It’s been 11 days since we buried Mom. Though I wasn’t getting out there to see her as much as I wanted to because of my health, it’s still an adjustment without her. I find myself every once and a while wanting to call and check on her. I’ve been amazed at all the little tender mercies that have occurred during this whole process of laying her to rest and in the days following.
Sometimes before people die, they make arrangements for things they want at their funeral. That happened with my Dad. We were in the process of trying to plan his service and not agreeing on who the speakers should be, etc. I happened to be glancing through what he referred to as his ‘bible’ (the place where he kept all his important documents and records of things that were important to him), when I came across a small piece of note paper that was in his handwriting. It just happened to be an exact list of what he wanted done for his funeral service. Well…. that ended all disagreements and made things much easier from then on out.
We weren’t so lucky with Mom. The only thing that we were aware of is that she had informed me several years before that the great grand kids were to sing, “In My Grandmother’s Old Fashioned Garden”, which was a song she had taught in Primary years ago. I remembered most of the melody, but the music was scarce. She happened to find it one day a long time ago and made me a copy and informed me it was to be sung. That was several years ago. Do you think I could find that copy when the time came for needing it? Of course not! Thanks Heavens for the internet and social media.
I went on Youtube to see if I could find anyone singing the song we had chosen for the older Grand kids to sing so they could start listening and learning. Luckily I did find something. Then I thought, just for the heck of it, I’m going to look for Grandmother’s Old Fashioned Garden. I was amazed when I found a video of some Primary children in a ward here in the Salt Lake area singing it! What were the chances of me finding that old song being sung on Youtube? I think it was one of those tender mercies! Then I noticed in the comments that the lady who had posted the video mentioned where you could find the music. It was in an old Primary song book from the 1950′s. The cover was very familiar to me, but I had no idea what had happened to my Mom’s copy of it. The lady’s comments also said that if you couldn’t find it, to let her know and she would email it to you.
I didn’t know how fast her response would be, because sometimes people don’t see it when a comment is made on things for quite sometime. I decided to give it a try and I mentioned that it was urgent that I get a copy. In the meantime, I went to Facebook to put the troops to work in helping me find the music. I was amazed at the immediate response I got on Facebook. Many friends were familiar with the old song or the book it was in and went on a hunt to find their copy.
However, I was even more surprised when I received a phone call from the lady that had put it on Youtube. I wasn’t able to take the call at the time, but she left me a message saying she would call me later that night. I never heard from her that night, but I did find a copy of it from her in my email that night! I also received messages from several friends on Facebook that they had found the song book and were happy to loan it to me. Again….. tender mercies! After getting a copy of the music, I was going through some newer Primary songs and played through “I Often Go Walking”. I started to cry as I was singing through it and knew that we needed to add it to the other song for the great grand kids to sing. I knew Mom would like that.
Not only were we able to find the music to the one song she had requested, but in the process of discussing who we thought should speak, we had been throwing a few names around of some of the grand kids and a dear neighbor that Mom loved. My one niece, whose name we had mentioned, had been out of town when my Mom had taken her fall and she hadn’t had a chance to come visit her since the fall. She finally was able to make it on her way home from her trip on Sunday night. By that time, Mom was pretty much in a comatose state, so Shellie wasn’t really able to visit with her as much as just know she had come to see her and give her her love. As we were sitting around talking, I mentioned to Shellie that her name had come up as a possible speaker. She just kind of smiled and didn’t really say anything. Her husband, on the other hand, piped right up and said, “You know Grandma told Shellie she was speaking at her funeral about a year ago.” Shellie didn’t seem too happy with him for sharing that information, because, let’s be honest…. who really wants to speak at someones’ funeral? Especially someone you love so much. Well…. as far as I was concerned, that was a sign that we had been inspired when bringing up her name as a possibility to speak.
Then, my sister was at her daughter’s house and mentioned to her that we had been discussing her as a possible speaker too. Well… Jenny confessed that Grandma had told her she was to speak also. But neither of them really wanted to share that info. But, there you have it! Proof once again we had been inspired. The other name was of a nephew that my sister was aware of that my Mom had asked also. Well…. three speakers was probably a little long, so we assigned my nephew the opportunity of reading the eulogy and had the two nieces speak. One did her life sketch, and the other talked about memories and the great lady she was. Tender mercies.
As far as the music goes….. once we found the one song she had requested, we needed to figure out the other music. Music was a big part of my Mother’s life. At one point in time, she had said that was all she wanted for her funeral….. just music. We informed her that that wasn’t possible to do for an LDS service. The guidelines stated that you need to have some doctrinal things taught at the service. Besides…. I think she really knew she would want her grand kids to speak, but we knew she would still want several musical numbers.
I knew Mom would want me to sing. She used to do solos for funerals all the time when she was younger. I’ve sung for several funerals before, but it’s very different when it’s your own Mother. I couldn’t do it for my Dad’s. I don’t know why… but I just knew I would never make it through a song. The only reason I agreed to do it for Mom was because I knew she would haunt me if I didn’t. I also knew I couldn’t do it alone. I’ve been performing with a couple of my close friends for a long time. We used to perform a lot. The last few years, they only ‘gig’ we’ve had has been coming to my Mom’s rest home and performing for all the people there at Christmas time. It always meant a lot to Mom when we did that. So…. I figured I would enlist my friends help to sing with me at her funeral. I knew she would like that. Now…. we’ve been singing together for years but mostly fun entertaining stuff. We have done a few religious programs over the years and there were a couple of songs I was considering that we had sung in those programs before. I figured that would be the easiest. However, my mind kept coming to a women’s arrangement of “The Lord Is My Shepherd” that was in our hymn book. I had sung it before many years ago with some friends in high school and then of course during church meetings as a congregation at women’s meetings, but I had never sung it with these particular friends. Still… that’s the song that kept coming to me, so that’s what we went with. Luckily, a friend volunteered her husband to be the pianist for all the music and he is able to ‘flourish’ the music on his own. That made singing the arrangement in the hymn book a little nicer.
The final song that the older grand kids sang actually came as an inspiration to my sister. She happened to text me one day and said she thought it would be nice to have it sung at the funeral. The minute she mentioned the title I felt very good about it. It was a song I was familiar with and had sung several years before. Once again, we were able to easily find the music and with the Youtube video for them to listen to, they could learn it on there own and just get together to go over it the night before and the day of the service. They sounded wonderful on it. We have some musical talent in the family that has been passed on down from my Mom. Again…. I felt tender mercies were sent for all the music choices.
The service was beautiful. It was a very fitting tribute to my Mother. I know she was happy with it.
The most profound tender mercy we received as at the cemetery. As we gathered around her grave site for the dedicatory prayer, my sisters and I all sat on the front row of seats they had set up under the canopy directly in front of her resting place. It was a cloudy and chilly day. It wasn’t freezing, but we all had a coat on to keep us warm. My brothers we all standing in other places and were not sitting with us on the front row. The very minute my brother in law started the dedicatory prayer, there was a wave of warmth that overcame us. I felt it mostly on my legs and wondered if the clouds had broken for a moment and the sun was coming through. Or I wondered if maybe they had set up heaters under the canopy like they do on occasion when the weather is really cold and that they just had forgotten to turn them on. Well…. when the prayer ended… so did the warmth and my sisters and I all looked at each other. Sherrie said, “Did you feel that?” All three of us agreed that we had felt a surge of warmth, but no clouds had departed, no heaters were in place and the three of us were the only ones who had experienced it. We all agreed immediately that it was a sign from Mom of her love for us and that she was happy and thrilled with what had gone on at the service. Perhaps a sign from both Mom and Dad letting us know they were together again and happy. It was a sweet and tender moment. One I will not forget. Thanks, Mom and Dad for sending us that love.
In the time since her service, I have had many dear friends send cards and gifts. A couple of them have deeply touched me. One, a figurine given to me by my friends I sing with is of a mother and a daughter hugging. Maybe you’re familiar with Willow Tree figurines. This one is called ‘Close to Me’. It is beautiful and I will think of Mom every time I look at it.
Another gift was brought to me by a dear neighbor and friend. It is a beautiful picture that she put in a frame of Christ with open arms to a woman coming through the veil. The most wonderful part of the picture is that the woman on the earthly side of the veil is old and frail using a cane. The woman that passes through the veil is young and vibrate as she runs toward Christ. It’s so beautiful and a testimony of what we believe as Latter Day Saints. Though the picture would only represent what her spirit is like…. young and full of life…. we believe that after the resurrection, we will be restored to our former healthy and whole (and young) bodies. (Alma 40:23)
Another tender mercy that came my way just this week happened at the temple on Wednesday. Not only have I received comfort while in the temple the last couple of weeks, this one happened while I was waiting outside in the car for my husband. Since I haven’t been working regularly at the temple the last several months because of my health, my Coordinator had assigned me a fairly easy schedule that actually ended a good hour or more before my husbands assignment would be done. For some reason, I decided that day that I would go take care of some errands while John finished his assignments instead of waiting in the temple for him like I did the week before. After going to the bank and the grocery store, I was just sitting in my car in front of the temple waiting for John. Because of the business that I have, I have my name on the back of my car as well as the name of the product I represent. For this reason….. a distant cousin (whom I’ve only met once in the temple) stopped to see if it was me. I had met this cousin while working in the temple many months before. I had learned that her last name was Bangerter, my maiden name, and so we began talking. I discovered that she and her husband had been carrying on the genealogy research that his father Neslen and been doing for the Bangerter family for years. She had many family names that she could give me so that I could do some temple work for them myself. I was so excited about this prospect! I love doing work for family members.
I hadn’t heard from her (she had misplaced my name and information) and had completely forgotten about it when she saw my car with my name and had her husband stop. Once she reminded me who she was, she wanted to know if I wanted some family names to do the work for. Of course! I was so thrilled to get family names to do! That will give me motivation to get to the temple more often than I do so I can be a patron instead of just a worker. Again…. timing? Coincidence that I should be there in my car? Yes…. all of the above, but to me, it was just one more tender mercy from Heavenly Father reaffirming all that I believe in the after life. And perhaps…. Mom and Dad had a hand in it.
I’m grateful for all the tender mercies that have happened. I’m grateful too that I am able to recognize them as such. I’m sure they will continue. I will miss Mom… it’s hard to imagine life without her. Thankfully I still have a message from her on my phone so I can hear her voice on occasion asking me how I’m doing. Another tender mercy? I think so.
I Am Grateful! How Are You?