Sunday, December 18, 2011

Grandpa Layton's Funeral

The weekend ended up being a little busier than we were thinking it would. I suppose that's what happens when you all of a sudden have to pencil "funeral" onto your calendar. Not that I minded honouring my grandfather but I basically shoved everything else in my brain out, including the fact that Rachel was assigned to recite a scripture in primary today. Fortunately, she's pretty chummy with the chorister and he helped her pick out and read a scripture. 

Friday was my grandpa's viewing. Josie and I wore matching outfits except that my colours were much duller than hers. Andrew said, "That's what happens when you get old." And then I punched love tapped him in the arm. And then he proceeded to call us "Muted Josie" and "Vibrant Nancy" for the rest of the night. You can probably guess who was called what (hint: I was not called Vibrant Nancy).

Somehow Josie managed to pull off "chic teenager" while wearing the same outfit in which I barely managed to eke out crazed mother. I think it's the diaper bag...but it might have been the shoes.

The viewing was wonderful, though. First off all, of the three viewings going on at the funeral home ours was the most visited. For real. Our room was so full of commotion and hugging and laughter and tears that we almost felt bad for the other viewings there and thought, perhaps, that we should crash them. Secondly, I was not expecting to see my cousins from Washington—I haven't seen them since I was nine years old...when Josie was a baby. Well, except for Kyle, who came out for my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary 10 years ago. 

But Shannon and Casey came, too! And it was so great to see them!

We told my parents about our baby while we were at the viewing because they were going to come over for dinner before we went to the viewing but then our plans went all awry and they didn't end up coming but we had already told the girls in preparation for telling our parents so thought we'd better tell them before the girls blurted something out. The main reason we decided to tell is because I feel like I look like I did at like 17 weeks with Rachel and Miriam...but now that I see these pictures I can clearly see that's in my head. That always happens when I look back at my pregnancy pictures—I'm always much smaller than I feel. Sometimes I think, "How could they not notice I'm pregnant? I'm huge!" and then I look back at the pictures and think, "Oh, that's how they couldn't notice I'm pregnant. I don't look pregnant at all."

Take these pictures from Alexandria in 2009 when I was about six months pregnant with Miriam, for example. I felt so hugely pregnant and yet...

Anyway, I guess I'm feeling rather pregnant already even if I don't look it.

The funeral was on Saturday afternoon. Rachel had brought a couple of toys to entertain herself in the van—one of which was her "magic wand," which just happens to be an unsharpened pencil. I didn't know she had brought this particular toy and at some point in the ride she started freaking out about how she dropped her wand and now it's lost and we'll never find it. I told her that we'd worry about it when we got there.

So we got there and I opened her door. A pencil rolled out of the car and landed on the ground by the van. Now I knew where her pencil had ended up when she dropped it—right beside her door.

"Oh, wow!" I said, bending over to pick up the pencil from the ground. "It's your magic wand. It must have beaten us here because it was just lying here, right on the ground!"

"How did it do that?!" Rachel asked. "How did it find us? How did it beat us here?"

"Well, it is a magic wand," I pointed out.

It was hilarious. 

When we got inside for the family meeting we learned that we know the bishop's brother. His last name is Zander and he looks a whole lot like the Brother Zander that was in Andrew's ward years ago. Miriam kept asking where the dead body was. "Where's the dead body?" she asked over and over again. I pointed to the casket and told her that Grandpa Layton had died and that he was in the casket and we were saying goodbye. "That's not a dead body!" she said, "That's just Grandpa! Where's the dead body?" I kept trying to shush her but she just kept asking! Children say the most awkward things at funerals. Uncle Ken (from Washington) gave the family prayer and Andrew got to help close the casket.

Andrew said the opening prayer and then Bisop Zander gave a few remarks—Grandpa used to be his home teacher. Aunt Tammy played a piano solo of Sweet Hour of Prayer before Uncle Bob spoke. I need to get a copy of his talk because he used a quote from a talk given at Charles Layton's (my third great-grandfather) funeral back in 1902. Though it might have been Christopher Layton's funeral (my fourth great-uncle). I don't remember. I was wrangling children who were already getting tired of us asking them to be reverent (after the viewing the night before and the family meeting before the funeral and being stuck in the hot chapel, I don't blame them).

Then my dad's cousin Jerry sang Abide with Me 'Tis Even Tide. It was beautiful.

Uncle Ken (my dad's brother) gave Grandpa's life sketch, which was also interesting. I didn't know Grandpa played football in high school—I always knew he enjoyed football but I never knew he played. I think it was Uncle Ken who said, "Wayne was the fourth child of Russel B. Layton and Erma Catherine Nunn. He could have been the third but he always liked to say he was a gentleman and let Wanda come out first. Her side of the story is that after nine months of being cooped up with him she was ready to get out of there!" He said a lot of funny things, actually. I'll have to get a copy of his talk as well.

Then Uncle Chuck read my sister's blog post, since she wasn't able to come down for the funeral. He only cried two or three times. 

The closing hymn was God Be With You till We Meet Again, which usually makes me cry even when no one is dead because it's a common song to sing at partings. Our branch in Egypt sings it to every family that leaves. And in Russia we sang it to our host families before we boarded the bus to go home. And, of course, it's often sung at funerals. For some reason, though, I was unbelievably happy yesterday and wasn't crying...until I caught my mom's eye. She was conducting the music, and when I smiled at her, she smiled back and then started crying and then I started crying, meanwhile Josie was beside me sobbing through the whole thing. 

Anyway, then my dad gave the closing prayer and we headed to the cemetery, where it was very cold.

Here we all are, gathered around the grave—specifically, in the chairs, we have: someone whose hair is covering their face, then Great Aunt Wanda (my Grandpa's twin), then Sabrina and Olivia (my sister Kelli's twins), and then my Grandma.

Andrew and I got lost and tried to go to a different funeral but my mom called us and we eventually found everyone else. We even made it before the casket so we can't have been too late.

The pall bearers were our uncles Chuck, Kevin, and Cory; our cousins Derrick, Tyler, Kyle, and Casey, and our brother Patrick (who is in the back in the tan suit). 

Because it was past three o'clock, we had the early beginnings of the sunset, which made for awkward lighting from where I was sitting. Yup, I took a chair.

After the dedicatory prayer, which Uncle Ken (from Washington) gave, we put some flowers on the casket, which is customary. 

Dad leaving his rose (my cousin Jessi's husband is in the background with his awesome camera)
But then they broke out a permanent marker and started leaving final messages on the casket—I thought it was an interesting idea. I've never seen it before but it's kind of a nice gesture. At first I thought of how expensive the casket is and they were writing on it. But then I realized that we were planning on burying the box,

Uncle Chuck signing the casket while Derreck and son look on
 It was nice to get to say goodbye and we're certainly happy that Grandpa isn't suffering anymore.

Back at the church we had dinner, provided by the Relief Society in my grandma's ward. Rachel asked, "Where'd they leave the casket?" after looking around the cultural hall. "At the cemetery," I told her. "Why?" she asked. Really?

Miriam spread her napkin out to use as a placemat, which I thought was a very good idea. It kept the white tablecloth nice and clean.

Rachel spilled her water all over the table. Her stuffed cat was sitting on the table and I couldn't help but say, "Oh, no! The cat peed all over the table!" It helped Rachel feel better about making a bit of a mess.

I used a stack of hymn books as a booster seat through Miriam. In the middle of our meal she looked up at me with panic on her face. "I need to go potty!" she said. So I rushed her to the potty. On the way she said, "I'm sorry I pooped on the hymn books!"

"You didn't poop on the hymn books," I said.

"Oh," she said. "Well...I tooted on them. I'm sorry I tooted on the hymn books."

Uh-huh. And I'm just glad you didn't wet your pants. On the hymn books.

We had fun visiting with our relatives. 

My uncles did their best to clean up their looks for the funeral. They all wore suits and got fresh haircuts and some of them even shaved. Like Uncle Kevin, who shaved his beard off. I don't think I have ever seen Uncle Kevin's face. When Miriam saw him she said, "Why'd hims take his beard off?" But only after we told her who he was because she didn't recognize him. I hardly recognized him, myself, and in fact had to have Andrew point him out to me. "Isn't that your Uncle Kevin?" he asked.

"No, it can't be," I said. " is..."

The number one reason I love funerals is because it's a very good way to get people together. I don't know why that is, exactly. I mean, you'd think we'd enjoy getting together under happier circumstances but for some reason we always manage to get together at funerals.

 Here are my girls, enjoying their cousin Sabrina. I'm not sure where Olivia had run off to at this point.

And here is me and my siblings enjoying our cousins. While we were gathering all of our cousins around it was, for a minute, me with two of my siblings and three of our Washington cousins. Kyle, Patrick, Casey, me, Shannon (who, yes, will be having a baby in February), and Josie. We were obviously waiting and not paying attention to the camera, right? Except for maybe Kyle and Patrick.

And then we managed to gather up all the cousins in the room—we're missing a few that I know were there earlier in the day, like Jamie. Anyway, back row: Jessi, Kyle, Patrick, Casey, Shannon, Kelli, Derrick. Front row: Jen, me (yes, I'm crouching), Josie, Tara, and Morgan (our soon-to-be cousin, the daughter of my Uncle Cory's fiance).

Shortly after or even during the time this picture was taken, Miriam "fell" (with a little help from her sister) and whacked her head. She started screaming and didn't stop until she had fallen asleep—she skipped her nap, see? So we went home.

It was a long day but a good day overall. You know, given the circumstances.

1 comment:

  1. I thought it was interesting, when Billy's Uncle Dan died, they took the casket and branded it with his brands that he used on the cattle. I had the same thoughts about how expensive a casket was! And if it makes you feel any better, both Deklan and Piper were morbidly obsessed with seeing the dead body, I had to keep hauling them away from Uncle Dan's casket, and then Piper did the horribly embarrassing "pretending to cry with her face in a napkin while standing at the casket" bit only to drop out the handkerchief and yell out BOO when I showed concern.... ah yes children and funerals... but thank you so much for your post, I wish terribly that I was there. I can't wait to go and visit his grave. I love you all.