Location: Oregon, United States

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Amazing. Grace.

In case you do not know this already, Paul's mom passed away on Wednesday October 3rd. I find this is more difficult to write about than I expected. I don't want to eulogize. I don't want to give a play by play of our experience of it all. So I will go with random snapshots.

Friends and family. One of the most important things to be personally was that when Anita passed away, she had her dear friend, Faye, with her. Anita was ALL about friends and family and her definition of both was wide-ranging and inclusive. Although I am legally an "in-law", she accepted me as a daughter, something I could never quite wrap my head around. Over and over at the visitation, people would come up and say, "When I first moved to New Ulm, Anita was there. Every time she was going somewhere, she would call me and say, I'm going to lunch, why don't you come with me?" When people moved away, she kept in contact, calling and writing regularly. She had a tremendous capacity to continue to add people to her circle of friends and family. Amazing.

Visitation. Almost 300 people. Feeling like we'd been there for 2 1/2 hours when it had only been 45 minutes. Suddenly being very conscious of the fact that every germ of every person in the room was on my hands. Recognizing people, but not knowing who they were or how they fit in to the fabric of Anita's life. After all, this was part of her role to connect all the dots for me. "You remember the _______? (I know the name, but I don't know who they are.) They are the one's whose daughter ____________ and they used to come with us when we went ________ ..." I wish we could have name tags with the stories connecting the names to the faces. Story after story after story of how Anita had touched people's lives. I knew she was a fierce friend, an energetic contributor to her church and community in countless ways. Yet still, I'd underestimated her. Amazing.

Change. It was odd to watch us all assume a role Anita had done. Jon remembered nearly everyone. Jill knew the story behind nearly everyone. Paul became Skip again automatically, and his role was to connect with everyone. Denise and I kept things going smoothly, making lists, running errands, and ensuring everything got done. Tim fixed things that needed fixing (okay, not a role change for him, but one that needed doing). So it takes six people to do what she did alone. This is not really surprising, considering that, among other things, she took care of her husband Paul all alone for so many years. Amazing.

Family time. I can't pluck this out as a separate experience. How to describe it? Pleasant and pervasive, like the smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, or rather, molasses cookies, since those were Anita's favorite.

Grace. We made it through. The kids did great, telling stories about their Oma, and being polite at the visitation and funeral in the midst of their grief. We made it despite the exhaustion inherent in waiting for someone to pass away, jumping when the phone rings, wrapping as much up as possible at work every day, staying up late checking flights, not having anyone to watch the dog until 12 hours before we left town, oversleeping the alarm and waking up when we should have been leaving the house. We made it through all the arrangements that have to be made, from choosing a coffin, verses, and flowers to choosing what food to serve after the funeral. (No jello per Anita's wishes. Cookies, candy, and bars at every table. Enough for leftovers. She would have wanted it that way.) And not only that, but we even enjoyed ourselves. We laughed, played cards, caught up with people, and cried.

In closing, here are words that people used over and over to describe Anita: Mom, Oma, sister, cousin, friend, co-worker, 5 foot spitfire, powerhouse, Energizer Bunny, friend, great cook, involved, caring, caregiver, friend, volunteer, Twin's fan, talkative, outgoing, friend, stubborn, opinionated, food-pusher, Mother Anita, friend.


Blogger Rosie said...

Each day I seem to realize even more the loss of Anita from our scene.
Thank you for compiling your thoughts and helping us with ours.
Love you all...

5:24 AM  

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