Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Grampa's Funeral

First of all, we want to thank Sue for another awesome hotel experience. Thanks for helping us with our room reservations and with the great rates. We were very comfortable, the breakfasts were awesome and the staff was among the best we’ve ever seen. They were very friendly people who even went to far as to make our waffles, complete with warmed butter. They also gave Matt a USB computer cord from their graveyard of lost and found items.

Now for the funeral post.



None of us really knew what to expect for the funeral/memorial service because we were a little left out of the planning process. It was a little hard for Mom because she wanted input but didn’t want to step on toes. We found out that one of Grandpa’s old friends, who is a minister, wanted to conduct and speak at the funeral. We thought that would be fine, but wondered about how we might be able to be involved. When we called Maryanne Sunday morning, she was all worried because she couldn’t get a hold of him. He is 88 years old and drove himself all the way from Billings, Montana. She said he had really aged since she last saw him and he seemed a little senile and disoriented. Oh yeah, and he’s almost totally deaf. Needless to say, we were a little more concerned about the service and thought we could be in for a very interesting experience. Should this surprise us by now? Somehow she found him while we were at church. We went to the whole block of church meetings in the ward that the Chattertons would be in. It turned out being a VERY good thing we did. They had an awesome ward. The people were so nice and helpful. When they found out we were here for a funeral the Relief Society President gave us her name and number and told us to call her if we needed anything, including a meal or a place to go. After church we went to Maryanne’s to visit and talk about the funeral. We met the minister, A.L. Fredricks. He was a really nice guy and wanted us to participate in anyway we wanted. He was very sensitive to how we hoped it would go.



It was decided that Matt would give the family prayer at the closing of the casket, Amy would do the Life Sketch or Eulogy, Mom would give personal memories of her dad, and Dad would do the same plus offer a little spiritual uplift. Mr. Fredricks would conclude the services with a sermon. There was no music mentioned and we found out that the mortuary didn’t have a piano or organ. (We were going to bring Annie out to play, but had already learned about the lack of musical instruments). Dad decided to call this R.S. President and ask if anyone in the ward might be able to do a musical number acapella for us. She said that she sings at funerals and would be honored and happy to do it and got a friend lined up to sing with her. We told her that Grandpa’s favorite song was “How Great Thou Art” and she said that that was one of the songs she does often. We felt pretty good about our plans and prepared a little for our parts. Nick’s children, Laura and Nick, came over and Matt and I got to meet some first cousins for the first time in our lives. Laura is married with two adorable little boys. We went out for pizza and really enjoyed getting to know everyone better. It’s been 7 years since Mom’s brother Nick passed away. He would be very proud of his kids. They are great.



Maryanne’s son John was also with us along with her friend, Karen. Karen was Grandpa’s dental assistant for years. We were an odd sort of group, but surprisingly had a great time and bonded in an interesting sort of way.


Monday morning we got to the mortuary at about 10:00 for the viewing. Grandpa looked pretty good, considering everything. He looked so thin and frail, but looked like him. Viewings are always pretty sad. It was hard on Mom and Maryanne was really grieving.



It’s really hard to know that it will be the last time on earth you will see someone you love. Matt gave a sweet prayer and the casket was closed. Five minutes later Al started the funeral and I was first up. I am usually such a blubbering fool at funerals; can’t sing the songs and would never dream I’d be able to ever speak. I composed myself pretty well and was able to get through his life sketch pretty well. Mom did a great job talking about Grandpa and shared lots of cute stories and memories about him. She was composed and able to do really well. Dad gave some nice memories and said a lot of really nice things about him and, of course, added some typical Dad humor. He mentioned how he was the “king of puns” and he would miss him. Al’s comments were very good and the timing was perfect.





The two women got up and sang “How Great Thou Art” to close the meeting and it was just beautiful. We all appreciated it so much and Maryanne was really touched with their kindness.


(Dad being Dad)

Then we drove about 25 minutes to the cemetery. He was buried in Eagle Point National Cemetery for veterans, with Military Honors. (He had served in the Navy during World War II.) He had a flag draped over his casket and several servicemen performed a really beautiful ceremony with so much respect and reverence. They saluted his casket and folded the flag and presented it to Maryanne. Taps was played and it was finished.






We drove up to his grave and Dad dedicated it.

We went to the grocery store and bought sandwich fixings, salads, chips, cookies and drinks for everybody and went to Maryanne’s for the rest of the day. We had a good time visiting. We even went through some of Grandpa’s belongings. Maryanne wanted us to have some things. We found his High School Diploma from 1934. Maryanne got out some really nice shoes that were hardly worn and they fit Matt perfectly. We also each took one of Grandpa’s hats home. As we were going up to our room we looked around the elevator and noticed that all four of us had our hats on. It gave us a good laugh. The laughing continued as Matt looked in the mirror and realized he was in a horizontal striped sweater. Soon we had a creepy visitor in our room!


17 comments:

Emily said...

Awesome post and I wish I could have been there. Is there any sort of sound recording of any of the memorial? If not, can you recreate it at our family memorial? Speaking of-- we won't be coming for Thanksgiving after all, so doing it the week before would work really well for us.

Emily said...

By the way- A.L. Fredricks looks like quite the dapper chap.

Haley said...

Yeah, when are we planning on doing the family memorial?? Great post guys. I felt like I was there in spirit now. It sounds like it went very well. I'm glad Grandpa had a nice funeral. We will all miss him. He was such a sweet man. I hung up the picture of him holding Allison's hand in my kitchen and look at it often. Glad you guys went out there for it.

Matt said...

We will make sure to have a great memorial service for him soon in Salt Lake. We talked about it a lot on the trip. Frankly, I think it's really lame that he was buried in Oregon. MaryAnne is the only one out there. But, whatever. I want you guys to know, I didn't just go out there and play with my new camera and act like Freddy Crouger and treat it like a vacation. I also paid my way. It was really good for me to go and get to know the Grandpa I hardly knew. And be a support to Mom. I felt honored to be there and learned the hard way that I should take the opportunity to get to know someone better while I have the chance. I now regret not picking up the phone and just chatting with him. He was a very smart, kind, humble, funny, self disciplined, and spiritual man who I could have learned a lot from. Not to mention could have made the end of his life a little more meaningful.

Dan W said...

Thanks for sharing all you have about the funeral. I'm really happy it all worked out so well and that you are feeling good about going and being able to participate and share memories. I'm always inspired by funerals and the opportunities they give for not only celebrating someone else's life and legacy but to also reevaluate what's important for me. Sounds like lots of that going on here, too. I hope whatever family memorial you have will be great, as well.

Terrific pix, Matt (even though you didn't just go to play with your camera)!

Matt said...

Thanks Dan. Good subjects make it much easier to get good pictures.

Pops said...

Good camera man plus good subjects plus good camera makes good pictures.

In No Particular Order said...

Thanks for inviting us to share in your family blog. It is so unfortunate that our families have drifted apart over the years, and now that I have my own family, I am determined not to let it happen anymore. It was wonderful to meet you all even under the circumstances and I hope in the near future we can all gather for a more happy occasion of just getting together for the sake of visiting.

Neaners said...

Sounds like you had a good experience despite the occasion. I am glad all went smoothly and you met some long lost family. I am sure in many ways it is such a blessing he is gone and not suffering. I hope Maryanne does okay. It is hard to lose someone. I am so happy Janie was able to reconnect and make peace with him before. I know deep down it really hurts my dad Jim not to have made ammends with his father before he passed. Bless all of you! Hugs!

Emily said...

Is that you Laura? Welcome to the blog and I am glad you got to meet Amy and Matt. I don't know if you remember, but we met when we were pretty young one time. Our parents got together in California and we (Cat and I) played with you and your brother one afternoon. Anyway, it's always nice to connect (or reconnect rather). We Wrights have a small supply of cousins, so it's a shame to not be acquainted better!

Emily said...

Laura- One more thing: I would be happy to send you an invite to be an author here, that way you could make a little post and tell us about you and your family a little. But only if you want to of course :)

In No Particular Order said...

Yes this is Laura. I thought I had my name on this but I guess not. I tried to start a blog a while back and the kids distracted me (as usual) and I didn't think it even went all the way through! I vaguely remember visiting with you guys, but it is a little fuzzy. I remember Ben coming out a few years later by himself and playing with a giant Styrofoam airplane in Grandpas front yard with us.
And I would love to be an author, thanks for the offer!

Laura said...

now it should say Laura on here. aha I can figure things out even with the kids running around in the room!

Emily said...

Cool- I'll just need a gmail address to send the invite to.
If you don't want to write it on here, message me on facebook...

Laura said...

laura.chaffin@gmail.com

Pops said...

Has anyone called Maryanne to see how she is doing?

Pops said...

Yea, mom called a day ago. She is doing okay and Karen is still there with her.