Captain’s Log 5,168
We buried our mother/grandmother/friend on this day five years ago. We buried her on her 95th birthday. Everyone called her Sis. It started with her brothers and became her name throughout the entire community. She was well-loved and is still well-remembered.
The priest in the small Iowa town was not ready for the request that we all sing Happy Birthday at the end of the funeral service. But what better way to send someone off? We really wanted to do it but he was (and still is) steeped in tradition. How could this be? What did those crazy people from California really want? These were the same people who asked for a plain cross on the coffin rather than a crucifix with a dying Jesus attached. They want the minister from the OTHER non-Catholic church to speak too! And the youngest daughter is going to wear PINK at the funeral? And now, they want to sing Happy Birthday?
He did not say yes and he did not say no. He didn’t say anything. We assumed that was a negative. Imagine our surprise when he announced that Happy Birthday would end the service. The entire body of people congregated there sang. One last time for Eva Lorraine more affectionately known as Sis.
She had that look on her face most of the time. I can imagine she was enjoying her birthday celebration in a huge way that day. Wherever she was.
And there she is as a young woman in the very church where we sang Happy Birthday to her for the last time.
The haze of those days and hours five years ago cleared into a crystal moment for me this morning. I don’t feel sad today for some reason. I feel glad that we were able to give her one last funny moment. That’s the roller coaster of grief and memories. Sometimes you fly. Sometimes you cry.
I wore pink at her funeral. It was her very favorite color. I’m sure she was happy about that. As long as it wasn’t green. She detested that color. She was upset that the birthstone for May is emerald. It was just to damn green for her. So I wore pink.
And I reached for my sister’s hand and we sang Happy Birthday, dear Sis for the last time. And it was a good moment.