Yesterday's day long tribute to my father was more moving than I expected. There were many people at the Gamble Funeral Home, including my Aunt Sarah, my cousins, my friends, including Ben, John and Maggie, Kathy and Lisa, a sweet gay couple, Daryl and Brian, and even people from the AMBUCS.
The gathering at Kathy's was pleasant and sad simultaneously. It poured rain the whole day. A limo took us to the Beaufort National Cemetery, where soldiers stood at attention in the downpour. We took our places in a covered area, the huge bouquet of flowers from BFA standing in front of us. The soldiers folded the flag in an elaborate ceremony and presented it to Kathy, who sat between Lisa and grand-daughter Maggie, my father's only grand child. I was pleased she had come.
Then the soldiers gathered to fire guns in salute and another soldier played the farewell bugle. It was all very moving and we were all in tears.
The ceremony transcended the particular time and place, though the rain made it especially touching. We all knew it was just such a ceremony and meaning my father, himself, would want and be moved by. This is what he, Lt. Col. Miller stood for and believed in. He thought of himself as a patriot and a good citizen. He thought of himself, also, as a good father and husband, whether he achieved that in our eyes, for the moment, was unimportant. We honored him for what he believed in; that is what I found so moving.
For me, the ceremony was one of completion. In my mind he rose out of the skeletal frame and feeble mind of the past decade to become the whole man I knew as a child and young adult. I may know his failings, but yesterday I also knew what was good in him and recalled how proud I once was of him. I recalled the joy he felt in his office, of owning Savannah's oldest standing house. I recalled his love of art, his photography, the gallery he once had and which gave him joy. The joy he took in helping Kathy promote her own art for decades; all the shows and galleries, beginning with his office--
We didn't have much in common, my father and I, except our love of art, however different our viewpoints; our love of chess and of bowling; we shared his love of Stravinsky and Schopenhauer, and his love of Savannah. Interestingly enough, Dad also loved Marilyn Monroe both as an artistic subject of art and for her personality and looks.
He shared this with the Gay Community, of course, and he was also supportive of gay relationships, especially Darryl's and mine.
Kathy reminded us of his love of Paris, too, of his climbing out of the spires of Notre Dame for yet another take on the gargoyles.
Dad will live on in our memories. That is the way of things. With time the good ones will dominate if not cancel the not-so-good ones. Add to those the heartening glimpses of others at the service who shared memories of him. Farewell, Lt. Col. Jack Miller, husband, father, grandfather, brother, attorney, artist, art lover, and good citizen.
Dad with John and me