Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Grandma's Funeral

Grandma's funeral the Monday before last turned out to be a truly wonderful celebration of her life and a stellar opportunity to enjoy time with dear family members. It felt like Grandma was there, so pleased that her passing had given us a bonus reunion and so glad to see how much we all love and appreciate her.

My whole family flew in from all over the place to be there. While it's so fun to have everyone's spouses and kids with them, it was a unique and special experience to have some time with just my siblings and parents (too expensive for everyone to bring spouses and kids - Jared and our kids joined us for the viewing and funeral, but for other parts of the weekend, Jared was kind enough to take the kids so I could enjoy quality time with my siblings and parents).

We went for a great hike together.

We ate a beautiful dinner together:

We talked and laughed and had such a fabulous time sharing worries and hopes and joys and laughs.

I sure love these people:

And these people (all my cousins were able to make it, most of whom I see far too infrequently. SO fun to have time with all of them!)

We all crammed into Grandma's house to share favorite memories and it was just a perfect evening full of love and laughter and some tears of love.

The viewing the next morning was very nice. It was great to meet good people with stories to share about our beloved grandma. And Grandma looked peaceful and pleasant. Saydi and my mom and I got together with Aunt Karen and sweet Jan who was Grandma's caregiver at the end to prepare Grandma's body for the funeral. It was a bit jarring to see here there dead at first. But as we worked together to put on her favorite temple dress and do her hair and make up just the way she liked it, it felt so very right and I was so glad there was one last thing I could do for her in a very physical way. It was a very holy experience.

As the oldest grandchild, I was asked to share a life sketch at her funeral. I felt a little stressed out about how to offer an even somewhat representative gathering of information about her long and strong life. But I gathered ideas from grandma's sister, her children, my cousins, and her husband's old journal and sure learned a lot. I was way more emotional than I imagined I'd be as I got up there to speak but it all came off alright, I think.

Here are the parts of my grandpa's journal that I shared so he could be represented in the life sketch:
  • April 21, 1941 – Ray, Lois, Ruthie and I had a nice drive up the canyon yesterday. Oh, but Ruthie is a wonderful girl!
  • (When Dean and Ruthie were in a dance review together. Ruth was in about ½ the dances and Dean and Ruth were doing one dance together.)
  • April 29 – Oh, but I love Ruthie. I’ve just got to make her love me. I will do my darndest! I look forward to the practices with Ruthie for the dance review. We’re doing a very pretty waltz.
  • May 21st – Yippeee! Tonight was the night. After our picnic tonight, Ruth actually told me she loved me.
  • May 22st-  I can still hardly believe it! I’ve been whooping and hollering. She loves me! Just think – the most wonderful girl in the world.
  • June 17th – when I think of the other love affairs I’ve had, oh, they were just puppy love. Ruthie is the real thing. I think I’ve found the one for me.

And here's my sweet great aunt, Beth (with Shawni's daughter, Grace). She's Grandma's little sister (just 13 months younger) who looks and talks SO much like Grandma. I just had to ask her to share a bit about Grandma as a little girl as part of the life sketch. She shared the cutest story about how she and Grandma would play with their beloved dolls every day after school and talked about how Grandma was always the peacemaker in the family and was a conscientious "mother" and care-giver, even back then.

Beth also told me about the "dancing school" she and Grandma put together for all the little girls in their neighborhood, right there in the church where we held the funeral. Grandma so loved dancing:

(she's third from the right in this photo)

(she's front row left in this photo)

Each of Grandma's children shared beautiful memories and tributes (Kevin, Rawlin, Sheri, Chris and my dad, Richard)

And Elder Perry, who went to high school with Grandma, shared memories and urged us all to be valiant and to leave our mark on the world. He looked RIGHT at Ashton, sitting there on the second row and said, "You, young man, you've been given a powerful legacy and I can't wait to see the good things you'll do as you leave your mark on this world." Such a great moment, one that Ashton and the rest of us won't ever forget.

After the funeral, our time at the cemetery was soft and perfect.

So this past couple weeks, I've sure thought a lot about what I'd like my own children and grandchildren to be able to say about me one day. April and I devoted our Power of Moms radio show last week to our ideas about what sort of legacy we want to leave. Check it out here if you want - I share a lot more about the funeral and my thoughts and feelings about what I learned from Grandma in this podcast.

*** For lots more details and lovely photos, check out my sister Shawni's post here.


Rachelle said...

Love the details you shared and what a special moment for Ashton. Awesome!

emily ballard said...

Beautiful pictures! And what an incredible experience with Elder Perry and Ashton.


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