Saturday, August 05, 2006

Home from Our July

I'm still here... just recovering from our July.

We moved, merely two miles, but it was hectic beyond words. And on the very day we moved... precisely when movers were mangling our family heirloom piano while carrying it into the new house... we got the call that Ron's mother had passed away. It was earlier than expected, and yet, we later learned that it wasn't.

That was July 14. Ron and I, along with Kevin (22) and Andrea (14) flew to Reno for services, etc. on July 20, returning late on July 23.

The services were of the old-fashioned ilk, complete with unbearable (to me and especially our children, who sobbed openly. Andrea sobbed again the next night.) body viewing, dramatic cemetery burial accompanied by throwing Mom's favorite flowers into the open grave, and, the following day, a lovely memorial service in the Episcopal tradition at their 100-year-old church. (The stained glass windows were magnificent.)

Turns out Mom discussed her service with the priest, but none of us knew that until the service. She asked that the 23rd Psalm be read, and she selected the organ hymns.

Ron was the primary eulogist in his mother's honor, and we both learned a lot about powering through remarks regardless of overflowing emotions. His words were touching and perfect, and he brought everyone to quiet tears with sweet reminiscences, and a tribute to his parents' 54-year marriage.

We stayed with Dad at the house, of course. He's not doing well. He hugged Ron for the longest time when we first arrived. He's aged quite a bit, which is saying something for an 80-year-old man.

Ron's aunt and uncle (Mom's sister) and their three daughters, Ron's cousins, all reside in Reno. The cousins are 35 to 45, married, with children. One hosted a family dinner for 18 of us Friday evening after the burial, the night before the memorial service. And another hosted a generous reception for all attendees after the memorial service. A third, Mom and Dad's Godchild, read a Bible passage at the service.

I have such strong impressions and mental photos of that long weekend, that Ron is encouraging me to jot them down into a short book. So I won't also be doing that here... at least, not now.

I just wrote thank you notes to the cousins, as I only today found the thank you note statonary.

So we're home. I don't think we've fully processed her death yet. A couple times this week, I felt an unexpained sadness... which is not my normal disposition.

Dad calls almost every night after dinner. He's lonely, and we're 600 miles away. People are keeping him busy with dinners and get-togethers, but that will fade away as life returns to its normal rhythm. He'll never move down to Southern California, and our life is here.

So we don't know what life holds next. But do we ever?

Mom had great peace and unshakable faith right to her death. She said good-bye to her loved ones, tied up loose ends, and decided to end her medication. We learned that she was sicker than we realized, and that she knew it. She was heavily anesthetized in her last days, and in and out of consciousness. But she was probably aware.

She passed away surrounded by her husband, her sister and the hospital chaplain, leading them in prayer. She inspired us all with her great faith.

A few days after we got home, Andrea had a vivid dream in which her grandmother appeared to her. Mom was wearing a navy blue dress with pale yellow flowers. She smiled warmly, hugged Andrea and told her that she is fine, she feels healthy now, and out of pain. Not to worry. Andrea said it felt very real.

I have no earthly idea how anyone sanely processes death without possessing a faith.

My belief in Romans 8: 28 is enduring and essential: "And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

God is good!

No comments: