We met with the pastor of my mom’s church Wednesday morning to set the order of the memorial service, pick the scriptures, hymns, etc. After he left, my mom, my brother and I sat talking for a while, mostly about the legal things such as having my father’s will probated, cashing in his various life insurance policies, taking his name off their bank account and the title to their house, mom’s need to revise her will, what paperwork Social Security was likely to need, calling the health insurance company and prescription service to cancel my dad’s policies, and the 101 other details that need to be taken care of following someone’s death.. My brother had to deal with many of the same tasks after his first wife died in 2004, and he had some helpful advice to offer.
It was getting close to noon by then, and my brother took us to lunch at a nearby restaurant — my mom and I had the chicken fried steak, which was delicious. I had to go home by way of Walmart. I planned to wear a skirt to the viewing and it occurred to me I didn’t have a pair of panty hose to my name and, even had my skirt been long enough for knee highs, I only had one pair and the last time I wore them, one of them had self destructed. I wear slacks all the time, and I just don’t wear panty hose, or even knee highs, anymore. Also, I only had a quarter of a tank of gas so I filled up at the store’s pumps.
The viewing was set for 6 p.m., but the family had to be there early, so I went to my mom’s at 5 p.m. By then, we had heard from my father’s youngest brother’s two daughters CL and EL, and their mother. (All my dad’s siblings predeceased him by a number of years.) CL and her husband and youngest daughter were driving over from Garland, Texas, and EL and her husband were flying up from Houston, Texas. By the time I got to my folks’ house, CL and her family were already there. We visited for a little bit, and they were going to get some supper and meet us at the funeral home. EL’s plane was due in at 5:45 and they would go directly from the airport to the funeral home.
It was cloudy and dark as mom and I drove over together to the funeral home. When we got there the funeral director ushered us into the room where my dad was laid out. The flag was draped very nicely over the end of the coffin, and there were five sprays of flowers — one from CL and her family, one from the law firm where my mother worked as a legal secretary for nearly 20 years, one from my mother’s youngest surviving brother (see above), one from a long-time family friend, and one from the daughter of mother’s nephew and her family. There was another arrangement from another long-time family friend and her family that had been placed next to the guest book.
I had brought my yellow rose, but I had to ask the funeral director to put it in my dad’s hands, as I knew if I touched him, he would be cold, and I couldn’t bear that. It was a very emotional moment, and I broke down for a little bit. So did mom. He looked very much like he was sleeping. The funeral home had done a beautiful job.
Wouldn’t you know that one of the first people to come said it was about to rain. EL texted her sister from our airport to say that they had made it to the rental car agency, but the rain was pouring down so hard they couldn’t get out to their car. My brother was concerned as his wife LL was in San Marcos (near Austin), where she is an associate professor at Texas State University. She was supposed to catch a plane there but it would have a stopover in Dallas before coming here, and she was concerned that the weather here would be so bad the plane wouldn’t be able to land and she would be stuck in Dallas. Later she texted him that she had boarded her plane and had made it as far as Dallas. The last we heard, her plane had taken off and she was on her way here.
By then it was raining cats and dogs at the funeral home. However, despite the weather, a goodly number of people came — many of the people who had worked at the law firm with my mom, friends from their church, a judge who had been married to the daughter of one of our long-time family friends and his son. EL and her husband finally arrived. Then visitation was over and it was time to say goodbye. My mother, brother and I, and the other family members were left alone with my dad to say our final goodbyes, as the casket would be closed and sealed after we left, and would not be opened again. My mom and I stood by him. She kissed him goodbye and told him she loved him. Then just as we were about to leave, my mom broke down, sobbing “I can’t believe I won’t be seeing him any more.” My cousins and I both broke down too and it took us several minutes to regain our composure. But, mom and I managed to drive back to her house in the rain.
Tomorrow, I will go over to mom’s and EL and her husband will come pick us up and take us to the graveside service. Would you believe more rain is in the forecast?! According to the weather information, there will be a window of clear weather between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. — the graveside service is at 10 — and the funeral director advised us to bring a spare pair of shoes, as their plot is next to the parking lot of the mausoleum on the cemetery grounds, and with as much rain as we’ve had, and as saturated as the ground is by now, the parking lot may have large puddles. There will, of course, be a ground cover laid down beneath the canopy, but we may have to wade through standing water to get to it. The memorial service starts at 11 a.m. I’ve already been through one pocket pack of tissues.