Sister Krystal with her father

By Sister Krystal Funk, ASC

We met when I was only 3, and I lost you this past July when I was only 35.

You were just 68 years old, a Baby Boomer and retired bank auditor, gone to all of us including your mother, who, at 96, remains the foundation of our family.

Though you were my stepdad, you were the only father I have known. Shortly after you married my mother, you adopted me without hesitation.

You loved me. I was your first child.

Thank you.

As we waited together through your dying, I thanked you for taking in my mom and me. Do you remember saying, “When I saw you, I knew this was a package deal?”

During one of our last visits, I brought out Leo, the stuffed lion you gave me along with Winnie the Pooh when we first met. They were together in an orange shoe box. I asked if you remembered.

Jim with family pet

You nodded yes, and said that gift so many years ago made you know this is it. Krystal is my daughter, and “I can’t believe you still have that stuffed lion!”

Every time I see it, I think of you and I am so grateful you were in my life. Thank you!

Because of you, I am Krystal Funk. Because of you and Grandma, I am Catholic. Your influence most likely has led me on this path to religious life.

You encouraged me to be a great musician, and believed that I would be. You went to all of my concerts through my college life. I remember you getting off work and driving in rush-hour traffic into the city, to be there for me.

My sister, now 27; my mom and I; and my aunt, your sister, were with you until the end. We told you good-bye and said we would be okay. I hope you heard us and took comfort in those words.

Those last few moments with you are still too hard to talk about.

In my work life in hospice, I sat with a young woman who was even younger than me, only 18, while we watched her father pass away. I gave her my best advice as we watched and waited: share with him the good times you had together and tell others about them.

I wrote a poem after attending that man’s funeral. The poem is in honor of you and him, a composite of my experience of losing you and witnessing the grief of an 18-year-old woman losing her father, my hospice patient.

On a busy street in St Louis,
Goodbyes were said
A humble church with Words,
left unsaid

Through grief and sorrow
There was nothing left to borrow

A family, a man, turning apart
Only for a moment to not part

Hugs, love, and kisses greet the living
Stories told of love and the life once lived that keep on giving

Oh, how much you are missed.
As we part just one last thing wished.

Know that grief is here and it will stay.
Grief will never go away some day. 

Your loved one is always in your heart.
Even as their soul departs.