Finding Solace in Common Threads

JULY 28, 2016
Although it still hurt to lose Dutch Treitz, the North Pocono region hasn't seen a send-off like his in a long time. 
 
The morning of the viewing, I was pondering what to wear. The only time I saw Dutch in a suit was at his father-in-law's funeral, so it just didn't feel right to wear one. I looked at my wife, Sheryl, and said, "I'm wearing a home Steelers jersey." She agreed, and later that afternoon, we attended the viewing in our Sunday football best.
 
The viewing started 5 minutes before we arrived, and the line was already out the door. Many people I knew, along with many I didn't, were there to say goodbye to Dutch and to console his grieving family.
 
Admittedly, Sheryl and I perceived a few sideways glances from those wearing suits, and I wondered if I had made an inappropriate choice, until Dutch’s aunt came up to us and told us that what we did was a beautiful tribute to her nephew.
 
A tribute board stood against an easel, where people wrote to the family and/or Dutch himself. I asked Dutch to do anything in his newly-given power to help the Steelers win a seventh Lombardi Trophy. It couldn't hurt. Apparently, it was a proper request, because when we got up to the casket to see Dutch, he was wearing a Steelers home Mike Wallace jersey. I honestly had no idea that was going to happen, but I'm glad it did.
 
At the funeral, they opened up the floor for anybody to come up and speak. While his sister, Terri, was eulogizing Dutch, a voice in my head said, Go. As Terri was wrapping up, she saw me come into view and paid me the highest compliment of my career. Through tears, she thanked me for taking care of Dutch and the family through the entire ordeal. My eyes instantly welled up, and I wondered how I would get through even a sentence.
 
I thanked the family for the honor of caring for Dutch, I offered a few anecdotes, and I told the crowd that I would see them in September at The Dutchman for the Steelers’ season opener on Monday Night Football.
 
After I said my piece, a woman took the stage to sing a few verses of “Amazing Grace,” which turned the room into a tear factory. Dutch was a veteran, and when the American Legion played “Taps” and fired the 3 volleys, I was practically sobbing.
 
After that, they let us pass by the casket one last time. I kissed my friend goodbye and gave the family one last dose of consolation. When the daughters thanked me for taking care of their dad, I cried even more.
 
The funeral luncheon was, of course, at The Dutchman. When I saw Dutch’s dad looking resplendent in a Terry Bradshaw jersey, he told me that when he heard my last name, he thought about a kid he grew up with in Tripp Park and asked if anyone in my family was nicknamed Sosky. With surprise and delight, I exclaimed that it had been by dad’s childhood nickname.
 
Sure enough, Mr. Treitz had grown up on the same street as my own father; his wife had even gone to school with him. This happy coincidence in the midst of a sorrowful event made me feel as though we had been meant to meet and comfort each other.
 
We all had lost somebody we loved, but we found some solace in each other’s memories.
 
Jay Sochoka, RPh, is at peace.


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