Mama Wednesday (by me June 17, 2015)

We got to Grandpa’s about lunch time.  Meghan had food laid out as she always does.  I’ve been so impressed at how quietly attentive Meghan is to everyone’s needs.  She knows when to speak up, and when to be quiet, and when to get food out, and when to put it away.  She notices little things that would help if they were done, and she just does them.
At some point after everyone had eaten, Holly came to sit by me on the couch and started telling me how ANGRY she was that if the rest of the kids couldn’t sing “amazing grace” at mama’s funeral, they wouldn’t let her.  We felt unanimously that either all of us, or none of us should do it.  And Holly was livid because she wanted to sing (and make a scene no doubt).  I talked her down for over an hour.  Was able to explain why we always default to the spouse when it comes to the program for the memorial service.  I explained that daddy had chosen a hymn, and she was mad because she wanted to change it to a different hymn because she KNEW mama would want the one she liked.  I explained that there were probably 50 hymns that mama loved equally and that mama really didn’t care which one it was, and it should be papa that chooses.  It took me about an hour and a half to calm her but she finally said, “I always feel better after I talk to you.”  And then she fell into my shoulder and said, ‘i just miss my mama” and she cried for a time.  Then she was fine, and it was time to leave for the funeral home.
April, Holly, Katie, Taylor and I left at 2:15pm to go buy flowers.  Yellow was Grandma’s favorite, so we got yellow roses, white roses, yellow daylillies, and tiny white flowers that looked like baby’s breath (but not baby’s breath because Holly was adamant that she hated baby’s breath, haha).  Two dozen total.  We then drove to the funeral home where they showed us to the room where mama was for the viewing.  They did a pretty good job of covering her bruised hands with make up, but April had to do some touch up with my face powder on her hands, and on her face as some of her face had discolored a little overnight.  Once we figured out the best way to use the blanket, (I had purchased a white twin down comforter for $30), we asked the funeral director to get a second man to lift her body for us while April, Taylor, Katie and I slipped the blanket under her.  They lowered her back down.  We tucked in the clothing that needed to be tucked under her and then fluffed the white blanket all around her.  They had put a nice big pillow under her head so after fluffing the blanket all around her she looked much warmer and more comfortable.  Like she was floating in a cloud.  Katie made a lovely bouquet out of the flowers and the first thing we did was place the bouquet in her hands.  Then the girls took the rest of the flowers and tucked them in between her legs and arms and the blanket, so that her body was lined with beautiful flowers floating in the cloud with her, the stems were all tucked so you couldn’t see them.  We didn’t put the flowers up around her head, only up as far as her pretty bouquet.  April finished touching up the make up, we made her look as beautiful as we could for daddy.  The way she looked, we knew, would be the only time he would see her and we wanted her to be beautiful.  Then we all touched up our own makeup, wiped our tears, and shoved our purses and trash under the table she was on to hide under the sheet!  (this was a little problematic because we had to wait until EVERYONE was gone after the viewing before getting it all out!)  Then we made sure the room looked perfect and went out to the foyer with the arriving guests.
Papa had requested the viewing only be for family and about six invited close friends.  We kept everyone in the waiting area, until papa had arrived and we let him in alone to take as long as he needed with her body.  After about 10 minutes, he asked for the six kids to come in.  We got him situated in a chair about 5 feet away from mama’s feet.  Max was having a hard time and he sat beside daddy, both in the most comfortable chairs in the room that the strapping strong grandkids had dragged over for them.  Once daddy was situated and gave the okay, we opened the doors.  Daddy didn’t want a “line,” he was adamant that there was not a line.  So we all scattered around the room and let the guests come to us as they wished.  Most of us held back the tears most of the time.  I finally got my “bubble.”  I felt the joy of mama’s influence and legacy, more the pain of loss.  At least for a time, and so that I could visit with the guests without crying.  That was a nice gift.
After all the guests were all gone, and only the children and grandchildren and spouses were left, daddy asked me if I would explain the placing of the veil to them before Tammy and I placed it on mama.  I declined immediately, afraid I would not be able to get any words past the lump in my throat.  I defaulted to Max.  Then papa stood up and quietly said, “well if no one else will do it, shoot I’ll do it then.”  Max quickly stood up and said he would.  What I found out later was that daddy had already asked Max, and he had defaulted to me for the same reason I defaulted to him!  I was afraid I had ruined a tender moment and felt really bad, but Tammy assured me later that it was okay.  Max gave a brief explanation about the Temple robes, and Tammy got the veil out of mama’s temple bag, and we walked reverently over to mama, the room was as quiet as could be.  Tammy stood at her head and placed the veil on her head, and I took the ties and tied a bow.  The tears came unbidden and I was having a hard time, and started fussing with the bow, wanting it to be just right.  Max finally had to say, “Julie is fussin with the bow to make it just right” and everyone chuckled.  I finished the bow, placing the ties neatly underneath, and Tammy and I together lowered the veil over her face, letting it fall over her hands with her bouquet.  I tearfully kissed mama’s forehead and walked away while Tammy kissed her.  The rest of the family, one by one, went up to say their last good byes and left. Tammy brought daddy up and asked if wanted mama’s ring.  He thought about it for a minute and said no.  Tammy looked worried and surprised.  She asked him again, and he said “no, it’s her ring.  it should stay with her.”  So they left.  April, Holly, Amanda, Taylor, Meghan, and I were left to gather our things, but we were all very concerned about leaving the ring.  April quietly walked over to me and said, “the one thing I told mama for years that I wanted was her ring.”  Everyone looked to me to make the decision.  I realized I had to make it.  I said, “well, we have to honor his wishes.  if he wants it to stay with her, and we remove it and he sees it later, it will really upset him.  Then we were faced with the dilemma of the flowers.  We had planned on taking the flowers and distributing them between the daughters and grand daughters.  I said, “well, if he wants to leave the ring, I worry that he doesn’t want anything removed.”  So we decided to leave them, but were still standing around having a difficult time with it.  Then suddenly Tammy came running back in the room, “he changed his mind!  he wants the ring!”  Whew!  April asked if she could please remove it, and Tammy was happy to let her.  April cried pretty hard as she did, and handed it to Tammy and hurried back out to the car.  Daddy asked Tammy to keep it for now.  When papa is ready later, we can figure out logistics of the kids getting different things.  At this point, we were excited that removing the flowers would be just fine.  We took them all except her bouquet in her hands, and the girls took which one they wanted.  We wrapped the leftovers in the tissue paper from the florist, and took them to papa’s.  Katie and I chose one for each of us and Becca.  Tammy chose one later.  And when Wendy arrived, she chose some for her and her girls.
It was a nice day.  At daddy’s house afterwards, the mood had lightened somewhat, as if part of the heaviness of the memorial events had melted off a little.  We were able to laugh and joke and tell stories the rest of the evening as we ate dinner together.
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