I’ve been putting off writing about Dad’s funeral.  I guess because I’m not sure what to say and kinda sorta didn't want to relive it, but I need to say SOMETHING.  So today I decided to just begin writing and see what happens.

The day of the funeral began with preparing for the after-party.  Set-up of the room and shopping and whatnot.  The Medford, Oregon weather cooperated and the sun shone for my dad’s final goodbye.  We arrived at the Eagle Point National Cemetery at 12:45pm and the afternoon began at 1:00 p.m. with the playing of Taps and the flag-folding ceremony.  Much tears were had (and are still being had) over Taps.  If my dad were here, he and I would be discussing the history of Taps and the flag folding.  I’d pull it up on my iPad and he on his Google and we’d spend about 45 minutes in deep research over the history of Taps.

In honor of Dad… (and with thanks to Wikipedia, Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and West Point.)

Taps is traditionally played on a bugle and features a mere 24 notes.  It is taken from a French bugle signal that notified soldiers to stop drinking and return to camp (called, “Tatoo”).  The last five measures of Tatoo, apparently, resemble that of Taps.  This last call came an hour before the final bugle call to end the day and turn out the lights, which was called, “L’Extinction des feux.” 

Today’s Taps was created during the Civil War by Union general Daniel Adams Butterfield in Harrison Landing, Virginia.  He decided the “lights out” music was too formal and so in July of 1862 he hummed what he remembered of Tatoo and an aide wrote it down in music. Butterfield then asked the brigade bugler, Oliver W. Norton, to play it and, after some work, it became the call at the end of each day.  Union and Confederate buglers alike began using this as the call at the end of the day.  It was given the name, “Taps” in 1874 after the command, “Tap Toe”, which was to shut the tap of a keg. 

With its beginnings as a call to end the day, Dad and I might wonder when it started to be used in military funerals.  While fitting (what more end to the day could one possibly have???), there was already a three gun firing over the grave as part of a military funeral.  So we’d find that later in 1862, Captain John C. Tidball began the custom when one of his soldier’s died.  They were not allowed to fire the guns due to giving away their position.  But they were allowed to play Taps.  And the tradition began.   By 1891, it was a standard component in US military funerals.

Following Taps, the soldiers performed the flag folding ceremony, whereby two soldiers truly made a ceremony of folding the flag.  I found these instructions on publications.us.govand this is pretty much exactly how it went:


  1. Two persons, facing each other, hold the flag waist high and horizontally between them.
  2. The lower striped section is folded, lengthwise, over the blue field. Hold bottom to top and edges together securely.
  3. Fold the flag again, lengthwise, folded edge to open edge.
  4. A triangular fold is started along the length of the flag, from the end to the heading by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to meet the open edge.
  5. The outer point is turned inward parallel with the open edge, forming a second triangle.
  6. Repeat the triangular folding until the entire length of the flag is folded.
  7. When the flag is completely folded only the triangular blue field should be visible.

A properly proportioned flag will fold 13 times on the triangles, representing the 13 original colonies. The folded flag is emblematic of the tri-cornered hat worn by the Patriots of the American Revolution. When folded, no red or white stripe is to be evident, leaving only the blue field with stars.”  

Dad’s flag was presented to my Dad's wonderful wife Molly as a keepsake for his service in the U.S. Navy.  The soldier knelt before her with the flag held out and said the words, “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Navy, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service.”

And Dad got his Final Salute.

Photo thanks to Molly, as the stone was just recently placed.

The kids (including Marc) had a great time trick-or-treating last night.  Marc spent the last few months creating their costumes and they turned out amazing.  Signa wanted to be a zombie from the game Plants vs. Zombies and William wanted to be an alien from the movie Alien.  Using old life vests, chicken wire, paper mache, and a karate helmet, Marc managed to pull it off.

Last Saturday, we went to the cemetery where my husband’s great grandparents on his father’s side were buried.  A distant genealogy cousin sent me these directions:

“The Fishers are buried at Oak Hill... They are buried together at the Laurel Lawn part.  They told me it was 129E, but we found it at 160E which is up one row.”

Earlier in the week, I Googled Oak Hill and found the address and phone number.  I called and they said the office would be open Saturday and that we could pick up a map.  We had some other fun things to do in San Jose, so it was all working out.  I got the family interested enough to say, “Yes, fine, we’ll go to the cemetery.”  Thankfully, even though they aren’t into genealogy, they are in to morbid Halloween like things, so they seem to be okay with the cemetery aspect of genealogy.  In the car, we discussed the Fishers that we were off to find and how in reality, Fisher should be our last name.  The kids thought that was mildly interesting.  Until the Spongebob theme began on Marc’s iPod, anyway.

We got to the cemetery and noticed at once that it is HUGE.  Rolling hills of graves, fountains and statues.  I parked and Marc and Signa went in to get the map from the office.  I gave them my handwritten note:  Laurel Lawn, 129E and 160E. They were in there for about 20 minutes, which is a long time for I Spy in the cemetery with a six-year-old.  “Momma, I spy something that is red.”  “Is it the flowers by the grave?” “YES!”  “Momma, I spy something that is gray.”  “Is it the gravestone?” “YES!” Repeat.

They came back with a map and it turns out that Laurel Lawn is a triangular shaped area right where we were parked.  We headed for the areas the lady had marked off with a highlighter and proceeded to instantly NOT find the graves. 

We wandered separately.  Then we wandered together.  Then we methodically marched up and down the rows where they should have been. 

Then we noticed gaps where there should be graves, but instead it was grass.  Then we noticed that the graves were all sunken a bit with the grass about 2 inches taller and we supposed that the grass had grown over some.  We sent the six-year-old to dig.  Yep.  Graves under there. 

Pretty soon, Marc was full-on digging up grave stones with his hands.  He’d uncover some letters or numbers and then move on when it wasn’t ours. (isn't this cute!?!  my "genealogy is boring" family and they are DIGGING UP GRAVES! and getting very determined to find the missing hidden clue and... OMG... DIGGING UP GRAVES!)

Then I looked at the map.  “Didn’t my note say ONE 29 and ONE 60?”  This is highlighted for 29 and 60.  We walked to the other corner of Laurel Lawn and the grave was right there. In seconds.

I just asked William if he had fun at the cemetery.  “Yeah, but only if I can bring a shovel next time.”

Dear Signa,

Today you turn one decade old.  I think back to my tenth birthday and think of my family.  When I was ten we lived in Platina in the middle of nowhere and so my birthday was with just a few friends and my family.  Just as your tenth birthday will feature just your family and dinner at Hana Japan(a).

I hope when you are 45 years old and you remember your tenth birthday that you remember me and Daddy and Will and how much we love you.  You are a wonderful little girl with beauty andbrains.  You never cease to amaze everyone around you with how much you smile and how much you love. 

I was a Daddy’s girl when I was little (even big!) and you are the same exact way.  You are just like Daddy and you two do everything together.  You would think that I would get jealous, but I don’t even a little as I love your Daddy even more than you do and so I totally understand.  Plus, it is  a really beautiful thing to watch and remember being that same way with my dad.

You are doing so well with your school work and are really working hard at everything you do: karate, swimming, guitar, art.  I love watching how much you love each of your classes and projects.  4-H starts this week and you are the Sergeant at Arms this year.  I can’t wait to hear you yell at everyone to shush!

I don’t know what age ten will bring for you, Bunches of Oats, but whatever it is, I will do everything I can to make sure it is a wonderful year for you.  Everything except move your brother out of the state.

I love you.

There is an unofficial contest about who the term “Daddy’s Girl” was invented for.  It’s a very close race between my daughter and her daddy and me and mine.  I always followed and emulated and admired my dad more than any words in any story will ever relay.  He taught me to love the thrill of learning, the wonder of a library, and the love of lists and piles.  He taught me that it is better to know a little bit about a lot than a lot about a little bit.  He taught me what it’s like to be special in someone’s eyes and the true meaning of unconditional love.  He amazed me and the funny thing is that I know he was equally amazed by me.

Sometimes to tell a story, you have to start at the end before you can get to the middle and beginning.  The story of my dad is one such story.  In addition to having post-polio syndrome affecting his walking, and nerve damage affecting his hand movement, Dad’s been on kidney dialysis for over seven years.  When he developed another heart issue just a couple of weeks ago, he decided that he was done with all the medical intervention.  He contacted hospice and learned how it would likely go.  He was at complete peace with his decision and gathered everyone around his heart for his last days.  He looked and felt great, right up until leaving us quickly a mere week later.  He let that wonderful heart of his spare him and us the sadness of watching him sleep a slow sleep on his way to the Otherside.

Our final phone conversation just hours before his passing will be my treasure for always.  He asked me when I was coming back and I said that I’d be there on Saturday.  I planned to stay through to the end, so I told him he’d be stuck with me for awhile.

“Well, Shorty, I figure there is no one better to be stuck with.”   And we signed off for the last time.

I’ve no real regrets with Dad.  Of course I wish we had more time- time to ask more questions, time to show him the family history book I wrote that is at the printer as I type, time for him to hold me one more time and to be called Shorty one more time.  But he knew I loved him and I knew he loved me.  And in the end, that’s all that really matters.

Dad, the last few years, you have had a blast walking the world through Google Earth.  Here’s hoping you’re now exploring and prancing around in Google OthersideTM .  Oh, and I just decided that I win the Daddy’s Girl contest.  Sorry, Signa.  Trophy’s mine.

The next book I write will be the story of my dad, Harry the Hat.  The story of his childhood, his adventures, and maybe I’ll even tell you about snow mazes, garden planting, fire starting and phosphorescent fishing.  But for now, I’ll leave you with the end.

From the Medford Mail Tribune, Sunday, September 2, 2012, page 2B

Harry James Conner
It is with great sadness that we share the news of the loss of Harry James Conner on August 30, 2012.  Also known as ‘Harry the Hat’, Harry and his wife Molly Morris Conner have resided in Oregon since 1995.  Born April 14, 1943 in Booneville, Indiana, to Pierre William Conner and Signa Viola Felt Conner, they moved to California when he was still a baby. 

Until moving to Oregon, Harry lived and worked in the Palo Alto area of California.  He went to Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, California and then joined the Navy.  After discharge, Harry met Marilyn Badgley and she soon became his wife.  They had two children, Deborah and Todd.  They divorced in 1985 and Harry met Molly Morris, bringing yet another beautiful, wonderful woman into the Conner family. 

Harry is survived by his wife, Molly, his children, Deborah and Todd, five grandchildren, Austin Billy Conner, Signa Maxine Mascot, William Philip Mascot, Colman James Conner and Riley Thomas Conner.  He is also survived by his father, Pierre Conner, and siblings, Karen Conner, Rickey Conner, Leslie Spencer and Susan Nance, and a host of other family and friends who were important to Harry throughout his lifetime.  Memorial services are pending.
For their 4-H genealogy project, Signa and William created reports.  I am trying to figure out how to share William's, but here is Signa's:

Signa Felt by Signa Mascot

Dear Big Stink,

Today is your sixth birthday and you are such a little man now.  Our constant mantra this year has been, “Think before you act!”  But you just can’t seem to master that impulse control quite yet.  In fact, it’s so rare for you to think first that you will actually announce it at times.  “I *WAS* going to jump from that table to that chair, but I thought before I acted!” 

You surprise me in the things you are drawn to (besides trouble).  You love to help people and you love to get hugs and tickles.  You love babies so much that you will stop and say how cute one is no matter where we are.  You play really well with all the older kids we are with, but also equally as well with little ones.  I love how gentle you can be.

Your Kindergarten year was wonderful.  You excel at ever subject and are actually finishing up first grade work at this point.  You pick things up very quickly and then move them further forward, concept-wise in your head.  Amazes me how well you do this.  I wish they could bottle some of that for me.

Your video games are a huge love this year.  You love the Lego games for the PlayStation- Harry Potter, Star Wars, Batman, etc.  You have a Skylander’s game that you also love with figures that you collect.  Very over my head, but brings you much joy, so that is all that matters.

Your big announcement being six years old this morning is that you can now go into Signa’s top bunk.  There is apparently a sticker up there that says you must be six to go on the top bunk.  Apparently, Signa has held that over your head (figuratively and literally) for the past four years.  Today, my little man, you may go into the top bunk.  Enjoy!

We love you more and more every single day and are excited to watch you learn to think before you act over the next few years.

Love you, Bubbinator!
This morning the family had the sad news of the passing of our cousin.  My dad's first cousin, Bruce William Burbidge, passed away. 

I didn't know Bruce well- I remember meeting him at my aunt's home several years ago.  I'm sure I'd met him before then, too, but likely when there were  a lot of people (i.e. kids) around and I didn't care about the adults.  Anyway, Bruce was in the US Army and I know lived in Germany for a long while.  I'm not even sure where he lived at his death- South Dakota possibly?  I will learn this, though.

I know it's the cycle of life, but Bruce was just this baby to me last August when I scanned pictures at Grampa's.
Bruce, Bob, and Peggy (Felt)

Bruce and Peggy (Felt)

And now he is gone.

Bruce William Burbidge
b. 30 Aug 1944, Hot Springs, Fall River County, South Dakota

d. 18 Mar 2012
Today is my “little” brother’s birthday and I wanted to wish him a happy birthday and tell him how proud I am of him.  

He has managed to not only be an awesome brother (despite early childhood issues where I wasn’t sure I was going to survive big-sisterhood...), but he’s also an awesome dad with two great sons.  

Oh, and never mind what a terrific Unkee he is to Signa and Will.

So this post is for my awesome brother on his birthday.

Debbie (your sister)


I have a new morning game.  Ever since we were sick for three straight weeks, I can’t seem to get enough sleep.  I refuse to set the alarm, but instead of waking chipper at my normal 5:30-6:00 am, I’m waking groggy and grumpy at 6:30.  Well, 6:27 am to be exact.  And that is when the game starts.

I can’t get up at 6:27.  It has to be even.  So I get to sleep for 3 more minutes.  But what happens?  I over sleep by 5 minutes.  So now it’s 6:35.  I can’t get up at 6:35.  It has to be 6:45.  10 more minutes of sleep.

But then I oversleep that and it’s suddenly 7:10 and I have to race around to get ready.

Crazy.  Tomorrow I’m just sleeping.  And sleeping and sleeping.