Saturday, July 11, 2009

Visiting at the Funeral Home

My mom's obituary notice asked visitors to come between four p.m. and eight p.m. on Thursday. We arrived at 3 p.m. to have some time ourselves and a short prayer service. It was the 'immediate family', which can be defined slightly differently in many cases.
Sibling #1 (let's call her Rose), her husband, two sons (one on emergency family leave from the U. S. Navy), her daughter and fiance.
Sibling #2 (let's call her Rie), her husband and son. Daughter lives far away and is unable to attend.
Sibling #3 (let's call her Callie) and spouse. Both her daughter and son live too far away and are unable to attend. (Flights are expensive, taking time off work these days can be dangerous to the future of your job.)
Sibling #4 (let's call him Joe), his spouse and two sons.
My cousin (let's call her Dina) and her sons.
My cousin (let's call her Millie) and her daughter.

My dad went in first and closed the door. We kind of wondered if he would want to be alone with mom in the casket for a while. He opened the doors and you can tell he had been crying. He has been very stoic through all of this. Then we all went in, went up to the casket. A person never looks the same in death. I hate going up to the casket. As my dad said, they had smoothed out her wrinkles. All of us were a little upset right away because it was too much makeup. The employees there were very helpful, immediately someone came to fix that. They offered us the option of leaving the room while they did. We just kind of stepped to the other end instead. There were all the flowers and plants that had arrived. We walked around reading the cards. Then the Pastor came in and held a short prayer service.

My cousin suggested we grab a few bites to eat before people started coming in. That was a good suggestion. Not everyone followed it, but I am glad that I had. I had a long drive getting there. I had eaten half my plate when a nephew came down saying that I was needed upstairs. Already there were about twenty guests, and a few were cousins that I had not seen in years and they were asking for me. The next four hours are a complete blur. I didn't expect so many people. My mom was not very social. As I mentioned, they had moved from their long-time neighborhood just a few years ago. Neighbors from both old and new neighborhoods came and went. Co-workers of my siblings, some of my old co-workers, co-workers of my dad's before he retired. Members of churches that all my siblings belong to. Members of our scattered family. Aunts, uncles, cousins and more cousins. Many had been at the Open House for Rose's son just over a week before.

The slideshow my sister Rose had created was very popular. People stood waiting for pictures of people and events that they remembered. Combing faces in crowds at weddings 'look, there's my sister, or look how young I looked' comments made.

It was exhausting having to go through the whole story over and over again. How quickly it all happened. People picking apart every move she made the last time they saw her, as if there was a need to have some sign that this was going to happen. I did miss one of the best lines of the night.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my dad still goes to the same Catholic church that he has attended for like sixty years. The long time Priest there has retired but is still alive. As the priest was being introduced to the Evangelical Pastor of my sister Rie's church, Father M. says to him "didn't you used to be a Catholic?" Every time I think of it I laugh. Asking someone their religious affiliation is not customary when you are introduced to them. Even if you are both in the same 'business'. I really wish the Pastor would have said, 'no, sorry, I was a Jew'. Okay I have an odd sense of humor. Not that I am insulting those who are Jewish. It was an odd question for one 'Christian' to ask of another. So that's my idea of humor.

When the evening finally ended and the last hangers on had headed out the door we were all just exhausted. Leftover food had been carried out and distributed among cars. Everyone headed home---or to wherever they were staying. It was after 9 p.m., and we had to be back at the Funeral Home at 9 a.m. in the morning.

No comments: