Sunday, July 12, 2020

Funeral for (More Than) a Friend

Holiday Inn Express
We are back home from laying my mother-in-law to rest. We broke up the 17 hour drive on the way up June 24th by spending the night in Urbana, IL. While it was troubling to use the highway rest stops and gas stations due to COVID and the laissez-faire attitude many seem to have, we felt quite comfortable at the Holiday Inn Express. Masks and social distancing were in place, and the room was spotless. While they cannot do their included hot breakfast at the moment, they had "Grab and Go" bags available to take back to our room. The contents of the bag were skimpy, but at least we had something to start our morning.

Before we reached Charles City we stopped in Nashua, IA at mom's favorite ice cream shop, Dairy Treat. We each got a cone in honor of mom.

Dairy Treat
Walking into my father and mother-in-law's house for the first time since their deaths was really hard. We always went in through the side door, which is adjacent to the family room. They spent most of their time in that room, so we were always greeted by them sitting in their chairs. For the first time in the 34 years they have lived in this particular house, no one was there to welcome us. It was the first of many sad moments for us.

On Friday our kids flew in from their respective parts of the country. They stayed at a local hotel, which gave us plenty of social distancing in the house. Saturday was the memorial service at the funeral home. We purposefully limited the number of people to immediate family, with the exception of a dear, long-time neighbor. We were able to space out nicely in the room. John from the funeral home sang a few songs (he belongs to their church and is in the choir), and Sister Diana from the church did the readings. She knew Jerry and Lorraine well, so the service was very personalized. Our daughter read a poem that Lorraine had written years ago. It was beautiful, and I knew that I would not be able to get through it should I try. Lorraine was a prolific letter writer, but I had no idea she had poetry in her arsenal as well.

Don't cry for me
I'm not alone
the angels came and took me home
Hello Mother
Hello Dad
They're the best friends I ever had
There's John, Bernie and Joe
Tell me where I'm supposed to go
Then a loud voice called out and said
My dear child don't be late,
did you forget we had this date
Then him and I walked hand in hand
to the garden gate
Goodbye, family
Goodbye, friends
This is the beginning and not the end.
                              ~Lorraine Wolterman

Memorial Service

After the service we went to a restaurant along the river and had a late lunch. We were able to sit outside at two separate tables, though no one who worked there was wearing a mask. It is so disheartening. That evening we went to our niece and nephew's farm for dinner and to watch their fireworks. It was a nice way to wind down following the stress of the day.

On Sunday we spent the day going through the house, allowing family members the opportunity to pick a few things they would like to have as mementos of mom and dad. Monday was the graveside memorial service in Fairfax, MN which is about 3 hours north of Charles City. We drove through a horrific rainstorm on the way there, and I was afraid the service would be canceled. But mom must have pulled some strings up above, because it cleared up enough to get things done. Some cousins put together a small luncheon in the local park, which was very nice of them to do.

graveside memorial

Andy and Megan left from the park to go to the airport to fly home. Jim, Katie and I drove to Waconia, MN where we spent the night with Jim's cousin and her husband. Katie flew home the next morning, and Jim and I were able to get a quick visit in with friends in Minneapolis before driving back to Charles City. Much more work awaited us there.

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