of funerals and grief

bushkill falls 2I did the math. Thirty-six years ago I met my friend Pam. She was visiting her aunt & uncle who were living for a year in my neighborhood. We met sometime around Ascension Thursday, I remember not having a clue what Ascension Thursday was. This would be rectified over time, at the right time. Summers, the occasional Christmas & New Year would be spent with her family having some fun experiences and learning a lot. In the last week or so lots of memories have flitted through my brain. Like toothpaste, the first time I ever went to visit the family I loaded my toothbrush up with toothpaste because I thought that’s what they did. After that first night I went back to using the normal amount of toothpaste.  Then there was the time I sprayed my eye with holly scented air freshener when we were supposed to be taking a Sunday afternoon nap. Evidently we weren’t napping.

That first trip was hard. This non-country girl was taken to the country where the air has a particularly fowl and dairy-air fragrance. Blech! Blech! There were stars and crickets and a strange bed and weird sounds. Three weeks away from home and I’d picked up a Pennsylvania Dutch accent. This home is the beginning of my love of Scripture, it’s where I learned to read them, where I started learning to memorize them. (here’s one of my faves)

This is where Pam and I annoyed the heck out of her mom one afternoon when Pam was trying to teach me how to sing, Silent Night, over and over and over again as we cleaned up after dinner. One summer Pam’s Dad, Ed was working on turning the patio into an office and bedroom and we got to work with him doing laying block. And then there were the trips on the truck as Ed went from shop to shop selling parts. Ed and Margie’s home is always the place of welcome, when you’re there…you’re part of the family.

sunset in the bronxOn Thursday I attended his funeral service. Prior to the service there was a viewing. Margie, their children and spouses were there receiving people attending the service. I don’t know what it is to lose a spouse, however I know about losing a dad. I get that grief. I get that we each have our way of grieving as we are all unique. Tears flow, for some the words flow and for others the words stop or come as a whispered, “thank you”. For Marge I had no words only a hug. The words came later. For each of her kids there were words…and hugs or handshakes.

As an aside, the day was cold and blustery. My friend Major and I forgot to bring sweaters or jackets. It’s spring  you know. Marge scolded us with a laugh as we said our good-byes.

Marge took sometime to share Ed’s cancer journey. And I’m sharing this because it’s just beautiful. Several months ago, after the confirmation of diagnosis and the clear understanding that Ed’s time on earth was limited, Ed & Margie took their children, spouses and grandchildren to their cabin for the weekend. The family, led by Ed, took the time to share memories and share anything they considered needed healing. In other words this was a reconciliation weekend for this family. This.

The other thing that moved me deeply was graveside. After the committal the casket was lowered, the lid placed on the vault, then various family members filled in the grave with dirt. The word closure was bandied about however my thought is the acceptance of the reality of death. Ed is gone from this earthly life and has moved on to the next part of life.

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Yes, there is one thing that speaks to this quilters heart very strongly relationally, for now I’m going to say this…remember that quilters are people, they have their great strengths, they have their weaknesses and faults but deep down they are people who are longing to be loved and appreciated.

God bless!


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