Today’s A-to-Z Challenge letter is R for Remembrance.
It was my Mom’s memorial service today. She didn’t want a church funeral or open casket visitation, so we planned a somewhat less formal “Celebration of Life” event at her subdivision’s clubhouse.
I had been stressing out over getting this event catered and quickly organized over the past few days, and did have a few close calls (like getting half way to the event and realizing I had forgotten to put the bags with the party tablecloths, napkins, cups, etc into the car!). No worries, though. The family came together and everyone pitched in to ensure everything was set up nicely before guests arrived, and then cleaned up after they left.
I had selected Whole Foods Market to cater the event, and they turned out to be absolutely fabulous. The catering manager herself delivered the food and set up all the trays without us having to worry about anything. Guests all seemed to really enjoy the mix of unusual and upscale-traditional selections.
My stepsister, Holley (who is a church choir director and professional singer) sang two wonderful songs while her husband, Mike, played guitar and read two scripture passages.
My stepsister, Carol, (who is currently finishing up her seminary studies) led the eulogy and did a wonderful job of summarizing the essence of our mother—she said that Mom had a way of connecting people with each other, like weaving single threads together into a tapestry, and she then sang a cappella the first few lines of one of Mom’s favorite songs, Carole King’s “Tapestry”:
My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision of the ever changing view
A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold
It was absolutely perfect.
My contribution (a photo slideshow of my Mom) managed to not only make the family laugh and cry, but many of her friends as well.
My brother and I were deeply moved at the stories others shared with us—things we never knew about my mother that made us appreciate her that much more. The clubhouse manager said about 10 years ago, my mom had walked into her office once summer day with a surprise bouquet of flowers saying “these reminded me of you”. She said no other resident had done something like that for her before or since, and it was a random act of kindness she had never forgot.
Another woman thanked me for including Mom’s photo in the newspaper obituary. She was a cashier at the local grocery store who my Mom always made sure to visit with weekly in the 20+ years the lady had worked there. She never knew my Mom’s name but had recognized her photo in the paper and had to come pay her respects.
Mom’s next door neighbor of 28 years stood up during the “open mic” segment to tell the story of how my mom instigated the neighbor’s very first date with her husband. I never Mom was responsible for them coming together! How wonderful!
But, perhaps the most incredible connection revealed was from one of her oldest friends. My grandfather had baptized him and he and my mom had been friends throughout their childhood, even attending each other’s high school proms back in the 1950s:
Pat is a pilot who still lives in Kansas City and still gets together with a few of the parishioners from my grandfather’s old church, Hyde Park Christian. They had not seen me and my brother since we were little babies, but knew they had to send Pat up to see us when news was heard of my mom’s passing. So Pat hopped in his plane and flew in from Kansas City to do just that! After shared memories, and a few tears, he posed for a photo with my brother and me. What a happy way to end this monumental day for us all!