05 August 2009


The definition of the word honor is 'high regard or respect'. I am extremely sad to tell you that my Grandma's wishes for her funeral were not totally honored.


My Mom has three older brothers and one younger sister, biologically speaking. If you asked her, several years ago, she was down to two brothers and her sister. The third brother, who is closest to her in age- made some terrible choices and when he asked mom what she thought and she told him, he told her to not write to him anymore. She complied.

But when your Mother dies, everyone shows up, I guess.

Mom's oldest brother is interesting, to say the least. He wants what he wants and his entire family bows to his wishes, no questions asked. It's weird, honestly. My Aunt L is a lovely woman, but really has no opinions of her own because she's always having to basically do what Uncle J wants her to do. Blech.

What does this have to do with Grandma's funeral, you ask? I'm getting there.

Quite a long time ago, maybe even before Grandpa got sick, he and Grandma sat down and planned each funeral. They were attending a Lutheran church at the time and both wanted a funeral there complete with all the trimmings. And that's fine. There are several pastors in the family, but Grandpa wanted their own pastor to conduct the funerals, giving the sons and the sons-in-law a chance to be mourners when the time came, not pastors.

Seems like a good arrangement to me.

When Grandpa died, Grandma was 78 and TOTALLY in charge of seeing that his wishes for his funeral were honored. And I overheard Mom and Aunt Beth talking this weekend and I know that was true. And knowing what I knew of Grandma then, it doesn't surprise me for a second.

But the second my Grandmother died last week, the two sons who always want what they want at no cost started making arrangements for what THEY wanted. No flowers, no obit in any paper.....Mom and my Aunt Beth chose to take care of both of those things on their own.

Surprise, surprise.

And while I don't know details, I do know that it involved many phone calls, some screaming, and quite a bit of hurt feelings.

So much so that there ended up to be two services, and I use that term loosely, with the interment service in between. My 2 selfish uncles got what they wanted and while my Mom and the other brother attended out of respect for their Mother, I could tell that my mother didn't really want to be there. I felt so bad for her.

And that "service" was such that Mom said that Uncle J and Uncle B could have just taken care of sharing those memories with each other over lunch before the service that Grandma wanted. My Aunt Beth chose not to attend that "service" and in hindsight, I don't blame her. It was awful and NOT at all what Grandma wanted.

And did I mention that Uncle J stood in front of the top of the open casket the entire time so that no one could even see Grandma if they wanted to?

My cousin Michelle, who was sitting behind us, sobbed the entire time. It was awful. I just sat and watched my Mother out of the corner of my eye. She had that look on her face that she gets when she is not pleased with something- it wasn't good. And believe me, I know; I've seen that look a lot over the years.

My good uncle, Uncle Larry, was in charge of saying something at the interment service. And he did a wonderful job. Mom hugged him afterward and I heard her say something about "redeemed". She told me afterward that she told him that he had redeemed the entire awful experience for her. I love him, did I mention that?

The funeral director offers all of us a pink carnation from the casket spray, (Grandma hated pink, by the way) we do some hugging of family and say our goodbyes and we are on our way. Mom and Dad drop us off at the hotel on the way to Quincy, IL where Grandmother's funeral was set for 3pm. And it's already nearly 3pm by the time we get back to our car at the hotel. Dad had called Uncle Mark to tell them that circumstances being what they were, they were running late and could they possibly delay the start of Grandma's funeral.

They made it to the funeral in time for the last hymn, Dad mentioned yesterday when he called.

There was made mention that if Grandfather were still alive, he would bust my uncles heads together and that would be that. Now he'll just wait for each of them at the Pearly Gates and beat their butts. I told Jon that I hope that Uncle Jim sees how selfish he was and makes amends with my Aunt. Uncle B never will, but I've come to expect that.

I just hate to see selfishness tear my Mom's family apart.


Missy said...

Jen, that is just awful. A lot of families go through the same thing when dealing with death and funerals. It can cause a lot of rift between people.

I know when my grandmother died, I was really young, but I can still remember there being a lot of similar problems of everyone wanting it done "their" way instead of grandma's way.

I wish I could be there to give you a big hug. Praying for you...

Ethan, Zach, and Emma's Mom said...

Missy is right--deaths and funerals can bring out the worst in people.

Remember, though, the paradise your Grandma is in right now. She's reunited with your Grandpa. She's rejoicing with the angels. She's sitting at the feet of Jesus. As much as her "funeral" bothered you on earth, it didn't matter to her. I know it hurts, that it wasn't the goodbye you wanted to say. But for us, as believers, it's never goodbye--it's always see you later. Hugs, friend.