Friday, September 8
In God's divine planning, Joel and Brandi scheduled this weekend to come to our house for a visit. The weekend turned out to be very different than we all expected, but having them here to help was a gift. So after sleeping just a few hours, I did the most minimum amount of cleaning for company and headed down to Mom's for a day of funeral preparation.
I arrived about 11:00 while Grandad, Mom, Dad, and Jay were still making arrangements at the funeral home. It was important to me that my children all go into their Great Gramma's house to know that it was still ok to be there and just to help them start dealing with the change of Great Gramma not being there. The children were really just amazing all day. They behaved well and handled emotions well.
Gramma had this saying printed and framed on a table, "We cannot become joy without seeing and encountering his joy." Gramma IS joy now. She has seen and, has not only encountered, but is in the presence of HIS joy. It was a day of intermittent tears and almost constant disbelief that Gramma was gone, but underneath I surely know that Gramma is in a perfect state of joy and health.
I slept maybe 4 or 5 hours and woke up really early. I had not finished writing for the funeral and I knew I wouldn't have a remote chance of relaxing until that was done so I worked on that. Isaiah came down still half asleep so I held him and he fell back to sleep on me. By the time I had held a sleeping kid of an hour I was almost asleep myself so I stumbled back to bed and the next time I saw the clock it was 10:50am. I jolted awake and out of bed. The kids were in total disarray and there was no milk. Joel was out on a coffee run and I texted him in a bit of a panic to please pick up milk. He calmly texted back that he already had milk and was on his way back to the house. Thank God for Joel and Brandi! Brandi took care of all the dishes and who knows what else she quietly took care of. The afternoon was for grocery shopping and funeral clothes shopping with Brandi and the girls.
Sunday, September 10
Joel and Brandi agreed to stay until Sunday evening so that they could take care of our children during the viewing. The family had a private viewing from 4-5 on Sunday. All of the children had their emotions. Anna really cried for the first time. My Dad talked to his grandchildren about death and dying and then each child got to choose one of the teddy bears that Great Gramma had in her house. Joel and Brandi took our children to McDonalds, the park and Chesapeake Dairy for ice cream while Jeremy and I stayed at the funeral home. I want to remember all the people who came to greet Grandad, my parents and the rest of our family. I want to remember how strong Grandad was standing in front of the casket of his wife of 65 years and talking about faith--practically preaching to people who were there to comfort him. I want to remember my sweet friend and her daughter who came. I want to remember the family friends who just came and sat to let us know they were there for us.
Then we all went to my parents house for supper. It was exhausting and good to see people and good to visit...and exhausting.
The day of the funeral started with another hour at the funeral home for viewing. Family from Pennsylvania and Iowa arrived. This hour turned out to be a very important time for Aliza. The night before she did not want to get close to the casket, but on Monday she could not stay away from the casket. She wanted me with her and we would stand beside the casket and cry, then Aliza would be ready to sit down and a few minutes later she would ask me to go back with her. It was heartbreaking to watch Aliza saying good bye.
Because of logistics the graveside service followed the viewing. Janell had a pink rose for each of the children to carry to the grave and lay on the casket. Then they took a flower out of the arrangement to take home.
After the graveside we proceeded to Holly Grove Mennonite Church for the memorial service. I want to remember how much I liked having the service after the graveside. We had already said good bye and now to were remembering Gramma's life and the emotions were quite as raw. I want to remember how Aliza held her teddy bear all day. I want to remember how Aliza wanted to be involved--she wrote some memories for me to read and stood beside me holding her bear while I read them. She made mini no bake cheesecakes to add to the reception. I want to remember how Aliza interviewed Great Gramma on Aug 29 for a history assignment and how that essay was printed on the back of the program. I want to remember how the last question of that interview was "what do you want to be remembered for?" Gramma's answer was that she wanted to be remembered for her hospitality and how much she loved her grandchildren and great grandchildren and those words--hospitality and love--were the themes of the service. I want to remember my Dad's sermon and how he thanked his Dad for loving his Mom for 65 years. I want to remember how Dad suggested that Gramma's final act of hospitality is inviting all of us to answer the knock of God on the door our hearts. I want to remember how Holly Grove served and provided the meal after the service. I want to remember how beautiful I thought the flowers were on the tables. I want to remember the second cousin I met who has Down Syndrome. I want to remember going to Mom and Dad's after the reception--exhausted as we all were--because I wasn't quite ready for it all to over.
And I want to remember that I had the sensibility to take the whole week off of school.