Monday, November 09, 2009

Funeral and Family

So today was the funeral for Susan's grandpa Elmer Gustafson. Susan picked up the girls from school after dinner and brought them home to get dressed for church. My dad and stepmom came to our house after dinner, and we went to the church together. Elmer had 11 children, so you can imagine the number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren in that family. Even with just a fraction of his descendants in attendance, the pews reserved for relatives were pretty full. Even though Elmer lived 98 years, it was sad to gather for such a farewell--and saddest of all to see how his wife, Susan's grandma Laura, cried and mourned the loss.

The congregation sang two hymns: "How Great Thou Art" and "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory." I accompanied our three daughters, who sang "He Is Good"; and the church organist accompanied Susan and me when we sang "Thank God for the Promise of Spring" (here's a beautiful version of the latter). It was the girls' first time singing for a funeral, so we coached them not to make eye contact with anyone in the congregation. At weddings and for other types of vocal performances, we usually give the opposite advice; but seeing a crying relative at a funeral can send a singer into sobs him-/herself and derail the song entirely. Anyhoo, they did a terrific job. And our accompanist, who had never rehearsed with us and did not even receive the music until right before the funeral, just knocked it out of the park, adding appropriate ornamentation throughout, slowing down at the right (albeit unmarked) places, all with the instincts of someone who has learned through the years how to follow a singer when accompanying.

We joined the funeral procession to Taylor afterward for a graveside service in the cemetery northeast of town. That's where Elmer's parents and siblings are buried, too. Afterward, there was no big family gathering. This is totally unlike my own family--and Susan's mom's family--who would have determined beforehand some relative's house for everyone to go to after the funeral for huge amounts of food and lots of visiting and sharing of memories and viewing of photo albums, etc. Nope, not today; everyone just said goodbye and drove away. Strange.

So we invited a few people to our house for supper: Susan's brother Jerrett, their dad Roger, Roger's girlfriend JoAnn, Roger's sister Sharon, and my dad Arlo and stepmom Beverly. Susan served a lettuce salad tossed in a vinaigrette with crunchy chow mein noodles, cashew nuts, and bacon; chicken cacciatore stewed all day in a crock pot and served over tri-color fettuccine noodles; a variety of fresh fruit in a yogurt sauce; and, for dessert, homemade angel food cake drizzled in homemade whipped cream and topped with both lemon and raspberry sorbet, served with "chocolate velvet" coffee. Yeah, pretty much delicious.

It was good to be together, to visit, to pose for photos (a "must" at any get-together that involves Mobergs), and to stand on the front step and wave goodbye to everyone until their tail lights were no longer visible (again, standard procedure for when we have company). It was a sad reason to have family over for supper, but it was nice to be able to host them.

Suzanna, Hillary, and Abigail with Grandma and Grandpa Moberg

Sharon, Jerrett, Abigail, Suzanna, Susan, Hillary, JoAnn, and Roger

P.S. I had to duck out of the house for a while this evening to attend parent/teacher conferences for Abigail and Hillary (Susan stayed behind to entertain our guests and finalize supper). I was feeling pretty proud as I looked at their report cards and heard from their teachers!


  1. I'm glad so many relatives could attend this sad occasion. It's nice to see family no matter the reason. RIP Elmer....

  2. If I counted correctly, there were 22 out of 31 grandchildren in attendance, and 9 great-grandchildren!

  3. Just wanted you to know that you were all in my thoughts! I'm sure it was nice to see lots of family and friends!

    Love Jake