The Parting Glass
The State Fair was a Hank thing. In the past 33 years I can count on less than one hand the times I was there without him. I didn't know if I should go this year because I was afraid I couldn't handle it, but Dan, a friend of Hank's, works in the K9 State Police show, so on Labor Day our friend Meghan and I decided to go to see him. A day that I had dreaded turned out to be, well, magical. Very hot, but magical.  

After visiting Dan we meandered through the Horticulture Building.  I had such an other worldly feeling.  Not pushing Hank in his wheelchair at the Fair felt so empty and strange, but on we went and meander we did.  

We made our way to The Eatery where we bought a chicken tender meal, always a Hank Klueber State Fair staple.  We toasted to Hank with the tenders, and just sat like we would had Hank been with us. We were present with the people, and the noises and smells.  It was peaceful and the air felt thick with grace, like it had always felt with him.  We never rushed with Hank, it was always a moment by moment time.  So we sat, ate our tenders and fries, cried some, and sat some more. When we felt ready, we got up and moved on. 

We debated about going into the Art and Home Center to see the quilts, and the paintings and photography, and that great toy circus exhibit on the top floor that is always the same but has a beautiful old timey feel.  We decided instead to measure ourselves, and moved on to the Center of Progress Building.  On our way to the side entrance we saw a friend I hadn't seen since Hank passed. Linda works every year in the Pan-African Village, and we've always made it a point to stop and pay her a visit.  She shed some tears with us, sharing how it just didn't feel right without Hank there.  She said, "Hank DID the Fair!  And if he had a dollar for everyone who loved him he would have been a very wealthy man!"  My heart swelled.  I guess you never stop feeling proud of your kids.

The Dairy Building was our last main stop, because here was another place where we relaxed and stayed awhile. Here is where we would all share a gigantic turtle sundae that Hank would absolutely delight in, and sometimes a big ol' glass of sugary lemonade. (He had been on a strict diet for years, but on Fair days it was no holds barred.  We even devoured his favorite fried dough nuggets in his honor on the way out.  We toasted with those too.) So we sat quietly near the butter sculpture for who knows how long. We enjoyed just being there.

When we had first entered the Fair there was music in the distance.  We'd arrived just in time to hear a wonderful Irish group called The High Kings sing their last two songs.  Their final tune was  "The Parting Glass," and in retrospect I can see that it had set the tone for the day. It is a heart-stirring song about, well, parting, and it felt like Hank was singing it to us.  Hank had a lovely vocal tone, and I always thought that if he could have talked he would have had a beautiful singing voice.  Yes, Hank singing "The Parting Glass," maybe with a rousing chorus sung with my Dad who couldn't carry a tune in a basket, but who was always happy to raise the voice that God had given him.  I could picture Hank and my Dad, arm around shoulders, singing that poignant Irish melody.  The words shot straight to my heart. Hearing that song was a gift, and I will carry it with me forever.

Thank you Hank (and your Grandpa) for raising my heart with your song. Thank you for your incredible light, for your big and hearty life, and for the many magical, grace filled State Fair days.  

"So fill to me the parting glass and gather as the evening falls
And gently rise and softly call goodnight and joy be to you all."


12 Comments

  1. Poignant and beautiful! I always have enjoyed your fair posts! TY for continuing! You are very loved!
  2. Happy tears, Maureen.
    This made my day.
    I just woke up from a nap for I was not feeling myself today. And your blog is what I woke up to.
    It was just what I needed.
    I never knew Hank personally, but reading your blogs, I feel like I did know him. And that brings a smile to my face.
    Thank you for sharing Hank with so many. You keep his soul alive by sharing him.
    I thank you for that.
    I hope the State Fair brought joy and tears to you.
    Such wonderful memories.
    IIm going to listen too the beautiful Irish Song that was very special to you all.
    Forever in our hearts, Hank.
    And Maureen...the very same to you
    My love,
    Sue
    PS..keep writing.
  3. My sweet Maureen,

    Thank you for this beautiful writing. I could imagine everything as it was a film flashing in front of my eyes. I could feel many of the feelings, of course not to your level at all but I want you to know your writings make a difference in the world. That beautiful, big, emotional energy is making the world a better place. Just as Hank continues to do so in spirit as he did while he was in his human form with us. I love you. Donโ€™t ever forget, he CHOSE, YOU!!!!
  4. Beautiful Maureen just beautiful. The song took my breath away. I love your Hank blogs! Hugs
  5. There are no words I can say except I love you and Hank very much and send love and strength to you and please know that you are in my prayers always ...and I know he is in heaven watching over you and his love ones ... Please me in touch..I am always here for you....forever.
  6. Last year I had the privilege of pushing Hank's chair through the maze of the Fair. I am so glad my family and I got to share this with him. It is a beautiful memory. One we will always cherish. Here's to you, My Hank.
  7. Michelle suttoni  09/10/2023 04:52 AM Central
    Maureen, Never had the opportunity of meeting Hank, but through your writing Iโ€™ve got to know him alittle. Beautiful.
  8. Chrissy Peppone  09/10/2023 09:54 AM Central
    Just beautiful ๐Ÿ™โœจI am so sorry for your loss ๐ŸŒŸ Sending peace, joy and love ๐Ÿ’œโ˜ฎ๏ธ๐Ÿ’ซ
  9. Maureen, what a beautiful tribute to Hank your visit was this year! Thank you for sharing these moments! ๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป๐Ÿซถ๐Ÿป
  10. Dairy building was and is my favorite, butter sculpture is also great.
    Thanks for sharing your life and moments in time with us.
    Blessings
  11. I am here for you anytime anyday....just call out my name
  12. What a fantastic way to remember Hank and continue to enjoy all the things you enjoyed together. He was with you at the Fair!

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