Friday, December 14, 2007

Day of Funeral

The day of Father-in-law's funeral dawned crisp and cold, with several inches of fresh snow on the ground. We were at the church by 10 a.m., greeting another long line of people filing by the casket one more time.

Right before the funeral service, the immediate family was allowed one last moment by the open casket. I had brought along a small stone engraved with a cross to put in the casket before it was closed. At the last minute, I handed it to Husband so he could put it in. He tried to put it behind his dad's shoulder and then suddenly we heard a loud "clunk"........the stone had fallen down into the hollow bottom of the casket, where it will stay until the Resurrection, obviously. We all started laughing and sobbing at the same time. I'm sure Father-in-law would have slapped his hands to his legs and laughed heartily, too. One of Husband's brothers quipped, "Well, that's one rock he'll never make us pick up!", referring to the many rocks their dad had made them pick up in the fields over the years.

The funeral service was meaningful. The hymns sung were "It Is Well With My Soul", "What A Friend We Have In Jesus", and "Great Is Thy Faithfulness", all from the Lutheran hymnal, but all three also very familiar to the Baptist side of the family. So, hopefully, everyone was satisfied.

The burial was in a cemetery about ten miles away, where Husband's mother is buried. The roads were slippery, so the procession of hearse and follower vehicles moved slowly. It was a special time, though.......I had happened to throw a Relaxing Christmas CD into my purse, so we listened to that on the way. It provided the perfect background for the meaningful little journey.

At the cemetery, we trudged through the snow to stand under the canopy by the grave. Since Father-in-law had been in the Marine Corps years ago, three relatives did a flag-folding ceremony at the grave. It was very solemn and somber. Then the pastor had a committal service. After that, we all stood around and hugged for awhile, then headed back to the church for lunch.

Husband and I had just sat down at the lunch table and taken about two bites of food, when his brothers came up and said we should take pictures of all the families now, before people started leaving. So we spent the next hour or so taking photos. We never did get back to our lunch plates.

Then after that, the funeral home director reminded us we needed to divvy up the flower arrangements and plants. So that took another hour or so, trying to decide what should go where. We sent large sprays to all the churches in town, and plants home with close relatives who wanted them. One of my close friends had given a lovely white ceramic angel, so we brought that home to our house.

Finally, it was time to go home. Milking cows and feeding calves actually sounded like fun at that point, for I was so weary of being surrounded by people, even though they were all very well-meaning and kind. Enough is enough for one day.

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