Friday, June 11, 2010

Gathering Thoughts in MN...

I'm writing from my Aunt's house in Maple Grove, MN.

It's wonderful to be with family, even during such a difficult time as saying good bye to a loved one.

I was met at the airport by my 2 crazy Aunts who I love dearly. My mom is the oldest child, and has 3 siblings, and we are a crazy bunch!

My mom's flight didn't arrive from Idaho until a couple hours later, so we could do one of two things...go to Mall of America (been there, done that!!) or go wander around IKEA!! IKEA won out, and we had a great time looking at goo gahs and doo dads and dreaming of completely gutting our homes and starting fresh with all new furniture and things. What is it about places like that that just make me feel like I need to totally reinvent my house?

IKEA also has a nifty cafeteria with good food at decent prices, so we ate a bit of dinner, picked mom up at the airport.....and because she hadn't eaten yet, we drove her straight to Culvers (oh yes, this was my big fat idea! *LOL*) so she could get something to eat while we all topped off our IKEA meal with peanut butter cup custard, the flavor of the day!

It's so fun to see how my mom interacts with her sisters. Funerals are hard, and sad, but they do bring us together and family ties are strengthened and enriched.

In the van on the way to my Aunt's house, I was asked if I would play the piano for Grandpa's memorial service. (!!!!!) Let's just say that I hadn't really played for a few years. When we moved to NC, the piano did NOT come with me because there was no room for it, but after missing it more than I thought I would, I bought a yamaha electric piano last year. However, you know how good intentions go....if you've followed my teaching schedule you'll know that there has been NO TIME for any piano practice of any kind, so it's sat there....(sometimes buried in fabric and projects! OH NO!!!)

Of course, I said yes, I would play. Sheet music was located. A trumpet player was going to accompany me, and arrangements were made for us to practice before the viewing, before the service. It all came together.

I think I mentioned before that my Grandpa loved to play his trumpet. So it was very touching to have someone playing trumpet in honor of Grandpa. I was also involved in helping write up Grandpa's life sketch, and it turned out that I was designated to be the reader at the service, because I was probably the only one who could get through it without bawling. Something about being one generation removed I think...My aunts, my mom, and my uncle all didn't want to be the one to do it. So..tada. In helping to write his life down, I learned so much! I feel so much closer to him now that I know what his youth was like, surviving through polio at age 3. His early years working his way through dental school, starting his practice in Brewster, MN...accepting chickens, eggs, and produce in payment for services rendered...this was my Grandpa.

I learned about what things were like as my mom and her siblings grew up, and what life in Minneapolis was like during the 50's and 60's before I came around.

I met some of my mom's cousins and highs school friends....and it was just wonderful. Our bodies might get old, but the people we are inside them are still the same. It's fun to see my mom giggle with her girlfriends. She has a lunch date planned with this group of high school friends later in her visit here.

(This is getting really disjointed, but this is what is coming off the top of my head)

Grandpa played trumpet in big bands, and just loved jazz and jitterbug and all of those old big band favorites. His nickname was "Hot Lips". And it is so sweet to hear other people he knew reminiscing of things they remember about my Grandpa and his music.

We had the softer big band sounds (Think string of pearls) playing as prelude, and when the service ended and the people were filing out, the music changed to more peppy sounds of songs that Grandpa loved, as in A-Train. I just love big band music and always have because of my Grandpa.

Grandpa would have really gotten a KICK out of this service and the stories that were told. And there were smiles and laughter all the way to the cemetery......there were BALLOONS all along the route!! (Someone had a 5k run for charity or something and their were helium balloons all along the route...rainbows of balloons!) and we thought Grandpa would have even loved to know that it was like a parade going to his resting place.

It was very touching there at the grave side, seeing his name and his dates finally added to the shared headstone with my grandmother who passed away in 1966 when I was only 4. The sentiment Grandpa had chosen himself for the headstone was "Together Forever" and it just felt like finally this piece had been put in it's right place. It was just such an emotional day.

I haven't spent much time quilting, needless to say, but now that the funeral is past, we can get rid of the "eral" and just leave the "FUN" and have some of our own. We plan on relaxing and enjoying each other and since extended family had come in for the services, we are throwing together another family reunion BBQ of sorts for Saturday and make the most of this that we can. My cousin Bethany is also graduating from High School herself on Sunday, so this is a memorable time to be here.

Still have those pics from the spiderweb workshop to upload..but this is already extra long, so I think I'll have time to write another post tomorrow.

I've been thinking of a phrase that was spoken at the service yesterday "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience."

I think that also can be said about our quilting!

Do quilts happen while life is going on around us? Or does life happen while we are quilting through it?


  1. Welcome back to Minnesota, although not for a happy reason. I was just at an aunt's funeral two weeks ago, and left feeling so uplifted by the time spent with aunts, uncles and cousins. Since you've already done MOA, Ikea was a great choice! I LOVE that store. And Culver's custard. You did good! I hope the rest of your stay with family is wonderful. And the sun is out today!

  2. Anonymous12:30 PM EDT

    There's just something about those kinds of funerals where there's as much laughing as their is crying. Great way to celebrate a wonderful life! Enjoy your time here in Minnesota ... hope the weather stays clear so you can enjoy the other family adventures this weekend.

  3. A wonderful post, especially the quote near the end. It is hard losing a loved one but the time spent with family at that time is very special. Enjoy the time with your family because you never know what will happen. Something our family learned this spring when my brother-in-law passed unexpectedly at 57.

  4. Wow - what a wonderful tribute to your Grandfather & also in writing a wonderful tribute to your family! Thank you so much for sharing the time/experiences with us!
    ((((((huge hugs!!)))))

  5. Sorry for your loss! I wanted to send you my blog to see my "Bricks and Stepping Stones". I have a few inches left to bind but have posted it as finished.

  6. Death is a part of life, and it sounds as though your grandpop lived a very full, rich one, touching so many others along the way! Make sure you keep those notes and rememberances from his service to pass on. I happen to be Big Ban fan myself, and can hear that A-Train now. Hot Lips indeed!!

  7. It osunds like it actually ended up to be a pretty nice time-sad, sentimental but enjoyable all at once.
    You are so brave Bonnie to play the piano and read for the service!! Good for you!!
    I can't wait to see you in a few weeks!! I'm counting down the days!!

  8. Joy and laughter are the best things about funerals, connecting with your family and loved ones, remembering the one who has passed. I so enjoyed the phrase at the end, do you know where it's from & may I share it with my friends?

  9. Again, my condolences to you and yours. Sounds like your grandpa was a real character. It's great that you had a big hand in writing up his story for the funeral, reading it and playing the piano.

    We lost two relatives early this year...my Mom's sister to Alzheimer's and my uncle of kidney failure. Although we were all sad and miss them, most of us had a wonderful time afterward visiting and catching up.

    Hugs, Karen

  10. What a marvelous, heartfelt, wonderful post ...

  11. ~Lovely tribute~
    I love your "we are spiritual beings having a human experience".
    Thank you for sharing.

    Lucy (in IN)

  12. I'm so sorry for your loss, Bonnie. You have some good memories of your Grandpa. One of mine died before I was born so I never knew him at all and the other died when I was 5, so I only have vague memories of him. I did have a chance to know my grandmas and still miss them. One died in 1963 but the other was with us for several years yet after I got married and saw both my kids before she passed on.

  13. I am so glad that you are able to be with your family at this sad time. It seems like you are constantly running/flying/driving somewhere and I'm glad that you had an opening in your schedule at just the right moment.
    Take care of yourself and enjoy this time with your loved ones...you deserve it!

  14. Thanks for allowing us into your Grandpa life! i think he would be very proud of you sharing him with us. I never my grandfathers. One was buried the day I was born. Again thanks for sharing with us!

  15. Bonnie, it sounds like the funeral was a wonderful tribute to your grandfather, I'm sorry for your loss but agree that being together with people you love is a gift when we live so far away.

  16. It is amazing how much we learn about our families in difficult times. Thanks for sharing with us. It was the Irish custom to celebrate at the wake to celebrate the life (and afterlife). Sounds like you did your grandpa proud!

  17. We've never met, but I feel as though I know you somewhat through your blog and your books. Thank you for sharing some of this with us. I couldn't read through it without tears. Such times do bring families closer together (or should) and this is a blessing from sadness. I love the quote about us being spiritual beings having a human experience. Peace and blessings to you and your family.

  18. Thanks for sharing that touching story about families and celebrating life. I'm glad you were able to be there and be so involved - I'm sure your presence meant a lot to a lot of people (yourself included).


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