My great-grandmother passed away in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Until now, I have been struck speechless about the matter.
One of the things that struck me speechless is that she did not want to have a funeral. I am a person who likes clear senses of beginnings and of closures. So it threw me for a loop. I was not there when she shared why she did not want a funeral per se, but from what I remember of her I think it has to do with a combination of two things.
One, I think she simply did not want people to make that much of a fuss over her. She was a quiet pillar of strength for many of us personally, and for much of our family as a whole. But part of her strength is that she could be with you, not say anything memorable, and yet you leave her feeling totally appreciated and completely surrounded by love. At family gatherings, it would often seem that she was sitting off in a corner not doing much of anything. But by the end of the evening she had figured out what was going on in everyone's life, and when you were with her she made you feel like you were the most important person in the entire world. Her life was about doing the right thing, loving her family and friends, and tending to her flower gardens (which she did well into her senior years).
Which leads me to the second reason I think she didn't want a funeral. For Grandma Pearl, life was a thing to celebrate and live to the fullest! She worked in her flower garden into the years when many others her age are using walkers and wheelchairs to get around. Many of us have pictures of her, not looking much younger than she did a week ago, with a trowell in her work-glove covered hands and a big smile on her face. Most of us in the family also have pictures of her showing us her "thimble finger" upon request, especially when she added a new one to her collection. And she trudged through old farm land around Roundup, MT until her and her sister found the old farmhouse where they grew up. And if you said something that was inappropriate or mean in her mind, you knew. But often, it only took a look. She was easily the most kind, most compassionate, most selfless person I have ever met. There is no doubt she had her disappointments, her heartaches and heartbreaks, but she stayed strong and positive through all of it.
Her life was a blessing to us. She will be missed. But thank God for my great-grandmother, Pearl Kruse as well.