Actually, I’m now starting to wonder where the first three weeks of February have gone. I used to think weeks lasted a long time. Now they seem to pass in a breath.
In December we traveled to California to visit my stepmother and our son, daughter-in-law and grandkids for Christmas. This year we saw my stepmother first, so we wouldn’t have to worry about being sick and having to leave before we planned so as not to infect her. Which was what happened last year.
At 94, her age was severely restricting her social activities: she was no longer able to negotiate stairs, was increasingly subject to falls, and spent most of her day sitting in a chair looking out the window on the quiet street where she lived. That or watching television. Midday was her one active, alert time, so that’s when we scheduled our meeting. We shared lunch, a photo album featuring her great-grand-daughter, then played dominoes. She beat us both. We had a wonderful time. The next day we headed down to San Diego to be with the kids over Christmas, and returned home a couple days after.
On New Year’s Day, she suffered a stroke that left her unable to talk and paralyzed on one side. Two weeks after that, she went home to be with the Lord. When my cousin called to tell me, I was… not surprised, and really not even sad. In fact, my first reaction was elation. She’d been set free and I felt it in a very real way. No longer shackled to the body that had been steadily breaking down, allowing her less and less memory, comfort, mobility, use…
She has a new body now and she is with my Dad, her own parents, all the brothers, sister, in-laws and friends that had preceded her in death, and she’s in a place of no more sorrow, no more pain, no more tears, face to face with her precious Lord. How can I feel anything but joy that she has been finally and wholly set free?
About a week after she passed, I got another call. My aunt, the younger sister of my dad and center of his large family (there were seven of them) had unexpectedly died of pneumonia. Because a large number of my cousins were already planning to come to my step mom’s funeral they arranged things so that both services were held the same day in the same cemetery. My aunt’s graveside service was held at 10am and my stepmother’s at 1pm on a Saturday, the last day of January.
I mention this because my cousin who was arranging my stepmother’s funeral pressed very hard to get that day, which was only two weeks after her death. Why? Because every important date in the history of my dad and my stepmom’s relationship is in January. They were both born in January, they were married in January and both of them died in January. So it seemed right the funeral should be in January…
We drove to California on the Friday before (with Quigley!) and came home on Sunday. Our son came up from San Diego with our granddaughter, and it was great to have the chance to see them, and also to reconnect with cousins I hadn’t seen for years. I felt a little nervous about it all beforehand, but it turned out to be a wonderful, beautiful day.
And the minister who officiated at my stepmother’s funeral got the Gospel in loud and clear, both at the chapel and even more clearly and directly at the graveside service. I was quite pleased by that and I know my stepmother would have been as well.