I don’t know how it is in other parts of the country, but, here, whenever someone passes away, there seems to be a sprint to make arrangements and have the funeral. Eleven hours after Vivian passed away, we were at the funeral home making arrangements! We hardly had time to grieve. Fortunately, Ed and I had already put some thought into the plans, we just had to run them by his brothers.
We wanted those involved in the service to be close to Vivian. The pastor of her church was not. He’d only met and visited her twice, which doesn’t speak well of him, as far as I’m concerned. However, my brother, David, is an ordained pastor, and knew Vivian well. He and his wife both knew Ed’s parents well, though multiple family gatherings. They’d been guests in each other’s homes on several occasions, as well. David was the perfect choice, and I made the call.
Ed thought it would be special to have Vivian’s three sons, and her three grandsons as pallbearers. She loved all of her ‘Bacon Boys’, and would have been pleased to have them carry her to the grave. One son wouldn’t agree, but gave his place to his son-in-law instead. The funeral director listed the son as a pallbearer anyway. (It was the only glitch in the entire funeral planning process.) I had little to say in the planning process, until it came time to choose Vivian’s casket and burial dress. I had to add my ‘feminine input’ about those choices, and I think Vivian would have been pleased with the choices that were ultimately made.
My brother, David, and his wife, Kay, live about 3 1/2 hours away, so they came a day early, and stayed with Ed and me. I can’t tell you how comforting it was for us to have them here. So many good things happened because of their visit! The Lord was clearly at work among our family, through them. Old friendships were rekindled with some, while broken family relationships began to mend with others. I’m not sure those things would have happened, had David and Kay not been here.
When David told me he was going to open up the service for people to speak, I knew that I needed to say something about this wonderful woman who’d made such a profound difference in my life. The problem was, I’m shy and do not like to speak in front of people. However, I know that I can do all things through Christ, so I prayed to God, for Him to help me find the right words, and the courage to speak them. He answered my prayers.
I was up until 2:30 am on the morning of the funeral, struggling with the ending words of my message. Finally, out of exhaustion, I went to bed. The following morning, Ed let me read the letter his mother left to her three sons. I cried, and immediately knew exactly what I needed to say! God is so good.
The presence of God was very evident in the funeral home on the day of Vivian’s service. He was with us every step of the way, beginning with David’s tearful opening prayer, and ending with the song, “Precious Memories”, by Alan Jackson.
God spoke to my youngest son’s heart, and gave him the courage to speak at the funeral, as well. He was close to both of Ed’s parents, and lived with Vivian up until she had to go into the personal care home. He knew his grandmother well. His remarks honored her greatly, and she would’ve been so pleased!
Others mentioned, afterward, that they felt led to speak, but, for whatever reason, circumstances didn’t permit it to happen. I think the service was exactly the way God intended it to be, and I know Vivian would have been pleased.
Below are the words I spoke about my beloved mother-in-law, at her service, as well as the ending song:
I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to call this sweet lady my mother-in-law. We formed a special bond from the moment we first met, forty-four years ago. By the time I married Ed, three years later, I already felt like a member of his family.
Vivian always told me that she thought of me as the daughter she’d never had, and after spending so many years living in a male-dominated household, she was happy to have some female companionship!
Vivian and I shared a multitude of memories between us, and she’d often smile and say, “Do you remember when?”
I loved hearing her share her stories of how she met her husband, and the things the boys did as children – like the time she baked a cake, then had to go to town. She told her boys, “Don’t cut the cake!” They didn’t, but when she returned home, they’d eaten every bit of frosting off of the cake!
Some of my favorite memories with Vivian are: making jelly and canning vegetables with Vivian, every summer, in her kitchen; family picnics with W.A.’s fried chicken, and Vivian’s potato salad; and my first Christmas as Ed’s wife, when my cat, “B.B” climbed up Vivian’s artificial Christmas tree and turned it over! She just laughed.
Vivian loved to do three things: Work in her yard, to go fishing, and going shopping. She and I shared about a million shopping trips, throughout our years together, and she always bought for others, rather than herself. That’s the kind of person she was.
Today, the hole in my heart is almost as big as it was when I lost my own mother. Vivian became like a second mother to me.
I’m forever grateful, and blessed, that Vivian raised such a fine son, and that I was able to be a part of her family.
To Vivian’s sons, I’d like to say, “You were truly blessed with a loving and precious mother.”