Sunday, September 27, 2020

Saying Goodbye to My Sister

 My only sister Kathy died very unexpectedly of a massive heart attack on September 11th. She was only 76 - much too young to die. While I deeply regret that she was taken from us at such an early age, I will be forever grateful that as far as we know she did not suffer. 

There was no question regarding whether or not we would attend the funeral, COVID or no COVID. Jim and I drove from Mount Holly as far as Paducah, KY on September 15th. There we spent the night at my request. Kathy and I had always talked about going there to see the National Quilt Museum as quilting was a hobby we both shared. On the morning of September 16th, Jim and I went through the museum in Kathy's memory. How she would have loved to see the vast variety of quilting styles! While totally different from the way that she and I quilted, they were works of art to behold.

National Quilt Museum

The next morning we drove the last four hours to St. Louis. Of course we had to drive by our old house and check it out. It looks like the new owners are taking good care of it, though the large oak tree on the north side of the house has died of old age. That will be expensive to remove, and we were thankful that it wasn't an expense we would have to undertake. Then we went to our old grocery store to pick up provisions for a few days. I rented a two flat house in the south city area for our family of six adults. Our kids were coming into town that night, and my niece Sara flew in from Texas in the afternoon. I wanted all of us in the same spot so we could spend time together. It ended up working out very well as each flat had two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and living room.

Thursday the funeral home held a viewing for the family from 9-10 and then for friends from 10-12:30, with the funeral following at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church at 1:00. Up to that point, Kathy's death had seemed surreal. All that changed when faced with seeing her in a coffin. It was so hard to experience the grief of her husband and children while at the same time trying to get a handle on my own. I know our kids struggled as well since Kathy had been way more than an aunt to her. Our own mother died when Andy was only 4, so Kathy became a surrogate grandmother to him and later on to Katie as well.

The funeral was very personal as the priest knew Kathy well due to her attendance at Mass (even virtually when COVID hit) as well as her participation in the Daughters of Isabella (D of I) at the parish. Nearly everyone wore a mask in church, as they had in the funeral home, and we were spaced out in every other pew. Following the service the D of I ladies held a luncheon for the family in the Knights of Columbus hall. My sister was to be buried at Jefferson Barracks Cemetery since her husband had served in the Navy. But cemetery regulations right now are not allowing any graveside services, so we went back to the AirBNB after the luncheon. Several family members came over later, and we played a rousing game of Yahtzee in Kathy's memory. It was her favorite game, and she nearly always was the winner. It seemed a fitting end to a day filled with grief, tears, laughter and shared memories.

Kathy & me

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