Well, in mid-June, we got the word that I had been dreading - our 90-year-old mother had taken a drastic turn for the worse and "it was a matter of days." My youngest brother, who lives in Germany, flew back, and the family gathered in Dubuque June 23rd. Mom lingered for six days, but then we got the call at 7 am on June 29th that she had passed during the night.
The memorial service (not a funeral) was held on July 6th - Dad wanted us to celebrate Mom's life, not mourn her death. Lunch was served at the church following the service, and Dad had written two pages about "The Wartburg Connection" that I read at the lunch.
I received a number of sympathy cards from friends at my church, including an electronic card from someone who didn't proofread very well. Instead of telling me she was sorry, she wrote that she was "so sooty." Nothing like a good chuckle in the midst of grief.
Mom had picked out the hymns she wanted sung at her memorial service, and one was unfamiliar to me: "Behold the Host Arrayed in White." Dad said this hymn was sung at her father's funeral, and it had a great impact on Mom. Text by Hans A. Brorson, Music is Norwegian folk tune.
Behold the host arrayed in white like thousand snow-clad mountains bright,
that stands with palms and sings it psalms before the throne of light!
These are the saints who kept God's word; they are the honored of the Lord.
He is their prince who drowned t heir sings, so they were cleansed, restored.
They now serve God both day and night; they sing their sings in endless light.
Their anthems ring when they all sing with angels shining bright.
On earth their work was not thought wise, but see them now in heaven's eyes;
before God's throne of precious stone they shout their vict'ry cries.
On earth they wept through bitter years; now God has wiped away their tears,
transformed their strife to heav'nly life, and freed them from their fears.
For now they have the best at last; they keep their sweet eternal feast.
At God's right hand out Lord commands; he is both host and guest.
O blessed saints, now take your rest; a thousand times shall you be blest
for keeping faith firm unto death and scorning worldly trust.
For now you live at home with God and harvest seeds once cast abroad in tears and sighs.
See with new eyes the pattern in the seed. The myriad angels raise their song.
O saints, sing with that happy throng; life up one voice;
let heav'n rejoice in our redeemer's song!
I retrieved the painting of Saint Barbara that Mom had hung on the wall above her bed, no one else wanted it. The portrait came along with an explanation of who Saint Barbara was.