4 Weddings and a Funeral

Mimi and Gigidad with baby MJ and me, summer 07

Well, actually it was 2 funerals, no wedding, and 1 broken AC. Last Saturday was an exhausting day for me and my family, but a special one, too. That morning at our church was the memorial service for a dear family friend who died too young of a rare form of leukemia. She was a grandmother, but a young, vital, volunteering, active, and otherwise healthy grandmother just a few months ago. Her daughter’s family have been like a second family to me since I was a teenager, caring for baby-toddler-little girl Katelyn. Katelyn still calls me “LaLa”, but now she’s a senior in high school and babysits for my kids. So I was sitting with her to show my love and support. I also sang my love and support in the service in a solo setting of “Amazing Grace” accompanied by violin and organ. The beautiful service had been planned to the last detail by beautiful Peggy herself, and I was honored that she asked me to honor her in that way. Mom and Dad were there, too, singing their support in the choir, and Dad, per Peggy’s request, sang “The Lord’s Prayer”.

After the service, Dustin went home to get the kids, and we all stuck around visiting, eating finger sandwiches in the parlor, and taking a few breaths before Mimi’s memorial service at 1:00. Now Mimi was a totally different kind of grandmother – certainly no longer vital and active, definitely not the saint that Peggy was, but she was still my grandmother, and I still love and miss her. (See my tribute to her “Mimi Memories”.  The pastor had done a beautiful job describing Peggy as someone who set up a veritable “Fruits of the Spirit” stand wherever she lived, passing out kindness, generosity, patience, love and joy to everyone she met. In Mimi’s service, he did a beautiful job describing her as more of a “lemon” in the sense that along with the sweet, there was a little tart, and when life gave her lemons, she made lemon ice cream! (And we celebrated her by enjoying her homemade lemon ice cream recipe after the service.)We were very touched that many people from our church family stuck around for Mimi’s service, including Peggy’s family. MJ lit a candle to honor Mimi at the beginning of the service and managed to sit quietly through it (per his request) thanks to his dinosaur book. Dad did a beautiful reprise of “The Lord’s Prayer” (this really is his signature song, sung at my wedding to Dustin and my brother Jake’s wedding to Sarah). I managed to sing “Give Me Jesus” beautifully, staving off the emotion until after the last note. And my dear brother, who had come in from Chicago, did a beautiful eulogy. Somehow, speaking from the heart and without any notes, he gave a flawless speech in Mimi’s honor (I guess it’s the actor and playwright in him). In speaking of her extravagant love through treats, he told a story from childhood that I’d never heard. Apparently Mimi caught him in her pantry one day, fists full of cookies, took him by the arm sternly and said, “James Karbach Minton, you don’t ever steal cookies in my house. You just ask.” And then she proceeded to fill his hands with even more. She loved and spoiled us a lot!

That afternoon, after all the tears, all the loving hugs and exchanges with friends and family, after all the emotion and ice cream, after the heels and hose were off, we were ready to get the kids to bed early and collapse! It was about 5:00, and I could hardly keep my eyes open..this was about the same time we started noticing our home was feeling unusually warm. OMG! AC out in our rental house again! “You’ve got to be kidding me”, I said several times, perhaps with an expletive inserted under my breath, while hurriedly feeding the kids some leftovers. Dustin wanted to “trouble-shoot” for a while before calling the land lady, changing the filter, giving it some time to work…Needless to say, Mommy was not in a “trouble-shooting” kind of mood, and after exchanging a few “un-pleasantries”, we loaded up the kids and our stuff to go stay at my parents’ house. After helping me get them to bed, D kissed us goodbye and returned to the sauna because he had to pack and get up at 4am for a flight to Rhode Island (the 9th and final trip for a fellowship interview – praise the Lord! And, he was right, the house started to cool down during the night.) I was left alone, my parents at a party, feeling emotionally and physically worn out. Not long after MJ was down, Ellie cried out from the pac n’ play set up in Mimi’s old room. Both of us feeling a little clingy and needy, I took the opportunity to rock her to sleep, a pleasure and comfort I haven’t enjoyed for a long time. I sang her “Goodnight, My Someone“, her special lullaby, and at the end, she told me I was her “someone” – melt my heart! I thought of the overlying message and charge from Peggy’s service: that life is fragile – to live every day like it counts, to love every day, to enjoy these kind of precious moments with the people who you love. And so we kept rocking, sitting in Mimi’s old Lazy-Boy, with my feet resting in front on Gigidad’s old Lazy-Boy, Ellie snug in my lap with her Beffa blanket. Gigidad died in that house last June, and I was remembering talking with him about death in that very room in those last days. We talked about the term “Spirit” and how I believe that whenever we remember a person or talk about a person who has passed, we are keeping their “spirit” alive. He liked that idea, and as I sat there rocking Ellie in that quiet, empty room, I felt both of their spirits smiling down on me, tears running down my face. I missed them. I wasn’t quite ready to put Ellie down and leave the room, to end the physical/ spiritual connection that I felt with them in that space. I wasn’t quite ready to end the day – the day when I had not only said “goodbye” to Mimi, but to having grandparents, period. Now they were all gone, and I felt like when I left the room, it would mean acceptance of this new lonelier reality. I felt like when I closed the door, it would mean closure on this wonderful chapter of my life, 33 years of being loved by grandparents. But as the pastor had quoted the author of Ecclesiastes in Mimi’s service, “To everything there is a season…“, and it was time for me to say goodnight, goodbye, and go to bed.