The 1am flight landed a few minutes early and I couldn't get off that plane fast enough. Praying my brother had come early to get me I rushed through the crowd. I was relieved and emotional when I saw Jim standing at the gate. We hugged, and without luggage we were able to leave immediately for the hospital.
I arrived at the hospital around 1:20am. I spent some time with my sisters and then some alone time with Mom. I could tell by her breathing that she wasn't long for this world. I prayed with her, I sang to her and I told her she had been the best Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother any of us could ever ask for. I held her hand and asked Dad to help her along. I felt at peace. I could see the pain was gone, for that I was truly grateful.
Reluctantly, I went back to my brother Jim and sister in law Loretta's house. I knew I would end up back at the hospital that night. I couldn't sleep. I had just turned out the light and my phone rang. Less than an hour after our visit I got the call. Two simple words, "She's gone." I went to Jim and Loretta and repeated those words. We all gathered at the hospital to console each other and kiss her again. Beautiful words were spoken but the most common was "She's with Dad now".
It was 5am when we left the hospital. Arrangements were to be made, but thankfully she was kind enough to leave her wishes written for us. The logistics were what was left.
After a couple of hours sleep I went the the flower shop to do Mom's flowers with my sister in law. From there a couple of us went to the funeral home to do the final arrangements and meet with members of the church to finalize the service.
The next day visitations started. She looked very peaceful and as beautiful as she was here in this life. People came from everywhere to see her and us, and although exhausting, it was a fine tribute the wonderful person she was.
That evening was a short prayer service and a time for people to say a few words or sing. We did both. My words we about her unconditional love, not just for all of us but for everyone she met. At her request "Danny Boy" was sung by my brother in law John, my brother Jim sang one of her favourites "Too Old To Die Young" as my husband Barry played guitar. Barry led us all in another of mom's favourites, "Me and Bobby McGee".
The next morning was final visitation, the out of town relatives arrived. It was lovely to see them. Then on to the funeral.
It was only couple of nights before I found out that Mom had requested for her six daughters to be her pallbearers. An honour to be sure but a difficult job just the same.
The personal touches were beautiful. My daughters and husband sang as people entered the church. As the casket was wheeled into position we all heard them singing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." Such a beautiful sentiment that we all sang along, tapping on the casket. Then as the Priest and casket started to move, the beautiful voice of my brother in law came through singing Amazing Grace. First, her daughter's with her, then her sons and their wives, and sons in law, and finally her grandchildren.
During the service, the sun suddenly came through the stained glass and filled the church with glowing colour.
The ceremony was beautiful with her grandchildren reading and finally my girls and their Dad sang her out with I'll Fly Away. Finally her grandsons lifted her into the hearse.
We all had a part and her wishes were fulfilled.
We gathered at the cemetery, and said our final good bye. Just as we placed our pallbearer gloves and roses onto the casket a gust of wind came out of nowhere and blew them all around....Mom's humour we all thought.
Her final wish was that we gather and have food, fun and music. Which we did in style.