On April 15 my grandmother was buried in Michigan. She was laid to rest beside grandpa, who died in 1980. It had always seemed weird to go to the cemetary and see her name on the tombstone beside his, when she was alive and well. But now her side of the tombstone has an ending date as well as a beginning date. She lived 94 years, still lived by herself, had all her faculties right up to the end, and died quickly and peacefully after making herself a cup of coffee and starting the laundry.
It was a blessing to me to be able to attend the funeral (using frequent flyer miles) and it was a special blessing that all three of our kids were also able to come from their colleges. Andrew flew in from Boston, David drove up from Indiana, Rachel flew from Oklahoma City and joined me in Dallas to fly on to Grand Rapids. We didn't really have the funds to buy a ticket for Rachel, but she really wanted to go, so late Sunday night I found a flight for her and put it on hold. Then I prayed, "Lord, if you want her to go, you will need to make it obvious to me and to provide somehow." I didn't tell anyone about my prayer, but by 6am the next morning the Lord had provided $450 toward the $600 ticket. My prayers don't usually get answered quite so promptly or clearly, but the Lord wanted her to go so he provided a way.
At the visitation and funeral I saw my many cousins and their kids whom I had not seen in many years. It was nice to have my own kids there to introduce to all the shirt-tail relatives. The funeral was simple, the graveside service even simpler, and then we ate a meal prepared by the ladies of the Congregational church. After that I took my own kids on an historical tour of my childhood haunts--finally they are old enough to appreciate what they are seeing! We drove to the cemetary again and laid a flower on the grave that was only two hours old.
Then I went to another spot in the cemetary and saw my dad's grave, marked by a headstone that also includes my mom's name. Again, that odd feeling. But it was a chance to think about death, which is a good thing to do from time to time.