Maybe you can't say any funeral is "fun" exactly, but I really do enjoy funerals and the past two days have been the best funeral experience I've ever had.
Kent's Gramma Dixie passed away last Saturday from complications of old age. I have not felt to grieve about the loss, mostly because I've had a good relationship with her and I had no regrets about unspoken conversations or missed opportunities to be with her. She broke her femur last Thanksgiving-ish and I think we all knew her time left in this life would be finishing. As her children expressed, we were blessed to have five more months with her after we almost lost her last Fall. This photo of Gramma with her six kids was taken in February of 2008.
Gramma Dixie is one of those bright, artistic spirits who is full of the gospel's light and who is full of life. Her mantra was to sit long, talk much, visit often, and always dance in the rain. She lived that way until the end. She was never too old to dance with her great grandchildren or miss a good party. That's why I think she probably loved her funeral.
Thursday night was the first viewing at the mortuary. A lot of people commented on how much it felt like a joyous reception. Gramma's artwork was displayed along with a video of pictures from her life and scrapbooks to record our favorite memories of her. But what really picked up the atmosphere was the noise volume of conversations. I don't thing the funeral home has ever had such a loud group. At one point, my children started dancing because there was such a happy spirit there.
Friday morning was another viewing followed by the funeral service. The Relief Society room was packed with standing room only when the family met for the prayer. In the chapel, the family filled almost all of the center pews, which was a spectacular thing when we all stood halfway through the program, turned to face the audience, and sang "We'll Bring the World His Truth" as a tribute to the missionary work Gramma Dixie and Grandpa Guy did together. It was a very emotional service, but in a very good way. We would all be laughing at a story one moment, and shedding sweet tears the next as we thought about the many ways she touched each of our lives. Kent and I never felt sadness at losing her; we just felt a lot of emotions.
Following the funeral we went to the cemetery. The rain and hail accompanied by bagpipes made the mood perfect as we dedicated her grave and said our last goodbyes. Her ward provided a lunch for our large group, which I appreciate greatly. After such an emotion-filled day, it was nice to not break the sequence of events with a trip out for fast food.
In the afternoon when the sunshine came out, Gramma's descendants met in her home where the grandchildren shared their stories of her, we sang her "Prune" song, and tried on her clothes. It was very spiritual, and fun too. The party moved on to Kent's aunt's house where we finished off the funeral potatoes and gathered around the TV for the Jazz game or around our aunt's bedroom for more stories. I love that my children's memory of the day includes climbing into bed with their Grammy and Kent's aunts to reminisce together.
Gramma was a great matriarch, and the size and closeness of her family yesterday demonstrates to me how important that role is. While sharing stories, we realized--"we" being her 75 direct family members--that each of us felt like her favorite. What a great legacy that is! One of Kent's uncles took me aside yesterday to say I remind him of Dixie, which brought me to tears. I feel like I am a far cry from the great and humble lady she is, but I do want to be more like her.
It was a perfect day.