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Ten Things of Thankful: A Bittersweet Funeral Week

Photo: Photos of my grandma, and a guest book and pen sit on top of a white tablecloth on a small table. (Credit for the photo of the display goes to my dad.)

I've been mostly MIA for the past week, as I've been spending time with family following the passing of my grandma. It has been a tender time of gathering, remembrance, and connection. A funeral is a great example of how it is possible to be thankful even in times of sorrow. I am sad I won't be able to see Grandma's sweet smile nor hear her soft voice in person anymore, but I am thankful for so many things.

1. I am thankful for the belief that this life isn't the end, that Grandma is reunited with her loved ones who preceded her in death, and that I will see her again at a future time.

2. I am thankful that Grandma has been released from the grips of Alzheimer's. She is a bright, strong woman, and the disease tried to hide those qualities. 

3. I am thankful for Grandma's example of endurance, service, and grace. In the early days of her diagnosis, she told me that she didn't remember things very well anymore. When I said that I thought that must be frustrating, she replied, "Well, it was at first, but then I realized it wasn't going to get better, so I just had to accept it." She lived patiently with her situation.

As Alzheimer's marched forward, Grandma's kind nature still held on. At one point, when Grandma didn't speak much anymore, she noticed my mom was checking to see how much Boost Grandma had consumed. Grandma, misinterpreting Mom's intent, suddenly said, "I'll have them bring you some." She was always observing and serving others.

4. I am thankful that my siblings and I gathered at my parents' house in the days before the funeral. We worked together to try to lighten Mom's load. We also shared memories, teased each other, and laughed a lot. We all live in different states, but when we get together, we instantly fall back into a comfortable routine. 

Photo: My parents, with my sister and I by our mom, and my brother by our dad, stand at the cemetery. 

5. I'm thankful for a similar feeling of connection among aunts, uncles, and cousins. Even though it had been decades since I'd seen some of my cousins, conversations were easy and enjoyable, and the feeling of connection was real. 

6. I'm thankful for my children. Some of them were able to make it to the funeral, and it was so nice to see them. I love my kids!

Photo: My daughter-in-law, daughter, son, and cousin stand together and smile for the camera. (Photo credit of my dad.)

7. I'm thankful for the bishop who conducted the funeral. He met us early at the church building. He had Kleenex boxes readily available, soft music playing in the viewing room, a TV set up for the playing of a video of Grandma's life, and he expressed sincere appreciation for being asked to play a role in the service. As a matter of perspective, it should be noted that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a lay clergy--the bishop received no compensation for his time and effort. The day after the funeral, my mom learned by accident that the bishop and his wife moved on the day of the funeral. They packed up their belongings and relocated to another house on the same day as the funeral! I'm so touched that he and his wife made such a sacrifice in order to help our family. 

8. I'm thankful for the Relief Society president, who opened her home for a family dinner, and for the women who assisted her in providing the wonderful food. They took dietary restrictions into account, and had the various dishes well-labeled. The food was delicious and plentiful and the women made us feel welcomed and loved. 

9. I'm thankful for an honest car repair shop. I had flown out to Oregon (thanks also to Delta's customer service agent, who helped me change a previously-booked flight to an earlier, bereavement flight), then John drove up a few days later. I drove home with John. We hadn't gone very far before the van started making clunky noises, but the cause was not obvious, and the car was still running well, so we carried on. When we stopped for gas in Baker City, though, our power steering stopped, too. Adding power steering fluid just resulted in an puddle under the car. No auto shops were open, but we managed to pull into a motel across the street from the gas station and check in for the night. The woman at the front desk gave us the name of her mechanic. Unfortunately when we called him in the morning, he said he was booked for two weeks. Fortunately, he referred us to Paul's shop. We called Paul, and he said he could get us right in. His shop was close, so John man-handled the steering wheel and was able to get the car there. Paul took our key, then reached into his desk drawer and handed us the keys to his own vehicle, telling us to take his car so we wouldn't be stuck all day. Later, he called to tell us the parts he needed to fix our van would take 2 days to be delivered, but, if we would drive to Pendleton and La Grande and pick up the parts, he could get the repair completed that same day. Obviously, we took a road trip in Paul's vehicle to Pendleton and La Grande. At the end of the day, after paying for 3 hours of labor and the cost of a power steering pump, an idler pulley, and a couple of belts, we were good to go. What could have been a negative experience turned out to be a good one, thanks in large measure to Paul. (I also remembered my Grandma's story of how, when her parents moved the family to California from Arkansas, everyone had to get out and push the loaded-down car up every hill on Route 66. I really had nothing to complain about with our little break-down!)

10. I'm thankful for John. He's a rock of strength for me. 💗

 I know I'm late in linking up, but would love to hear from you! What are you thankful for this week?

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  1. Kristi, your thankfuls so touched my heart as does your loss. Now that you are back home be sure to take time to be gentle with you.

    1. You are so sweet. I'm OK; I benefit from a legacy of strong women. :-)

  2. My heart grieves with you for your loss, you and your family have been in my prayers for comfort, and i will continue to pray especially for your mother.

    1. Thank you. It will definitely be different for mom now.


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