Last week I was concerned about how our small interment service for my mother would turn out, with a positive Covid test within the family, and possible concerns about being together.
I could not have been more at peace and joyful at how the day played out. While several could not attend because of illness, my oldest brother Mel drove, and nephew Josiah flew in for the service. I shared some of my sweet memories of Mom, then talked about the depression I fell into after her death. It was the perfect storm–losing Mom, Covid lockdowns, and violence in our own country. Fear clutched my heart for some time, but with the love of Don, family, wise counseling and a new medication, I was able to return to trust in the One who holds us fast. The One who held my mother in her dying, her body’s fight to hold onto life even though she was so eager to meet Jesus.
Mom was quite healthy all her life, and mentally acute. However, there were times, especially in her last year or so, when her hearing was very poor. Once in awhile she’d catch something I said and a sparkle would light her eyes. I cherished those times. “There’s my Mom.”
Some of Mom’s grandchildren read a few of her favorite scriptures, including the one above. One played a copy of her singing “All in the April Evening” with my brother Arnold. Mel, Bob and Sheila, and Don each recalled memories of Mom, and Bob closed in prayer.
We put the box of Mom’s ashes into a pretty basket with love notes to her around it. Sheila, my very creative sister-in-law, brought a rose and a wereneki (that sweet Mennonite/ Ukrainian specialty I mentioned last week which was one of our favorite family meals) to put into the basket. I mean, when my brothers and I were younger they could down 22 or 23 of these at a time–no mean feat!
Sheila’s kids told her Mom (Grandma) would say putting those in the basket was a waste, but I could see Mom laughing in delight. “That’s great, Sheila. Thank you.”
The basket was placed above Dad’s coffin. We tossed roses into the grave and left a bouquet in the vase that would remain outside the grave.
Mom was not there. As Billy Graham once said, “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”
And so we leave Mom’s ashes along with Dad’s grave, a place we can visit and remember. But we leave them, knowing both Mom and Dad have gone into the presence of God.