We laid Mom to rest yesterday.
Under a cloudless, clear blue sky at noon yesterday; John, Barbara, Isaac and I arrived at the James J. Terry Funeral Home in Downingtown to pay our last respects to our Mother.
Jim Terry and his staff at the funeral home had everything perfectly in place. The soft music from the memorial DVD of old photos that I made of Mom was playing as we entered the viewing room.
Mom was resting in her white metal casket, surrounded by a colorful rainbow of flowers and two candles glowing softly at each end of casket. Seeing those beautiful flowers reminded me of the many times I took Mom to funerals of family members and how she enjoyed seeing the many flower arrangements. She always asked me to check the tags to see who sent the flowers. She wouldn't be doing that this morning. Already, another reminder of how much I will miss her.
The doors to the viewing room were opened at 1 pm to let in her friends and relatives. The first people I saw were my good friends and former high school classmates, the "Two Judys." What a pleasant surprise. Neither one of the Judy's knew my Mother personally, but they still stopped by to pay their respects. Friends, there is no greater treasure in this life than good friends.
Another classmate of mine, Jack, also came through the door to pay his respects. That was the way the rest of the day went, full of pleasant surprises.
Perhaps the only time where I really began to lose it was when my mother's sister, Aunt Ruthie, was wheeled in by her husband Spike to see her sister who basically raised her when she was a young child. Ruth was the youngest in my Mother's family. She was the daughter of my grandfather's third wife. My Mother was the youngest daughter of his first wife. My Mom's mother died when she was only a year and a half old. Ruthie was inconsolable. She stretched her thin arms out from her wheelchair and placed them on the edge of my Mother's coffin. She looked up at my Mother then dropped her head between her arms and her thin shoulders began to shake as she cried. I gave her some tissues to wipe away the tears that were streaming down her face. After a few moments Spike wheeled her away to the side of the room. Later on I glanced over and saw her, still starring with pained disbelief at her sister who was now gone from her life forever.
Ruthie on my Mom's shoulder
Ruthie, my brother Isaac and Mom
The rest of the service went well. My brother John, the pastor, performed the services. Mom would have been proud of him. Our nephew Ikey read a passage from the bible. Later, Ikey said he was too nervous and did "terrible", that was not so. His Mom-Mom would have been proud of him.
All too soon the services were over. Jim Terry made an announcement that the pall bearers were to step aside while those remaining went up to the front of the room to say goodbye to Mom for the last time.
Then it was time for Mom's last trip.
Our funeral procession snaked it's way through the late afternoon traffic on Rt. 30 to Rt. 322. We would be going to the Hopewell Methodist Church Cemetery just past Guthriesville. Mom would be laid to rest just a short distance down the road from where she lived for over fifty years on Hopewell Road.
When John and Barbara took Mom south with them last October 17th to spend the winter; John had always promised he would bring Mom home. Today would be that day.
Bill didn't attend the former services. He can't handle that. But he did want to pay his final respects to his good friend Betty. Bill and my Mom were only four years apart in age (he younger.) Forty six years ago when Mom invited me to a Thanksgiving Dinner, I said I would come with only one requirement....that I could bring my friend. Mom had never met Bill before but she knew that he was my "friend." She reluctantly agreed. She didn't regret her decision. Bill and my Mom became best friends.
Bill wanted to be with his friend Betty today. After everyone left the cemetery, Bill stayed and waiting for the men to come and fill in Mom's grave. The men took a long time. But Bill stayed with Mom just like he did all the times he took her for her cancer treatments, visits to the doctor and Mom's favorite activity, shopping trips to the dollar store.
It was dark when the men finished with Mom's grave.
Bill left for our home in Delaware in the dark. Bill has a hard time driving in the dark. He will be 82 years old this Sunday. But he wanted to make sure his friend Betty was properly taken care of this one last time.
Bill did get lost but he finally arrived home last last night.
I woke up at 2:30 this morning. I left Mom's former house at 4 o'clock to go home. I don't like driving in the dark either but I wanted to go home too.
I had a lot of time to think on the 2 1/2 hour drive to our Delaware home just off Rt. 1, a few miles down the road from Milton, DE. Bill was surprised when I drove in the garage at 6:30. He was glad to see me.
Now we can begin anew. I'm happy, no longer sad. Mom is in a better place now. She is not suffering or in pain. She is not a burden (which she always feared her whole life) to anyone. She is in a perfect place now. Someday, we will join her.
I go to work today. I'm ready for the old, normal, sometimes boring routine. But, my life will never be the same. She's gone.
No sadness here. Mom lived a good, long life. There is only happiness when we relive our memories of this wonderful and unique woman. She was the best Mom that three totally different brothers could have had. We were sometimes a handful as only three boys only a year apart in age could be. But we never stopped loving our Mom. She was always the Boss and we always listened to her. She is the reason we are who we are today. Her legacy will live on.
Mom with her Three Terrors - Me, John and Isaac - 2005