Funeral for Dale Garraway

On Tuesday, 2 January, Dale Garraway passed away at the age of 57. His funeral was today, attended by several hundred friends and family.

I didn’t know Dale all that well — he was still Mr. Garraway to me — but I’m close friends with his daughter, Tamara. She’d been my housemate for over two years and we’ve known each other for about six and a half years. We’ve seen each other through quite a bit.

The death of a parent, however, is hard to take. It doesn’t matter if you have foresight to the passing (such as with my father) or if it comes without any warning (such as with Dale). It’s still a tragic event that shifts your whole life.

Tamara called me Tuesday evening. It was a lot for me not to cry. I didn’t know exactly how she felt — the passing also came as a shock, and could have only been harder than it was for me. The funeral would be Saturday, and could I be there? Without question. (Although that was the same day Allen and Jean arrive.)

During the week, I organized the Asian Brother Crew for cards and in memoriam donations to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. It wasn’t hard to raise $350. We met at Sushi Kawa on Friday to sign a card for Tamara (Doug showed us up and wrote his own).

The Christ Church on 8th Street is old and gorgeous. Though not a stone edifice, it is still replete with time and passion. The service was well-attended — it was quite literally standing room only at the back. I sat alone, forgetting (due to a foul up in my understanding of the directions) that Adrian, Teak, and Rose were still yet to come. Adrian got stuck at the back for the hour, Rose and Teak were on the south aisle several rows ahead of me.

The service was sentimental and filled with hymns and psalms. The only thing I knew in the entire service was the Anglican version of the Lord’s Prayer (having memorized it when I was a kid — they still had the Lord’s Prayer when I was in primary school).

Afterwards Teak, Rose, and Adrian drove down to Okotoks for the burial. I couldn’t go owing to the arrival of in-laws and because the Garraways had asked me to bring some of Dale’s personal items to the reception and set them up before people arrived.

The Calgary Golf and Country Club is quite the venue — I must remember to mention it to Cyndy for the next Critical Mass party. It was a fitting place for Dale’s send off.

Several photos of Dale engaged in various sports and with his family, a toy truck representing the Calgary Flames, a toy helmet for the Stampeders, an NFL toque with a ticket for a Dallas Cowboys game, a golf card with his hole-in-one on a Par 5, and a prized putter. But they were only the things I was given … before long, the table was covered with items about Dale.

As I was wandering outside to see if I could get a cell signal to call Teak and see if they were coming to the reception, the Garraways arrived back. They looked relieved given the day they were going through.

(But really, that’s what funerals are all about: closure. People need closure. Ceremonies exist to help people work into the frame of mind they need to be in to accept the passing of a loved one, and allow life to continue.)

The reception was filled with people that I’d never met before, and while I did manage to meet a few, these people were here mostly to see each other and remember Dale. I kept off to the side until Teak, Rose, and Adrian arrived, which was shortly before the slideshow that Tamara had created.

I didn’t remain long — in-laws at home, after all — but did manage to see that Tamara was feeling better.

Like many things, it just takes time.