March 14, 2004

Dad's Anniversary Service

I arrived yesterday in snowy, slushy, muddy Saskatoon, far from the blossoming cherry trees in Burnaby, to honour my father.

This morning I went to mass at All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Likely my first full mass in nearly 20 years aside from weddings and funerals.

The service was followed by a short 1st anniversary remembrance for my Dad, and to my surprize it resulted in some feeling of closure, or at least getting closer to it. Family members and friends came out of the pews to circle around the kolachi (traditional breads) and were handed candles to hold.

I sang the minor-key funeral responses, and tears trickled down my cheeks.

I'm lapsed Ukrainian Orthodox, but it was somehow comforting to be in the church, surrounded by relatives and parishoners I'd grown up with. I had my old, well-thumbed prayer book with me, complete with pencilled-in instructions from the days over 25 years ago when I used to be an altar boy and directed younger kids through the rituals.

A prayer book that had been in storage for some 20 years. The responses tumbled naturally off my lips in Ukrainian, though I can barely carry on a conversation in the language any more....

My Dad's wife Maura had invited over 100 people to lunch in the church basement, the count likely reached near 175, and it was great seeing many relatives and friends. I left Saskatoon about 20 years ago, yet it was comforting to see people I grew up with.

I felt good that I came.

And I felt very strange.

Nothing has changed, that would make me change.

Posted by Paul at March 14, 2004 03:13 PM