I got a very early morning phone call on June 7 with the news that my father, Curt Saltmarsh, had passed away. He had awakened around 3 a.m. having trouble breathing, and Dotti called 911. Apparently he had a blood clot in his lung and died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
Ron and Kathy flew to Portland immediately. My mom drove down from Walla Walla to help out with Katie and Jack. Arrangements were made with other friends and family members for their arrivals, and we began preparing a memorial service.
Kathy went to view Dad's body on Wednesday. I couldn't go. The thought of seeing him like that, touching him and feeling how cold he would be, was unbearable. I last saw him fairly recently, but Kathy hadn't seen him since last summer so it was important to her to get one last glimpse. Afterward she was glad she'd gone but said it was very difficult.
We began to scour our photo albums and scan pictures to put in a slide show for the memorial service. We chose three songs and organized the pictures around them. The show came out to about 10 minutes long, I think, and I've posted it to the web site so you can download and view it. It should run automatically. Be sure you have speakers turned on.
Assembling the slide show was cathartic, I suppose, but also very, very sad. It was hard to cut down a person's life into such a short amount of time. Kathy and I each wrote a eulogy to be read at the service, and they became complements of the slide show, in a way. Anyone who didn't know Dad well before the memorial service would certainly know him after!
The memorial service went as well as it could have. Mark Winkelman (Dotti's son-in-law) read our eulogies. Wellington sang "The Lord's Prayer" and it was absolutely beautiful. There was a time for people to share memories of Dad, which was very special for us to hear. We closed with the slide show. There was a reception afterward, where Dotti served a bunch of my dad's favorite cookies. I couldn't help but think how much he would've enjoyed being there.
It's really unbelievable that he's gone. Just when I think I'm okay I'll remember something and burst into tears. Poor Katie and Jack can't figure out what's wrong with me; although they understand that Grandpa Curt is gone, they obviously can't comprehend the permanence of death. They just know that Mommy and Appie and everyone else who was at our house this past week couldn't stop crying. And still can't.
If you never met my dad, please take a moment to get to know him by reading our eulogies and watching the slide show. Kathy and I have both said that we suddenly feel this great desire to share our dad, so indulge a couple of proud daughters, won't you? We'd love you to share any special memories of Curt Saltmarsh, so please leave them in the comments area below. Thanks.