Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Idaho On My Mind

Hot Texas Feet in Soft, Cool Idaho Grass
I can't remember the last time I was away for six whole days.  That's pretty much forever, when you're a farmer with mouths to feed and poop to scoop.  But since I have the best-ever farm sitters, we were able to take the time we needed to go to Idaho and lay my mother-in-law to rest.

The Family
The whole family met at her wonderful house and spent a lot of special time together--my in-laws are amazing.  And I think I've mentioned that Julie's back porch is on my list of Top Five Places I Love on the Planet.

The View
Of course, the primary reason for our visit was for Julie's funeral.  My brother in law is a priest, and had the lion's share of the planning job.  I helped with the music, and also wrote and delivered the eulogy.  As a married-in member of the family, it was easier for me to keep the raw emotions in check, at least while everyone was watching.  I felt no small amount of pressure to come up with fitting words that in a tiny way, captured the essence of Julie's long and complicated life.  Her influence on me has been profound, and I was happy to give her the credit and thanks I owe her for that.

St. James Episcopal Church, Payette, Idaho
Established 1892
A Beautiful Day to Say Goodbye
The Church Ladies Fed an Army of Relatives
In addition to the funeral, we also needed to begin tackling the tough job of cleaning out the house.  If you've ever had that responsibility, you know how draining it is, both physically and emotionally.  Sometimes, after hours of going through boxes and boxes of old photos, tax returns, newspaper clippings, high school diplomas and sewing projects, you just have to cut loose and have a little fun.

The Cousins Model Vintage Fashions
The discovery and exploration of all of Julie's fascinating clothes and accessories, spanning the decades, led to the weekend's most entertaining adventure: the Funny Hat Croquet Match to the Death.

Serious Competitors
Wait - Did I Say "Serious?"
Dress Code Strictly Enforced
Julie Would Have Approved
The family enjoyed a healthy mix of sadness, joy, nostalgia, hilarity, serious detective work, euphoric discovery, bone-wearying fatigue, tears, and relaxing over dinner with a judicious adult beverage.  We all chipped in together with caring hearts, ready to lend a hand, and deferring to each other, thereby avoiding the damaging melodrama many families go through when someone dies.   By the grace of God, everyone got along famously and finished the weekend bonded closer together.  What a gift.

So now, we're back in Texas and I'm working on re-entry.  It's easier said than done.  Today I began to face down the mountain of laundry, phone calls, e-mails, bills, and projects-in-progress that were waiting on this end of the trip.  I'm very happy to be home, but my heart is still in Idaho, at least for a little while.

5 comments:

  1. What a beautiful tribute to your mother-in-law Cindy! This looks more like a celebration of a life rather than mourning of a loss--my ideal of how to send someone off with honor!

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  2. i wish i lived a wee bit closer to help you out. So instead you will just have to accept my love and prayers. She looks like she had a fantastic personality!

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  3. Anonymous2:07 PM

    Cindy - Sending hugs and loving understanding to you & your husband, and waving wildly & sending more hugs to Carl & Lynne. Hilary - formerly in Germany & Sicily, now in England!

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  4. What a difficult time this is, and yet I see this family together and the unbelievable strength you are exuding for each other. It is breath taking. My mother passed away in June, quite suddenly, at the age of 54. My experience has been, unfortunately, very different. Your family is very lucky to have each other and it shows in this beautiful tribute. Hugs to you and yours.

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  5. Tania - I really understand how rare this kind of family dynamic is, and I don't take it for granted one bit. It's only possible because we all love God and lean on Him for strength and enough love to care about each other, even when it would be easier not to.

    My own mother passed away when she was just 52, and I know what a shock that is. You and your whole family are in my prayers as you grieve. Love each other as much as you can. Big hugs...

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