Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Uncle Bob is Laid to Rest

Today we left early and headed up the mountain for the funeral.  How odd it was that we were just in this same chapel just 6 months ago for Wendy and now here we were again for Uncle Bob.  I cannot get over how many funerals there have been in my life in the last while.  I guess that's just part of the whole getting older thing.

I always have a hard time at funerals and viewings so after I pay my quick respects at the casket, I usually head into the chapel or into the cultural hall to look at the display that is set up in honor of the deceased person.  I was no different this time.  I took a look at all the interesting things that the kids had brought to represent their dad.  I had no idea that Uncle Bob was an artist and liked to draw.  This is a display of some of his artwork:
I knew that Uncle Bob had been to New Zealand on his mission and that he'd ridden on the ship with (Elder) John Groberg (see the movie The Other Side of Heaven).  I'd also seen this picture of this Maori man in their home many, many times, but never realized that it was of some of the people that live in New Zealand.  I also had no idea that Uncle Bob loved to collect glassware.  I LOVED these glasses that were on display!  I'll take a set of each, please.
This sweater was one of Uncle Bob's favorites.  Auntie didn't like it very much, but he did.  I loved this hat that Uncle Bob wore all the time while traveling in Germany.  I could totally see him in it walking through the Alps singing "the hills are alive with the sound of music" along with wearing some lederhosen.
He wore this hat every time he tried climbing Mount Whitney.  He finally made it on his third attempt.  (I think he probably wore it other times and places too since it looks pretty well worn!)
Soon it was time for the funeral and it was touching to listen to the heartfelt things that were said about Uncle Bob.  He truly was a wonderful man.  Once the funeral was over, the family filtered outside and watched as they loaded the casket into the hearse.  I was so sad as I saw David break down and start sobbing.  David has always been near and dear to my heart.  (He and I are very close in age and went through some "kissing cousin" moments in our teenage years.)  It was so hard to see him cry so hard.  But, his wife, Debbie, was there and sweetly put her arms around him and held him close.  I happened to turn around and saw this cute little guy standing next to me...
Yes, it was Scooter.  He was wearing Uncle Melon Man's suitcoat.  It's just a little big, but he looks so very cute in it.  It was quickly time to head out for the cemetery.  Uncle Bob was to be buried in the military cemetery and it was over an hour away, so we needed to get going.  Dolly and Cristobal decided to ride down with us.  It was so much fun with them!  We were all kind of hungry and weren't going to be able to eat until we came back from the burial so we stopped at McDonalds for a "snack."  That snack ended up being 3 kids meals (1 for each of the kids and one for Melon Man) and then 40 chicken nuggets!  Uh, what?  That was way more than a snack and it cost over $25!  Oh well, who cares?  It was time together with our niece and nephew!  There were laughs and giggles all the way to the cemetery.
We soon arrived at the cemetery and it was truly beautiful. I loved that the flag is constantly at half staff.  It was flapping in the wind and was a reminder of the sacrifice that all of those in this cemetery made for us.
As Uncle Bob's casket was taken out of the hearse, there was a military presence by its side immediately.  It was sad watching David and Russell pull their father's casket along.  I remember watching my brothers do the same thing for my mom.  Terry and Neil (Sherry and Shelly's husbands) were next and then Larry and Nick (Wendy's husband and son) were last.  The flag on top pulled at my heart as I realized that when my own dad passes away, he will have one on top of his casket as well. 
The next part was so very touching.  This young woman stood stoically at the head of the casket.  No emotion showing on the outside.  Just formality.  Here was a former servant of our country being honored by a current servant of our country.
Next, this other young woman portrayed playing Taps on her trumpet.  She stood all alone on a hillside nearby.
But the most touching moment came a minute or two later when they asked all current and former members of our country's military to give one final salute to their fellow countryman.  Suddenly arms flew up to the temples of men all around me.  Those sitting rose to their feet.  Those standing stood more stalwart and proud.  It was something I'd never experienced before.
I was so touched as I looked around, that I didn't get any pictures of all those saluting, but luckily Cindy got this one of her dad.  I saw my dad, my husband, my brother Shane, and so many others paying one final homage of respect to this man we all loved.  It was just the most touching thing I had ever seen at a funeral.  I will never forget it.
Next, the military members folded the flag that was on top of the casket and went through this very special process of ensuring it was folded just right.  I took this video of the whole process and then 30 seconds into it, I finally realized that I'd taken it from a sideways perspective and flipped it around.  I didn't quite understand all the movements they did after folding it, but I'm sure there is meaning to each of them.

It was sad watching the woman give it to Auntie Tia.  She was so sweet as she gave it to her. She spoke in a very hushed tone and expressed her appreciation for Uncle Bob's service and asked that she accept the flag in appreciation for that service.  It was at this moment that I realized that someday when my own father passes away, per military protocol, I will be the one to receive his flag since his spouse, our mother, is no longer living.  I will treasure that flag forever as I have a deep love and respect for those who have served our country and am proud to be the daughter of an honorably discharged serviceman.  I got quite choked up when I realized this and started to cry.  I am so proud of my dad's service, my husband's service, my brother-in-law's service, my father-in-law's service and all those others who have willingly (or through a draft) given of their time and lives to ensure our freedoms.
Finally, the flowers were placed on top of the casket.  I never knew that Uncle Bob's favorite color was blue.  This casket was truly beautiful.  The flowers on top were very flattering to the whole picture.  I was glad I wore blue this day too, even though I didn't know about it.This picture of Auntie holding onto her flag is so sad.  Here are both her living daughters at her side.  She's lost her husband just a mere six months after losing her youngest daughter.  I think I'd look sad like this too, if I'd had that happen to me too.
But then, someone said something and it was pretty funny and they all laughed.
Then, the family posed for a picture.  I remember this same type of picture from Mom's funeral.  You stand there as a family, letting everyone take pictures of you, feeling sad, and everyone wanting you to smile.  It's so hard, but you do it.  And, unfortunately, there will continue to be hard days ahead when you cry all day and look like this again.
But then, someone makes a crack about how your parent/spouse used to pull a funny gesture/face and it makes everyone laugh and smile!  Yep, Uncle Bob used to make this gesture, as if he were surprised.  What a guy!
Next, the immediate family had their picture taken - almost all of Uncle Bob's posterity.  What a great picture this was.  He would have been so very proud to see this.  I don't think I've ever seen so many of their family in one picture at a time.
This last picture was a great one though.  It was all of the family members who had come to show their love and support to Auntie Tia and her family.  We hadn't take a picture like this since the year that Colton was born and we had a family reunion.  Sure, there are a lot of people that are missing, but it was still quite a large group of people that all love each other.
As we headed back up the mountain for the luncheon, I kept seeing these beautiful flowers all over.  I just couldn't help but take a few pictures of the grandeur.  The vibrant colors and how they spread all over the hillside was just breathtaking!
As we headed up Cajon Pass, I plugged in my iPod and we listened to some fun music with the kids.  We'd actually also picked up Dilly Boy for our return trip and I was able to capture this video of the kids singing to some of the fun songs I had on my iPod.  I was shocked that they knew so many of the songs and most of the words.  Dilly was doing his own little dance along with singing.

It was a memory that this Auntie will never forget.  I loved every moment, every note, every chorus.  What sweet memories I will always have of that time!  (Even if my singing stunk!)

We got to the church for the luncheon and Melon Man was all smiles.  He loved playing with the kids, as always.  I just wished he'd trimmed up that goatee!
Lisa and I are both blonds now.  I think this is the first picture of me with my new blondish hair.  I thought we looked good together!  I've never had blond hair before...I think I like it!
After the luncheon, we went back to the hotel to change.  I wasn't feeling too well so we stayed at the hotel.  Lisa wasn't feeling too swift either.  Melon Man and I decided to head out and find something to eat for dinner.  We went to some steak-ish place and were quite dissatisfied.  We should have just gone to Applebee's or Chili's.  Oh well....

1 comment:

Lisa Tucker said...

This is a great post! I loved the kids singing! Too cute for words!