Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Another funeral

Uncle Ray and Uncle Lindon last summer
Last week, my uncle Lindon passed away. He had been ill for awhile but the death was very sudden and unexpected. He had been married to my aunt Jane for 57 years. Obviously, he had been in the family since before I was born and was as much a part of it as any of the brothers and sisters.

I have a lot of fond memories of Uncle Lindon but some of my best ones are of the times we spent in Grand Haven, Michigan. He was a very quiet man, but funny. He had a good sense of humor and was a wonderful carpenter. You could usually find him somewhere fishing and in Michigan it was always nice to wake up first thing in the morning and walk out to the river and see his little boat, a line casted off into the water.

The funeral itself was hard in many ways. He was buried in Toby's cemetery and the service was graveside. We hadn't been back there since December and going back there for a funeral service was difficult. Pete read a poem during the service and I sang a song with my cousin Will. I underestimated the impact of standing there within sight of Toby's grave and trying to sing. It was harder than I thought it would be.

Uncle Lindon fishing
Lindon's death was different than most of the deaths I have been around lately. Toby and the Chesnut girls were children and clearly had their lives cut short. Pete's mom was somewhere in the middle-still young yet had been able to have a family and a career. With Lindon, however, it was like watching an entire life play out once he died. Never before has a life and death felt so linear and complete. He was born, he had a childhood, he married, had children, had a career, had hobbies, was surrounded by people who loved him, traveled, got to enjoy his favorite pastime, and died. On one hand, it's incredibly sad that he is gone but on the other it's almost like I've been able to see a complete life begin and end. (Even though I wasn't there for the beginning.)

taken at Will's wedding, the weekend before Toby died
In some ways, that's depressing in its own way. When you look at it that way, even a long life feels extremely short.

I wonder about my aunt Jane now. Where do you go from here, after being married for almost 60 years? It's almost like starting life over.

Iris, after spending a weekend with my family
at the funeral home
After the visitation, I was talking to Aunt Jane and she said that it didn't feel right, leaving him there at the funeral home. I knew what she meant. One of the hardest parts of Toby's funeral was having to leave after the visitation and go home, knowing that his body was there in the funeral home by itself. I know it sounds strange, but I actually felt better once he was buried. The idea that his body was just out there, in a dark room, in a coffin, while I was somewhere else was horrible. At least once he was buried there was some closure to it.

Pete, talking at the graveside service 
Because of my upcoming surgery, we've been trying to get things in order in case something goes awry. Surgery in general is always risky but brain and spinal surgery have their own set of unique risks. Seeing things end suddenly make me start thinking about my own mortality.

Cole and Will singing at the service 

Iris, with flowers for Toby

Dad and me at Toby's grave

Sam and Dad at the cemetery
I have a very, very large family. Everyone has their own unique role in it. It was hard to lose Uncle Junior and Uncle Willis and now Uncle Lindon. The idea of having to keep watching people go is heavy on me.


Groves said...

Your Iris looks like a sweet rosebud.

What a post - and what a day for you. This is so hard, and on so many levels.

You honor your family by what you write. I just wish that you didn't have to endure the pain that brings forth such worthy words.

Thinking of you, hoping (so very much hoping) all goes well with your surgery.

Considering mortality, also,

Cathy in Missouri

Jayden's Mommy said...

Im sorry. Death is just not natural. Thinking of you and your family.

Rebecca said...

Thank you ladies. It was a hard day. I ended up singing a song with my cousin Will (well, he played guitar and I sang) and it was so much harder than I thought it would be. Standing there, seeing Toby's grave, and singing the line "Son your work on Earth is done" was a little much. But the service was nice.

Thank you all for the support. It is much appreciated.

Katie (LukeGrantsMom) said...

Thank you for sharing this day. Your experience sounds similar to my grandma passing away last month, her life felt so complete and in her case she was out of pain and so ready to go. I can imagine how you felt being so close to Toby's grave, while being there for someone else and during this time to celebrate your uncle's life. I don't think it is possible not to compare Toby and your uncle's lives. That is hard.