Monday, October 5, 2009

Closing One Book...

...and opening the next.

It's hard to believe everything is done. A week ago he was upstairs and we were up to our ears in medicines and nurses and log books and hopes and prayers and dreams and today the house lies wrapped in the uneasy silence of work that has suddenly ground to a halt.

The wake and funeral were wonderful send-offs to him. Alphagraphics, in Red Bank, did a lovely job printing cards upon which we had written the following:

Arty’s Legacy

We in the Oberle family have been comforted, encouraged and humbled by the prayers, love, well wishes and ultimately condolences we received during Art’s illness. As he grew weaker, we began reading the letters, cards, e-mails and posts Art received aloud to him. As we did so, we glimpsed a world of people whose lives he touched and changed, invariably for the better, without ever letting us know what he had done. A gentle leader, an enthusiastic teacher and an irrepressible optimist, Art always had time to lend a hand to someone in need before moving quietly on with his day. He preferred not to talk about those he helped and how he helped them and he never wanted recognition for his actions; accolades made him uncomfortable. He gave of his time, skills, knowledge and contacts freely and expected nothing in return. He gave because it was the right thing to do.

You’ve come here today to honor and remember a truly good man. As you leave, please help us carry his legacy forward by committing a single, unheralded act of kindness. Help someone for the sake of being helpful and then tell no-one what you’ve done, but in your heart say, “That was for you, Arty, because that’s what you would have done.”

Dom and Sharon worked extra hard to make sure everything was beautiful for the cards and also for the funeral programs. Then they brought the programs to the church and served as Eucharistic ministers at the mass. We are so grateful to them and to all the other people who stepped in to help us limp through laying Dad to rest.

There were people who sent food (thank goodness because we certainly weren't grocery shopping).

There were people who sent flowers (thank goodness because half the time we weren't showering).

There were people who ran errands and held babies and provided strong shoulders upon which to fall in tears. All will be thanked individually, but all must be acknowledged here and now - thank you thank you thank you.

Sadly, Dad's grandchildren are too young to get the full benefit of having him for a grandfather. Kurt, Chris and I can tell them he was an amazing man until we are blue in the face, but there are stories that we don't know, or that are not nearly as good second-hand (or third-hand) as they are when told by the person who lived them. In order to preserve as much of Dad's colorful personality and history as possible, we have created an e-mail address in his memory. It is:

If you have a story (or several stories) or a recollection about Dad, or if you're willing to share with his grandchildren what he meant to you, please e-mail We are collecting the e-mails and putting them into a book, along with the cards and letters and other well wishes that he received during his illness. On behalf of the children, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to give them a glimpse of what a fun, warm, caring, funny guy he really was.

I'll close this portion of the blog out with the prayer Christian chose for the prayer cards at the funeral home. I feel like Dad would have approved of it:

When I Must Leave You

When I must leave you for a little while
Please do not grieve and shed wild tears
And hug your sorrow to you through the years
But start out bravely with a gallant smile;
And for my sake and in my name
Live on and do all things the same.
Feed not your loneliness on empty days,
But fill each waking hour in useful ways,
Reach out your hand in comfort and in cheer
And I in turn will comfort you and hold you near;
And never, never be afraid to die
For I am waiting for you in the Sky!

I am not certain of the fate of the blog. Perhaps it will retire; maybe it will continue on under a new name - a place to remember Arty along with I will post when I have a better idea of what is to come. For now, I am going to sign off, power down and take a few moments to rest and remember that incredible man I was lucky enough to call "Dad".