My sister had her big birthday last weekend. She threw herself a 40th birthday party and asked her guests to gift her with donations to Race for Life. Over 70 people came to her party. We have a big family out there and I’ll guess half (maybe more) were relatives.
Then she emailed me about planning moms funeral.
Mama is still here. She’s not sick or showing any signs she won’t be with us much longer. Her dementia advances, tiny steps at a time it seems. Lisa and I both pray God will spare her from what we fear could come. That stage when all is ravaged. So we plan.
It’s the right thing to do. Do it now when it’s less emotional and neither of us want to admit it can possibly be more emotional. Mom has long paid for her plot and we know that much.
Several years ago when my brother and I were out there for the funeral of her husband he tried asking mama what songs she might want sung at her service and what scripture she liked. She was having none of that talk. Not then and not since.
It’s a huge burden for one just turning 40, for one who suddenly lost her father before she was 35 and now bravely emailing me about our mom’s funeral. When it comes. When it’s time.
“Do you think Paul would or could do it? I’m definitely not having a viewing or open casket. I know she would want it in the church.”
And so back and forth we went for a day or so, little snippets because more would just be too much, too hard. I would answer her note surprisingly composed and then turn to brush away the tears I couldn’t contain.
Not Paul, I said, but Henry. He can do this for us. He loves her and she was crazy about him. Even now we talk in past tense because mama has been gone a few years now. Her mind slipped into a place we’ve not been able to find. I read the suggestions for family with an Alzheimer’s parent. Ask them about their siblings and where they work and find out what time their mind is living in. It sounded so promising and I knew I’d learn so much more about mama’s life but she fooled me. When I asked her if she had kids, she said, “Well yes”. How many? “Too many to count” was her answer. Three has never been too many for mama to count and she talked about living in Florida where she has never lived. She loved to visit us here and it was as if she thought we were sisters and lived in Florida. Her confusion became my confusion and it was hard to go on. That was over two years ago. Now, she can’t manage that.
So we plan a little. The day comes for us all and we assume that day will come for her before us. God has that answer as He does to all things. Some answers he shares with us and others, I know I couldn’t handle so He spares us.
It’s gotten a bit easier the past few years. The acceptance has come and I thought the grief had all washed over me but it will come again. I will grieve for losing even her body. Her earthly vessel she served God with so diligently. I will grieve that part though maybe a little less. Again, God knows. Acceptance of His knowledge, His will, mostly importantly, His grace.