Borderline Retarded

Friday, February 10, 2006

Mourning





Gran was laid to rest yesterday.

The past week has been very stressful and tiring, but her viewing and rosary service on Wednesday night and funeral and burial on Thursday morning went very well.

My stomach had been in knots and I had been feeling increasingly ill beginning Monday night. Actually, it started about half an hour after my husband told me had been laid off as of March 1st. I tried very hard to keep it together, but the dam finally burst and I cried and cried. I'm not really sure what I was crying about - must have been a little bit of everything.

I continued to feel ill, and I finally realized it was because I was so nervous about seeing Gran in her casket. I haven't been to very many funerals, but the person never really looks like them. Every five minutes I would tell myself I wouldn't go to the viewing, then change my mind and back again. I made it to my parents house at 2:00, and we had 2 hours until the viewing. As we walked up to the doors of the funeral home, I felt like I couldn't walk inside, and thought I would actually be sick. I had the baby with me, so I held him tight, and his warm softness molded onto my chest made it possible for me to gather the strength to go inside.



I was so glad to see that almost my entire family was already inside and seated. I sat down and said hello to everybody. I handed the baby to my younger sister, and after about 15 minutes decided it was time to go see Gran.

I knelt down next to her casket and looked at her. She was beautiful. She looked just like herself, just like I had seen her sleeping so many times. My mind was playing funny tricks on me, because I felt like I could see her breathing. I started to pray, and looked at her through my tears. Her poor crippled hands were holding her rosary, and she was wearing her glasses. Her lips were slightly parted. I stood and looked at her for another few minutes. My father came and stood next to me. There were several bouquets next to the casket, so I looked at each one and read the cards. I had to do a double-take at one bouquet that said "From the owner and crew at Long John Silver's". My first thought was "She must have eaten there a lot". Then I remembered that my Uncle works there as a cook. There were photos everywhere, and one of Gran's favorite swing records was playing softly over the speakers. I went back and sat with my family. We shared our hugs, and our tears. I overheard my mother say that the only reason there was an open casket was because the funeral home had done such a good job with her hair, and she looked more like her old self. I had to bite my tongue at that, because I would have wanted to see her no matter what. Why else would you have a viewing if you didn't intend for people to be able to see her and have some closure? I'll just chalk it up to yet another one of those things about my mother that I will never "get".



The public viewing would begin at 5:00, and the rosary service would begin at 7:00. I headed back to my parent's house with the rest of the family. Now that I had actually seen her, my stomach was finally settling down, and I needed to eat something.

As we waited to go back for the rosary, I think I finally hit critical mass. I was exhausted, and as my stress factor went down, my unclenching back muscles started to ache. The baby had woken me up every two hours the night before starting at midnight, and I just felt like I couldn't stay awake. I declined to go to the rosary service, and took the baby back home. I was glad I did that. I got to see my older son before he went to bed, and my husband cracked my back for me. I will have to write another entire post about how much I love to have my back cracked! I slept very well for the first time in a long time that night.

Thursday morning all 4 of us made our way back to my parent's house. We unloaded the kid's car seats so we could chauffeur those people who would not fit in the limo. The mood was so much lighter than it had been, and we were all able to smile and enjoy the beautiful sunshine.

The funeral service was everything Gran would have wanted. Her sons, grandsons and son in laws were her pall bearers. The funeral home director is also an organist occasionally at this church, and Gran always loved to hear him play. He offered to play at her service, and her favorite choir member sang. There were little groups of blue haired old ladies peppered throughout the church, and many many cousins as well as one of Gran's two living siblings made the trip to be there. My uncle Mike gave a wonderful speech. He touched on so many of the same things that had been traveling round and round in my mind. It was yet another sigh of relief to hear out loud those things I had been having so much trouble articulating.

There was an honor guard at the gravesite, and they played taps. My uncle Mike was presented with an American Flag to honor her service in the Women's Army Corps during World War II. She is buried next to her husband, my Grandpa Art. I want to go back on Saturday and see the headstone. I have only been back once since my grandfather died, mostly because I didn't know how to get to the cemetery.

My younger sister and one of my cousins had been going through Gran's vast collection of pictures and keepsakes. They found three letters my older sister had written in 1986 that Gran had kept. One was a thank you note for some Christmas gifts, including a cross with an amethyst in the middle. My sister got a chill when she read that, because she had specifically pulled out that necklace to wear to the funeral. She hadn't worn it in 15 years. The other two letters were written when our Grandpa was in a coma following a severe stroke. We couldn't go visit, so she had written a letter for Gran to read to him. They were so sweet, and we had a good chuckle regarding the proper etiquette she used, as she addressed the letter to "Grandma Littman" and signed using her first, middle and last name!

We spent the rest of the day going through some of the photos, and sharing stories. I came home very tired, but with my heart eased a bit.




You touched so many lives with your kindness and strength.
You will be missed as much as you were loved.

2 Comments:

  • I wish i could have had an experience like that when my grandma passed on, you're very very lucky to have had such a wonderful grandmother.

    Very lucky indeed.

    *hugs*

    By Blogger Squishi, at 9:49 PM  

  • Oh, I loved my Grandma too. What a wonderful person yours was. I'm sorry for your loss, but happy for your memories.

    By Blogger Shari, at 9:56 AM  

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