Shortly after the experience I last described, her face changed. Up until that moment, it was still her body, silent, lifeless, but her. The change happened within a few minutes. It is hard to describe—sort of a hardening. What was lying on the bed became “a body,” scarcely recognizable any more as Esther.
The hearse from the local funeral home/crematory arrived a few minutes later. I did not wait in the room while they wheeled her out, but I did follow it all the way to Athens, mentally saying good-bye again as I turned off onto my street.
I called my son-in-law, Matt, who is pastor of a Presbyterian church in CA. Mother was fond of him and had said long ago that she wanted him to officiate at her funeral. We decided on June 8 for her memorial service.
The interment of her ashes was to be in Olmsted Falls. My friend Helen had volunteered to fly up with me if we could plan to go after she returned from a trip she was about to take. I called the minister of Olmsted Community Church and we decided that Friday, June 19, would be the best date.
With those times settled, I spent the next two weeks dealing with the unacceptable work of a contractor, and putting my house back in order after months of having everything from the living room and foyer stored either in the garage or boxed up in my dining room.
I also made the difficult decision to put down my dear 17 year old cat. Poor Jameson—I have hardly had time to grieve for him.
The memorial service was beautiful and well attended. I had asked that the flower arrangement be open, airy, with lots of green and five red roses for the five children she bore:
I am attaching copies of the service bulletin. Click on them to enlarge.
The hymns were ones she had picked several years ago and the readings were my choice for particular reasons. The choir music was beautiful, and Jill’s solos brought tears to my eyes, they were so exquisite.
Her ashes were placed on a stand near the altar, so as to be included one last time as we gathered around it for the Eucharist.
I am adding Matt’s sermon, Al’s comments, and my homily as separate posts following this one.
Anita Brannen, Mother’s hospice volunteer, decided at the last minute to add a few words. She remembered coming a couple times a month in the afternoon so I could attend meetings. Though I had emphasized that Mother needed her afternoon naps, often she would just pretend to be asleep until she heard me leave. Then she’d sit up and chat while I was gone!
One other post-to-follow is from Mikko Mantysalo, my second cousin in Finland, whom I have never met but who had kind words to say about my mother.
The Parish Life Committee outdid themselves with food for the reception. I had prepared a revolving 30 slide PowerPoint presentation of photos of her from the age of five to last February, which people seemed to enjoy. We also set up a small display of her clocks and desk accessories.
The service had lasted an hour and a half, and people lingered at the reception until almost six p.m.
Jill, Matt and I went out to dinner. We had lunch at home the next day, and they flew back home that afternoon—only about 24 hours in town.