Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Thank You for The Expressions of Sympathy and Support

On behalf of my entire family, I would like to thank all of those who in the past week have lifted us up with prayers, phone calls, visits and other expressions of support, condolence and love. It has been overwhelming.

Many have asked about arrangements for my mother’s funeral, so I will share the information in this space. In her lifetime, my mother was a bit of an enigma, and she remains so after her passing. In going through her papers, we found “clear” instructions about how to handle things. She had made pre-arrangements to be cremated and for her ashes to be buried with those of my father, who had pre-deceased her by twenty years.

Among her papers, we found a sheet in which she left very ambivalent instructions about what she expected us to do after her death. In paragraph #1, she makes it very clear - no funeral, no visiting hours, etc. In paragraph #2, she gets to what she really wants: "If my children should decide that they would like to plan some sort of memorial service, these are the songs that should be sung, the Scriptures that should be read, etc." So, I am tasked to sing and play on the piano a song I sang at my father's funeral 20 years ago, a song entitled “My Tribute” by Andre Crouch.

In Virginia last Wednesday, family members and a small group of friends gathered for a very informal memorial. A more formal service will be held in Newburyport on Saturday, August 26. Many of our extended family members live in New England, so there will be a private service at the cemetery for the interment of my mother’s ashes, followed by a more public memorial service at Hope Community Church (First Baptist Church). Family members will provide music based on her wishes, and we will share some of her favorite Scriptures along with words of remembrance.

A number of individuals have asked about making memorial contributions. We are working on the details of setting up a small scholarship fund for a graduate of Newburyport High School, my mother and father’s alma mater. Details to follow.

I must share one final vignette. My mother loved being at the center of attention, so last Friday’s pilgrimage was very fitting. As I flew back from Virginia, I was entrusted with the responsibility of bringing her ashes back home to New England. So, at the height of the terror alert, I had to transport the urn containing my mother’s remains as carry-on baggage on the JetBlue flight from Richmond to Boston. The JetBlue and TSA employees were very respectful and solicitous, but it was a rather long ordeal. I had to provide a certificate proving that the urn did indeed contain my mother’s ashes, and TSA had to clear the area and the x-ray belt so that the urn was being processed by itself. She received very special handling, and would have been very pleased!

For anyone who would like to consider joining us for the memorial service on the 26th in Newburyport, e-mail me for details of time and place of the events.

Thank you all, again, for helping our family during our time of grieving and remembering.

God bless.

Al

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if "enjoyed" is an appropriate word here, but I can think of no other. I enjoyed reading about your mother, her desire to be in the middle of things, and the security conveyor belt are being clear as her urn passed through. Thank you for sharing and please continue to share with us. We care about you and mourn your loss.
Dale

Rick Mavrovich said...

Paul once again our sincerest sympathy for you and your mom. Your story really brought it home in a real way.

The family and I will be traveling that day so we will not be able to attend. Our prayers will be with you all.

Scott said...

Dear Al,

You and your family are very much in our thoughts and prayers. It is heartening and inspiring to see a family pull together in such times as yours has. What better testimony to the life your mother led and her spirit, which lives on!

Faithfully yours,

The Scott Family