I've been trying to figure out how I want to express my thoughts about our time in Indiana. There's always such mixed feelings about time spent away due to the death of a loved one. One one hand, it's the saddest time imaginable. On the other hand, it's nice to see and visit with family that you do not get to see very often. But there's always the underlying reason for being there, and even if you have a nice visit or a laugh here or there, the sadness always creeps back in.
We arrived in Indiana around 8:45 Friday night, and went straight to the hotel. We tried to rest, but for the most part was unsuccessful. I woke up for good at 4:15 and could not go back to sleep. Ben and I went swimming in the indoor pool at 6:00 am when it opened. Beth was the only one who seemed to sleep well that night, but she was still very tired on Saturday.
We spent the day Saturday at my aunt's house. It was so strange without Uncle Albert there. I kept expecting to see him walk in the room. Saturday night, Lynnette (my cousin) and I went through all the pictures. We set aside pictures that would be good for a collage. Some of the pictures brought laughter and some tears. Some brought tears of laughter. Especially the funny picture of my dad and uncle at the cemetary. The angle of the picture made it look like they were playing leap frog and my dad was on his brother's back hopping over. In reality, my uncle was squatting down looking at a headstone, and my Dad was behind him, bent over, looking at the stone. LOL
Lynnette and I went to Hobby Lobby, and purchased a board to make the collage. It seemed like it would be big enough, but we found out differently. We ended up buying two more boards and still having pictures left over. The collages looked really nice though, and everyone seemed to enjoy looking at them. I was thrilled to find a picture of Uncle Albert and I on my wedding day. It was a really good picture of just the two of us, and after making a copy of it for the collage, Aunt Alberta gave me the original. I will always cherish it.
Some cousins from Kentucky came in for "the calling" on Monday evening. (I'm wondering what other people call this time of visiting the family the night before the funeral. I grew up calling it the visitation, around here they call it the family night, I've heard it called the viewing, and the wake. Is it called different things depending on the part of the country you're from?) Anyway, it was nice to see these cousins and spend some time talking to them. Sadly, about the only time we see each other is when someone passes away. My cousin, Harlan said that we need to have a family reunion. I agree. It's too sad a time to only see each other at funerals.
The funeral on Tuesday was beautiful. There were two pastors who spoke and they did a wonderful job. I was very honored to have my tribute to Uncle Albert read at the funeral. I wanted to read it myself, but was unable to do so without crying. If it would have been just a few tears trickling down my face that would have been okay. But I'm not a very delicate crier, and my words would not have been intelligible. One of the pastor's read it and did a good job. That meant so much to me that they wanted it read, even if I was unable to do it. My SIL, Debbie, read a poem that her brother had written when their dad died. She did such a good job. I was very proud of her. The poem was beautiful, too. Her brother is very talented. If I remember correctly, her dad wrote poetry as well.
After the funeral we drove out to the cemetary. I'd forgotten what it was like to have cars pull over and stop on the road for a funeral procession. A few people do it around here, but not every one. I had to explain to the kids how they were paying respect to the family of the person who died. Out at the cemetary they had a military service. They did the flag ceremony and gave it to Aunt Alberta, then there was a 21 gun salute, and taps was played. It was very moving.
My mom stayed in Indiana with my aunt. We miss her here, but I know she's where she needs to be right now. She remembers how it was to be left alone not long after her husband died, and she didn't want Aunt Alberta to go through that.
Thank you to everyone who prayed for my uncle and aunt, and who prayed for us. Your prayers were (and are) very much appreciated!