Showing posts with label funeral. Show all posts
Showing posts with label funeral. Show all posts

Thursday, June 29, 2017

If Dead is the Look they were Going For, They have Succeeded


          Though I have had a small hand and say in making funeral arrangements, I have not had the opportunity of having to find a mortuary nor have considered every financial expect.  Before either of my parents had passed, there needed to be a record of what funeral home to contact should they expire.  My dad lived out his final days at Cottonwood Hospital in Murray, Utah.  Ironically, he had also been born there (or so I was told) but at that time it had been called Cottonwood Maternity Ward and wasn't the full blown hospital where he had died.     
          Mom had used a local mortuary as a contact I’m guessing because it was familiar territory as it had been used by other members of our ward.  Before mom passed, Corey had made arrangements for Premier Funeral – though none of us had heard of it before, it really does seem the most economical way to go. 

          Premier doesn’t offer a chapel or a show room in which members can walk around and look at caskets.  They offer a catalogue – which I suppose doesn’t go over well with some people, but Corey and I were fine with it.  Premier has a lot to offer – for one thing the body is embalmed right away – at least where it is possible. (autopsy would be an exception)



          Jeanie was already gone when the paramedics arrived.  Possibly before she fell- or why she was falling.  Her mother said that seven clots had been found in her lung(s) and not just one.  I don’t know what shade she was when the paramedics arrived or how pale she must have gotten in the morgue.  It feels a bit morbid wondering. 

          I was not impressed with the makeup job - but I have no idea what of Jeanie's facial condition when she arrived to the mortuary.  Perhaps they had done a marvelous job with the "canvas" given - I just didn't see that.  Mommy and Daddy had looked so natural, so peaceful, as though they were sleeping.  Jeanie looked like a corpse – like in a really low budget movie when everything looks fake.  It appeared that she had jaundice underneath the make-up.  It was hard seeing her like that.



          Biff had never been involved with any plans concerning funerals – except when we had asked him to be a pall bearer at my mom’s.  But that was the extent of it.  He had never gone to look for a casket or a burial plot.  I’m sure the funeral home they went through was the same one his in-laws had used when they had buried their other two children.  It was right next to – perhaps even part of the cemetery.  I think Biff just went along with what they wanted.  What did he know?  They had been through it before.  Roland and I have both gone through it, but we weren’t there.  We weren’t involved with the decisions or give advice or hold our son’s hand.



          I don’t know that his in-laws would have felt comfortable using Premier as they had the viewing in one location and the funeral in another.  The mortuary was in a familiar place where family and loved ones had already gathered.  They would have had to make arrangements for another chapel with Premier. But I think they would have saved a tremendous amount of cost.

          My son, Randy, had set up a fund for Biff and his daughter – a plea to help pay for expenses.  The goal was to hit 5,000.  3,000 had been raised in eight days by 62 different people. I cried every time I would see donations being made.  I know there were many who knew Jeanie personally, but still many that did not know her at all.  Some hadn’t even known Biff for that matter, and that touched my heart.  My nephew, Brian, was the first to contribute to the cause.




          I don’t know how many chapels and "comfort" rooms the funeral home offered.  I would guess at least seven.  It felt as if there had been seven different viewings all scheduled for Sunday night.  Perhaps there had only been four or five.  We had to pass them all in order to get the room where Jeanie and family were waiting.  The lines were long.  I’m sure that is why they had put us at the end.

          When mom died, we had her at the Relief Society room in the building where she attended church.  We were there Friday night and the mortuary took her away and brought her back the following morning and then we moved into the chapel. Premier had driven her back and forth.  I'm not knocking the full blown centers but am in favor of using Premier again.  They did an awesome job for us.  I was overwhelmed by the amount of traffic involved with Jeanie.  I never felt overwhelmed with Premier.  The situation was always calm and respectful. 



Saturday, June 17, 2017

In an Instant . . . Plans Change

Biff works as a security guard
He gets bored patrolling and
calls us often.
Just a week and a half ago
he mentioned an upcoming weekend getaway.

His in-laws were planning on taking him,
his wife, and the baby.
Biff had looked forward to
Spending Time in the pool
with Jeanie and Ally.
He had made arrangements for
getting the time off from work.

He was home when Jeanie fell.
He couldn't get to her quickly enough.
The autopsy showed that she had
a clot in her lung.
Perhaps that is what caused her
to fall.

We had planned to visit with family members
in Utah the second week in August.
We have two granddaughters turning two
that month.
Carrie had called Jeanie on a Monday to ask
if she wanted to celebrate the girls' birthdays
at the same time
before our return to Oregon.
The following Monday we were all at
Jeanie's funeral.

Biff held Ally over the casket for
one final view.
Ally held out her arms and called, "Mommy"
one last time.
I watched Ally watch the lid being closed
over her mother.




Sunday, June 28, 2015

Not the Reunion We Were After




          My Uncle Ross had battled cancer off and on for I don’t know how many years.  His last time in the hospital was majorly hard on his wife and children – but he kept up a positive attitude, I believe for their sake. 
         
          When he left the hospital, he was told that he would have no more than a year left on earth.  (Probably not in those exact words – but you get the gist)

          My cousin, Michelle, had sent out a request for an early “Christmas in July” celebration – hoping that we would all enjoy one last celebration with Uncle Ross and have those treasured memories as we had for mom.  Only her request came as a plea on my part: “LaTiesha is moving to Oregon.  Let’s have our Christmas early this year before she goes” She didn’t want to say what she really meant “before Dad goes”

          The date was set up for June 14th – though not everyone would be able to attend.  I don’t think we’ve ever had a “Christmas in July” party in which all of us were there.  And yet when we had celebrated in December, I don’t remember anyone NOT being there – even if it was just to put in an appearance (which seemed to become more popular as the family grew) 

          The celebration for this year would take place at the same time when my family attended Church – which is why I had announced in my ward that the 7th would probably be my last week (I was still tired from bus trip mentioned in my last post; wasn’t thinking clearly)

          On June 6th I was on the bus going toward Salt Lake.  I had the option of using my laptop but did not actually make the discovery until the last leg of the trip, but chose not to deal with it in such tight quarters as it was.  Corey had texted me in the event that I wasn’t on facebook.  Michelle had messaged family members to let us know that Uncle Ross had chosen not to fight anymore.  Corey had just seen him two days earlier, and though he had lost a tremendous amount of weight, Corey said that Uncle Ross seemed to be in good spirits.

          Less than two hours later I received another text.  Uncle Ross had passed.  At that point I didn’t have (nor expect) any details about the funeral.  It may not have been until Monday that I learned that there would be a viewing on Thursday and the funeral would be on Saturday, the 13th.  So of course we wouldn’t be having the “Christmas in July” on the following Sunday.  




          Roland had graduated from his collage courses and already had his diploma in hand.  But he had signed up to walk across the stage in a graduation ceremony that same Saturday – an activity that I was never truly excited about to begin with.  I would seriously rather attend a funeral than a graduation or award ceremony that always seems to drag and make me feel like death would be an awesome option for ending the many hours I feel like I spend at said ceremony.  But it’s not like I wished for it to happen just so I’d have an excuse not to go.

          Meanwhile, Roland seemed to forget about it as well as he planned to leave Utah on Friday night after he got off work to take a load of furniture and packed boxes to Oregon.  He didn’t attend either viewing or funeral.  He and Bill both work late on Thursday and so Bill did not go to the viewing either.  Kayla stopped by with their three children and we rode to the viewing address together.

          The viewing, without doubt, is the most interesting that I’ve ever attended.  Corey would have loved it, I think.  There was a “celebration of life” theme.  Nothing wrong with it – just different.  It wasn’t something that Kayla and I are used to.  It just felt irreverent when we first arrived.  I felt like we had walked into a cocktail party rather than a viewing. But it was a great send-off. Made it easier on my aunt and cousins – who for the most part, were out mingling amongst the “guests”.  Uncle Ross was left in a room by himself (for the most part).  Aunt Fern said it made it so much easier for her not to be in the same room with his lifeless body. 

          They had dressed him in golf clothes and he held a golf ball.  Kayla and I tried to visit with family members while taking turns supervising the children as Anna wanted to go in one direction and Gary in another and the food wasn’t as important as they thought.

          Anna wanted to go upstairs in a closed area and Gary wanted to stand near enough to the water to play in it.  BJ was very good, but after a while he wanted to get down and explore as well.  Neither Kayla nor I were willing to allow that to happen as he could have easily been stepped on.  Didn’t seem like a very kid-friendly environment – but than neither is the traditional viewing that we are used to. Children acting up or misbehaving seems more noticeable at a viewing than it does at Church services.  But given the amount of volume level amongst those who had come to pay their respects, their behavior seemed to be overlooked by everyone except me and Kayla. 

         I had asked Earl how they had found the funeral home or made the arrangements. He said that the family had been introduced to the services after an uncle had died.  His mom liked the feeling of “life” as opposed to the mourning for death.  The family agreed and made the arrangements.

         Kayla and I did not stay long as the kids really needed to removed from the situation at hand.  I think all of us were tired.

          The Saturday service was really nice.  Three of my cousins gave talks and shared memories of their dad.  Michelle’s husband played guitar while Corey sang “Landslide”, a song that neither one of them were familiar with, but I had heard it before.  Michelle mentioned that the song had been chosen as her family doesn’t seem to deal well with change – at least where death is involved.

           Golf balls had been purchased for mementoes to take for each person who attended the services.  One son-in-law works with the police force and made arrangements for a police (on motorcycles) escort to be with the old fashion looking Hearst.  People may have seen it and thought there must have been an important person in the casket.  It was indeed a great honor.



After the services were over at the cemetery, we all threw paper airplanes.  A balloon was tied to one to send on high.  Just a few minutes later many of us returned to the church to have lunch with the family.  I went around and said my good-byes to all of the family members who had usually turned out for Christmas dinner.  Some who said they couldn’t or wouldn’t make it to the BBQ for an early July Christmas. It was Uncle Ross’s final farewell and everyone turned out for it.  And it was great.

  
 
Now he is reunited with his mom and dad and brother and sister. This picture is my dad with Uncle Ross long before they were my dad and uncle.



Monday, January 5, 2015

Ringing Out Wild Bells – Can We Sing MOURN?


“Ring Out Wild Bells” (found here) has got one of the most mournful tunes I have ever heard in my life.  If it isn’t the most mournful tune in the hymnbook, I would guess it’s at least in the top three. To top its already mournful tune, it is being played on the organ – which in my opinion is one of the most mournful musical instruments and so the two put together sounds like a procession to a dark funeral.

The chorister was not impressed with the lack of volume from the congregation and suggested we try again.  The brother behind me uttered, “Well then pick a different song”
Needless to say, I was in full agreement.  It wouldn’t bother me at all to have that hymn completely thrown out of the hymnbook.  But then again, I have only heard it just once a year.  For me, personally, once a decade would be plenty.

I visualized a setting as one would find in a Charles Dickens story.  It’s rainy and cold and everybody is dressed in black.  No one is smiling.  It’s the end of the world for each of them and there is no longer anything worth living for.  At least that is what I see.



The last two verses without the music don’t seem quite as mournful as the first. 
           “Ring Happy Bells Across the Snow”  Oh, yes.  Let’s do that.  Let us be happy.  There is absolutely no joy in that tune.  There are no happy bells.  There is only death – and not a pleasant one.  No pep.  No believing that the New Year will bring new hope.  It’s over.  Life is over.  That is my personal opinion of it anyway. 

Funny thing is by the time the song is over, and I am reminiscing about the mournful tune, I somehow end up turning it into “Portobello Road” (written by Richard and Robert Sherman) from Bedknobs and Broomsticks.  But even at the slowest tempos and gloomiest notes, it still has more upbeat than “Ring Out Wild Bells” will ever have.   In case you haven’t guessed it, I just really don’t care for that song.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Accepted as Part of the Family



I don’t know when the boys had lost touch with their mother’s family. Roland supposedly had her number on file, and the boys would constantly ask, “When can we see Aunt Judy again?”

I figured it should be up to Roland to provide the number, put in the phone call, make an effort to get in touch. It took me two years to realize that if the boys were going to get in touch with Aunt Judy, they would have to come up with another source.

I knew we wouldn’t find her under her maiden name and asked them one night to provide me with the first and last name of her husband and then we would look her up. I was surprised that there was only one Van Ball in Layton. I called Judy and introduced myself and learned that her father’s funeral had taken place only three days prior. She took down our name and address and sent out three programs (one for each boy). Even though the family had been out of touch, the three missing grandsons had still been named as honorary pallbearers.

Aunt Judy said that the family did an annual barbeque each year and would call us back with the details. It was the first time I had met the Walden family. What a great bunch of hospitable people! It was fascinating being in their presence.

At that time eight of Roland’s late wife’s sibs were living. Not all of them made it to the barbeque. I think that there were six or seven families there – or a few members from each family anyway. All of them are scattered in Wyoming and Northern Utah.

The boys were treated like celebrities. Well, I guess we all were. Aunt Judy took a million pictures! Not just of our family, but each family. And then all the kids. And then all the adults. And Roland and I had been asked to join in the adult picture – though neither one of us are Waldens. Okay, he had married Deborah Walden and would still be married to her if she had not passed away.

I was so impressed with how they embraced and accepted me and Jenna and made me feel like we had belonged to them for decades.

After that Aunt Judy always sent presents to Jenna for Christmas and her birthday. I thought that was so wonderful of her to accept Jenna and dote over her – even more so than she had with the boys.

The boys were actually able to see their maternal grandmother a few times before she passed. We didn’t make it to the funeral as we had gone to Roland’s Uncle Mike’s just the week before. Driving to Arizona in January wasn’t actually a big deal. Driving north to Wyoming seemed like it would be quite a treacherous journey that particular year. We prayed for the family's safety.

Though we did not make it to grandma’s funeral, we did attend funerals and weddings of other family members. Deborah’s oldest brother’s only daughter got married. I took Jenna to the luncheon that none of the rest of my family was able to attend. Later her mom passed away. I think all six of us went to that funeral. Or perhaps Randy and Tony were both out of the country at the time. I don't remember all the details.

We attended the wedding reception of Uncle Joey’s oldest. Roland told me that he and Deborah had each of their children within a few months of Joey and his wife. Joey and his wife came to the wedding receptions of all three of my boys. Joey, from what I understood was the most social of all the Walden children.

One of Deborah’s older sisters, Sandy had had cancer in addition to some other health problems. It actually didn’t come as a huge surprise to hear about her passing. I took Jenna to Aunt Sandy’s funeral. None of the men in my family were able to take the time off and Roland had asked if I would represent the family.

The latest death was a shock to everyone.. Joey Walden is a wrestling coach during the school year and a fisherman in the summer. He was on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska. He had told his comrades that he hadn't felt well and went to lie down for a while. A half hour passed when a member of the team went to wake him so that he could assist in pulling the nets. It was discovered that Joey had passed away in his sleep. 

They don't know the cause even though there was an autopsy. Today he will be buried in Wyoming. Joey is just a year younger than I am – and I would guess in much better shape.

We'd gone to the funeral yesterday. Pretty nice services. The boys' uncle was very well loved! There was a massive line for the viewing, and overflow into the cultural hall clear back to the stage. And that was just the people who were able to make it. I'm certain that there were twice as many not able to make it because of work or being out of town.

An angel sang "Be Still My Soul". Before the funeral services had even started, we heard her practicing. I cried both times. It was so awesomely beautiful.

The closing hymn was “Each Life That Touches Ours for Good” which is a sign to us all that Joey did just that. But he is on the other side now, having a reunion with two brothers, two sisters, mom and dad and countless others. Maybe meeting my family as well.

It was a wonderful service. He was an outstanding individual. I would imagine he still is.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Another Send Off - Returning Home



Before Jenna turned five she was introduced to Isaac – a cousin to Paula – who, at the time, was Biff’s platonic girlfriend. 
Roland asked Isaac how old he would be (or what age he’d just turned – I forget what time of the year it was) We both figured at least nine.  Both of us were quite floored when he answered seven..  He was too tall to be only seven. He was actually quite tall for nine.   Surely Jenna and Isaac were more than just two years apart.

     Isaac’s mom was involved with an Easter tradition.  Every year right after Church, the children would look for the plastic eggs that the adults had hid around the yard – her father’s yard to be exact.  Paula had outgrown the tradition and had asked Biff to bring Jenna so that Isaac and Paula’s brother weren’t hunting for eggs by themselves.  So from 2009 to 2012 Jenna has always done Easter with Isaac and his family.  

 

     Each year the hunt happened at Grandpa’s house – until last year.  Ruth and Nim had moved into a new house – she felt that her yard was ready.  Biff and Paula hadn’t spent much time together, but he was still friends with Isaac’s mom, Ruth.  She had asked him if he would assist with Easter set up.  He took Jenna with him and they spent the night.

Paula had told me that she came from a dysfunctional family.  I didn’t realize how dysfunctional until earlier this year. It’s true that Ruth had been excited to have Easter at her house – but it was not the same as it had been at grandpas.  I think Grandpa himself had been invited, but nobody else in the family had.  There had been a falling out, continuous squabbles – quite strained relationships among Ruth and her siblings.  It sounded horrible.  I feel quite grateful that I couldn’t (nor can) relate.

When Jenna was in first grade, Grandpa’s home was a sanctuary – I told her that if I was ever late picking her up, she was to wait for me at Paula and Isaac’s grandpa’s house. That was before the adult brother moved in and basically pushed his parents into the back room – taking away almost every inch of space from the house to store his worthless belongings and himself.  This year I told her NOT to go to Grandpas.  Even Ruth and Isaac would rather not be there.  I now understand why it takes him so long to cross the field.

Ruth, from what I understand, has always been insecure about her looks.  She has always felt overweight and unhealthy.  Others had made fun of her size and said unkind things that did hurt her emotionally.  But she was very strong willed and never unkind to anyone.  She was a friend to everyone – including those that had put her down. I thought she was beautiful both inside and out.

She did not have the Easter hunt this year.  Her health has been poor.  She was scheduled to have her hernia removed back in May.  But there was the issue with her weight.  She needed to lose several pounds and reschedule.  I don’t know how many times the surgery was postponed.  I had talked with her over the phone only a few times during the summer.  I had been to her house only one time.

Ruth’s home was always in chaos.  She just didn’t seem to have the strength to pick up after her two boys.  She considered them more than a blessing.  She said that Nim and the boys completed her life.   But somehow the boys didn’t appear to give her any help.  I don’t know why.  Isaac is such a sweet and thoughtful boy.  He has been a tremendous friend to Jenna. 

His little brother has a crush on Jenna.  He also looks older than he is – a little replica (well, smaller version – both boys are huge) of Isaac.  He just started kindergarten this year and Isaac will be starting junior high (or middle school) next year.

Ruth’s last surgery was scheduled for Friday, October 11.  She so wanted to lose the weight and get healthy not just for herself but for her boys. She died on the operating table.  I seem to be shedding more tears than with my own mom’s death.  I just feel so bad for Isaac and Marvin.  Marvin was so attached to his mother.  I don’t know if he will fully understand that mommy isn’t coming back or why.  He cannot depend on her anymore the way he used to.

Biff and I attended her funeral this afternoon.   We had gone early to attend the viewing.  I saw Ruth’s brother in the hall.  Her mom was near the casket – but that was all the family I saw.  No grandpa (her father) no Isaac, no Marvin, no Nim.  Ruth was in her casket smiling.  It was small, but still, it appeared as a smile. I don't think I've ever seen a smiling corpse before.



I visited with the principal of the school that both Isaac and Jenna attend.  She was the only person (besides Ruth) that I recognized. (How convenient it was for both of us that the funeral was just next door to the school.)  School let out before the funeral was over. 

You would think a family like that would have seen death before – but the funeral itself seemed to be a very unfamiliar situation for most of the family – at least from my point of view. I would imagine both Ruth and her dad have attended funerals before. 

Somebody escorted the two boys into the chapel.   I went to where they were seated and gave Isaac a hug and asked if he was okay.  He was holding a stack of homemade cards that I'm guessing had been created by his classmates. I started crying before I returned to my seat. I just couldn’t seem to pull myself together.

Nim joined his boys shortly after I sat down.  I’d never met him before and so introduced myself.  He looked broken.  They sat in the chapel with some other of his family members.  I don’t know if they were ever in the same room with the casket

Nim and the boys missed out on the family prayer as it was in the RS room and they were in the chapel.  Perhaps it was easier for them.  I don’t know. When the congregation was told to stand while the family filed in, Nim and his family stood along with the congregation and thus most all of the family members who filed in remained standing also. 

I think it is the first LDS funeral I’ve been to where I have seen the family stand and not take their seats once they had filed in. I know I've taken my seat as a family member while the congregation stood for us.

The services were nice.  Ruth is very well loved.  I enjoyed learning more about the great woman that she was.  I hope Isaac will remember the love and that he will take the advice of the speakers.  She will definitely be missed.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Two Weeks


 
Two weeks after I started my blog I became part of a search party who went out looking for mom who had dementia and had wandered from home.  She could not be left alone.  Each of us worked out a schedule so that someone would always be with her.

Two weeks after this year started mom was released from the hospital and spent her last night at the house she’d lived in for over fifty years. It had been on a Sunday when Ellen found my mom passed out and called for Nate to assist.  Patrick ended up taking her to the hospital.  He and Nate were both dressed for church but stayed at the hospital all day. They did not go to Church that day. Patrick had chosen to stay with mom. On Monday mom’s four children worked together to fill out the paperwork to move mom into assisted living. On Wednesday Kayla took mom to her new home at the assisted living facility – the last place she would live. And Corey came from Las Vegas to assist and say good-bye to the house. 

Two weeks ago we lay mom to rest - buried beside my dad.  She’d been rushed to the hospital two weeks prior to that.  It was on a Sunday when she was found passed out on the floor. She'd been rushed to the hospital. Patrick met her at there.   He was dressed for church but stayed at the hospital all day.  He did not go to Church that day.  He had chosen to stay with mom. He took the next two weeks off.  And Corey drove from Las Vegas to say good-bye.  We all spent time with her for 7-10 days.  And then she finally let go.

Two weeks ago Corey and Kayla and I met Fern and Michelle at the Mortuary.  We watched Corey and the Mortician dress my mom.  Michelle applied some lipstick – that’s all that was needed.  Mom looked like she always does when she falls asleep. She still has her purse.

Two weeks ago we talked with family and friends who had come to pay their last respects.  Sunny offered a beautiful prayer before we all went into the chapel. I tied mom’s bow and veiled her face – my final act of service for her.  The lid was closed.  I think Brian cried the hardest. His sobs just seemed louder than the rest - maybe because he's a giant.



 Two weeks ago today we paid our last respects and shared our stories and beautiful thoughts for such a marvelous woman.  Daddy’s birthday was the day after the farewell services.  It was on a Sunday. Corey had planned to spend this week with mom. Instead she's spending it with dad.  We miss you mom! (and dad)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Flooded With Thoughts . . . again


After two weeks
my head is
full of thoughts
again. 
Granted they are
different thoughts
but still enough
swimming through
my mind and
it’s overflowing with
new thoughts
new ideas
unlike the ones
before this
month started. 

Thoughts about
my mom’s
farewell
departure and
about the change
in song and
why and how
happy I was that
Joh got to sing “Smile”
instead of
“Embraceable You”
which evidently was
mom’s favorite, but
I like “Smile” better
and I love Joh’s
voice and he gave
such an awesome
introduction as to
why he was
singing it.  He
didn’t say that 
“Embraceable You” is
not acceptable music to
sing in the chapel.

I think Corey
was upset, but I
quite enjoyed it. 
I’m certain that
my mom did too.