Thursday, March 3, 2011

People die in February

I have a confession to make:  I smile often during funeral liturgies.  Maybe it's because I've gone through the funerals of both of my parents, but I have really changed my mindset about funerals.  I used to think they were gloom and doom, and all you could really do is cry during them.

Of course, many funerals are very sad.  If we've lost someone that we think died too young, or too quickly, or tragically, we are not prepared for the loss.  We are not really sure what to think.  And, we are sad because we miss the person who we are mourning....I'm not trying to bypass that part.

But lately, I've been going to visitations and funerals of people who were ready to move on to the next life.  First off this year was my dad's....followed by the fathers of several of my friends....and today, we buried my Aunt Wilma. 

I smiled today during her liturgy.  Why, you ask?  Because we were celebrating her life!  I picture Wilma gladly reunited with her husband, Victor, from whom she has been separated by death for 25 years.  She has her memory back!  She can walk easily, and tell people things.  What a great celebration!

We had a great reading today that really made me smile.....

Proverbs can look it up and read the entire thing, but it is the proverb of the virtuous woman.....a very beautiful proverb that really did describe her to a "T".  One line in particular caught my attention.....verse 22, which says,

"She makes her own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing."

I smiled to myself as I heard that, thinking, "Wow -- I never realized that Wilma and I shared a love for purple."  I was pretty proud of myself.  Until.....

My cousin, Craig, who was the celebrant and homilist for today, mentioned in his homily that he, too, appreciated what great similarities there were between that reading and Aunt Wilma.  She cared for everyone around her, even in the face of adversity.  She was one of Grandma's children who actually picked up her love for crocheting and did make many bedcovers.  But, Wilma did NOT love the color purple.  In fact, she despised it!  Apparently, a few years ago for Christmas, one of her daughters gave her a purple shirt, and Wilma looked at her and said, "But it's purple."  After Wilma's death, looking through her closet, the purple shirt was found to still be hanging there.  With the tags on.  She wasn't kidding.

And I was wearing purple from head to toe.  I suddenly thought I should remove it all, because she didn't like it.  And then I smiled, thinking, "She doesn't really care.  She's in heaven!"  But we did share a few giggles about it at the luncheon afterwards.  I will probably not wear purple for a while without thinking of Aunt Wilma!

I found myself in church sitting directly in front of the Sisters of Saint Francis, who came, as they always do, to support their sister in Christ, my Aunt Sister Marge.  It was such a joy for me to sit in front of them and join, if only for today, their choir of angels singing.  What a treat for me!  I've known many of them since I was a little girl, so it is always nice to see them and maybe get a hug out of the deal.

I titled this post the way I did because of something Wilma's daughter, Mary, told me at her visitation.  Apparently Wilma, who has had dementia for a little while and really had no concept of time any more, told Mary sometime in November or so, "People die in February." 

I had forgotten that, but that is really quite true in our family.  Wilma's husband, Victor, died in February; my Uncle Dick died in February, and Grandma died in February.  All towards the end of the month if memory serves me correctly.  Well, apparently, Wilma knew what was going to happen.  She departed this life on February 27, 2011.  She knew.

My dad knew it was coming.  My uncle has told people he's ready to go.  And you know what?  A little part of me is very jealous of them!  No, I'm not wishing my life away.  But look at what the prize is if you depart this life!  Eternal life!  How wonderful!

I have to share this poem that my niece shared with all of us when my dad died.  I absolutely love it.  It was a great discussion tool in our house while trying to deal with Dad's loss.

I am standing on the seashore....

A ship spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the
ocean. I stand watching her until she fades on the horizon, and someone at
my side says, “She is gone.”

Gone where? The loss of sight is in me, not in her. Just at the moment when
someone says, “She is gone,” there are others who are watching her coming.

Other voices take up the glad shout, “Here she comes,”

and that is dying.

~Henry Scott Holland

I like to think that my mom was waiting for my dad just like that.  And I'm sure that Uncle Vic was waiting for Wilma, too.

RIP Aunt Wilma.  Your work is done.

Until next time,


  1. It's me, Donna....that was beautifully written...a perspective on death that should be helpful to made me smile too....I'm going to share it with my other facebook friends.
    thanks Pammie. : )

  2. Thanks, Donna. It came from the heart. In the past couple of years, I have really adopted that attitude. It doesn't mean I don't cry; if you know me at all you know that I am a constant source of tears. What it does mean is that I've taken on the desire to celebrate what we cannot control.

    Thanks for reading, and for passing on to your friends! I appreciate it! :)

  3. Pam:

    We used to be the biggest criers in the family. I don't know if it is getting easier or we are more accepting. It is hard letting go of that generation. I know I am lucky to still have both of my parents. I often think of the welcoming committee on the other side. If i really concentrate I can hear lots of cackling...

  4. Oh, Sharon ~

    I'm not giving up my post as a crier without a fight! I'm still a crier and always will be a crier -- I absolutely cannot hide that emotion. So, we'll always be the crier sisters! :)

    Funny you should talk about the cackling, because whenever I think of Mom and Mary in heaven together, I ALWAYS hear cackling. I hear Mary's laugh in church often....and it always makes me smile. I heard her on Thursday. It's almost as if it's my sign that they are together and having fun..... :)

    Thanks for reading :)