As most of you know, Momma passed away February 9th. Will was with her and said she had no fear or struggle or pain. We are so grateful for that.
The visitation was at her home Saturday, the day after the big snow on Friday night. We had a good laugh over that as Momma had a childlike love of snow. We joked that she must have put in a good word for the little boys. As soon as the sun was up enough for them to see, they were out playing in it until just before we had to leave for the visitation at 2 o'clock. That was plenty of time to satisfy them on such a rare weather event for us.
The visitation went well despite my apprehension. We were so exhausted from the past eight months that I dreaded having to get the place clean enough for such an event. The last several months Momma wanted us in the room with her constantly, which made it difficult for thorough housekeeping. Nevertheless, Will, the neatnik, and his sidekick, Spencer, managed to whip the place into shape.
I also wondered how we would accommodate the parking as she had a passel of friends, but the snow took care of that and kept many at home. They called throughout the morning with regrets that they couldn't brave the roads. So it all worked out. When will I learn that it all works out?
I fulfilled most of Ma's final wishes, at least those within my control. The funeral service was longer than she wanted but the folksy ol' Southern Baptist minister who officiated had different plans than what we desired.
I told him I wanted him to introduce who she was, then call up each of the eulogizers, read I Thessalonians 4:13-18, wrap with a prayer of thanks for her life. Period. He then recommended some poetry, cutesy anecdotes, and additional verses. I thanked him but declined as she DID NOT LIKE LONG FUNERALS. I repeated this adamantly.
Just before the funeral, when I was giving him the verses, he told me he was a poet, of sorts, and had written a poem the night before entitled "Mother." I read the sweet poem and thanked him profusely but repeated that she wanted a short service. I also asked him not to add anything I had not approved as there had been tension in the family and I didn't want anything said that might inadvertently provoke. I repeated: introduction, eulogies, verse, wrap.
That dear, retired pastor from Momma's church then proceeded to deliver the service he thought my mother should have. Oh well. It all worked out.
I've invited the children to write about Ma's passing or life or whatever as they feel up to it. We were all very well prepared for this but that doesn't keep us from missing her every minute.
Also, Will and Sarah Grace did a lovely job eulogizing Momma at the funeral:
Will: My name is Will Allen, one of Ma's many grandsons, and this is my sister, Sarah Grace.
Sarah Grace: My brother, Will, and I cared for Ma during the last year of her life, with Will actually moving in with her eight months ago.
You know Ma liked to run everywhere she went, and she loved to dance. In fact, Dr. Stukes said that dancing with her was like holding a feather! Even after Ma was on oxygen, she'd hand you her oxygen tank to carry, and she would take off. You had to be on your toes to keep up with her. And when she had to start using her Jazzy to get around, well that just added more horsepower! We spent our vacations chasing after her on that thing. We ran behind her through the Smithsonian, she left us in her dust at Myrtle Beach, and the only thing that slowed her down were the cobblestones in Savannah... you should have seen her little body jiggling!
Needless to say, when she became bedridden, it was a difficult time for all of us. However, she always maintained her sense of humor and sharp wit that we all loved her for... and were sometimes even victims of. She was lucid to the end, although she would have her cute moments. Once, we were asking her a question and she couldn't hear us, so she pulled her oxygen tube from her nose, leaned in, and asked us to repeat the question. When asked why she took her oxygen off, she laughed at herself and said, "Well, to hear you better, I guess!"
During our stay with her, Will and I often felt like putting in a revolving door for the constant flow of visitors she always had. We are deeply grateful to the many friends that loved her.
Over the past year, Will laid down his life to care for our grandmother. He took a break from school to care for her full-time, and they grew so close during his stay with her, that there was no one on earth she trusted more than him. Will was there for her right up to the very end-- standing by her side, and holding her hand. He has become such a fine nobleman through the experience he's had this past year, and I am so incredibly proud of him. I'm sure he'd like to say to a few words....
Will: Taking care of Ma was my privilege and my pleasure. We had so many good times together in those final months. Back in August, we used to count down each day until football season began. The doctors and hospice gave us no hope that she would live until fall, but Ma loved football, so she and I prayed that she'd make it through the college season. She loved that prayer! Not only was she able to enjoy the college bowls, she even made it through the Super Bowl. She was so excited to watch whichever game I wanted to watch. We would sit in that bed together watching football for twelve hours straight, and we never grew tired of it.
I know that He who began a good work in Ma finished it, and she died a holy woman. Just before the end, she told me she loved me, I told her I loved her, and the Lord gently took her hand from mine.