This past Friday, while my sister and I had some alone time with Mother, we discussed her funeral and burial wishes.
Mother was very matter of fact about what she wants. I was commissioned by Her Admiralty to write her obituary and to plan the service as I had done for my grandparents.
While it was not a topic we would have preferred to discuss with Mother, as our family’s legendary custom, nothing is too dark to prohibit an ounce of humor.
Over the past several days, my sister, Dena, and I have talked and texted back and forth over a number of topics, but the impending funeral has been a principal topic.
This afternoon, much has been accomplished with the planning and we spiced it up with some humor.
I reminisced about our Grandma Donna during a visit to our family cemetery just northeast of our hometown, Elwood, Indiana.
In 1978, Grandma Donna was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. I was thirteen, and while I had known several children my age who had suffered with leukemia, this was my much beloved grandmother and I immediately assumed she would die just like those kids my age.
Several times, Grandma responded to my uncertainty, reminding me she wasn’t planning on going any time soon.
One summer day, Grandma, Mother, Grandma’s father (my great grandfather), my siblings and I visited the family cemetery to tend to the individual graves. My grandparents had already installed their gravestone with all the information save the years of their deaths. Their plot was directly behind Grandpa Garrett and Grandma Belle’s plot (Grandma Belle passed in 1969).
“Do you think I’ll fit?” my grandmother shouted.
We all turned to see my grandmother stretched out in the ground behind her stone.
We all laughed except my great-grandfather who shook his head and said, “that’s not funny, Donnie.”
“You best behave, Old Man, because I’m in just the right spot to kick you on the top of your bald head when we’re all here.”
The laughter rose even higher into the country air of Forrestville Cemetery with Grandpa Garrett joining in.
When the horrible moment arrived in 1992, we laughed right through the tears as we celebrated Grandma Donna.
I will always be grateful our family has continually ingrained a sense of humor and the love of laughter in our lives.
However, I suspect humor and laughter are solidly built into our genes.
Grandma Donna (1924-1992)
Grandpa Garrett (1898-1998)