Sept. 9: I feel so relieved and peaceful now that the various visitations and church services for Mom are complete. As we drove home from the cemetery on Friday afternoon, I felt limp and relaxed and so very relieved and emotionally drained…quite a mix of emotions.
From Saturday, September 1 through the morning of September 6 I had been working harder and more focused-ly than I usually consider possible. We all so wanted the events on Thursday and Friday to do Mom justice. We wanted to honor and celebrate and mourn her in a way that would help people get a whole picture of the person she is (was…I’m still working on the past tense thing).
Pictures of the Bethel visitation and prayer service and the reception at Terry’s are in the gallery.
Pictures of the St. Peter’s visitation, funeral, and the burial are also in the gallery.
On Thursday, I think we were all surprised at how many people poured through Bethel for the visitation. The room was absolutely full of beautiful flowers (see many of them in their own album in the gallery). Several teachers from DeForest were there, many, many of Mom’s relatives, friends from far and near, oodles of Mom’s co-workers from American Girl, even more of Dad’s colleagues from the Republican Party…it was stunning. And exhausting.
I thought the prayer service that Pastor White was nice. Mom would have really liked the cloth that was used to cover her casket. It was Williamsburg-esque.
After the prayer service, we headed back to Terry’s for a yummy dinner prepared by Lisa. It was nice to have more of a social opportunity to interact with some of the people who had traveled to town to help remember Mom. And the delicious desserts were an added bonus.
I drove home that night exhausted and in some degree of disbelief that we had the full actual funeral to get through the next day.
Friday morning dawned gray and rainy. We met at St. Peter’s at 8:30 and saw that Ryan Funeral Home had again done a nice job of setting up all the tables of memorabilia to showcase Mom’s rich life. Mom’s casket was again open and set up in the center of St. Peter’s church. It was quite strange to be in a space that was so very familiar and yet doing something that felt so bizarre and in some ways so terribly wrong…saying goodbye to our mom.
Just a note on the open casket concept. I think it’s nice that people get an opportunity to see a person when they are dead. I can imagine that it is hard to really accept that someone is dead when the last time you saw them they were fully alive and healthy. But I really am weirded out by the artificialness of the embalmed body. For me (and I know that I’m a weird biologist-who-likes-the-grittiness-of-life-and-death), I’d much prefer the old fashioned parlor viewing that occurred right after the death. And for a burial, I’d love to have a green burial. I like the idea of washing and tending to a body when the person has died, but I didn’t at all like seeing Mom the way she was made up and posed in her casket. It just didn’t look or feel like her. And I found that to be pretty disconcerting. It also made it a little easier to let go, though. I don’t feel like any of Mom is left in her body. What made her her has gone elsewhere, so saying goodbye and burying her was easier that way.
I thought that the funeral service was really nice. I keep finding myself humming the hymn "How can I keep from singing," which we sung half way through. My favorite aspect of the whole set of events was the time of sharing that came after the Catholic mass. My sweet brother Joe helped to MC, and several people spoke. I plan to get electronic versions of their comments so I can share them on this website. Dad started it out, followed by Mary Read, Nancy McElmurry, Paula Kopp, Terry Haller, Heather Lerner, and last, Joe. For me, it was incredibly moving (I went through a pile of Kleenex), joyful, and painted a full picture of my wonderful mom. I hope that those who attended left feeling like they knew and loved her better.
We had a luncheon at St. Peter’s following the reception. I had asked that some of Mom’s crowd-pleasing dishes be made, including tatertot casserole and macaroni & cheese & tuna & peas. I also figured that Mom would have really liked lemon squares made with real lemons, brownies, and Minute Maid lemonade. After the sad and joyous funeral, it was nice to wander around and talk with some of the many people who had come to pay respects to my mom.
Sometime during the funeral, the sun came out, and the day turned beautiful. A somewhat smaller group processed from St. Peter’s Church, up Highways CV and 51 to the Windsor cemetery. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky above us when they moved Mom’s casket from the car onto the grave site. I stayed until the casket was lowered into the ground and the vault was lowered down as well. Dad stayed until she was all tucked in.
It’s a beautiful cemetery. There are photos in the gallery from our visit out there earlier in the week. It will be a nice place to visit.