Friday, December 14, 2007

Funeral Home Time

Two weeks have flown by since my last post. The day after that post, an ice storm descended on us, leaving treacherous roads for traveling. I was getting rather panic-stricken, realizing how much food would be needed for the visitors arriving for Father-in-law's funeral. Thus, my daughter and I braved the icy roads and drove slowly and carefully to town to get groceries.

We went to Sam's Club and bought lots of thin-sliced turkey and cheese, bulk boxes of hot cocoa and apple cider packets, and paper plates and cups. At HyVee we stocked up on small buns for sandwichs, bags of potato chips and Doritos, bags of tiny carrots, cookies, and several 12-packs of soda pop. My goal was to have easy food to serve, knowing there would be little time to cook anything. Our vehicle was pretty well filled with food by the time we started to creep home again on the ice. If we'd have gone in the ditch, at least we'd have had plenty of food to munch on!

When we got home, there were already visitors here.......a nephew and his family from Tennessee. Four cute little kids-----what fun to spend time with them! Their dad and mom are serious Baptists and are committed to homeschooling. What an undertaking! I could never have done it.

The next day, Husband's aunt and uncle graciously hosted a noon potluck for the entire family in their large farmhouse. After that it was time to go to the funeral home for the family's private visitation. Father-in-law.....Dad.....Grandpa......Great-Grandpa.....Uncle......Friend.......there he was silently in his casket, ready to put up with an afternoon and evening of people peering at him. The many flower arrangements added lovely, bright, colorful relief to the scene.

The pastor led a devotion service for the family, after which the funeral home doors were opened and the room became jam-packed with people. Evidently, everyone wanted to be there early due to the roads and weather. Any hope for an organized receiving line vanished when the crowd moved in, and that was fine-----it didn't matter. I ended up spending quite a bit of my time arranging food items on the table in the corner. It would be a long evening for the family, and they would need sustenance-----especially, all the little kids needed food to snack on.

By mid-evening, when I had been standing so long that my feet were numb, I found a seat to plop into for awhile, next to one of my younger sister-in-laws. We both shook our heads in amazement at the mass of people around us. Eventually, one of my best friends from high school days arrived and we sat and talked until the crowd thinned out. By then, it was time to clean up the food table area and get everyone bundled off for the night.

Before we left the funeral home, I had a chance to walk over to the casket by myself, and contemplate things alone for a few moments. I had always had a difficult time knowing how to address my father-in-law. I couldn't call him "Dad", and I couldn't bring myself to call him by his first name, so I didn't call him anything to his face over the years. So I stood there by his casket and said his name several times------finally I could do it.

The most comforting thing to know is that he was ready to go.......he had said that many times. He wanted to die in his sleep, he said, and he almost got his wish, for his death had been peaceful, like simply falling asleep. He had been a lifelong, church-going Lutheran. His type does some drinking, swearing, telling of off-color jokes, and the like, but always attends church on Sunday morning, and would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He was a good-hearted soul, flown now to Heaven, thanks to a gracious Savior.

No comments: