Wednesday, July 12, 2006

bittersweet weekend

The last week was action-packed as we made memorial service arrangements for here, then drove Thursday and Friday to get to Saskatchewan and the funeral on Saturday.

Gilbert and Anne hosted us for a family meal in their garage Friday evening before a viewing at the funeral home. Plans to eat in the back yard were dashed by a violent prairie storm that blew in a little while after we arrived. (It twisted the poles of the tent Gilbert and Anne were meaning to sleep in, drenched a bed or two where we forgot to close windows but we got away lightly compared to farmers with hailed out fields in the country.)

Next day we gathered for a group picture of our huge family before lunch, which was hosted by the church ladies. (And what hospitality we enjoyed from them all weekend; those prairie people sure know how to lay out the red carpet.) Two o’clock saw all us following the coffin into the church.

The service was beautiful, with glowing tributes to Mom all around. I read the obituary (and my voice didn’t waver till the last line), brother Ken did a great job of the eulogy, there were tributes by the grandkids from Camille and Chris, a solo by cousin Marilyn, an amazing PowerPoint presentation put together by Doris, and a comforting talk about heaven by Pastor Gary.

After the service, Mom’s body took its last journey. There was something very moving about driving down those gravel prairie roads to the cemetery (which is in eyeshot of the farm where we grew up.)

The big cloud-dashed sky, the sweet smell of wet earth and grass, the silence with only the sighing of the wind, mixed with the knowledge of how final this all was, brought a choke to the throat, tears to the eye. After we recited the Twenty Third Psalm, the funeral director plucked the nine pink roses out of the coffin spray, handed them to me and I, as the oldest, handed one to each brother and sister.

We drove back to town shortly after that for the reception. That was a fabulous time, meeting family – cousins mostly and one uncle – from all over.

But Sunday afternoon, before our family dinner at the farm, we went to the cemetery again and saw what had been done in our absence.

And so Mom and Dad are reunited once more on the other side. But that reunion has certainly left a big hole on this one.


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