Tom’s dad recently passed away. Skip was in his early eighties, he’d been ill for awhile, however I don’t know if anyone can really prepare for a parent’s death.
My in-laws live in Wisconsin; it just so happened the day we flew in for the memorial service it was the coldest day on record at -24 degrees, with a wind chill factor of negative FIFTY! Tom and I were raised in Wisconsin, our kids (who traveled with us) were born in the frozen tundra but we’ve had a dozen years of Texas winters so it was shocking to say the least to experience a blast that bitter!
All of the restaurants, gas stations, malls, grocery stores and even the taverns were closed, which made it a challenge because we were responsible for feeding 45 family members from all over the country the night we arrived.
Thank you Sam’s Club! When we called the number we couldn’t believe someone actually answered the phone and said they were open. It’s wonderful to be part of a family and come from a place where deli meat, buns, premade salads, bagged relishes, snack chips w/dip and cookie trays are considered a delicious, hearty feast!
Skip’s passing was the first time our kids experienced a funeral service. We felt fortunate that Allen-Michael was able to take a few days away from the seminary and Brigham from Texas Tech so we could be there to honor the man they affectionately called Grandpa Skippy.
We stayed with my mother-in-law; it was obvious the previous few months of Skip’s illness and hospital stay had taken a toll on her. After 54 years of marriage she now has to figure out how to carry on alone.
Tom and I were both raised Catholic and the most wonderful part of the memorial service was having all of the grandkids take part in the ceremony. My brother (who is married to Tom’s sister…yes, that’s true) gave part of the eulogy, my son served the mass, one nephew and two nieces read the readings, another nephew was the cantor (at 15-years-of-age I had no idea what a beautiful voice he had), our three youngest kids brought up the gifts. My brother-in-law, an accomplished woodworker, built a beautiful walnut box for Skip’s ashes, my other brother-in-law, a well-known chef in the area, provided the meal after the service. It was truly a family affair and I know Skip would have been so proud of the teamwork that was garnered in his honor.
The trip made me realize all the more how blessed I am at age 50 to continue to have both of my parents. They are still in good health, yet an event like this reminds all of us about life’s impermanence. My mom is an integral part of our daily life here in Flower Mound. She helps me run the kids when I’m at work, she makes dinner and brings it over a few nights a week…we couldn’t do it without her generosity and the lifelong commitment she’s made to nurture her family.
Connecting with extended family can be one of the biggest blessings a funeral brings. In our fast-paced, “got to get it done” culture we often neglect to slow down and have face to face (or even phone) conversations with our relatives.
If each one of us took a moment today to do a little something extra…send the “hello” text, call the family member or friend you haven’t chatted with in six months, stopped by to check in on a parent…then the world would be a more connected place. All too often we forget to make reaching out to others a priority. Don’t let another day go by without saying hello; you never know when you will no longer have the opportunity.