First let me say thank you to one and all for your kind words and good wishes. They did, and do, help a lot.
My last post was on Monday, the day Christy died. Odd to think that today is less than a week away from that day. So much has happened and I figure that you all would like to be caught up on the news. Monday afternoon was filled with important errands, a visit to the lawyer, and dinner. I think every night since last Monday, dinner has been an event with extra people.
Mom and I started sorting through papers Tuesday morning. I found Christy's will in a bag with her purses. She was actually a pretty organized person so I don't know how it ended up there. I also found the receipt from her favorite watch, the links that she had had removed, and the watch itself. Mom said she thought Christy would want me to have it and I've worn it daily since then. I find I'm enjoying it as a reminder of my sister and because it's a nice watch. (Christy loved good bling.)
Jeff flew in from Baltimore on Tuesday. He helped mom notify all of the people that needed to know about Christy's death. Christy died with a lot of medical debt and just about no assets. Once the dust settles and we have death certificates Mom will have to decide how to divide the bit of money between those who want it.
Jeff went with mom to get car insurance. Luckily the title papers that she filed on Monday were what she needed. They went to lunch. Honestly I think they had a very nice day. Mom doesn't get to spend time one-on-one with Jeff very often. He was the perfect person to help her with what had to be done that day. I'm not sure what I did on Tuesday, but I was busy.
The funeral mass was scheduled for Thursday in Sherman, the burial service for Friday in OKC. Both were followed by lunch for those who attended. Wednesday was busy getting everything ready for Thursday and Friday. Among the many errands we ran on Wednesday was a meeting with Fr. Jeremy Myers, our parish priest. He had not met Christy and wanted us to talk to him about her. We also went to the funeral home to pick up Christy in her lovely wooden box. I printed this photo of her to put next to her box at both services. It's also the photo that ran with her obituary. Christopher wrote the obituary and he did a great job.
I'm here to tell you that cremation is a lot more casual that your regular 'body in a casket' funeral. For one thing, a box of cremains (a word that drives me crazy so that's the last you will read it here) is easy to carry. It's hard to be formal with a box the size of a cereal box. Christy road home in the back seat and was at mom's house for the dinner that night.
Celia flew in Wednesday and Linda and Paul arrived in Sherman as well. A few of our friends rounded out the group. It's odd to think that the first party at mom's new house was this dinner, but it was. And it was nice!
It was rainy and cooler on Thursday – perfect weather for my sister who loved rainy days. The rest of us were happy to see rain too since we're in the middle of a drought. Fr. Jeremy gave the best funeral sermon I have ever heard. It wasn't just my opinion – it seemed to the general consensus. Mom said later that it was really comforting. The lunch was very nice and there was time to visit with a variety of family and friends. Afterwards, Steve took Christy back to the car for the ride home.
Thursday afternoon we realized that the afternoon was free. Mom wanted to chill, run her own errands in her car, by herself thank you very much. Linda and I decided to go to McKinney to shop for fabric at the Quilt Asylum. Celia and Lorna went with!
Linda and I were doing a serious stash re-stocking. Here's my pile:
Linda had a similar pile. We got home in time for, you guessed it, dinner!
Friday morning we headed north to OKC for the burial service. It took three cars, mom and Christy rode with me and Steve. The kids were in separate cars. It was surprisingly cold in OKC, and thunderstormy. I did not choose my outfit wisely and just about froze. Mom was much better prepared. Deacon Dennis Frazier presided at this service. He had met Christy several times in the hospital and he remembered her well. She liked him a lot so it was nice that he was able to do this.
A funeral, in my opinion, should be less weepy and more happy. Both of Christy's services and the lunches after were happy celebrations of her life. We got to visit family and mom especially got to see friends she had not seen in a while.
After lunch the rest of our group went home to Texas. Mom and I spent the night with my dad's cousin who has always been Aunt Pat to me. Aunt Pat helped us set up the service and llunch in OKC and was generally very helpful. It's so nice to have good people around your!
We took some time after lunch for mom to choose Christy's marker. Then we had the afternoon free (again) and I asked mom where she might want to go since she might not be back in OKC again for a while. We went to JC Penney's at Penn Square, the big mall by her old house. We checked out her old house and she was happy to see that it looked just the same. And then we went to her favorite antique store where she found an orange and red chicken dish and a pottery vase. The visit with Aunt Pat was lovely, we slept well, and stopped at Big Truck Tacos on the way out of town for a breakfast taco.
That was yesterday, Saturday. I got home and helped Steve finish the house cleaning and then we set the house up for the beginning of the year biology department party. We host this party pretty often and really enjoy it – and we enjoyed it again last night. Life goes on – and I'm glad it does.
I did learn some more things about funerals over the last few days that I can share with you:
- People want to bring you food and sometimes that's good. But mom is diabetic and really did not want a full refrigerator. We put the word out to please not bring food. You can do that – don't be afraid to say what you mean. (That said, our close friends did bring food for the dinner on Wednesday and, Jacquie, the basket with the wine, crackers, and coffee was much appreciated.)
- Think through how the box of ashes/cremains is going to actually get into the ground. I had sort of joked the night before that we might get to the gravesite and have to drop Christy into the hole. Everyone said that, no, there would be a something there – a person, an aparatus, something. Guess what? There was a hole about 18" deep and a guy off to the side in coveralls with a shovel. It was cold and wet, Steve had Christy, prayers were said and then there was a moment when I thought to myself that dropping her into the hole might happen. I'm so glad I was not carrying Christy – who knows what I would have done. Steve got down on his knee and placed her carefully in the ground. At this point mom had a good cry and her friends and family were there to support her. Mom threw in a bit of dirt and headed to the car. I went with her. Steve, the boys, their wives, and Elanor and Jack stayed until the grass was on top of Christy.
- I had not thought about staying for the whole burial. It didn't take long – small hole. If I had thought about it, mom and I could have talked about if she wanted to stay to the end. I don't know that she would have and was not unhappy about how it went, but it is something to consider if you are planning this sort of service.
I think that's it. If I think of more I'll let you know. Tomorrow is Monday, the beginning of a work week and I'll be right here, at my computer, working, enjoying being alive.