Sunday, August 11 at 8:00 a.m. marked the day Mom stepped into heaven after a long and weary journey with cancer. Finally home. In the words of David Phelps:
Friends and family came from Illinois, Georgia, Indiana, New York, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. They brought with them words of comfort. They told stories of how Mom touched their lives. They pressed hope into our hearts with their hugs. Local friends dropped off food. Pastors prayed with us. Many cried with us.
Over forty family members gathered at the cemetery on that cloudless Thursday. Each one quietly placed a flower on the casket, signifying their final good-byes. I'll always remember the spontaneous verses of "Amazing Grace" sung by a family who has experienced the story of God's grace over multiple generations.
But when the last notes die away and loved ones have waved their tearful farewells, what then? What does a family do the day after the services, the cemetery, the formal observances?
Sometimes I think God whispers ideas into our hearts.
At 10:00 a.m. on Friday, ten of us (including little Ty) descended on my parents' home with garden tools, rakes, knee pads, and lunch. Under my dad's direction, we pulled weeds, trimmed plants, and cut grass. Dad had kept up the yard well during my mom's illness, but the weeds seemed to take advantage of his preoccupation the last couple months of her life. In less than two hours, the flower beds and yard my mom loved so much looked immaculate. Dad looked more than pleased.
Something else happened as we worked in the sunshine. We found a sweet solace in our togetherness. We shared a common cause, a united commitment of loyalty that drew us closer. Perhaps our quiet conversations between the flowering bushes or the visible improvements somehow eased the heaviness. Working together and then sharing lunch in the back yard generated hope, and we all felt a little better.
As we enter the new normal, we already have have some good memories. I think Mom would have liked our idea, too.
What has helped you and your family in seasons of grief?