It is the day of my Mother-in-Law’s funeral. We elected to have graveside service, without knowing that it would turn out to be freezing cold. I am looking through my wardrobe, trying to find something both appropriate and warm. It would be nice if I owned a winter coat, but I don’t. I left it behind when I moved from Northern Virginia to Alabama. I am wreaking my brain trying to think of how I am going to keep from freezing. I’m already shivering, just thinking about it. So I settle on my silk long johns, a pants outfit and boots.
The funeral home is late in arriving at the gravesite, and we stand about looking at each other and trying to ignore everyone’s shivering. My Sister in Law is wearing a full length mink coat of white. It looks terrible on her, but at least she is warm. As the immediate family, we sit under the canopy and the funeral director offers lap robes, but for some stupid reason, I decline.
The Minister who is conducting the service, keeps calling my Mother in Law “Irene” which is her middle name, not her first name. I am thinking about how Alzheimer’s had taken her mind until there was just a body, but she actually died of pneumonia. She was so brave after my Father-in-Laws death, setting course for herself that included travel, lunches with friends, and her church. Not the church at which we are having this service. My Brother-in-Law decided to have her interred in the cemetery of his church, for convenience. It is not a bad place – it’s not too crowded yet, and the edge of the woods is just over there. I don’t know why I am thinking this, and not what the Minister is saying. He is doing his best with the words, but despite the notes my Brother in Law gave him about my Mother-in-Law, he doesn’t seem to be able to personalize it.
I’m still cold and the service is coming to an end. In a few minutes I can stop shivering and take refuge in the Community Hall, where ladies from the church have laid out a lunch. Coming into that space, it suddenly feels overly warm and I want to step outside in the cold again. On this day, it seems right to shiver.