Funerals are funny. Not ha-ha funny, of course. Strange funny. Laughter and tears make strange bedfellows.
I remember when my mother passed away 20 years ago. She was in the hospital in Fort Collins, and the powers-that-be provided the family a private room to congregate that was just down the hall from the room in which my mother stayed and eventually died. All four of the siblings were there, and so, of course, was my dad. We would all come and go from that room, maybe going to spend a little time with Mom or visiting the bathroom or grabbing a cup of coffee at the cafeteria. But what I mostly recall is that we told stories about Mom and laughed and cried and hugged and held hands. A plethora of emotions, just as it’s supposed to happen.
That’s what I witnessed this past week as family gathered to send Bill’s mother Wilma on her way to heaven. She will make a beeline there, no doubt about it. Do not pass GO; do not collect $200.
Bill’s family is spread out and no one lives in Chicago. Birmingham, AL; Winston-Salem, NC; Kinnelon, NJ; and of course Denver/Mesa. Grandkids are even more spread out than that. So they aren’t able to gather often – the occasional wedding, a vacation or two. Once in a while, one of the siblings’ trip to visit Wilma would overlap for a day or two with another’s. That was about it.
So while there were plenty of tears (and likely even more than this blogger knows about since I wasn’t involved in some of the private time they spent with their mother), there was also plenty of laughter. All but one of Wilma’s grandchildren were present, and each one had a different and funny story about their grandmother. While the stories were varied, the sentiments were all the same. Grandma was funny and smart and loving and would be missed. My personal favorite was that the chocolate-loving Wilma would give the visiting grandkids M&Ms every morning with a wink, and tell them, “Here’s your vitamins.”
It’s funny (again, not ha-ha funny) to live to be just three months shy of 100 years old. You know why? You outlive so many of the people you loved. While there were people at the funeral from the senior residence where she lived, only one of her four best friends from Smith Crossing is still alive.
Her husband has been dead for 15 years, all of her sisters are gone as well. People she shared her life with, raised her children with, attended neighborhood parties with, all gone. It’s the natural order of life, but I imagine there is going to be some kind of party in heaven once St. Peter has her all settled into her heavenly home.
As for Bill and me, we had the opportunity to see most of our grandkids, all of whom loved their Great-Grandma Wilma. In celebration of her life, the first night we gathered, we went to a neighborhood ice cream place and had treats in her honor. Wilma would have approved.
Now we are all back to our real lives and Wilma’s in heaven with her friends and family. I’m happy that she is no longer in pain, but I will admit that the world will be a bit emptier place without her in it.