Funerals

It’s not often I walk away from a funeral feeling good. That’s even if I go at all. I sometimes just can’t deal with the people, the fumbling of words and trying to remember who the guy in the blue shirt by the window is.

I think I got a heavy dose of funerals as a kid and it turned me off. I have a vivid memory of my grandparent’s funeral as a 9-year-old girl, and from that moment on, I just go through the motions when it comes to them. I don’t often cry at them, instead I have my tears on my own time. And I for darn sure don’t go look at the person lying in the casket. I get absolutely nothing out of it. Instead, if they have photos I focus on those, and remember for myself who the person was and what they meant to me.

I recently attended the funeral for my great aunt, Bonnie. Although I didn’t spend much time with her, she was one of the kindest, sweetest women on the planet. As a bit of a tomboy I admired her attention to personal detail. She always had a “big” hairdo and was always wearing makeup—even when she was riding the mower or working a farm field. I got a chuckle out of the memory the pastor relayed, saying how Bonnie regretted going to drive the tractor for the first time because she never got away from it. But she made it her home. I drive by their farmstead about every day and miss seeing her in her pickup.

I also got a chuckle at my mom’s expense on the way to the cemetery. I hate seeing people “done up” lying in the casket. I avoid the line like the plague. My parents and sister don’t see anything wrong with it, and chat about it afterwards. Mom said on the way to the cemetery that she only wanted a graveside service when it was her time. “Why?” I asked. “I  don’t want people looking at my lying there!” Ok, Mom, but you go look! We all laughed.

Before the funeral, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of family there. Then my cousin made the comment, “There’s sure not many left on Mom’s side.” And there’s not. Especially the ones I’d known. I also couldn’t help notice all the age in the congregation. With the exception of myself, my cousin’s children and a few others around my age, those in attendance were mostly of the older generation. It happens when the person being celebrated is 80 years old.

Mom and Dad’s neighbor passed away the week following my great aunt’s funeral and they had quite the obituary. I shared it on social media, calling it a biography and not an obituary. It definitely was the story of his life. From his days as a custom harvester, to meeting his sweetheart on horseback, to him going to nursing school all while continuing to farm – it was a perfect tribute to a colorful man.

In one of my college journalism classes we were tasked with the assignment of writing our own obituary. I pined over mine and made up a few things that were probably pretty far-fetched, but for a 19-year-old the accomplishments were probably something she had wanted. I need to dig that out and see if I have hit any of my marks yet.

The tone at Bonnie’s funeral really made me think about how I want to be remembered some day. I don’t have a plan per say, but I know I sure don’t want a stuffy church funeral and people crying over me. I want it to be a celebration. A remembrance. And the last thing I want people saying is, “Oh she looked so nice.” There won’t be any of that at my funeral! I may not even have a casket. But there will be photos. Lots of photos.

edit-3926

Advertisements

You just never know

This morning I’m trying to do some background research for an article I’m working on while trying to work at home with two little boys. I have my moments of peace and quiet (one’s napping and the other is watching his show) where I can get something accomplished. But my brain keeps going other places.

Last week my 37-year-old cousin, Crystal, had what they are thinking was a stroke and a subsequent aneurism following a run. Crystal’s been running for the last couple of years and competes in marathons and 5K’s. (I’m not anywhere near an athlete, so if I have these wrong, forgive me!) Crystal and her husband have to small kids and although we’re not as close as some, I still feel for her. She’s my family.

Growing up, I remember playing in the basement at Grandmother and Grandpa Roy’s farm. Her laugh was contagious and could be heard throughout the space. Last year when I attended another cousin’s wedding, Crystal and I had time to catch up and it was pretty darn good to get to know her again. Although because of Facebook, it feels like we’re still connected because I got to read her posts and see her photos.

Crystal had brain surgery on 4/11 to help fix the aneurism and has been sedated ever since. She’s got a long road to go, and family and friends are standing behind her and praying for her. They’ve also stepped in to help her family.

They’ve created a t-shirt campaign to help with expenses. Find more info here. They’ve also set up a Caring Bridge site with updates on her condition. In addition, a GoFundMe has been set up. And, there’s a Facebook group to follow her progress.

Earlier this week I read a blog post from a friend of Crystal’s and it was beautifully written by one of her runner friends. You can genuinely see the care in his post.

After reading another cousin’s post about Crystal on social media last night, I couldn’t sleep. I was starting to worry. (And I’m a top-notch worrier.) Finally my thoughts slowed down and I prayed. I prayed for the Lord to take care of her and the family. I prayed for the strength and knowledge of her team of doctors and nurses. I prayed for my Aunt Sharon and Crystal’s brothers and their families.

Because of Crystal’s seemingly healthy lifestyle and having this happen to her it makes me question my own genetics and habits. But I do know that you just never know when it’s your time.

#Crystalstrong

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 10.24.17 AM