The first thing we had to decide was when to have the memorial. During January, the weather in Tennessee was iffy, to say the least. After debating about different dates, the 23rd was selected. It would be on Sunday so the time was set that would allow church-goers to get home, have lunch and come to pay their respects. I took it upon myself to create the handouts (programs? bulletins?). I also planned to play the organ. Getting the music together was part of my job, too.
Other sisters and my brother-in-law were left with contacting the cemetery to have the grave site prepared, making sure the speaker would be at the memorial, etc., etc. I never knew there was so much detail that went into a service of that kind.
I’d made arrangements at work to take my bereavement time when I could be with family members who were planning to come in from faraway places. One of my North Carolina sisters and her husband would be staying with Twinkle and me. The others would be staying with relatives who were close by.
Sabbath afternoon, I went to the church to practice. The weather was bitter cold and it was snowing. I had paused in my playing and glanced up at the window just as my sister and her husband appeared. I ran to unlock the door so they could come in.
They’d had an exciting trip up the mountain because the roads were beginning to ice over. We found out later that the road was closed soon after they started the ascent. I used them as guinea pigs to make sure the volume of the organ was okay.
The snow was coming down harder so it wasn’t long before we decided to get home before we could have major problems.
Next morning, a call came from the regular organist. We would probably need to have an alternate plan for the memorial. It had gotten so cold during the night that one of the pipes at the church had frozen and burst. The carpet in the sanctuary was wet halfway up to the front. Then another call came. One of the couples in the church was on the job. The leak had been stopped and they had equipment to dry the carpet. It looked like disaster was averted.
We took turns showering, dressed and went to the church. Everything looked normal. I’d printed off a good supply of handouts and my brother-in-law had helped me fold them. They were put where people could get them. I’d made a book for signing that I walked off and left at home. DS2 and my DIL were going by the house so I asked them to bring it along with a casserole of macaroni and cheese I was contributing to the lunch for the family. It was useless, though, to get the book. Using it was overruled in favor of a little generic guest book.
There were pictures on display in the foyer and the arrangement at the front was a ceramic church the hospital and nursing home had given me, a peace lily from DS1′s employer and the urn with Mother’s ashes. There was a debate over whether or not the last should be there. The ones pro-urn won out.
The urn really wasn’t something that would draw attention to itself. It was a tasteful urn and heavy.
The service started with my brother-in-law giving the life sketch.
One of Mother’s star voice students sang “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”.
One of Mother’s favorite pastors gave the homily at her personal request. She had emphasized many times that he was to be the one.
Then DS1 sang “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”. I don’t think it was an easy thing for him to do and I teared up as I was playing it.
My brother-in-law and DS2 had gone to the cemetery to dig the grave because they never could get in touch with the cemetery people to do it. The weather had been so cold that the ground was frozen rock hard. They had a time getting one deep enough to be appropriate. When the family members arrived, DS2 was lying flat beside the grave putting the finishing touches on the job.
The pastor took over and had some comforting words for us. It had cleared off and was, as my mother would have said, “blue cold”. My granddaughter decided to come to my rescue.
The family had to gather around for pictures. I’m on the left end with my three sisters sprinkled among the offspring.
Then there was one with DS1. I liked being in pictures with him because it made me feel smaller. The dress I wore proved to be one of my most expensive purchases because I never had it on again except to see how much it had outgrown me.
My brother-in-law made a temporary stone to mark the spot. The arrangement for the grave was natural flowers. The next time I saw them, it was like they had been cooked. They were beautiful at the time, though.
It was too cold to linger and visit so we loaded up and came home. Then the dreaded thing happened. It had been so cold for so long that the septic tank line had frozen and we couldn’t flush the commodes. It was distressing, to say the least.
(Some time later, I came home from work early one day and caught my brother-in-law insulating the line while my sister sat on the steps and watched. It was their intention to sneak in and out without my knowing it.)
In spite of that, I was able to fix supper for my sister, brother-in-law, DS1, my DIL and my granddaughter. I added to the lentil soup I’d made earlier and heated up some cornbread muffins. My granddaughter didn’t like the soup (I’m not sure she even tried it) so I cooked some spaghetti for her which she ate with margarine. It was rather crowded around my little built-in table in the kitchen but it was a nice time, too, to be with family.
My three days bereavement leave was over and my 61st birthday was approaching. I was getting older and I felt it.