over it, and honestly, I am unrepentant and I have no regrets for writing that post. It was an important and valid exercise for me, and if nobody else other than you and Elyse can understand that, then so be it.

  6. crazybunny66 says:

    I am so sorry about your loss and the fact that my condolences are so late because I completely missed your post above. Dementia is a terrible illness but it sounds like you are a close-knit family, former family members included and It must be a great comfort to you that you’re not alone at a time like this.

    • Thanks for your caring and compassionate comment here. I sincerely appreciate it. But no need for you to be sorry… none at all. Dementia is a terrible illness, and I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. But you are right in that having a relatively close family did help us get through it, and the worst of this chapter in our lives is behind us now.

  7. Teeny Bikini says:

    My condolences. I never know what to say when something so sad occurs, but my thoughts are with you and your family. Sending big hugs…

    • Thanks Teeny. Your expression of sympathy is a genuine comfort. I know what you mean about how it’s hard to know what to say to a person who lost someone they loved, because I’ve had that same feeling myself, when I’ve found myself standing in front of someone who has been devastated by grief. Sometimes there are no words that will help at a time like that. But I’ve found that any gesture, if it is genuinely compassionate, sometimes helps far more than it may seem to at the time.

  8. Dianna Denley says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your father. It sounds like it was a lovely funeral service, or as lovely as they can possibly be. Sending you and your loved ones condolences all the way from Australia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s