Wow, that was a long sentence.
Anyway, Susan regularly receives their invitations to bereavement support services and events but this is the first time she has taken them up on anything. The memorial was to be held in the hospital's chapel and she was particularly attracted to the option of being able to share 'memories, a poem or a prayer' meaning she would have a captive audience and a microphone.
Susan thought she might like to read the poem her pal Mikel had sent her, one which helped in the early days, and something she still re-reads. There were one or two points within the poem that she didn't specifically agree with, like 'loving being a matter of eternity more than of time', but the rest of it was pretty on target. Susan's big with sharing things that help her ease the burdens of life, whether inspiring others to see the up-side of grief or to wage a deadly battle against ants in the kitchen with a DIY killer (Borax + honey).
The more she thought about it the more Susan realized that she preferred to use the opportunity to tell people about the husband. This was not going to be an improv situation, she would write everything down. She searched her little toy brain for a good story but came up empty. Her brain has not been particularly strong this last year, which she worries may be the coincidentally timed emergence of dementia, but she set aside that possibility and consulted her alter-memory, the archives of Twisted Susan. Very quickly she found this post then adapted it to her current need.
On the way there Susan was looking forward to being back where the husband was so well cared for, but the daughter was not happy as they walked past the hospice where her father died. She removed her mother's arm from around her shoulder and growled like a little broken hearted cub. Once inside she perked up when she saw her aunt & uncle.
Mercifully it was an Inter-Denominational Celebration of Life and not a Catholic service. The program began with a welcoming blessing & candle lighting then a musical interlude by the most adorable acapella chorus of white haired men ever to belt out a churchy song. After this was the celebration of life part where each person who requested to speak was called up to the altar.
The participants were all sad, a few cried, some went against Susan's personal code by winging it, best was the young girl who read a poem about her grandmother. After taking a long walk up the center aisle with all eyes upon her, she stared straight ahead and very clearly read her poem in front of what were probably 200 people, then took that same brave walk all the way back to her seat. She did a nice job.
Shortly thereafter Susan's name was called.
Sidebar: Susan's son, who was arriving separately, was still not there. (Insert angry mommy Grrrr sound). There will undoubtedly be a meeting with him on this topic later.
Susan and her prepared statement took their place at the front of the room. She looked briefly at the group, announced that she was nervous then in a slightly breaking voice said she's been without her husband for 323 days, that's 44 weeks, and would like to read them a list of things that she liked about him:
- He was impressive with a yo-yo
- Describing the birth of his son he said 'I never knew how exhausting it was to yell at someone for four hours'
- He sang, poorly
- He was very adept at winning arguments, but took it easy on Susan
- He ran around in the yard with the kids and the dog
- He could always be counted on to complete any disagreeable task
- He told funny stories from his youth about drunkenness & neighborhood brawling
- He apologized by saying 'I've decided to forgive you'
- He didn't build himself up by making others feel small
- If he didn't know something, he knew a guy who knew
- He said that being mad at Susan was like being mad at a puppy (got a big Awwww from the crowd)
- He didn't worry about things he couldn't control
- He did the Lindy at weddings & grabbed anyone in his path
- Before he was married to Susan he raised two smart, independent, caring & wonderful girls that have always been terrific big sisters to their two kids
- He would say 'It's better to seek forgiveness than permission'
- 'Thanksgiving is not a low-fat holiday'
- When arguing he'd say 'Don't cloud the issue with facts'
- About making decisions; 'The situation is the boss'
- Upon doing something for him he'd say 'Who's better than you?'
- About money he said a few things; 'I can owe it to you or you can forget about it' Expenses related to mistakes were called the 'stupidity tax' and 'All financial crises only last for 48 hours'
- 'Success is 90% showing up, 9% listening & 1% dumb luck'
- 'Tough times don't last, tough people do'
- Lastly, his favorite was always; 'Analyze, Adapt, Overcome'
The crowd had been chuckling all along but Susan was surprised as hell when everyone applauded, little sister said it wasn't even she who started it.
The husband could still make people laugh.
Susan's son showed up during the Reading of Names; each loved one's name was read as their family members walked up front to hang a sparkly cardboard dove on a tree. Some folks had two entire rows of people in attendance, others only one or two or three. This is where Susan got a good look at how bereaved people were. Many were grim faced. She felt particularly sad for the older folks, grief had really roughed them up.
Let's fast forward to the balance of the night highlights:
Susan's daughter hung their sparkly dove on the highest branch, the old man acapella chorus came back to cheer everyone up, Susan & her family went out for BLTs and milk shakes.