The rolling hills of West Virginia in my mind are a lush green. The vivid oranges and yellows of nature burst forth to kiss the blue sky, lightly walked on by the clouds.
Memories of childhood, brutal snow storms, brilliant summers spent in the pool and laughter rush forward.
Yet on the particularly dreary Thursday, after the layover in Chicago was delayed three times, and driving through Pennsylvania and Ohio, West Virginia did not seem as warm as my memory.
The suspension bridge seemed cold. The Ohio River lacked spunk. The trees, barren, stood bravely in the frost speechless. Yet this was a town of romance. This was a town of history. This was the town my dad saw innate beauty in.
Funeral #2 for my father would be in West Virginia, his hometown. His wish was to be in the lush rolling hills with family despite his home being tropical for 31 years in the South.
The service was different its southern version. The South celebrated his life and legacy. The North celebrated his memory. Despite my voice failing or crying in front of so many people, despite the ugliness my words tried to convey of my magnificent father, seeing the church and funeral home packed with people he’s touched was beautiful.
The phrase is thrown around that “one person can make a difference“- yet who really puts the wheels on that train? My father, for starters.
The service spoke of “relationships” being most important because it is necessary for love. You cannot have love without relationships.
And within the past week, I learned of my Babbo’s relationships.
I heard of the phone calls. The many MANY phone calls to nearly everyone. Birthdays never forgotten, failures not highlighted, goals achieved all with and by my Dad. I witnessed first hand how he touched the lives of waitresses, the homeless (dad wouldn’t let any go hungry), and the people around him. In a world so fast and so ugly, he remained a beacon of beauty and hope.
I was in awe when Houston brought a packed church complete with two chartered buses by his company. And then West Virginia brought stillness.
In the early mornings, the windows were covered in frost. The steam from the coffee danced slowly into the air and the world was still. The room stopped spinning for the first time and the indescribable peace fell as a blanket over our cold and weary souls.
Friday arrived as many Fridays do. Yet this day, the “I’ll be seeing you” didn’t mean until tomorrow.
The ice glittered in the trees and a smile braved my face. The brazen sun touched the crystals and in the midst of a hideous frozen tundra and a bitter cold were brilliant diamonds shining.
There beauty was found
Life has ugly moments, but if you look for it, there will always be beauty. Always.
And the winter lands will thaw and the spring blossoms will be renegades in their own right. Life is reborn and replanted within each of us. Dad was right in calling me a bud.
Just waiting now to bloom.