Susan's first day of school this year started with a phone call bearing sad news: her grandma Laura had died the night before. (That's why Susan wore to school that day a necklace that Laura had rosemaled--remember seeing it in the photo a couple days ago?) Just last November, Laura's husband (Susan's grandpa) passed away (remember?), and Laura's health declined steadily in the months thereafter. Laura moved from a nursing home in town to one in Richardton, ND, where she lived her last few weeks with good care and individual attention. Susan and the girls stopped there to visit with her about a week ago, and Susan's dad Roger and a couple of his sisters spent most of their time with her in her final days. She died peacefully Tuesday night, and her funeral was today.
Many of the extended family members whom we had seen last fall for Elmer's funeral returned for Laura's (you can read Laura's obituary here and Elmer's here). Susan's brother Jerrett gave their sister Cassie and her son Davis a ride to Dickinson after they flew to Bismarck (Cassie's husband Nick wasn't able to accompany them this time), and they all have been staying with us (and Roger has been able to join us for supper and visiting each evening). There was a family service yesterday afternoon at the funeral home, and the funeral service was early this afternoon at our church.
Susan picked up the girls from school around noon so that we could attend the funeral as a family. In fact, they helped provide music for the funeral. Susan alone sang "Because He Lives," and she and the girls together sang "Come to Jesus," and I accompanied both songs on the piano. The songs are lovely, the lyrics are so appropriate, and the ladies did a beautiful job performing them.
The funeral was followed by a lunch at the church and then the burial at the cemetery in Taylor, ND. After Elmer's burial last autumn, all the extended family went their separate ways, which mystified me. On both sides of my family, that would be the point at which the entire family would gather somewhere for supper to continue visiting and sharing stories and just being together as long as possible. So this time around, Susan helped to instigate a post-funeral-and-burial potluck supper for the family, using the fellowship hall on the lowest level of our church.
Considering the size of Laura's family (did you read the "is survived by" section of her obituary above?!), Susan knew that we'd need a lot of food, so she made a huge roaster full of baked beans, and her aunts agreed to make salads and pick up broasted chicken from Jack's Restaurant. When we returned to the church to set up for supper, we were accompanied by just a handful of the family; we fit at just three round tables. Oh, well, at least we tried to get the family together. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. (And we brought home a nearly-full roaster of baked beans.)
The meal was good, and it was nice to visit with those family members who did attend. Laura was well known for her rosemaling craft work, and her kids brought several rosemaled plates and Christmas tree ornaments and plaques that had been in Laura's nursing home room so that family members who wanted a piece in Laura's memory could select one. Afterward we took what remained in order to donate it to our Sons of Norway lodge, of which Laura was a member.
Jerrett returned home to Mandan because he must work this weekend, but Cassie and Davis will spend the weekend with us--and Roger will keep popping over for meals when he's free from work and other errands. It's nice to have Susan's family together, even though it's for such a sad occasion. It's so fun to see how much Davis has grown and changed since we last saw him earlier this summer, and it's a delight to play with him (just ask our daughters, who are in a contest, it seems, to be the one who plays with him the most and who can't seem to let him walk for longer than 30 seconds before picking him up again). It's nice to have a baby around to remind us to focus on life even in the midst of death.
God's peace to Laura and all her family and friends.