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IN THE END...IT WAS PERFECT
8 March 2011
If Alice had planned this funeral, she wouldn't have changed a thing. If there is such a thing, it was a perfect service.
It was scheduled to start at 10 a.m., so we all wandered over to the church between 9 and 9:30, to get things set up.
Jeri, Ned and Marta had to meet with the church staff to get set up for music. We found out later they didn't expect much when they found out that there were family members who wanted to sing and play instruments. I always just sit back and watch how impressed they become when they realize that family members can be professionals, not amateurs...and our kids are professionals.
I had kept things together emotionally just fine until I watched Jeri, Ned and Marta, heads together, working out what they were going to do. Then the emotion washed over me and I had to walk away and get myself under control.
(Ned was going to accompany Jeri's clarinet rendition of "Amazing Grace" by playing accompaniment on the ukelele--which he doesn't really play, but he wanted to play a Hawaiian instrument for Grandma. Marta had to look up the fingering for the uke on her iPhone! Technology saves the day again!)
Olivia's photo boards were set up in the vestibule of the church and were absolutely perfect. Even the priest commented on them during the service.
Tom arrived with Bri (Laurel was at work and would join us later). This is what the mourning baby wears!
The church's regular singer greeted people with "When Irish Eyes are Smiling," a nod to Alice's Irish heritage and then the Mass proceeded as usual, with Marta singing "On Eagle Wings" accompanied by Jeri and Ned.
Walt, Norm and cousin Gerry did readings; Tom and Laurel brought up the gifts to the altar (the bread and wine for communion). Jeri played "Amazing Grace" and reduced us all to tears. Ned accompanied her on the second verse, glowing because he had figured out the fingering. It was definitely a high point; Grandma would have loved it.
When we were assigning tasks, there was never any question about who would deliver the eulogy. If you want the job done well, you ask Ernie Baur. He is a natural, he is funny, he is warm, he is totally comfortable at a microphone...and, of course, he'd known "Aunt Alice" his whole life. We joked about how long it would take him to get a bit teary. He only made it a couple of seconds when giving the toast at his brother's wedding. But he actually made it almost 4 minutes into his nearly 8 minute speech (3 minutes 57 seconds, to be exact--I recorded it). But he recovered quickly.
He said he was going to tell his own memories of Aunt Alice (whom he always assumed had the first name of "Aunt") and they were wonderful. I hope somehow wherever she is right now, she was listening.
The topper for the event, though, was our little granddaughter, who at the end of it all asked "are we saying goodbye to Tutu now?" Nobody who heard her walked away dry eyed.
We spent the afternoon at Alice Nan & Joe's house, all the family and some other people who had come, including our friend Dick Nordsieck, who had walked Alice down the aisle at Walt's and my wedding.
Laurel came later, after Bri's nap, after most of the guests had left. Bri was, of course, the center of attention.
Ernie announced that he had sort of been forced into writing a eulogy (though admitted he was honored to do so), but asked everyone to go around and give their favorite memories of Aunt Alice. After each memory there was a raucous toast made....
...in which Bri participated as well. Tom's favorite memory is the video of the day for today.
By the end of the evening, everyone had left, Joe had gone to bed and I'm writing this and watching "Harry's Law" with Alice Nan and a napping Walt. It was really a wonderful day and worth all of the "dozens and dozens of decisions," which obviously resulted in all the right choices being made!
I am sleeping tonight in a room with a funeral spray of
flowers on either side of me...I hope this is not prophetic.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Bri's impersonation of Grandpa