TODAY

Today has been a very hard day.

I woke this morning with a weight on my heart. You know that feeling that is half awake/half asleep? That feeling of “I need to remember something…”? And, knowing instinctively that you really don’t want to remember? That is the feeling I woke to today. My mom isn’t here. I can not go see her. I can not call her. I can not hug her. I can not have her ‘make it all better.’

Today has been a very hard day.

From the moment I got over to Pop’s until the time I left-an hour ago…there have been people there. Everyone wants a hug and everyone wants to know what happened…and everyone is talking at the same time. And, it is very loud. And, I have a headache. And, Pop looks so small and lonely. His ‘Ella’ always was in charge of these big shindigs. She had everything arranged, and everything in place. He didn’t know what to do…and where to go…his helper, his partner, his other half was not there.

Today has been a very hard day.

Joy, Pop, and I went to the funeral home to finalize plans that had been made earlier. But, things were not in place as they should have been. Things were not done as they should have been. What we were expecting and what transpired were 2 very different things. (I’ll explain more about this later). So, we were disappointed and yes, a little bit angry. But, knowing mistakes can happen…we tried to make the best of it…we tried to think about what really mattered. And, then another oversight…Lord, what’s going on? And, why is this happening? OK…so let’s go from here.

Today has been a very good day.

When I got to Pop’s, I found friends..already hard at work. Patty was busy organizing the kitchen. Food had already started pouring in. And, she was tackling it. Suzanne was busy writing everything down, and keeping records of plates and such. Tara and Lori were busy greeting those who were arriving. Joy and I set about finding some papers we needed. Looking up, I found my friend, Shirley coming in the door from out of town. I was so happy to see her. She set about helping Patty and teaching her how to make coffee! I found Mom’s dress and we began to find her accessories, things we needed to take to the funeral home. Patty left, and Tina arrived…along with Jan. Pam came and Shirley came back. They handled the kitchen. They thought to get plastic containers to put the food in and they organized it all without a dab of help from me. Actually I usually start twitching when I stay in a kitchen for very long…it is not a pretty sight. Whenever someone came in that needed to eat…there was food…and plates…and ice…and napkins…and food…food…food!

Today was a very good day.

We took Mom’s clothes and Pop, Joy and I headed out to the funeral home. A very pleasant young man met us at the door. He ushered us back to a conference room, and we began the process. Questions…dates…names…who…what…etc. We got it all answered. And, then we got some unhappy news…things were not as we expected. Mom’s casket was supposed to have a pink lining…and it was white. Now this is just a little thing…but not so little today. The fact is that Mom and Pop had their 58th wedding anniversary last week. They went that day to the funeral home and picked out their caskets. 5 days ago. My mom picked out the stainless steel casket with a pink lining. And, that is what she wanted. And, that is what we wanted her to have. But, the original salesman had ordered the wrong thing. We either had to change to a different casket…that we didn’t like…or accept the white lining.We were not happy…Pop especially. And, he told this nice gentleman just what he thought about this. Pop was not ugly or unkind…just firm. This man was as patient and helpful as he could be. He called this place and that place and another place…but the best we could do was to delay the funeral 2 days for one to be shipped. Nope…not going to happen. So, I told him again that we were not happy with this, but,we knew it was not his fault,,,and we would make the best of the situation. Then there was another problem with the way things were explained to Pop…and thus began a long explanation again and again and again. But, this guy never lost his cool (though I am sure he was thinking, “How did I manage to pick THIS family?” Patience prevailed…and all was well. Until they could not find the records of the marker that Mom picked out. I took the brochure…Joy and I made a quick decision…and moved along. We could have gotten someone who was not patient and understanding…who tried to pass the buck. But, he tried everything he could to please us. And, when we left…with a 25 pound ham in our hands…we were at peace with all that was arranged.

Today was a very good day.

My dear friend, Pamela, who lost her father 4 years ago to the day, has always had a special place in Mom’s heart. Mom has always said that she wanted Pam to sing at her funeral. Pamela used to sing solos alot, but hasn’t in several years. Her father’s death went much the same way as Mom’s and it has been very hard on her. Today, when I asked her to sing…a million things passed through those eyes…and in a very long few seconds she said,”Yes, yes I’ll sing for Mrs. Ella”.

Today was a very good day.

We have seen so many people who loved Mom…people who said how she had changed their lives. People have stopped by with this story to tell about her, that funny joke she loved to play, how she led so many of us when we were young women…into the roles we play today; roles which include the leading of other younger women, who will take our places. She led by example. She led well.

Today has been a very good day.

The young man who takes car of Mom and Pop’s lawn drove by with his equipment…just to make sure everything looked tip top “for Mrs. Ella.” He blew off the sidewalks and touched up the lawn…and she would have been so proud. As I got in my car to leave, Pop was out watering the flowers. Mama’s flowers which she took such a joy in growing. He was doing what she would have done if she were here.
I left Tina and Jan in the kitchen. They were putting up all the food…and fixing Pop a dish of warm peach cobbler and a glass of milk. They insisted I leave. And, I felt so blessed to have friends -all day long- who say…”I am here to serve. I am here to help you make it through this, I am here to ease your burden. I am here because I love you and your family.”

Today has been a very long day.

Good-night, Mama. All is well.

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