Saying goodbye


Oddly enough, I wrote the following to a friend last night—before Sam’s funeral today.

I feel like I need a chance to say goodbye, and I want to support the rest of the family. I don’t expect it to be sad—Sam was too much fun for that. I expect it to be a joyful remembrance of what he gave to all of us, and I’m not going to the burial. I also want to represent my family to pay their respects, since my parents are out of town. My middle brother worked for Sam as well, and the youngest son was one of my brother’s best friends.

On my way to Hugo I did really well without crying—until I had to drive by the darkened Busy Bee with the white flowers on the front post as I came into town. I lost it for a few minutes there.

It took a while to realize it, but I think it’s the father-in-law thing that makes this the hardest. I never really had a father-in-law, because my husband’s dad was sick when we met, and he died about 3 months after we married. I never really got to know him. And since I dated Sam’s son for more than 3 years, marriage was just kind of assumed, and I had already adopted Sam as my “other” dad.

You’d have liked Sam and his no-nonsense attitude. He didn’t take crap from anyone. More than once, I heard him tell a rude customer that he couldn’t talk to his employees “like that” and that he “didn’t need the business that bad”! A man accused me of shortchanging him one night, and Sam asked me what happened, and I showed him what the man had given me, and what was in the drawer. Sam went back and told the man “she doesn’t lie to me. You didn’t give her a $20 and you know it. Now go on and get out of here!” I knew that was more than just a boss sticking up for an employee—that was a father sticking up for his daughter.

Funny how some of the comments I made were almost prophetic. My status for a while yesterday was “Stacy is better, but not as good as Sam…” That was one of the things Richard said. When someone said they were sorry to hear that his dad had died, and remarked that she thought he’d been getting better, Richard’s reply was that he DID get better; he was completely healed now. I believe that’s true.

The pastor mentioned how Sam didn’t hesitate to correct someone publicly. If he thought someone needed to be straightened out, he did it then and there. Carol and Susan talked about lessons that they had learned from their dad.

It was difficult, and yet it made it easier. It was exactly as I predicted—all 4 of the kids told stories about Sam; most were new to those outside the family, but many were familiar to me, and in a way that was a comfort, because it meant I WAS family to Sam. it was hard not to laugh prematurely when they started one that I already knew the ending to.

I loved hearing the story again about Richard’s bike on the garage roof. I also remember the story about Sam pouring all the tea into one glass when Richard complained that Susan got a larger glass than he did. I remember Boyd telling stories of Sam jumping over the counter with his hot spatula to chasse a customer out of the store. And I remember, as Boyd mentioned, how Sam would always come up with the oddest bits of interesting information.

It was great to see them all again; to see their faces light up with recognition when they realized who I was. I would have loved to spend more time with them, but it’s not the time to intrude. I said goodbye; I made my peace. I will still smile when I remember him standing at the end of the counter looking out the window, and I will miss knowing that no matter where I am, he’s there. But I know where he is now, too.

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