Posts Tagged ‘Dead at 69’


Here is the final part of my experience of losing my father in “Losing Dad.”

The week of March 5th was indeed approaching. And with the coming days of the funeral, it was going to get tough to declare my father heaven bound.

Most of that was of me looking at movies like Higher Learning when Malik (played by Omar Epps) and Professor Phibbs (played by Laurence Fishburne) were talking about the recent shooting on campus, and Malik perservered throughout the madness. Nearly at the end of the conversation, Professor shouted, MALIK! And quoted this from a famous African American: “Without struggle there can be no longer progress.” And Malik responded, “Frederick Douglass.” Final word from the Professor: “Right.” Later on the scene of Any Given Sunday when the coach talked about the inches pep talk. But most of that was gearing towards Rocky V when Rocky himself visited Mick’s old gym and hearing him and Mick going over the boxing moves before the title fight. Mick’s advice (played by Burgess Meredith whom was Penguin from the old Batman Shows) telling Rocky about being prepared for the fight, and his words of when we losing our friends and family members, and Mick didn’t have a reason to go on. But when he looked at Rocky, he had a reason to move forward. It was a scene I played about three times and getting a “wave of emotion” dealing with the loss of Dad. That felt real. And it has.

March 9th, 2017 was the hurdle of that. Before many of the public was open to the viewing of Dad at the Williamson Funeral Home, myself along with my mother and Aunt had our private moment. It was very sad. Seeing my 69 year old father lying in the casket. Heartbreaking. Tough. No matter what you call it, it wasn’t felt right at all. I said that day that I got his back. And plus he still inspires me. He helped me out, my sister out, he served this country and many others. I said, “thank you, Dad. THANK YOU!” Too bad my sister couldn’t make it to the visitation due to her health concerns, but being the representative that I am, I had to pinch hit. Dad was decorated well. Including the suit he wore along with him being in the silver diplomatic casket with the Stars and Stripes of the flag being displayed. The flowers with the themed red, white, and blue were on each side with the US Army Flag in the background. The American Flag was draped slightly towards the right by not touching the floor. After we had our moment, our guests and family members visited us as they offered condolences and sympathies. We also had guests from his old high school of North Division to come out to visit us. Old neighbors, friends, my pastor, relatives on both sides to come for a visit. Even current and former members of my church, my mother’s Alumni and Sorority came along. They came to show the support of us.

Later on in the visit, my pastor asked for prayer, and then I was given a chance to speak on my Dad’s behalf. I address the family and guests as a way to kick off the sharing of the memories. Most of the references that I summarized was from the funeral bulletin in which I highlighted the graduations, special events, and others. It was called “Final Salute to my Father.” Even also he matched my church salary in which to him to help me out to support. Even about if the Packers played, being the victors or losers. And the lasting thing I summarized the statement as a “Veteran’s Son” in which I am. I said to my family that he, was the last one. But I also said to my 1st Cousins espeicially that we have to step up. It’s our turn now. We have to be there for our children. If we don’t tell the stories, then who will? After that, I thanked the guests coming out and thakning them for their support.

Other neighbors and friends summarized my father in similar ways after I spoke. And the end of that, and exiting out of the funeral, I told my father that “I’ll see you tomorrow” with tapping the casket.

Then came the day. March 10th, 2017. This was the day of my father’s funeral. Hard to swallow on this. When my family arrived at the church, we had to set up some pictures and a portrait of him when he was in the military. Also displayed a booklet of some of his best projects he done over the years. We had a short visitation when the guests were coming in as well as my cousins and aunts from my Dad’s side came in to greet my mother and I. My former pastor, a Vietnam Veteran himself came along with his wife for support. Before the last 10 minutes were up, my mother got emotional knowing that this was the last time we see Dad. And as we approached the casket for the last time at the church, we said our goodbyes, our thank yous,  and I promised to make sure that my mother and sister will be safe. And I have his back. My final promise to him is my solemn vow that I had to be that next person to support.

As the service continued, there had been many references that were summarized. A representative from the North Shore Post Office, was the first to speak and remininced about my father’s work, involvement with food drives, his relationship among workers, and of course his Corvette. My former pastor talked about his viewpoint in terms of war stories, and similar issues dealing with knee problems! My younger cousin (a millennial mind you) was the next to summarize our family and the sympathies to support. Finally my Aunt had to pitch in for my sister, but the poem she read, was titled: “My Daddy”.

My Daddy
I sit and look back to how far I can remember,
And you are always there next to me.
Each and Everyday you were helping me to grow up,
And making me be the best that I can be.

Your love was forever strong,
Your cuddles forever tight.
Everyday since I was born,
Your love was always in sight.

I will always be your Baby Girl,
And you will always be My Daddy.
I know I will always be the luckiest,
To have the best Dad any girl could have had.

My Daddy I love you with all my heart,
Much more than I could ever say.
You are my world, my everything,
Each and Everyday.
Written by Ranja Kujala July, 2009

The similarity with the poem, also resonates the feeling that my sister got word of losing Dad. We know the connections between Fathers and Daughters are inseparable. Very different from my father and son talks. No matter the pain or feeling, it was all around. And love for my father was deeply felt.

The eulogy of my father talked about forgiveness, love for one another, and a subject called “unfinished business.” The pastor highlighted the room that he saw my father that featured his easel of an oil drawing from 1991, and of course his video collections on the wall with a Wide Screen TV (BIG) in the center. The pastor also commented about a staircase, in which his spirit and Jesus would meet. At the end of the service, we gathered our things as we exited the church. But here was the shocker. When we were in the line to leave, we saw more folks packing the church as if it was like, how this happened?! First it was small, then it was large. And yes, there were members of the clergy mostly ministers who knew my Dad came out for the support. Talk about leaving a mark.

We headed to the limos and made a hour trek to the cemetery in Union Grove, Wisconsin. As we gathered in the area to meet up, we were greeted by the cemetery staff and leaders to go over my Dad’s gravemarker, featuring quotes and a symbol of the United Methodist Church. Then after we (my mother and I) went over the committal portion to summarize how it will go in the almost 6 minute session. From the music of the Army Song, the honor guard saluting the casket on both sides, the Marine Veterans on the outside in formation of the 21 gun salute and the Folding of the flag. Plus the bullets and coin were handed to my mother.

For The Committal portion, review the entire video below courtesy of my recording.

 

I had to say that the Committal was the highlight of my Dad’s service. This made me realize I am even more proud to be a Veteran’s Son! Being a Veteran’s Son is not some made up badge overnight. It’s a way of life to actively say that I salute his service, and will continue to tell the stories that will live on in me. It’s not just a catch-phrase, that is a promise! Nevermind all the negative hoopla about war, viewpoints and politics. Even bold consciousness. I’m proud of the fact that my father did that by serving. I respect him for that and yes there will  be more my Veteran support in my house! No I didn’t serve, (don’t hate me on that), but I’m just darn proud that his decorated standard was just that: Good! Mostly with family members that had indeed served! Yes, my father served in an unpopular war in Vietnam, and mentioning to my mother way back that when we came back home to the States, he said “that the world turned dark.” I remember him saying that there was no recognition for Vietnam Vets like him that never got the welcome thing like the military has now. Of course NOW, they are getting their respect years later. But why not then! One of job duties was a Helicopter Gunner, and one of his accommodations was the Bronze Star Medal.

As the service ended, we exited the chapel with the honor guards saluting us. Plus one of the Marine Veterans whom did the 21 gun salute, greeted my mother and I. Even though the Marine Veteran didn’t knew my father, he commented that “It was an honor for me to this.” That was real talk. Even though, he was an older caucasian man, but he did that for a black Vietnam Veteran that was honored for his service as a SP5. On the way back to the church for the repast, I had to put on my music on my cell phone. I chose the music to play of “Nighshift” by The Commordores in which was one of my Dad’s favorites.  Another was “I’ll Be Rested” by Mavis Staples, and plus a Nina Simone favorite, of “I Shall Be Released.” That song of course was a highlight favorite from watching Scandal.

The Lessons and Aftermath

In the later days, we still had our ups and downs, some things have become a little harder with now the three of us running the show. And I’m the man of the house now. But knowing the supporting cast has been uplfifted, and new standards have been updated with new accountabilty. Make no mistake, my family, my McClinton Family is still alive. We are still here. And yes that even though that our 10 members that are no longer here, wtih my father being the last one, we (the next era in the family) must do is what I said to my mother: we have to stay in the fight. And like in scripture: So it was written. So it shall be done.

Were holding on and still in the struggle.


Here is the second part of the blog, “Losing Dad.”

2017.03.08.07.52.53

For a few days, the pain of losing my father was surreal. It was emotional, hard, and also didn’t felt right. But before all that began, I got my mother to come back to my sister’s house. She first wanted to water her plants, and we both went to bed after enduring a hard situation. But before I went to bed, I had to post the hardest Facebook post of losing my father. It was about 3:30am in the morning and then I went to sleep. When I woke up the next couple of hours, I got dressed to take my mother back to St. Luke’s Hospital to be with my sister. Then later on I went back to the north side to set up an appointment with the funeral home for the start of my father’s service. I also went to my parents house in starting to clean up my Father’s entertainment room to take out the rug that he heavily bleed on. And also I clean up the room that he had his last remaining days before dying so soon.

I went up stairs where I had my fun where later on he took over the room after 2000. Nothing but memories growing up. I also had the thought of taking his CD’s that he listened to while working or going to work just to try to ease some of the pain.

My dad was more of a blues fan. Listening to his music collection of John Lee Hooker, Magic Slim, and the Legendary Mavis Staples to name a few. Speaking of that, before he died, we were talking about a song that he was reminded of Mississippi and the south. The name of the song was called, “I’ll be rested”, in which I had a thought of listening myself during Black History Month. But that was then. I began to grab more of his mixtapes on CD’s that he often listen to while working in the house or his days at the Post Office. Thinking about also making a playlist in honor of him when Father’s Day comes as well as his August 18th Birthday.

Plus at the house I had to find some necessary pictures of him and us on our vacations, events, earlier times before he was married, school, the military, and others. Collectively, we had a collection of pics gallore! Later on in the week, I’ve done more cleaning, plus gathering more material that would be beneficial for the Funeral arrangements that was upcoming. Ranging from marriage certificates, to forms of military honorary discharge papers. And in my mind, this whole thing was just surreal gathering the stuff was just that. Surreal.

In church on Sunday after my Dad’s passing, my pastor preached a sermon called “Don’t Be Afraid.” In which he used me as an example of what I went through on the night when I discovered Dad dead in his Entertainment Room. It paled in comparison of what I talked about previously about that even though the situation was hard to swallow, I had to do something in general. In maintaining control of the ship to maintain order. In a spiritual effect, I think that Dad would approve it very well. Plus I highlighted the things that I summarized:

He was a member of my church for 47 years. – In December of 1969, he married my mother. Which also made him a member of the church since.

He wasn’t an “every Sunday” church member, but he was a member.

He was around for my graduations, my sister’s graduations, church events, even the Veterans Day Celebrations at my church.

Always known to fix things around the house, home modelings, woodworkings and others.

He also matched my church salary to make sure I was financially well. He knew I wasn’t making enough as a Church Secretary, but he wanted to help out. And he did. Plus with that, he supported my sister’s needs as well.

And as far as a lessons learned. They spoke for itself. Even the hard lessons!  Plus I thanked the church for the support.

February 27th was the meeting at the Williamson Funeral Home, which is black owned. And plus in history it was mostly that they buried more of my folks. Even my father talked about the owner all the time. We were at the office getting the service for Dad prepared. We chose the date Friday, March 10th 2017 as the day with a visitation date of March 9th. The site of the burial we chose was the Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Union Grove. Plus, I have an Aunt that is buried out there since 1997. Plus two of my church members are buried and entombed at the cemetery.

Along the way we had to get the additional information of his insurance to cover the costs of the funeral including picking out his casket. And for the Committal portion of the funeral, my mother would receive the folded flag, and there was a mention of the 21 Gun Salute that was added as part of the service.

After the service was set up, I immediately went to my Facebook Page to inform my followers, phones convos, text messages and others on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google plus to give the official rundown of my father’s funeral. The dates, places and etc. And likewise, more condolences poured in.

In the remaining days, I also got my Dad’s dark blue suit jacket and light gray trousers. The very same set he wore to my uncle’s funeral in early September. And there was additional shopping to conquer to get shirts, ties, socks and for me, I had to purchase a dark blue jacket, a light gray pants to have an idea (via my mother) to dress like Dad for the funeral.

The notices in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Williamson Funeral Home Website were set to view on the Wednesday before the visitation. And the booklets had to be printed for the funeral as well. Thanks to Great Impressions here in Milwaukee, they were excellent later on.

Part three of “Losing Dad” will continue with the Heartbreaking visitation, the funeral, and the Committal Service.


For the last three and a half weeks, it’s been a nightmare shocking whirlwind of the death of my father. For the first time here on WordPress, I’m going to summarize the feeling that I experienced losing Dad. This post will be in three parts.

The last time I saw my father alive was Sunday, February 19th, 2017. He was last looking at a picture album full of past funeral bulletins in the last decade or so. As my father was looking at the book and summarizing the funreal programs of my Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles (his parents and siblings) he realized to my mother that he was the last one. The last of the 10. My Dad was the youngest of the five brothers, my uncles. His last visit to my sister’s house in Milwaukee, was February 21st, 2017. He told my mother that he had to go to the store, and then home. He also told my sister that he was prepared to leave. That was the last time collectively within those two days we saw him alive.

A couple days later, my sister had to be admitted to the hospital for her health needs. And all day my mother had been calling Dad. Finding out where he was in all. No answer. Same day, no Answer.When Thursday came, I was going to my Aunt’s house to take over a recipe for a Black History Month Event at a Milwaukee Elementary School. It was a Thursday night watching Scandal and getting prepared. After a middle of that, I received a call from my mother to see how things are going.She also advised me to go over to the house to check in on Dad to see how he was doing. Plus again, no answer. So after I left my Aunt’s house I headed over my parents house. First I called into the house. No answer. Then I walked to the front door and rang the doorbell. Nothing.Then I checked the mailbox and it was full. That was odd to me because it’s not like my father to keep the mailbox this full. He usually takes in the mail and sorts it for myself, my sister and mother. Then I went around to the backdoor to try to gain access to the door. One vital factor,I needed the keys to get in. I had to return to my sister’s house to get the keys in my backpack. Then while I was there, I dropped off the cornbread and called the house to see if my father would pick up. I left a voicemail message to see if he would answer it. No avail. And I told myself that “if he doesn’t answer in the next fifteen minutes, I’m going over there.” So I got back in my mother’s minivan and returned to my parents house. Having a feeling of being scared I went inside just to see what’s been going on. I accessed the backdoor to get into the house yet again. While looking around I had my mother on the cell checking in. I looked upstairs to see if was there. Nothing. Along the way in the living room and nothing but his brown hoodie on the couch next to his Vietnam Veteran Flag. But then, I went downstairs to the basement, where his Entertainment Room was full of movies and CD’s, plus a table, an easel drawing from 1991. And my father was on the floor. I told my mother, “Mom, Dad’s on the floor!” And she asked “what do you mean he’s on the floor?” I called out to Dad to wake him up. Even I shook him a bit to wake him up. I checked his pulse on his neck and wrist. No pulse. Nothing. Then I told Mom that he was not responding.  I called 911 to have the parimedics to come, and while they were arriving I turned him over to have him face up, then did the CPR compressions to try to revive him. His head was slightly bloodied appeared he hit his head hard. And his Right Arm was bloodied with his blood tissue sticking out.  (Warning Graphic Words) When the Parimedics came, they took over and asked the questions. Moments later my mother called to see if we’re there any results, but the bad news that my father who gave me his name….had been dead for two days. I was shocked and numb! And sad. My mother and sister: Sad. Grieving. I was in disbelief. MY OWN FATHER!!! My 69 year old father, died. I was just absolutely shocked sad and numb all around. Later on , the Milwaukee Police Department came over to investigate the basement where he died. And between the police and the Parimedics, I had to answer the tough questions like: “When was the last time you talked with him?” My mind kept thinking back to Sunday, February 19th for a reason. In which that was the final time I saw him alive. Another question: “What kind of medications was he taking? He was taking his medications to upkeep his health, including his blood sugar to see how he was doing in which at the time was his focus. “Was he a smoker? At the time, Dad quit smoking in October 2009 after a major colon surgery. Which he lived to talked about it. And other Health conditions in all. With all that going on, I had to take control of the situation. I didn’t panic, nor freak out. I maintained my composure, answered the many questions as possible and they were impressed. I told them about the work history of what my father did from Allis Chalmers, Pfister and Vogel Tannery, the VA Medical Center and the US Postal Service. Plus I mentioned his military service with the US Army and served during the Vietnam War. I also described an attire that he wore the most of his dark blue shirts, blue jeans & shoes. He usually dressed like that in order to do work around the house, or other houses if needed.

My relatives mostly my cousins, aunt’s and uncles, all came over. Plus for a stint, it was dead silence. And the thunderstorm was brewing above with hailstones early Friday Morning. Later, my pastor and his wife came over to check out the situation. After many was assembled we all had prayer. I started to say that “you know me since the beginning. You know what I’m about”. After the prayer, I was given the honors to cover up my Dad with a yellow sheet. But before I did that, I uttered the words “you empowered me sir. You Empowered me!” And I made another vow “I got your back.” After I covered him up, I went back upstairs with the family by shutting the doors. Plus there were others from the Milwaukee County Coroner’s office wanted additional info to provide in all. Moments later, my pastor and one of my older cousins wanted to see Dad. I took them downstairs to the room, uncovered the sheet and at the moment, my pastor have given a prayer at the spot. He wanted to see him, and he did. Not a good look for my cousin’s reaction with grief. After that, we went back upstairs with me covering up the sheet and closing the door. Much later, I felt I needed to take a break, and sat in my Dad’s bedroom. Then, my mother came in the house, sobbing. And she called out my name when I was upstairs. I went to her immediately and hugged her tight. She thanked me for coming over knowing that I had felt scared of what happened to Dad. She was relieved of that part. Later on she wanted to go downstairs to see Dad. Along the way, she saw his last meal of greens and Barbecue Porkchops. As myself, my mother and uncle went downstairs, I opened the doors and the three of us hugged each other tightly while grieving. All she saw was him covered up except his foot. And after that, I closed the doors to his Entertainment room. Much later, here come the Undertakers. The representatives from a local Funeral Home stopped by to get Dad out of the room and with him covered. They got him and took him away to do further summarizations of his death and what lead to it.

After that, I looked to the heavens and told my late grandparents, aunts and uncles that “S.T. is home.” Meaning that he was on his way to be with them. S.T. was my Dad’s nickname growing up.

Many of us had our hugs, but I had many of them the most. After all that, this was the most hard beginnings I began to endure.

Part two of “Losing Dad” will continue featuring the hard facebook post, and preparations for his funeral.