Yesterday, we buried my grandma. It was a sad day. We had to get up at the crack of dawn to take Noah to school (he can not miss a day with his grades being what they are) and get on the road from Columbus. We stopped at a Panera to get a bite to eat, but I couldn't eat. My stomach was a mess. Do you feel your anxiety in your GI tract? I do. Boy, do I. I started feeling better around the time we got to the Cincinnati outer belt, which makes no sense, you'd think I would feel worse.
An hour of "visitation" was set up at the church before the Mass, which is nice when one is 97 and all of her friends have gone before her. I made my grandma a rosary for her 90th birthday and it was blessed by our bishop. But, when they moved grandma's belongings recently, we learned it was gone. She must have lost it when she went to group rosary. My uncle said she had rosaries (cheap plastic ones) in all her pockets, so she was never without one. But, I wanted a nice one for her to be buried with. I had ordered the beads and the crucifix with her name engraved on it a week or so ago when we knew the other rosary was for certain gone, but it hadn't been shipped when she died. I had to have it overnighted and purchase beads locally. I made the rosary, and then the center and crucifix, with her birthstones on it, arrived Wednesday, so it was finished. I don't know why I didn't take a picture. It was pretty, with white lampwork Paters with roses on them, pink milky Aves and the beautiful crucifix and center. When we got to the church, they placed it in her hands. She'll be praying the rosary for eternity.
I was a little disappointed in the Mass. Let this be a lesson: never assume that your hard work will be used just as you planned unless you check and double check with those who are implementing it. The psalms I chose were not used. Apparently the response "The Lord is kind and merciful" is in some funeral planning book paired with other psalms -- disappointing because I wrote every hand-picked single word out and sent the text of all of the hymns and prayers to the funeral coordinator. But the organist either didn't get my plans or didn't want to use them. And the priest, who was a visiting priest because the pastor (who must be the only priest assigned to that church) is in Rome, did not pay attention to his program, because when my sister-in-law was supposed to be playing the post-Communion Ave Maria on her violin, he was beginning the final commendation. Sigh. Then they sang the wrong farewell song, and the wrongs lyrics to For All the Saints.
Maybe all the mistakes were a blessing in disguise because I was already a mass of waterworks. Faith sat next to me and dispensed tissue after tissue, funny girl. She took care of me. I might have had a breakdown if everything had gone right. Do hymns and scripture affect you that way? I have a difficult time singing at Mass on a normal day. When the words become more personal, I can't sing or read a word.
After processing to the cemetery, we had to get on the road to drive back to Columbus, picking Noah up at his friend's house on the way. It was a really long day, and I can never get over how grief exhausts me. Of course, we know from scripture that is does, as the disciples slept while Jesus prayed in the Garden. "And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow," Luke 22:45. Last evening I was watching an episode of Downton and working on a rosary -- two of my favorite things -- and I couldn't keep my eyes open. So, I went to bed early.
Still today I could just stay on the sofa all day. But, with a busy weekend ahead, I have things to do. Tomorrow I'll be gone most of the day at another RCIA retreat, and Sunday is Joshua's birthday party with family. I need to get to the grocery store, and the mall (which I call "the hell"). This entire week was just a wash really, except my grandma went to heaven this week so it wasn't really a wash, was it?
I just have one more thing to say, as this post is already long and God bless you if you stayed this long. My Aunt Kathy and I were talking just before the Mass, about what a legacy my grandma left. Here were her five living children, almost all 16 grandchildren, and some of the 34 great-grandchildren (and one great-great) and we are all good, productive people living honest lives and living according to God's will. What an incredible thing to be at the root of all that.
What I think is the most important thing she taught us was how to be content in your life. One of the parts of scripture I chose was from St. Paul to the Phillipians (the entire verse was 4:4-13) which reads: "Not that I say this because of need, for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me." I chose that scripture because my grandma never wanted, not because she had a lot. This is a woman who never lived in more than three rooms in her entire life -- a bedroom, a living room and a kitchen -- three rooms. period. But she never expressed desire for anything more than she had (here come the waterworks). She taught us to love what we had, and be grateful to God for everything. She lived through the depression, two world wars and many other wars. She lived through the loss of three children and her husband. She never said "why me?" or "I wish that I..." She was just content. She worked hard and appreciated what she had.
I mentioned to my Aunt Kathy that I was surprised by one of my uncle's emails last week, updating us on how grandma was acclimating to my uncle's home after he moved her. He said that his wife woke in the middle of the night to hear my grandma singing "Silent Night" -- this just two days before she died. His wife said she was impressed that grandma knew both verses, as most people don't. I told my aunt that I had never heard grandma sing, except in church, not in my entire life, and she agreed. She said that she was stunned to hear the same news -- that grandma had been heard singing in the middle of the night. She said in all her time at home growing up, the only song she ever heard my grandma sing was "Whistle while you work," and she must have sung that quite a bit, because she was always working. And now she rests.
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
Roses from grandma.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.