|My father, Henry Joseph Volkart, died at age 77 on March 15, 1995 in hospital in Surrey. He was born April 3, 1917, near Lougheed, Alberta, where he and mom raised their family.|
|The family gathered in Surrey for dad's funeral on March 18, 1995. Left to right, daughter-in-law Wendy, daughter Diane, daughter Betty, wife Frances, son Larry, daughter Carol, son Brian, son-in-law John.|
When my father died at Surrey Memorial Hospital 22 years ago Wednesday, the first thing my mother did was get in the car (now hers alone) and drive herself the 20 minutes to their Surrey home. My brothers Brian and Larry had just arrived from Alberta -- slightly too late to see dad alive one last time -- and mom felt she needed to cook supper for the assembled family.
Never flinching, she made us a meal we'd all shared with her and dad many times through the years -- chicken coated with Shake 'n Bake and served with gravy and vegetables. I have forgotten the details of how we got through that supper -- where we sat and what we talked about as we absorbed the new reality: our family of seven, previously unscathed by death, was now down to six.
But I clearly recall, as we made our way through that very familiar meal, that my main feeling was of its strangeness. While we were filling our tummies with this well-known food, one of "us" was simply . . . not there. Instead of sitting at his place at the table, sharing with us this nourishment for another day's living, dad was lying in the hospital morgue. It seemed strange beyond belief that we would never eat a meal together again.