Sunday, August 22, 2010

Funeral Party

It was Mom who coined the term "funeral party".  The idea had never even entered into our heads.  It just somehow happened as God led, and what a blessing it turned out to be!

It was just after our daughter, Samantha, had her first psychotic break (see Mental Illness Part 1 and Part 2 ) that Mom took sick.  It didn't appear that she would last for long.

I called all my brothers; one from across the continent in British Columbia, one from evangelizing all over the planet, and one from his mission field in Mexico.  All just happened to be available to come and see their mom one last time - or at least they thought it would be the last time.  Non of us knew at the time the real reason why God had planned this.

Mom and Dad were living in a lovely nursing home where they were able to stay together in a double room with a bedroom and sitting room area.  The nursing home also had a large recreation room that Mom had always wanted to make use of, so when she found out that her whole family was coming for a visit she decided that it was a good excuse to book the hall for a party.

A pizza party is what she asked for, and she rallied for the occasion.  We all took delight in Mom's exuberance, and decided to prepare a little program for her and Dad.  Our family had always sung together, the rest of the family playing guitar or mandolin or organ, and me mainly just singing.  Those many jam secessions from the past were among the best memories of my childhood, and I knew Mom and Dad had loved them too, so we dug up some of the old songs and got our daughter Susie to play the piano, Anita to play the violin and our son-in-law, Hank Snow, (really, that's his name) to play the guitar. 

We had originally planned this for mom because she was so sick, and she did thoroughly enjoy it, but it was Dad who was touched the most.  Their were tears on his cheeks throughout the singing.  I know he would have loved to be able to pick up a guitar again and join us, but he had become far too feeble. Always a quiet man, he had almost stopped talking, but his love and emotion  poured out that day.

After we had finished singing, one of my brothers took a chair and plunked it down directly in front of Mom and Dad and sat down.  He started talking to them about the blessings he had received in being their son.  When he was done, another brother took the chair, and this continued until all the family including some of the inlaws and grandchildren had presented their bouquets of thankfulness to my parents.

Mom had always claimed she didn't see the point in showering a person with flowery speeches after they died, she wanted her roses while she was still living, and that day she and Dad received them.  That's when she started calling it the funeral party.

Less than three weeks later we got a call from the nursing home.  My darling Dad had had a stroke.  He remained in a coma until my brother Dave, the missionary from the south, arrived to see him one last time, and then, less than an hour after Dave's arrival he went home to be with the Lord. 

Mom hung on for almost two more years before joining her beloved husband, but she never forgot the wonderful "funeral party" she and Dad were able to attend together.  And we felt so blessed that we had been able to give, not only Mom, but Dad his roses before he left us.

For the previous post see: Mental Illness part 2
To read the story of my wonderful parents, see the Susie Series: Susie's Story, Susie's Journey, and Susie's Calling 

To read more about my father see my Christian blog posts: Grandpa Henry 

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