Saturday, January 28, 2012

RIP Clarence W. Sims AKA The Raggedy Ass Son-of-a-Bitch

Photo by John Lynner Peterson

I have written about my Dad in this space before—like the section on Dad from my memoir here:

And this post about my last visit with him.
Last visit with Dad
 The last few years have been a healing experience for me with Dad. After admitting I love him, I accepted that I would never get what I needed from him as a father. This acceptance permitted me to enjoy him as a human being. He was a one-of-a-kind character.

Dad declined rapidly in the last few months. My half-brothers and I began to talk about his death, burial and funeral service. I knew officiating at the service would be something I could contribute that others couldn’t. I knew the service shouldn’t be in a church and shouldn’t be religious. A one-size-fits-all service by a clergy person who didn’t know him, sounded disgusting. I had to do it. Could I?

I got the call that Dad was gone at 8:30 Monday morning. I started thinking. I determined I would not make comments about Dad that were untrue. I could find lots of positive qualities and decided I would make jokes about his shortcomings. And, once again, my friend Don Lichtenfelt came through with poignant quotes, poems and connective material.

Oh, Facebook also provided some fodder. Dad’s favorite tavern, Leroy’s posted on their page a tribute to him that stated he sat on the corner barstool, ordered a cheeseburger with onion and a 7 and 7. They closed with “RIP Shoestring.” I knew his eulogy had to be delivered from a barstool.

We left for Evansville, IN on Wednesday morning. The visitation started at 4 pm with a service at 6:30. People started arriving. As I stood at the far end of the room, a woman through the door at the other end.

“Who is that?” I asked my half-brother Greg, “She looks a lot like me.”

“It’s Carol Sue.”
One of the Sibs

Oh my, Carol Sue is my father’s first child from his first marriage, eight other marriages followed. I scarcely knew her as a child but remembered she danced as a go-go girl at a bar in downtown Evansville in the Sixties. She’s 71 now.

And that was the beginning of the funeral experience. More to come.

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