Funeral Memories

I was preparing to leave the house at about 11:15 or so to meet the carpet cleaners at our old house when the phone rang. It was Kimball calling from work. A few minutes before, we had been talking on the phone when he received two pages – the first made no sense but the second was Mom's cell phone. He got off the phone with me to call her back, and I told him I was going to go meet the carpet guys. Because I had told him I was leaving, I was surprised to hear him on the phone.

I knew something very bad had happened when he told me he had bad news. I asked him what happened and he told me that his dad passed away that morning. I don't remember exactly what I said, but it was something to the effect of “You've got to be kidding – what happened?” He told me they didn't know what happened, but that Mom had found Dad on the floor in the hotel room this morning.

Kimball told me he wasn't sure what he should be doing, so I told him that he should be leaving work and coming home. I offered to drive over there and pick him up, but he said he was fine to drive and we decided Erica and I would still go over to meet the carpet cleaners and then come home as fast as possible.

I worried about Kimball all the way to the old house, during the meeting with the cleaner, and all the way home. When we got home, I found Kimball curled up in bed looking rather stunned. I sat down next to him and we talked a little. At that point, I felt my role in the situation was to be strong and supportive and hold myself together, because I knew there was little chance Kimball would be able to think very straight.

We were scheduled to leave the next morning for Cameron's wedding. I was supposed to take Erica to my dad's house that night, but I had taken her to the doctor that day because she was sick. My brother Alex ended up coming over that night to stay with us so we could leave early the next morning (an hour earlier than we had planned). I called Linda, Annette's maid of honor, and asked her if it would be ok with her if we left at 6 instead of 7 the next morning. She said that would be fine, and so we planned to meet her at our house the next morning around 6.

The rest of that afternoon was a huge rush. I had to go have some blood work repeated, and since we didn't know when we would be back in town it had to be done that day. We also had to do a walk-through of our old house and return the keys before we left town, just in case we didn't make it back before the end of the month. With Erica sick and Kimball a zombie, I basically told him what to do and where to be. We managed to get all our errands run and then came home to start getting ready for the wedding trip. In the midst of trying to get everything else done, I called as many of Kimball's friends as I could get in touch with to let them know what had happened. He couldn't think of who he would like to tell so I reminded him of several people and asked if he would like me to call them and invite them to either funeral.

Kimball had stopped at the library at some point that day and picked up some movies so he would have something to keep him busy and occupy his mind. That night, Alex and Kimball watched a movie and I worked on packing the suitcases and car, making sure to pack extra clothes for us in case we ended up flying to St. Louis before coming home from the wedding.

To top off the wonderful day we'd had, that night around 11 or so one of the pipes connecting the toilet to the water pipes burst and sprayed water all over the bathroom. That night I called my mom in Oregon and told her what happened. She and I talked on the phone for a long time about what had happened, what she could do to help, what I should be doing, and how Kimball was holding up. We also talked about the fact that no one had been able to get in touch with Reed and Lori, and she suggested calling the sheriff in the area where they were boating. When I got off the phone with her, Kimball and I spent a while trying to get in touch with Reed and Lori any way we could. We had already left messages on their cell phones and with the dock, but we got in touch with a few more people we thought might be able to help. Unfortunately, we finally had to just give up and leave it to the Lord to get the message to them.

The next morning, we left around 6 am to drive to St. George for Cameron's wedding. Kimball and I took turns driving. I think he preferred not to drive because then he could be sleeping or watching a movie instead of thinking about Dad, so I tried to do as much of the driving as I could. We arrived at Mom's hotel in St. George about 2 hours before Cameron's wedding. Cherry Ann, Phillip, Hyrum, Mom, and Nancy were there. We got a little more information from them concerning Dad's death and the circumstances, but still had no explanation as to why he died.

I suggested to Kimball that since Dad would not be at Cameron's wedding, he probably had no temple escort or witness for the ceremony and would probably really appreciate Kimball stepping up to fill those roles. We decided to go to the temple and try and help Cameron as much as possible. At that point, my main concern was helping Cameron and Annette get married and feel like even though Dad had passed away, this was still their wedding day. I wanted to be sure that, even though the family was pretty preoccupied with other things, Cameron and Annette knew we were happy for them and had as wonderful a wedding day as possible under the circumstances.

We arrived at the temple just as Cameron and Annette were finishing with their pictures. Kimball offered to go in with Cameron as his escort, and I decided to wait outside for Mom to show up. Nancy came and we waited for Mom, but eventually it got to be late enough that I was worried Cameron would feel forgotten if we didn't go in to the waiting room, so in we went. Kimball was already there, and as far as I know, Cameron and Annette were unaware that the family had yet to arrive. Everyone made it in time, including Adrian and Tausha whom we had not seen yet but who were in St. George already. Marjean was also there, which was a surprise to me since I thought she was in St. Louis.

Several times as I was waiting outside for Mom or as I was in the temple, I would think to myself as I saw different men with graying hair and glasses walking up to or around inside the temple, “There's Dad.” And then I would remember that he wasn't there and have to fight back the tears. This happened several times over the next few weeks – I would always catch myself thinking that here he was, and have to remind myself that he would not be coming back, and that my eyes were playing tricks on me. It surprised me how many of the men I mistook for Dad had almost no resemblance to him – I guess I wanted to see him so badly that everyone I saw looked like him, whether there was a resemblance or not. 

Before the sealing ceremony, Mom and her children and their spouses were invited back to a small room where we found Cameron and Annette sitting together with the sealer. Annette took charge and asked Mom if she would like a blessing, to which she said she would. Adrian was voice for the blessing, and though I don't remember a lot of what he said, I do remember that he told Mom very clearly and very specifically that Dad was busy doing something very important that only he could do. It was a very comforting and emotional blessing for me and I'm sure for everyone else as well.

After Mom's blessing, someone (Adrian maybe?) asked Cameron if he would like a blessing as well, and he said he would. He asked Kimball to give him the blessing. I remember very little about the words of that blessing as well, but I do remember that Cameron was blessed to be able to be a good husband and to be able to enjoy his wedding day in spite of the sorrow he was feeling. I later talked to Kimball about this blessing and he told me how hard it was for him to give the blessing and be witness to the sealing because, he told me, “that's Dad's job – not mine.” It broke my heart to hear him say that – I wished I could say or do something to ease the pain and there was nothing I could say or do that would make it better.

Cameron and Annette's sealing was beautiful. Emotions were running high for all of us,

and it was hard to decide how to feel. After the sealing, we had pictures. For a few of the pictures, Mom asked that there be a space left where Dad would have stood.

We all piled back in our several cars and headed to the luncheon. I had mentioned to Kimball that someone needed to decorate Cameron's car, so he and Adrian took care of that during dessert. After the luncheon, Cameron and Annette went off to their hotel room and the rest of us went back to Mom's hotel room to discuss plans. The decision was made to have a funeral and burial for Dad in Salt Lake on Monday.

Adrian and Tausha were going to drive to Boise to pick up their kids and then back to Salt Lake where they would stay with us for the funeral. Mom, Cherry Ann, and Phil were going to go to Salt Lake and stay at Reed and Lori's to plan the funeral. Kimball and I decided that since Mom (who was our primary concern at that point) would be with Cherry Ann and Phil, we would go be with Cameron and Annette for their reception and represent his side of the family. We wanted very much for them to know that we didn't want them to feel slighted or forgotten or pushed to the side, and that we loved them and wanted to support them.

Kimball and I got in the car and drove to Flagstaff that evening. Kimball drove the whole way (or most of it – I can't remember if I drove at all), and we didn't arrive until about 1 in the morning. We checked in to our hotel room and slept until late morning. The next morning we decided to go to the Grand Canyon. We did our best to stay occupied and managed to occupy ourselves so well that we were an hour late to Cameron's reception! Had we actually known what time it started we would have been on time, but we asked and received faulty information from Mom, who couldn't be expected to know under the circumstances.

The reception was very nice – Cameron and Annette seemed as happy as could be expected, and everyone was very kind to them and also to Kimball. We stayed for the remainder of the reception and took pictures of all the decorations so the rest of the family could see what it was like. We talked with Cameron and Annette and they decided to come to our hotel room that night to open our wedding gifts. We also decided that we would caravan back to Salt Lake the next day, and that we would go back to Annette's parents' house the next morning to pick up Linda and take her home with us. Kimball and I watched another movie that night and went swimming. Cameron and Annette came over and opened their wedding gift from us around 10:30 or so, and then we said goodbye for the night and went to bed.

The next morning we packed up and headed back to Salt Lake. We got there around 6:30 and dropped Linda off at our house with Cameron and Annette. Kimball and I went to my Dad's house to pick up Erica and spend some time with my sister Jenni (it was her birthday) but she wasn't there, so instead we went to Reed and Lori's house for a little while. The family was talking about funeral arrangements and plans when we got there.

Erica and I stayed for a little while but when it was time for her to go to bed, we went home and Kimball stayed. I remember Kimball telling me he wasn't sure he wanted to participate in the funeral, but we talked about it and I told him he may regret it if he didn't do anything at all. I told him he might consider just saying a prayer or something like that, so he didn't feel too

pressured but was still able to contribute. He said he would think about it, and ultimately decided on saying the opening prayer for the funeral.

I called my friend Sarah after I put Erica to bed. I told her that Kimball's dad had died and started crying on the phone, so she hung up with me and came over. That gave me the chance to cry for a while and talk about how I felt, since until then I had not been able to do that. I still felt very strongly that my role was to be strong and be the one who could make decisions and take charge if I needed to, so I tried very hard not to cry in front of Kimball or any of his family.

Kimball called from Reed and Lori's to say he was coming home to get his computer and

a picture of Dad, so Sarah went home. I helped Kimball find all the pictures of Dad that were decent, then sent him back to Reed and Lori's and went to bed. I don't remember much of Sunday morning. We went to church at 12:30 and stayed long enough to take the sacrament, then went to Reed and Lori's where we put Erica down for a nap and then Kimball and I went with Mom to the funeral home to dress Dad. We met Cherry Ann and Phil there, as well as Cameron and Annette.

The funeral director met us there and showed us the crypts, explaining what they were and how they worked since Kimball and I had not been able to be there when he showed the rest of the family.

A lot of the family has commented that Dad didn't look much like himself when they saw him at the funeral home or in the casket. I don't remember thinking that he looked terribly different. I do remember thinking he looked a little swollen around his neck, but that from the side he still looked like the same man I remembered. I have seen pictures taken from above him since then, and I agree that he looked quite different from above. I still think he looked very similar to my memories when looking at his profile.

When they dressed Dad, Mom told any of us that wanted to that we could help. Kimball wanted to go sit on a bench in the back, so I went with him. As they were dressing Dad, Kimball decided he would like to help so we walked up and he put on one of Dad's temple slippers and gave me the other one to put on him. I remember that Dad's foot was very stiff and the shoes were very hard to put on. This was really hard for Kimball, so after Dad was dressed we went over and felt his hands. They were not nearly as stiff as his feet, but he was certainly stiff and cold.

That night Adrian and Tausha stayed with us at our house. They were kind enough to be willing to let me go back to Reed and Lori's and leave Erica at home in bed. It had been very difficult for me to always have to take Erica home for naps or bed, because it made me feel very much apart from what was happening. It felt as though I was not able to be a part of the final preparations for Dad, and while I knew it was more important for Kimball to be involved than for me, it still hurt me to feel like I wasn't able to be a part of the proceedings. While I tried very hard to encourage him to be involved and to take care of Erica so he could, there were few times when I would go home with her alone that I wouldn't spend time crying out my frustrations at having nowhere to direct my grief.

We spent the evening and late night helping with the obituary and funeral program over at Reed and Lori's. Reed had so much to do and I felt terrible when we were going to leave and he was still up – the only one still up – working, so we offered to lay out the music pages for him in the hopes he would be able to get some sleep and time with Lori that night.

Monday morning was the funeral. We took Erica over to my parents' house so my brother Alex could watch her for us since my parents were planning to attend the funeral. We arrived at the funeral home and mingled with the people there. My parents were there, as well as my aunt, Michelle Jones, who helped me prepare to lead the music for the service. My parents and grandparents had each sent flower arrangements, and my Dad's side of the family gave Kimball a card with a check in it so he could buy something to remind him of Dad.

The funeral director asked everyone but the family to leave so we could have the family prayer. Cameron offered the prayer, and each of the families had a picture taken by Dad's casket. There was a lot of crying and I tried not to cry too much since I had to stand up and lead the music in a few minutes, but it was hard not to cry and I'm sure I did my fair share.

The funeral was beautiful – quite a tribute to an amazing man. There were several things said about Dad that I had never known, such as his interest in coins and his many church callings. Also, there was much said about his professional career that I had not known, and I realized what a selfless man he was as I heard of his many acts of service.

When the funeral came to a close and we proceeded to the burial, I was able to see just how many people had come to the funeral Mom was so sure would be small. It was certainly NOT a small funeral. There were several people there to support Mom and Dad's children, and many more people there to support Mom and show their love for her and Dad. There were also, as I knew, several people who would have been there had it been possible, my grandparents among them. It was such a wonderful show of support and I hope it gave Mom comfort to know that so many people cared about her and Dad.

Reed dedicated the grave and then after everyone but the family left, Kimball and his brothers placed the coffin in the crypt. They put the coffin in so that Dad's head is near the room instead of his feet, and it surprised me a little to hear that they generally put the feet towards the room instead.

Kimball and I left to go to the luncheon and were able to relax a little while we ate. Then we went to pick Erica up from my Dad's house and went home to change our clothes. Kimball crawled in bed to try and get some sleep and Erica and I waited for our friends, Jake and Natalie Hall, who were bringing dinner that night. I also called to get a babysitter for Erica so we could leave her home and go back to Reed and Lori's that night after Erica was in bed.

We had dinner and put Erica to bed, and the Relief Society President brought her daughter over to our house to watch Erica for us. We went to Reed and Lori's house and spent some time with them and Mom. We got home that night late, and realized that someone (we still don't know who) had put our garbage cans out on the street for us. I was so grateful for that – we had completely forgotten that the next day was garbage day, and while it may have seemed like a small thing to the person who put them out, it was a big deal to me and really touched my heart. Such small and kind things made such an impact over those few days.

Tuesday we took Erica to Reed and Lori's again where Lori kindly agreed to watch her so we could go with Mom to the funeral home to talk about expenses, as well as run some errands for her. We went to the funeral home and talked with the funeral director about how much Mom owed him and getting the obituary in the newspaper in St. Louis. After we finished there, we went and ran some errands for Mom including taking back her rental van to the airport. On our way home we picked up Kimball's glasses and then went back to get Erica from Reed and Lori's. 

That night we packed for the trip to St. Louis and took Erica to my parents' house again to stay for a few days.

Wednesday morning Kimball and I got up early and drove to the airport. On the way there, we stopped at Dad's crypt and stayed for a few minutes. It was very hard for Kimball that there wasn't anywhere to put flowers since the name plate and flower vase were not installed yet. It was good to be able to be at Dad's crypt without other people around, though, and we spent a few minutes there. It still seemed very surreal to us both that Dad was gone.

We proceeded to the airport and flew from Salt Lake to St. Louis with one layover. We arrived in St. Louis where Marjean picked us up from the airport and took us back to Mom's house. Mom had not yet arrived, and since we had a few hours before picking her up from the airport, we ran some errands. We went to the store to get some milk, took Cameron's tuxedo back to the rental place, and ordered a bouquet of yellow roses to be delivered to Mom before the funeral on Friday. 

At the house, we brought in the mail and sorted through it, deciding what needed to be dealt with and what didn't. We picked Mom up from the airport that afternoon and went back to the house where someone had brought us dinner. After we ate, Kimball and I went to the temple. We did sealings, and it was very comforting to be in the temple that night. Several people asked how Mom was doing, and they all offered condolences to Kimball. Again I had to remind myself that I wouldn't see Dad there, even though I mistook other men for him several times.

Thursday was spent looking through Dad's office in search of anything useful. We found several old statements for different funds, retirement or otherwise, but nothing more current than a year or so ago. I think this was the hardest part of the entire few weeks for me – looking through Dad's things. I felt very much that I was intruding – that I shouldn't be going through his things, because they were his, and he wouldn't like me looking through them. But at the same time I had to remind myself that the reason we were looking through all Dad's files was that he wasn't there to do it for us. It broke my heart that the only reason I was going through those things was that Dad would never be able to get them for us or tell us the information we needed. That, I think, was when I really realized Dad was gone and not coming back.

Later that day, Kimball and I went to the grocery store and purchased 7 newspapers – one for Mom and each of her children – since that was the paper with Dad's obituary in it. While we were there, we ordered a corsage for Mom to wear at the funeral and arranged to pick it up the next morning before we went to the church. We also went to Kinkos and made copies of the funeral program.

Our next stop was the airport to pick up Adrian and Tausha. We arrived a few minutes late, and waited for them to come outside. After about 15 minutes of waiting, we decided we'd better start looking for them. We took turns going in the airport and looking, and finally ended up calling Mom's cell phone from a pay phone to find out if she knew where they were. Mom said they weren't coming until the next morning and that we should just go home, so we did. Turns out they had completely missed their flight and didn't realize it until we had already left to pick them up. They scheduled a new flight to arrive the next morning.

That night, Kimball and I went to Walmart to pick up a few things for the funeral – table cloths, pens, sign in books, and anything else we could think of that we would need. We talked to Cameron and Annette that night and assigned them a list of things to help with the next morning, since we were feeling very overwhelmed. We listed the things left to take care of the next morning, and then went to bed.

Friday morning Kimball and I drove to the airport to pick up Adrian and Tausha again, and this time they were there waiting for us. We drove them back to the house and dropped them off. Then we went and picked up Mom's corsage and then drove to the chapel where we began setting up for the funeral. I set up the tables, flowers, sign in books, and overflow seating while Kimball worked on getting his computer hooked up to the sound system so we could record the funeral. We also got out the frames and easel for Dad's pictures that Cameron and Annette were bringing.

Cameron and Annette's alarm didn't go off, so they barely made it to the funeral with the pictures of Dad in time. The pictures were beautiful, and everything went smoothly for the funeral. The program was very similar to the one in Salt Lake, and everyone did a nice job. After it was over, Kimball and I went to check on the recording and realized that it hadn't recorded in spite of all the work he did to get it set up correctly. Thankfully, Marjean's husband had recorded it so we did have a copy of the funeral that day as well. The Relief Society had prepared a luncheon for us after the funeral, so we ate and took a few family pictures before heading back to Mom's.

Friday afternoon we spent some time going through Dad's office and looking through his files. Kimball and I showed Reed what we had found already, and Reed basically took over the financial aspect and told us what to do and how to help. Saturday was spent doing more in Dad's office, and Kimball digitized the funeral recording from Salt Lake. That evening, Kimball and I went to the Macaroni Grill for dinner and then to see Spiderman with Adrian and Tausha and Cameron and Annette. We weren't impressed, though I think everyone else liked it. I mentioned this to my dad a few days ago and he suggested it may have been because of the mood we were in. I hadn't considered this before, but looking back on the situation, I remember there were about 2 weeks after Dad died where I couldn't listen to the radio or watch TV or a movie, because

it just seemed so trivial and silly, like something that just didn't matter. I suspect that's why we didn't like the movie that night as well. Sunday morning before church we had a family meeting where Reed updated us all on the situation with Dad's finances, then we went to church. We stayed for sacrament meeting, then went with Reed and Lori to the airport. We flew back to Salt Lake where we drove to my parents' house and picked up Erica.

All in all, it was a very emotional time. The hardest thing for me was seeing how much it hurt Kimball. It broke my heart to see him beat himself up for not calling his dad sooner on his birthday.

I am so thankful for the gospel and the hope it brings to our lives, especially in times like these. There is no way we could be moving on with our lives without the faith and knowledge that we will see Dad again, and that Heavenly Father is in charge of our lives. It is so hard to trust in Him sometimes, but I know that He loves each of us and doesn't do things to try and make us unhappy. Unfortunately, sometimes the things that happen in our lives are not the things we want to have happen. When these situations arise, I take comfort in knowing that some day, I will be able to understand why the situation worked out the way it did.

I love Dad and I miss him. It is still hard for me to think about him and know that it will be a very long time before I will see him again. It is hard to know that Erica won't know her grandpa, and that any of the rest of our children will never have met him in this life. But I do believe with all my heart that Dad is somewhere better now, and that Heavenly Father needed him or he wouldn't have been taken from us. I pray for the strength for myself and the rest of the family to be patient until we are able to be reunited with Dad again. I know he loves each of us and wishes he had been able to say goodbye just as much as we wish for that. Someday we will see him again and be able to tell him just how much we've missed him. Until then, I pray that he knows we love him and miss him. I'm sure he does.


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