The funeral went off beautifully. There were lots of possible last-minute issues but the icy roads, rain and cool temperatures failed to impede us. Wonderfully, the rain stopped so we could walk behind my Dad’s caisson to his gravesite.
My Dad requested a “life celebration” and I worked to imagine I was witnessing one of the many military ceremonies held in his honor that I attended over my Dad’s career — which helped me be proud instead of sad. The picture I included was taken by my nephew as we walked to the burial site.
Telling my Mom that we would have half the burial service inside the chapel if it was cold outside was acceptable to her. My brother brought her to the service and we worked to keep things simple and calm. We were expecting more than 100 guests and had asked that the medical team at Assisted Living provide her with something that would help her experience the day but minimize her anxiety. Unfortunately, she knew there was an extra pill in her cup, and refused to take it.
As we are sitting in the pew and she takes in the flowers and photograph of my Dad, she turns to me and says “I can’t understand why I can’t stop crying. I don’t want to cry in front of all these people.” My brother had the pill she refused to take in his pocket. I suggested that she take it because it would help her enjoy the day and minimize the tears. She told me to go get that pill. She was able to take it before the ceremony started and immediately seemed to gather her strength.
My Mom did brilliantly. She was able to speak to most of the guests and managed through the entire reception. We had moments when she would ask where Dad was, but those that attended and surrounded us only responded with loving smiles on their faces. Celebrated.