Coming together and letting go.
If we are friends on Facebook, you may have seen some of my posts from February and March about my mom’s passing and how I sorted through the days that followed. I appreciate all the love and support that you offered to me and my family in those days. You guys are the best.
This past Saturday, we did my mom’s interment. We didn’t do this when we had her funeral for several reasons, one of which being that while she had lived for the past twenty years in Indiana, she was to be buried in Illinois next to my dad. In March we had her funeral and it truly was a fabulous celebration of who she was. There were so many people and an abundant outpouring of love and Oliver Soft White Wine – her favorite – not mine. I’ll just say that I think my mom had better taste in books than she did alcoholic beverages. She would have replied, “Then that’s more for me!”
My dad’s name was Jerome, but he never used that. He went by “Jerry”. Family knew him as “Coke”. Back in the late 1930s, there was a radio show which featured a character called Little Cokey. My grandfather said Little Cokey reminded him of my dad and thus a nickname was given and stuck.
And while all that saying goodbye was going on, we still had to plan her burial. We chose July 4th because it offered a three day weekend on which most everyone would be available. Four months have now passed since my mom’s death and while the sorrow isn’t as acute, I think it’ll just linger on the fringes for a little while longer. I still catch myself wanting to call her to ask her something or share something with her. Last Wednesday I had my first “oh that’s Mom” experience when I had to find a piece of paper for the memorial on my desk and knew it was going to mean an hour of cleaning it off when – ta dah – there was the paper right on top. Something I hadn’t seen in four months. Don’t ask me to explain. I just knew it was her. (Thanks, Mom!)
I pulled all the rose petals off the roses from my mom’s funeral back in March and shipped them off to be made into rosaries and bracelets. They all turned out so lovely and the rose scent is divine. They were made by Rachel at Rose Rosaries and Jewelry. The paper I was looking for had the list of who got what type of rosary and so forth.
My dad passed away six weeks before my wedding twenty-seven years ago. I’ve always felt the sadness of what he missed all these years because he would have loved his grandkids: five grown grandsons and one three year old granddaughter who would have completely stolen his heart (as she did my mom’s). I tell my boys how much he would have appreciated the things they and their cousins did and do. He would have been very proud. My nephews got to know him some when they were little, but damn, all those boys would have had a great time with him now as adults.
My mom got to watch the all boys grow up. And just when her youngest grandson turned 16, she got to have the joy of new granddaughter (he was a good sport about handing off the title of “The Baby”.) She got to watch all the school things, graduations, weddings and celebrations. And she loved it all. She loved us all.
First Cousins: Two of my nephews and my little niece with my boys, my oldest nephew’s wife and my oldest son’s girlfriend.
While we were back in Illinois, I gave my kids the tour of the area where my grandparents lived and my dad had grown up. My parents lived there for about 18 years after they married, and then my dad started taking overseas transfers, so we left when I was about 10. I have very little close family there these days, so I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to go back there. Still, driving around to all the old houses, churches and little neighborhoods that were part of my family for decades before I came along always makes me feel connected. For a girl who spent the majority of her life moving every 3-4 years, this is saying something. It was a real treat for me to share this with my kids.
Today this is a duplex, but back in the 1930s and 40s, it was the neighborhood grocery store that my grandparents owned and ran.
It is said that funerals are for the living and I’ve always believed that. We lean on each other and it makes us all stronger. My siblings, our kids, all of us. We spent five days together between her passing and her funeral. Lots of tears were shed, but so much laughter was heard as well. This past weekend, more laughter than tears. This family that carried on after my dad died will carry on now that my mom has joined him. And I’m pretty sure they would have loved that too.
The family of Coke & Brenda.
Please continue around the 5 on 5 circle by visiting the art of Kim Thompson Steel. You’ll be glad you did!