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Beemer

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Funeral [Nov. 27th, 2005|04:26 pm]
Beemer
I'm going to summarize the funeral from Friday before I forget completely. It's funny, it was a big lump of ceremony that's supposed to mark the transition and provide closure and all that stuff, and it did it so well that it sort of feels like it happened weeks ago. The whole week of mourning has now been moved firmly into the past for me, and I'm feeling pretty much back to normal.

Anyway, the funeral. I had to get to Dad's house by like, 9:30 to help transport flowers (and siblings) to the church. Then we had about an hour when the casket was open for viewing. Mostly, it was milling around and greeting all the extended family (of which there is a great deal) and exchanging sympathies. My Mom & Larry were there, and that was really nice.

(Aside, for those who have never been exposed to my complicated family structure: my parents got divorced when I was four. My Mom got married to Larry, my stepdad, who had two kids from his first marriage, my Dad got married to Glenda, who had a child from her first marriage, and they had my (half-)sister and then got divorced, and then my Dad married Marianne, who had three kids from her first marriage, and they had two more kids. My mom and dad both have two siblings and a fair number of cousins, and my step-parents both have, like, seven siblings each. My step-father and I have a bargain: I don't have to keep all his brothers and sisters straight, and he doesn't have to keep track of mine.)

As I said, lots of family. After assorted milling and greeting (and weeping), they closed the casket and somebody said a family prayer ("family" is an important theme in mormonism) and we moved on to the actual service. I didn't expect all the members of Dad's ward* [congregation] to show up, but they did, and the church was completely filled. (Neal and Chris showed up, too, which I appreciate, though I only got to see them for about 30 seconds afterwards.) *Note: Translations from the mormon in brackets.

The service was basically prayer-hymn-song-eulogy-song-sermon-hymn-prayer. The first song was a piano piece by my eldest sister, and the second was all us kids (and grand-kids) getting up and singing one of Dad's favorite primary [sunday school] songs. I think I managed to actually make noise during that one for all of eight measures, but I stood up there and lip-synched with everyone else. My uncle did the eulogy, which was a really good one. He included a bunch of memories of Dad that we had all emailed him on Tuesday, which caused me a moment of trepidation when I suddenly realized that I had no memory at all of what I'd written, and I really hoped it was suitable for reading aloud... (It was.)

Afterward, they moved the casket out the side door and then the pallbearers (me, my brothers, brothers-in-law, and one of Dad's hunting buddies) all carried it to the hearse. We had nine of us, which was good, because it was HEAVY. And then, after a few more minutes of milling and greeting and sympathies, we all drove off to cemetary. Not in procession, though, because it was in Golden and the best route there involves driving on I-70.

Dad was buried next to my grandfather (there are also plots for my grandmother, my uncles, and their wives -- me, I'm all about my Mom's side's tradition, which is cremation and scattering of the ashes in several suitable places). After everybody found the place (which took a while, as the MapQuest directions that were printed out were, um, wrong), we did the pallbearer thing again. And then my eldest brother consecrated the grave [special mormon prayer], and my middle sister (who's not mormon) played some nice pop-christian song (insert more weeping here).

A friend of the family wanted to do something special, so then a flock of doves got released. Seeing them waiting in their boxes, I thought it would be hokey, but the guy who did it said some good words, and it turned out to be a really nice moment. We watched them disappear into the distance (doves = white homing pigeons), although it took a while, because we're in freakin' Colorado, and it was a sunny, clear day which means visibility out to forever. One of my very small nieces kept saying "I can see them!", which was sweet.

Then the funeral director handed out flowers from one of the boquets and the casket spray, and everyone got to lay a flower on the casket before it got lowered (very slowly) into the grave while my middle brother sang -- another mormon hymn, but a good sort of farewell-y one.

And that was it. All told, I thought it was a really good ceremony. I came away from it feeling very done and... resolved, I guess. (And it was 1:30 by this point, so I'm sure the length contributed.)

Oh, but then we went back to the church for a reception (I'm never sure of the right word for this bit of it) that the relief society [church ladies] had put together. So we got to eat, finally, and do more visiting with family, and take a whole slew of pictures, because we're all here together and we don't often get a chance to take family pictures with everybody in them.

I finally left at about 3:30 -- that's six hours of funeral stuff. Which was enough.

Last night, Greg and I went over to Neal and Rhonda's and hung out with them and Glenn and Cara, and we went out to dinner at a Chinese buffet that had lots of seafood, including little fried octopus with vegetables. (They were more interesting than tasty, but they were fine.) And today we zipped up to Boulder to have brunch with Bryree and Kate after he sang the Messiah at the Presby church up there. Brunch was tasty, but overpriced. But it was nice to see them.

So yeah. I'm doing fine. Thanks again to everyone for all your well-wishes and condolences. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog...
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