Yesterday, I brought Great Granny Grumbles , my wife of 50 years, home from the funeral parlor...in an emerald green shopping bag (Yes-that color again !) bearing a tasteful logo : "Dignity".
Inside the bag was a small cardboard box , containing her ashes. It was what Funeral Directors everywhere now refer to as "cremains".
I don't know what clever junior executive in the Funeral Director community came up with that particularly soulless word.I only know he or she should have been pummeled into insensibility.and expelled from the Human community the very first time the word was used. Unfortunately,it has become a part of our language.
The cardboard box itself is referred to as a "temporary container". It is designed so the contents-sturdily double-bagged- may be returned to the earth and covered with soil. This conserves valuable burial space ,meets most religious traditions, and is probably hated by Funeral Directors , because there is no need for hearses, flower cars,and other meaningless-but-profitable extras.
We had a Pre-Need funeral plan - one of the good ones - and all arrangements had been spelled out in writing 19 years ago. I'm sure our Director made a very tidy profit on the few things he had to do...but he got a little choked up when he realized this was not going to be quite the bonanza he had first envisioned. His teeth were clenched so tightly when he told me I would probably get some of the pre-payment money back, we had to ask him to repeat himself.
When I got the box home, I put it on top of the small dresser we had set up in the living room-near her bed,and, after a few minutes thought,draped it with the little navy blue blanket she sometimes used to keep her legs warm. It was an irrational thing to do , but it made me feel better. I knew I would not bring her to the funeral that way. That would be excessive - on a day already filled with excess.
GGG was a shy,self-effacing woman; but she was good-hearted,and had a way of making - and keeping friends. The church was full of them. I really didn't look specifically, but it appeared every pew in St. Peter's was occupied , and the parking lot was crammed with cars.
The service was the Episcopal "Rite One",which is no longer in much use in our area,but which she preferred to the standard modern rite. It has a lot of "thees" and "thous",and archaic words like "vouchsafe" that raise the hackles of Modernists ; but beautiful prose , such as the 23rd Psalm ( The Lord is my Shephard ) may be found there : free of politically correct alteration,and thoroughly satisfying to the spirit.
I had picked up two BIG packages of Kleenex pocket tissues the previous day,so I issued them to family members at the church , and sprinkled packages in our pew. I believe we went through most of them before the service was over.
Out in the church yard, there is a small area set aside as a memorial garden.A hole - about a foot deep and six inches across had been dug,and there we poured her ashes, and took turns covering them with the sweet smelling Spring earth.
It was the last service we could perform for someone who performed so many selfless,often-unappreciated services for us.
Rest in peace,my love .
This comment-in the form from a poem written by a very close friend of our family (we call her #4 daughter) came in today, and I'd like sto share it.
An Ode…or something …To Ruth!
Poems just happen…they never announce
they just pop out like the cat chasing the mouse!
And when they do…you must comply
for the words will pass and then they fly!
So to Ruth I write these words that come
to my sorrow and anger I must succumb!
I see her children awash in tears,
And her stoic Gene…..hiding his fears.
I really must wonder how this one woman made
a heritage of memories that will never fade.
A Mom, A Grandmom and a great one to boot!
Filled with phrases of wisdom…what a hoot!
While dismissing the sentiment of family galore,
She reveled and loved it all..I know this for sure.
I caught her one time in Sarah’s garage
taking a break from the children barrage!
She told me she loved it..but needed a break,
Her family she cherished..just the noise she couldn’t take!!!
But love was so evident…to those who could see,
and I ‘m proud and delighted..that included me!
At Choir we reveled and couldn’t wait to hear..
What legendary comment from Ruth would we hear??
The high notes were a challenge…not hers..she made that clear!!
But the hymns..on my goodness..what opinions were voiced!
If she didn’t know them…well the words were quite choice!
Ok I can say them...and we’ll echo them forever…
“Who Picked These Damn Hymns” Oh Lordie. we’ll..remember!!!
She was a Woman of Faith and she followed us there.
Sarah and I swore she followed us everywhere!!!
But she loved the joy and we loved that she did!
And no one would blame us if we occasionally went and hid!!!!
Her Altar Guild ladies were her partners in Christ.
Ok, sometimes it was more of a gripe…
But we know she just teased us and made a great scene,
So we couldn’t see what feelings she really would mean!
To her kids one and all she gave them their due..
defined as only Roof could herself could do
But her grandchildren and the greats..she just loved the whole thing!
They are her treasures and Heaven won’t change that scene!
So be prepared for the day, it will come…
That Greatgrandma will visit you …and it will be fun!!
I knew Ruth as friend and then it became
more than just that and for that is why I came
to be daughter and friend and comfort at times,
to Mom and her daughter…a special friend of mine!
So you that knew Ruth…however it was begun,
I hope that you know what the Lord has done,
He brought you a person who you may not have seen,
But one who has gotten into your inner being
So wake up and realize what this one woman has done!
And laugh and delight in what you have won!
Her spirit, her sarcasm will fill your soul
And you’ll be a better person…that should be your goal.
To Roofie we raise our glasses on high
And we wish you a heartfelt Good Luck and Good Bye!!!
Today, I received a comment from a daughter:
Hi Dad, I have taken a long time to write to you; you
asked for GGG stories. Many of mine were pre triple g.
Mom had more sayings than Carter had liver pills, one
for every occasion. There was Astor's pet horse,
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and the bane of her existence,
She taught me to sew, and patiently to make quilted
squares with batting. I remember making potholders
that she had to finish for me. When I decided to cook
"soup" that had everything, and I mean everything in
the cupboard added to it. Mom's eyes watered, the
mixture was like tear gas because I added vinegar to
it. She didn't yell much, suprisingly, but just said
don't add vinegar and wait till someone is home. She
taught me to make yeast bread, and don't forget slop!
I "cleaned the windows" with pledge, making an ungodly
mess, another saying, and she kind of gulped and said
next time, use this window cleaner.
Mom had a green thumb, though she said she didn't. One
plant lived in defiance of her and has been around for
at least 30 years, maybe closer to 40. I liked growing
plants for her, she had an appreciation for the work.
Right now you can see a lot of bulbs I planted for her
over the years. She always called me for the first
crocus of the spring. We grew vegetables when I was
little and I remember eating lettuce that we both
planted. I loved talking to her about the garden she
had when she was younger, and she enjoyed it too. We
had a great trip to Longwood Gardens together.
I will miss Mom for lots of reasons and remember her
for many more. The best thing I ever heard was her
voice after New Years Day when she could finslly talk.
We did get a wonderful gift of time, and I am thankful