Happy Birthday, Dear Sis

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.

mom in church

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.


Filed under Captain Poolie's observations

22 responses to “Happy Birthday, Dear Sis

  1. Smiling here as I imagine your mother was smiling when everyone sang Happy Birthday to her that day. Blessings to you…

  2. goatbarnwitch

    Beautiful. Honoring the the one who has passed in ways that were meaningful to her

  3. maryz

    Our daughter played some Jimmy Buffett when we put some of John’s ashes around the base of “his” tree. Then we all cried. Special!

  4. Patty O'

    What a beautiful child she was and OH, how she must have loved that magnificent bow!!!

  5. I remember that song for her too. It was a good way to end the service…And then the birds flew over head too.

  6. Carrie Duff

    Thanks Poola! So sad today after my cemetary visit.having trouble just breathing, seeing through the tears, trying to figure out what the f to do with the next 20 years?……..love you

    • poolagirl

      Some days it feels like you will never wade through. Other days you sail like a kite. Holding you in my heart, sweetie.

  7. Sally Vangorkom


  8. Joanie

    Happy Birthday to your beautiful Mom. What a wonderful tribute you wrote.

  9. bholles

    That was so great we sang to her.

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