Saturday, June 17, 2006

Thoughts on Grandma's Funeral

It was exhausting. Grandma's viewing was Thursday June 15. My cousin, brothers & oldest ds went to play paintball, they had no desire to see grandma. My parents, female cousin, aunt, her DH, my 2 littles & myself all went.

Mom was so afraid the make-up job would be bad, like she remembered from when my great-aunt died. My parents & aunt & her dh walked in & my aunt's DH asked us to give them a few moments. Then we went in after a little while.

Grandma actually looked very nice & natural, she looked pretty. My mom gave the attendant her jewelry that we wanted her to wear, earrings, a bracelet the ktbunch had made her & the pink beaded bracelet I gave her. The attendant asked if we wanted to put it on her ourselves or if we would like her to put it on her. We said no, she could put it on. She went in first & did that then let us know she was ready.

The attendant was a heavier female & she had tattoos on the back of her neck. I wondered if she was a gang-banger outside of the mortuary. lol I barely finished my black skirt to wear. I finished L's funeral dress the day before, except for the hair tye. She would be wearing it for the funeral the next day.

The ribbons on her flowers were blue. I don't know why because it didn't even match. The flowers were mostly pale pink. There was a large funeral arrangement from my aunt's job too. It had brighter pink flowers.

My dad & aunt's DH went down to get an ice-cream after awhile. A couple from our old church came, I thought that was nice. The H is the man who officated over Dh & I's wedding. It was nice to catch up a little. He said L looks JUST LIKE ME, when he glanced over & saw her profile, he said she is exactly me. I was excited to hear that too because everyone always says she looks like DH.
The guys left to go watch the rest of the guys playing paintball, they didn't want to see grandma like that. Her coffin was lined in pink w/ pink carnations embroidered on the corner & there were flower designs on the outside too, over all, it was white.

Us ladies & my littles, went to Walmart afterwards to help my mom find something to wear to the funeral. She had went the day before but really wasn't up to it to actually choose something. Finally it was back to my parents house. We were going through pix for the memorial table we were going to set up @ the church & for the slide show. The person who was going to do the slide show fell I volunteered. I knew I could do it but I didn't really want to be responsible for it, so I hadn't volunteered.

When we finally went home, I was up until 3am working on it, figuring out how to get it done. I think we had spent a part of every day @ my parents. The day before I had brought my sewing machine w/ me to make L a dress for the funeral. I felt I needed to keep busy or else I'd just get too depressed to function...I could feel it coming. Plus, spending time w/ my cousins who I hadn't seen since we visited when L was a newborn.

The next day, for the funeral...I was late. I spent the morning finishing up L's matching hair tie. DH went into work so I was responsible for getting my ktbunch up, ready & going by myself. I was irritated about that & felt very alone. My MIL called & said her ride fell through--I knew it would--naturally, I offered to take her to the funeral. That meant I had to take the streets to the church instead of the freeway, doubling my driving time.

On the way there...everyone kept calling me about the slide show. I knew they would be. What could I do? I would get there when I got there. When I finally arrived, I told DH ( he met me there from work) I'd probably be late to my own funeral. lol

All of our family was there, my aunts & cousins on my dad's side too, but I knew they would be. Very few non-related people were there. I was a little disappointed about that.

Finally it started. My aunt spoke, then me & then my mom. My mom was surprisingly brief. She did make a very good statment: Alzheimers stole my grandma's mind but NOT her heart. It's true.

I was more emotional than I thought I would be. As I walked up the steps to the stage....I kinda felt it coming, I took a few deep breaths, I started talking & just had to stop, I could see grandma's casket down below, it was closed. The sanctuary was WAY too big & I wished we had decided to have it in a small chapel on the funeral home grounds instead.

I had a basic idea of what I wanted to say...but it felt like it just wasn't enough. I shared a few funny stories about her. Mostly I touched on the fact that I did not know my grandma as much as I knew about her & not as well as I now wished I did. She lived w/ us for many years & I took her prescence for granted. When I finally appreciated her & realized her value to was too late, she was already mentally going & mostly gone. BUT I knew that she knew me & cared & loved me & my family.

I ended by saying...that I had read you can tell how good a parent is by the grandchildren they have & I have been told I have pretty great kids (everyone laughed @ that) who are her great-grand children, so I think it's even a greater testament to the person my grandma was & that's it's going to take some time to get used to her not being around & we will really miss her......or something like that.

When my aunt was speaking I looked back & saw that my brother had his sunglasses on, so I knew he was crying. Afterward the pastor said I did a good job & gave me a hug & that just really made me cry & they were leading the casket out @ the same time. I really needed tissues then. My 2 brothers, my dad, my DH & my aunt's DH were the pall bearers.

Off to the graveside. It was extremely hot. I wore the black tiered skirt I made, a nicer, mauve tank top & my black beaded crochetted poncho. I thought it was appropriate to wear the poncho to honor my grandma's love of crochet.

The church brought a cooler of chilled water for us. That was nice. The asst. pastor said a few words, then this guy played guitar & sang: You Lift Me Up, & my mom had Monarch Butterflies for each of us to release during the music. It was nice & very pretty to see them flutter away.

The most amazing thing happened...L released her butterfly, & then as if in a movie, it fluttered low & she began to chase it, she was laughing & chasing it & it stayed near & low to the ground, allowing her to chase it for a little while. She was just laughing. This beautiful, innocent little girl, in her butterfly dress, chasing this butterfly through a cemetary. I guess surreal is the word to describe it.

My brother & my couins wanted to take pix in front of the casket. I took our family pic in front of a tree...I did not want the casket in the background. I wish I could have waited & stayed until they really laid her completely in the ground, but it was so hot & everyone was leaving. And I was hungry.

Then to my other aunt's for the 'reception'. It was so hot so we let all the littles get wet in the sprinkler. One of my neighbors/friends was so nice enough to make us food for the reception, 2 tins full of baked ziti w/ Italian Sausage, 2 tins full of salad & then a platter of brownie bites. My mom was really touched by her thoughfulness & generosity & so was I.

Dh went back to work.....then we all went back to my parents to just chill out, they have central air & we were all melting. Us ladies sat around & looked @ some old pix....I found some of me as a child & realized that a dimple L has is jsut like one I had when I was a child. I only recently noticed it on her so I thought it was from DH because S has dimples just like daddy. lol And even though L has straight hair like mine, it is much darker than mine was a child. Mine was actually a sandy/dirty blond, much lighter than it is now, of course. My mom could barely stay awake.

Later that night, my aunt, her DH & cousins left to drive back to OR.

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