April 4, 1939 — January 10, 2020
She passed last Friday. The wonderful thing was that so many family members were already on their way to see her one last time or prepared to come at a moment’s notice from all over. We asked the funeral home if they could manage to bury her on Monday so that those who had traveled and had to return could stay for her funeral. They did it.
Likely it was easy because mom, unlike my dad, didn’t want a viewing or any sort of formal farewell in a church or at the funeral home. She preferred the idea of the family meeting at her gravesite and saying our goodbyes there. I don’t think it took twenty minutes—not that anything was rushed. We spent longer greeting each other and giving hugs.
All her children were there. Most of her grandchildren, too, as well as many of the great-grands. We placed roses on her casket.
And yes, there were tears, but there was also laughter. Because you can’t remember a character like my mom without smiles. She was flawed—sometimes petty and had a long memory for a grudge—but she was also generous, clever, and very loving. Everyone had their favorite funny memory—her hanging up a mean rooster on the side of the barn with a fishnet or using that same fishnet to kill a snake, the unique, sort of grating quality of her voice when she shouted for the kids to come to dinner or for dad to take his insulin shot. Mine was the way she occasionally cursed under her breath but managed a “sugar” or “fudge” when little ones were around.
After the ceremony, everyone headed back to the house for a meal, which was provided by my sister’s Brotherhood Protectors author group. By Monday night, some were on the road again. By Tuesday afternoon, only those who will continue to live here were left. With so many possessions gone, and without my mother’s presence, the house sounds hollow. But my pragmatic daughter is already at work, sorting through photos to be shared, clearing out decades of “stuff” my mother held onto that she really didn’t need. It keeps her busy. Helps her prepare for the move from the house across the street to this house. Soon, it will be a vibrant, noisy home again.