Friday, October 9, 2009

Wendy's Funeral

Today was Wendy's funeral.  Because she died of breast cancer, Lisa and I thought we would wear as much pink as we could to remember her.  In talking with Sheri before we headed to California, Lisa spread the word and soon Sheri had found a pink scarf at Walmart.  So, I had Melon Man look at his store and sure enough, there were a couple pink scarves.  They weren't the light pink that is typically associated with breast cancer awareness; they were a vibrant pink - perfect for Wendy's vibrant personality.  So, he picked one up for me and one for Lisa.  They were similar to this:

Then, I decided which jewelry (aka BLING) I wanted to take.  Wendy loved bling.  So, back when I had come home from Utah a couple of weeks ago, I had seen this bracelet in an airport shop and stopped and bought it.  It is darling.  Very sparkly.  The earrings, I made myself.  I wish I could have captured their true color in the picture, but I just couldn't, no matter how many pictures I took.

However, I would later come to realize that I had never informed my sisters-in-law about the "pink" thing and I totally felt bad when I realized this.  Jodi and Ang did not know about it and I'm sure they felt really bad.  I am SO sorry!

We got ready and headed to Wrightwood for the funeral.  We arrived just about 10 a.m. and Wendy's family was just arriving as well.  They were helping Uncle Bob out of the truck into his wheelchair and as I looked at him, I wondered if he truly understood what was happening today.  He is in end-stage dementia and did not know who I was when I saw him yesterday.  Today, he just kind of appeared to "be here" but not really be here.  As I watched him throughout the service, he didn't get emotional at all.  He just kind of stared off in to space.  I wondered what he was thinking....

Jennifer and Julie had made these cute pink and bling ribbons for all of the family members and had secured the peal and stick ones from a local charity in Utah. 

There was a viewing for the hour before the actual funeral.  I was one of the first ones in there.  I needed to do my "thing" privately. 

As I mentioned in my last entry, I don't handle death very well.  I do much better now that I have a deeper understanding of the Plan of Salvation since going to the temple and receiving my own endowment.  I have to believe that all we have learned and been taught as members of the church is true - otherwise, life just would not be worth it.  To think that life ends when we die would be a waste of a person.  I used to really struggle with the belief that there are two personages who are God, the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.  It seemed unreal to me that these two people "were just out there somewhere."  I went through A LOT in my life to come to know that I believe that to be true.  I cannot deny it.  Since I have come to know this, my life has been so much happier.  I have peace in my life, even during the darkest days.  I no longer experience the sorrow that most people feel because they believe that life is over upon death.  I think this is why I have not cried very much at Wendy's passing.  Having lost my own mother when I was only 36 and having seen her struggle for so long, it was not only a relief to her own body and spirit to die, but it was a release for me.  For so long, I prayed to Heavenly Father that He would not take her - that I NEEDED her here on earth with me.  But, one day, after having been with her, I got down on my knees and gave her up to God's will.  It was one of the hardest things I had ever done.  She stayed with us for 3 more years, but those years were much more precious to me because I knew every day could be the last.  I cherished each and every conversation I had with her.  I looked forward to every visit - either here or in Utah.  I cried with her when she cried.  I laughed with her when she laughed.  I laughed at her when she did a funky little dance one day in her sweats while at my house.  We pretended to be intoxicated by the smell of the rum in the stollen we made together as she taught me the traditions of my heritage.  And, the last words I said to her the night before she died were in anger.  But, because of my faith and because of the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation, I KNOW I can be with her again someday and I KNOW she forgives me for those last words.  To think that that was the end would probably kill me inside if I didn't know differently.  Back in February, I wrote about an experience that I will always cherish where my mom came to me in a dream one day.  I KNOW that that was a special gift from God - to let her come to me in that way.  It was SO REAL that it was undeniable.  And I KNOW that Wendy is with her.

I stood in front of Wendy's casket, looking at her, feeling peace that she was relieved of her pain, that she had progressed onto the step in our eternal lives.  She was "in a better place" - truly.  I asked her to please tell my mom I was sorry for the last words I spoke to her and to tell her I loved her.  I told Wendy how much I loved her and was going to miss her.  Then, I put a little pink and white knitted washcloth in her casket with her.  Jennifer had made it for me as part of an Easter gift.  I told Wendy it was from Jennifer since she couldn't be there and had so wanted to be.  It just hit me how ironic it was that it was part of an Easter gift - Easter - a remembrance of the resurrection of our Savior - and here Wendy was meeting our Savior and would someday be resurrected.  And then I did what I didn't think I could do...I reached down and put my hand on hers.  I let it rest there and it was okay.  I was okay.  I felt the love for my sweet cousin between our flesh.  I told her I loved her and turned and walked away.  I left the room for a while until it was time for the family prayer. 

Soon it was time to go into the chapel.  The service was simple and sweet.  The opening hymn was "I Believe in Christ."  The room was full of a lot of people that I don't think were members of the church, but it sure seemed like the voices were strong and loud.  As that song was written by Elder McConkie, only members would know it, but it seemed like everyone knew it.  I watched my sweet cousin, David, on the stand.  His eyes filled with tears.  My heart broke.  My own tears began to fall.  David and I have always had a fun, special relationship.  It tore at my heart to see him cry and struggle to begin his talk.  He made it through though and soon Cindy spoke of fond memories that Wendy's siblings and cousins remembered of her.  My favorite memory of her is when she jumped in Lisa's pool, fully clothed after pulling her fake boob out and floating it across the pool.  The whole story can be read by clicking here.

The rest of the funeral was nice and it was soon over.  They wheeled her casket out to the hearse and put it inside.  That was when her boys lost it.  I had not seen them cry the whole time, until this moment and without taking obvious photos, I tried to get one to show their emotion...they were clinging onto each other so tight and just sobbing.  I KNOW that feeling.

Afterwards, all those who were invited, stayed for a luncheon afterward.  Wendy's siiblings, and probably her nieces too, had gone over to the church the night before and had put out a display of thigs that pertained to her life...crafts she had made, little hats she had knitted, scrapbooks she had made, pictures of her.  It was so sweet to see the things that they felt represented her.

We all sat around and visited until it was time to head to Calimesa for her burial.  These are a few of the pictures of family that I took while at the church.  I was so glad to have as much of my family there as were able to come.  We all missed having Jennifer and her family there too.

Noah, Angie, and Holly

Marci and Uncle Rodney

My Melon Man

Jules (Julie) and Dolly (Breanna)

Jodi, Kevin, and Peanut (Ari)

Peanut, Dolly, Papa, Dilly, and Scooter
(Ari, Breanna, Dad, Dylan, and Noah)

Rabbit ears on Papa

Melon Man and Fatty Girl

I had not noticed this spring topiary on the table at first, until Lisa pointed it out to me.  It was just like the fall ones we made during a Briar Patch weekend.  I want to make one now for me!  So cute!!!

We all started to head down to Calimesa for the burial.  It took almost an hour to get there.  It was like a little caravan between, us, Kurt's van, Kevin's car, and Uncle Rodney's car.  When we got there, most of Wendy's family wasn't there yet for some reason (which, later we heard the story why and it was HILARIOUS), so we sat around waiting.  I got to take this GORGEOUS photo of Dilly.  So stinkin' cute!

Finally, everyone arrived and her brothers, sons, brother-in law, and grandson helped carry it.  Larry walked in front.  So solemn.  I just watched. I'm glad men are the pallbearers.  Women would be blubbering all over the place.

David dedicated the grave.

Melon Man and Fatty Girl again.

Scooter - such the poser.

Dolly and Uncle Melon Man

I happened to capture this picture when I don't think most people saw what was happening. Sheri and Larry have not had the best relationship. I thought this was touching that they set their differences aside for this final moment and looked upon Wendy's casket together. (Sheri - if I got this completely wrong, just let me know)
What a sweet picture - the four siblings in a loving embrace.

I caught this picture when I don't think anyone saw it either. David's oldest son just had his head on his dad's shoulder kind of staring off into the distance. The expression on his face says it all. Too bad the shadows were on their faces!

A simple hand on the leg. Auntie Tia has gone through so much with Uncle Bob's illnesses and then Wendy's too, not to say anything about almost losing both her own home to a forest fire as well as the home her daughter loved and lived in until just last week. She looked so drained - physically and emotionally. The week was probably one of the hardest in her life.

Just when you think Uncle Bob doesn't realize what's going on...he surprises you with a cute wave and that classic Uncle Bob grin! Wish I'd had that on video!

All the first cousins that could be there...
David, Shelly, Fatty Girl, Aubie, Lisa, Chucky, Jules, Sheri, Russell, and Cindy.

Auntie Sigie, Uncle Rodney, and Auntie Tia - my mom's remaining siblings.

I saw this picture of Auntie Sigie and Auntie Tia and realized that Shelly and Sheri are now in the same situation as them - their baby sister is gone.

Russell talking with his dad. They seemed to be having a nice conversation. Not sure about what, but they just seemed to be relaxed and happy with each other.

The pink ladies - all the gals who wore pink in honor of Wendy
(again - I'm so sorry I forgot to tell Jodi and Angie!)

David's family.
Oh yeah...and that HOT red truck in the background? Yeah, it's mine ours.

Our family. It would have been so perfect if Jennifer and her family would have been able to be there. This would have been the first family picture since the one from Melon Man's and my wedding!

After the funeral, the entire family - extended and otherwise - headed back to Wrightwood for a family dinner - taco salad.  Melon Man had recently learned that the San Andreas fault line was just up the street about 700 feet away from Auntie's house so we took a quite jaunt up the street to see if we could see it at all.  Nope.  So, we headed to Auntie's house. 

After we ate, a bunch of us were sitting out on the back patio and I caught a few more things I wanted to remember about Auntie's house.  The first is this ginormous tree in her back yard. The trees just seem to be reaching heavenward without stopping. I thought about how had this tree caught on fire, it would have been devastating and sad - not to say anything about the house!

Next was this pine cone. There have always been GINORMOUS pine cones around their house. This one was at least 6 inches tall. Dylan actually took this picture and I'm not sure if he found it leaning up against the railing like this or if he did it on his own, but I love the composition of the photo. Thanks Dilly!

A cute, crafty Uncle Sam - with a broken brim - but that's what makes it unique.

Uncle Bob's mission trunk. Notice the initials on the side - R.E.W. for Robert Earl Walgren. Awesome.

Love this family picture of Kevin, Peanut, and Jodi that I took. Oh, can't forget the little dog/sheep thing...

Dolly showing us how flexible she is!

She did like a million cartwheets for me and this is the best picture I got. Darn.

So, Peanut and I tickled each other and laughed and laughed while Kevin took the pictures with my fancy pants camera. I think he loved the camera as much as I love Peanut!

So, Peanut and I tickled each other and laughed and laughed while Kevin took the pictures with my fancy pants camera.  I think he loved the camera as much as I love Peanut!

What kind of picture is this? A Kevin picture. There must be gobs of pictures of him like this throughout the years.

Wendy died on David's birthday. Jessica had her birthday and Julie had her wedding anniversary on the day we dressed Wendy. So, we all celebrated their special days on Wendy's special day.

Ari was quite the little showgirl while we were in California.  This was one of her "dance shows":

Dilly is becoming quite the little photographer.  I let him use my cheap-o-la crappy camera all he wanted to take pictures of whatever he wanted.  Here are the pictures he took.  It was so interesting to see the things his own little eyes caught....oh, and Uncle Aubie must have trained him to take pictures of himself....

Dylan's first "photography exhibit"....

After dinner and after visiting for quite a long while, we decided to let the family have some last time together, so we headed out.  Julie headed for the Long Beach airport to fly home and the rest of us headed back to the hotels in Hesperia.  We decided to meet up with the fams at their hotel next door and swim.  Well, actually Melon Man swam and I tried to take pictures...

Kev and Jodi catchin' a little kissy action in the pool - get a room! Oh wait, you already have one upstairs!

Dolly - this girl has got the longest legs ever! I told Ang that she needs to get her into competitive swimming - she would do awesome! So, I helped her work on holding her breath, keeping her face in the water, pointing her toes, and kicking with straight legs. She was finally able to hold her breath under water for about 8 seconds by the time everyone got out of the pool for the night.

Peanut is the most fercious kicker ever! She kicks as if she's kicking some attacker in the whose-it-whats-its! I wish I'd had my little camera that takes video with me - she had such determination. It was fantastico!

Dylan is like a fish. He has no problems swimming under the water.

However, he doesn't like water getting up his nose so he holds it when he jumps in!

I've only ever known of one other person that can walk on water.....

Miss Holly. She was content to just sit in her car seat and watch.

Water fight!! Jodi and Dylan with little Miss Kicker off to the side.

I gotcha!! No, I got you!

Dylan's first ever belly flop. Yeah, it didn't all.

Soon, everyone was pruned up and we all decided to go back to our rooms.  We had a long drive ahead of us tomorrow.  We were going to drive all the way from Hesperia to Salt Lake - and try to leave at 5 a.m. so we could be there by 3 p.m. so we could get settled and then go to Rodizio for dinner. 

What a long, but great day.


Angela said...

Wow, Kristin! That was really neat to read. I LOVED all the pictures..that one of Dylan is sooo cute. Great job. By the way, don't worry about not telling me about the "Pink Lady" thing...I forgive you....I know you had a lot going on. Thanks again for the great ya....

Cindy said...

You captured some wonderful pictures!

Casey Lu said...

Crying while reading this. Thanks for sharing and I hope all is well. Beautiful pictures!!! Thinking of you!!!

Angela said...

Kristin...I love your's beautiful.