And Then Came the Funeral

Preparing a Picture Board

Preparing a Picture Board

Our extended family started arriving on Thursday for Mom’s memorial service on Saturday.  I had kept busy earlier in the week by preparing a picture board display with pictures of Mom’s life to put in the church foyer.

Yum!  Chocolate!

Yum! Chocolate!

A family friend graciously sent us a basket filled with chocolate.  That basket was enjoyed again and again over the next few days by just about every person at the house.  There are very few situations that don’t improve a little with chocolate.

A new recipe

A new recipe

My daughter always complains that I don’t have fruit on hand when she comes up for a visit so I had prepared a LOT of these frozen fruit cups for all of us to enjoy over the weekend.  Of course it was a new recipe but it seemed to be pretty fool-proof.  The instructions called for you to freeze the concoction in foil muffin cups or plastic cups and then to set them out 30 to 45 minutes before you planned to eat them.  That’s exactly what I did.  Unfortunately, they were still frozen rock-hard when we sat down to eat.

Mining for Fruit

Mining for Fruit

The groans that greeted my announcement that this was a new recipe were quickly drowned out by the sound of seven spoons chipping away at the darn fruit cups.  I think we burned more calories TRYING to eat the fruit than we actually took in from eating it.  Laura, however, said that she enjoyed it very much and proceeded to eat a bunch more before her departure on Sunday.  Unfortunately, I still have a muffin tin full of them in the freezer.

In the evenings, we played cards and brought out the battered slide projector to view old family slides.  Everyone had their turn at being embarrassed, whether it was from “baby in the bath” shots or “horrible outfits and hairdos from the ’70’s” slides.  Irregardless, it was a welcome distraction from the upcoming memorial service.

A lovely tribute

A lovely tribute

On the morning of Mom’s service, we ate breakfast and then wandered off to our individual bedrooms to get ready.  Jason and the Commander went on to the church early to set up the picture board and two quilts that I had made for Mom’s 80th and 90th birthdays.  I dressed and headed back to the computer room where I sat, feeling sick to my stomach.  I just wished we could fast-forward through the day.

Finally we were all ready to pile into the van and head to church.  As we approached our church, my brother pointed to a thick column of smoke rising up on the horizon and said, “Look!  I think the church is on fire.”

Oh, wow!  I had forgotten about the BBQ.  We turned the corner and there were fire trucks and a crew of men manning a BBQ grill in the church parking lot.  I had neglected to tell the family that the local fire company was having a fund-raising BBQ in the church’s parking lot basically the same time as Mom’s service.  It had been scheduled long before I scheduled the memorial service.

“Man, this is the best-smelling funeral I’ve ever been at,” my brother quipped.

“Well, it’s only fitting,” I replied.  “Mom’s favorite food was BBQ.”

I had been dreading standing in the foyer as people arrived because I thought I would be really emotional.  Instead I was actually pretty calm, even joking with some folks.  I was VERY touched when two of Mom’s favorite nurses arrived.  Even the hospice social worker came for the service.  Then I looked up and was shocked to see Mom’s former pastor from her church in Michigan.  I can’t even begin to tell you how happy that made me.  I hadn’t realized that he had retired and moved to a town outside Lancaster, PA, about 1 1/2 hrs. from our church.  A former parishioner had called him and told him about Mom’s passing and when her funeral would be and he had decided to come.  He graciously agreed to share some of his memories of Mom in the service and to lead us in prayer.

Truth be told, I was really wondering if there would be anyone at Mom’s service.  She had outlived most of her friends here and those who knew her back home would not be able to travel that far.  Many now in our church never got the chance to know Mom as she was before the strokes that  put her in the nursing home.  I was really feeling sad that this wonderful, vivacious woman who had lived her whole life serving others would have so few to acknowledge her passing.  Having her pastor here to tell the assembled group a little bit about the mother that I knew and loved was so special to me.  Indeed, I was also pleasantly surprised to see so many come for the service.

We sang some of Mom’s favorite old hymns and our music director sang “His Eye is On the Sparrow”, which she always had our son play on the piano for her.  There was a short video of slides of Mom’s life that was shown, although when it was announced that there would be a “short video of pictures of Dee’s life,” I have to admit that I was a little startled.  My brother whispered, “You look alive to me.”

And so, goodbye!

And so, goodbye!

After the service, we retired to the Fellowship Hall where, in good Baptist tradition, we feasted and visited with each other.  Then it was time to pack up the quilts and the picture board and head back to the house.

Saying our goodbyes

Saying our goodbyes

One-by-one the family left.  First my son-in-law headed back home.  Then my brother and nephew started off on the long drive to Michigan.  My son and daughter remained to stay with me for part of Mother’s Day and then it was time for them to head off, too.  Finally it was just the Commander, Mom’s cremains, and me.  I headed off in search of the basket of chocolate and some Kleenex.

 

 

 

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    Dee, it was a beautiful service. I too was shocked when Phil said “Dee” instead of your mom but I suppose it added a bit of levity. I didn’t know your mom very well, but from everything I’ve heard she was a very special lady. She would have to be to have been YOUR mom. I’ve known you and George for a very long time and I feel very priviledged to call you a friend. This is probably the most difficult situation in anyones life to go through but please know that you’re not alone. You have many wonderful memories and friends that will hold you up during this time. And the best part of all is that you KNOW without a doubt you will see and hug your beautiful mother again some day.

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