Monday, December 30, 2013, we laid our Daddy to rest. The Virginia sky blazed with a warm palette of reds that morning. Our neighbors offered the Saint Francis of Assissi Catholic Church as a venue to accommodate the large crowd that would be in attendance at the memorial service. It was such a beautiful building, filled with those who had loved him longest and best.
Father Poff provided a beautiful ceremony. Dad's friend Bill Thomas paid him the greatest tribute in his memorial speech. My brother Danny did a lovely job of thanking our family and friends for their support, and thanking Dad for being a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather. The luncheon afterwards was lovely. The graveside service was sweet, attended by the family and a few friends who are like family. The grandchildren gave Granddaddy a goose and duck call salute, much like a 21-gun salute for military heroes. Everything about the day was so precious to me. I will be forever grateful that I was able to be in attendance.
The public tributes to Daddy were very comforting to the family. There are two private moments in which I participated, which I would like to share with you here.
My dad has always been a Civil War History buff. The concept of state's rights is something near and dear to his heart. His home has always been graced with pictures and small statues of General Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. One item he had was a replica of a Confederate States Army bugle.
My dad had owned the bugle forever, but to our knowledge, it was simply a decoration he had kept on his desk in his office at Beidler Realty. Bridger and I had been looking at my dad's things...memorabilia that included his aprons, his chef's hat, a Redskins' Hogette pig nose, to name a few of his prized possessions. Then we stumbled upon his bugle. Bridger looked up at me for approval, and I told him to go ahead and blow it.
Now Bridger has played the trumpet since sixth grade, and has gone on to play the tuba, the trombone, and the guitar. He had never played a bugle before, so I assumed he would put it to his lips, and let it sound with a loud honk. What happened next touched me so deeply.
My son pressed the bugle to his lips, and reverently played "Taps." Living near Hill Air Force Base, I am accustomed to hearing that play each night. This time was different. This time it was personal, and so heartfelt. I was amazed. It was such a tender tribute; I hope Daddy was watching. He would have been so touched, and so proud.
My kids have always loved their Granddaddy. Even though we lived 2300 miles away in Utah, the kids always felt close to him. He achieved "rock star status" with them early in their lives. They love his wit, his sarcasm, his wisdom, and his irreverent humor. One thing we all understand is Granddaddy's love of Krispy Kreme donuts.
The night we found out that my dad was gone, my older son and I were consoling each other, remembering fondly things Dad had said and done. Dylan started to chuckle. "I'll always remember Granddaddy at Myrtle Beach, wearing his short shorts and leather loafers and UVA hat...and when he went to the Krispy Kreme Donut shop, and bought 18 dozen donuts for us." Yes, that's right. One dozen for each Beidler family member in attendance on that beach trip. Our German ancestors saw to it that our fair skin fries under the hot South Carolina sun every time we vacation there. My brother Eric had designed t-shirts for us that year that said "Beidler Beach Bash" on the front, and "Crispy on the Outside, Krispy on the Inside" on the back.
As the sky was fading into dusk on the day of Dad's funeral, Bridger told me had something he had to do; would I come with him to the grocery store? We took his cousin Tatiana to Food Lion, and bought a small box of Krispy Kreme glazed donuts. We drove back to the Amherst Cemetery.
Tatiana and I watched as Bridger walked to the freshly packed Virginia red clay spot in the plot of my stepmother's ancestors.
Tatiana and I joined Bridger, slipping our arms around his back, and each of us told Granddaddy goodbye. We thanked him for our memories of Myrtle Beach. We told him how much we love him, and how much we would miss him. Tears flowed easily, and the love was palpable. Each member of the family would have their own way of saying goodbye; this was Bridger's, and I am so honored to have been a part of it.