Friday, August 10, 2007

Celebrating Life!

Mike's children's grandmother died a few days ago and we held the funeral for her yesterday.

It sounds like I should have written Mike's mother or my mother, but that is not the case. We both lost our parents many years ago. Our father's both died in the late fifties, early sixties, and our mothers both died in the mid-eighties.

This grandmother is Mike's former wife's mother, Alice Odd Jensen.

Mike was very close to her during his 19 years of marriage to her daughter Karen. And I was close to her for the past 17 years because she was at family functions with us and our children.

We all loved her and will miss her, but she will be especially missed by her children and grandchildren.

They were ready to let her go though. She had a stroke five years ago and has lived in a nursing center and hasn't been able to communicate the whole time.

Her brain knew what she wanted to say, but the words did not come out her mouth. She couldn't walk or talk. And it was very frustrating for her!

She never lost her beautiful smile though. Until the very end.

My blog is entitled celebrating life because that is what her funeral was all about. There were a few tears. But not the heart-wrenching tears that usually exists at a funeral.

There was no distress or sadness that follows an unexpected death.

Mike and I attended the viewing the night before and it was an absolute family reunion! Only peace and happiness existed in the room.

This was the scene before us:

Siblings who hadn't seen each other for years were hugging, kissing, and taking pictures.

There were more than a dozen great-grandchildren running around.

That sounds disrespectful, but it wasn't. They weren't running around the casket area, but rather outside the building, and in another room.

Most of them were our grandchildren and they are all under the age of 8. All were dressed in their best Sunday clothes, and sweet hair-do's.

I had Mike take a picture of a few of the kids who just happened to be outside when we arrived. I will get it on the blog today.

The tributes to Alice through talks from her siblings were beautiful and entertaining!

The music was unbelievable! Our daughters have gorgeous voices and they wowed everyone there. Especially, the ones who had never heard them sing before.

One of my favorite moments was when I entered the funeral home just before the funeral was to begin.

Normally you walk in to see a line of people waiting their turn for the viewing. Then the solemn moments of tears and family prayer.Then the solemn walk to the chapel where everyone is standing honoring those who are walking in, and the person for whom they are there for.

None of this was the picture before me.

Instead, we walked in and there was only one family of friends sitting on the benches waiting.

Alice was old and her peers have been gone a long time now. Some of her older friends were at the viewing the night before but didn't come to the funeral.

So the scene was of her family who were all grouped for a family picture. It was the most beautiful sight I've seen for a long time.

It warmed my heart! I thought of Alice behind them, but not really being there but rather being with and watching her family, smiling, laughing, and loving each other.

Now that is a wonderful tribute!

We know in our hearts that she enjoyed her going away party/family reunion. And that she is now in a wonderful place, enjoying another party, and family reunion.

It was indeed a Celebration Of Life!