Life goes on…

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.

ChristinaEckroat

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!

  FabShop-CeliaAndLorna

Linda and I were doing a serious stash re-stocking. Here's my pile:

FabricPile

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.

20 thoughts on “Life goes on…

  1. Oh, Becky; thank you so much for sharing your week with us. Christy’s picture is lovely, she looks as though she was a caring and kind person. Your week was filled with love from family and friends. I hope you and your Mom and family continue to heal and enjoy each other.

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  2. As I read this, the heavens opened and the first rain I have seen since last spring came. Seems appropriate. I am so sorry that Christy did not have an easier life. She was, however, fortunate in her family.

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  3. Becky, I have worked for many years in a catholic church, and the one thing I have learned is funerals are for those left behind. The ceremony is important as a fond farewell, and although it sounds cliche it is a celebration of a life well lived.
    Your words are so from the heart , thank you it is a gift.

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  4. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. At some point in time, we will all have to go through what you’ve experienced. And life goes on…

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  5. Hi Becky, I have been wondering how everything was going. Sounds like the ideal funeral to me. It is a subject that is not spoken about, but it something I intend to do so that everyone in my close family are aware of my wishes. Simple, sweet and respectful.
    Thanks for telling us about your family, it helps us in different ways.
    xx

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  6. You have been in my thoughts all week. I am so glad to hear you have been surrounded by family and friends. Thank you for sharing your experiences so openly and honestly. I hope you find comfort and joy in your memories of your sister. Bless you and your family!

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  7. I can ditto what others have said. Thank you for sharing your week with us, for posting a really great photo of your sister, and for reminding me of things I really need to talk about with the family. I hope that you can take comfort in the fact that I know Christy (and mom) must have been happy to be in Texas with you – even though Christy’s time was short. I didn’t know she was so ill – but that’s not something we share with everyone anyhow.
    And I think it’s great that you have Christy’s watch. It is a reminder to you that life is short, and that your time with her was as precious as can possibly be.
    God bless you and your caring family,

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  8. Becky,
    You and Steve are the best for taking such good care of your Sister and Mom. I’m glad last week was wrapped with your family and friends.
    Connie Martin

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  9. Thank you sharing this journey with us all Becky. And think of all the new friends Christy has made the last year. I am glad you have been surrounded by family and friends and your Mom has the support of those she loves nearby.

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  10. My dad passed away on July 19th this year. He wanted to be cremated and his ashes spread over his favorite garden spot. He didn’t want a funeral. We actually spread his ashes then used the rotor tiller to “mix him in”. He would have laughed at that. He loved gardening.
    May the sadness of your sister’s passing fade but the memories live on.

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  11. As a lot of others have noted, I want to thank you for sharing this journey with us. I will be going through this in the near future and I admire your strength and your willingness to share. And what an amazing obituary your son wrote! I would love to have such a well written obit when I pass someday!

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  12. The Stitching Memories Quilt Guild in Duncan, OK, met tonight. When asked for prayers, one of our members, Colleen P., told those there that you had just lost your sister and could use our prayers. I pray and hope each day your loss is eased somewhat, and that the memories will help. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with those of us who have known you for such a short time.

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  13. The picture of Christy is very good — in that I mean it is so clear and seems to capture her mischevious side. She looks like she’s trying not to laugh – with her lips pressed together. She had beautiful blue eyes, didn’t she? Good choice, Becky! Cremations are very different than regular funerals. I’ve only been to two, but both were well done and helped the family and loved ones cope with the death and the moving on part. I’m glad you seem to be moving on, as your mother is. Cute, that she wanted to drive herself, thank you! and be independent. That’s so important as you grown older. I know. I’ve been partially disabled for about 3 years now and people treat you differently — and you don’t WANT them to treat you any differently, at all! Best wishes to all your family and to you, a loving, caring sister.

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  14. Becky,
    I have been a fan of yours for a long time. I love your quilting books and quilts. I was very happy to find your blog and have been reading for a while now. I’m sorry that your precious sister lost her battle with the kidney disease and at such a young age. I know that your Mother is at a complete loss as most parents believe they will go before their children. And I know you will miss her, especially at family gatherings during the different holidays. I wanted to say that I agree with your thoughts about cremation and I’m so glad that you were able to speak about it to others. Many people just don’t have a clue at what a funeral costs. My husbands parents were both cremated and we scattered their ashes in the waters around the area where they were the happiest and when my precious mother passed away, after completely mortifying her family, she was cremated and I scattered her ashes over her parents graves in the little tiny church yard where she grew up in a tiny little area of Virginia. On a side note, my aunts believe the graveyard is haunted now but I know better. I hope that your days will get easier for all your family and I do look forward to more of your escapades in your blog.

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  15. Becky, thank you for sharing such personal moments from your family’s life. You touched on important ideas, not the least of which is CELEBRATING the life of the person who is no longer with us, and doing that together with others who care. I hope each day brings a greater sense of peace to all of you.

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  16. I have just found this on my PC and I agree with all the comments. Their spirit is always with you, when you are confused, you will notice something that she may have said, or think of her about something she would have done. There might be a scent of perfume, or sweet potato pie, there is nothing there, just the scent that reminds you of her. I like cremation, I don’t want to be put underground at all, I just can’t stand being confined. I’ll be on the Potomac watching the sky, just floating, my thoughts only. Just remember her and when you don’t she will remind you.
    Thank you for all your beautiful works of art.

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