37. Looking at Her Face for the Last Time


My memory of the next two days is somewhat blurry in my mind. There were phone calls to family members, final arrangements with the funeral home, packing her things at the nursing home, and so much more. My sisters and I shared those responsibilities, but still there was a lot to do. My emotions during that time were for the most part ‘on hold’, and I went through these days almost ‘roboticly’.

I went to Mother and Daddy’s house looking for something for her to bury her in. I knew what I wanted, but wasn’t sure I could find it. Sure enough it was there, among her clothes. It was a skirt, blouse, and vest that she had worn on many occasions. If fact Mother is wearing this outfit in the last formal portrait she and Daddy had taken. This outfit was just typical of Mother. The pieces just didn’t quite ‘go together’ or match. The color of the blouse didn’t match the vest and the neckline of the vest didn’t match the blouse. The color of the skirt was just a little off as well. So typical of Mother.

I remember going to the funeral home early on the day that we had the family visitation to have a few minutes alone with Mother before everyone got there. It was my first opportunity to see her since the funeral home took her body the night she died. I remember walking to the door and seeing her white hair. It looked just like her, until I walked around and saw her face. Well, everything was all right. She just wasn’t totally natural. You see, Mother had many lines in her face especially around her mouth, and chin. The mortician who had prepared Mother’s body would have no way of knowing that. Somehow he smoothed most of those lines away and by doing so, the expression on her face, particularly her mouth, was totally unlike her. I was was caught off guard by the way she looked, and I wanted to be upset by it. Realizing that nothing could be done, and my anger would be for naught, I decided to just ‘let it go’. Yes, it was easier said than done, but nevertheless, I did it and I have no regrets.

At Mother’s funeral, there was no organ music. Instead a pianist played and the music he chose was perfect. It was a mixture of traditional ‘funeral type’ hymns and very upbeat, happy, songs Mother loved. Lisa again played her violin. This was very fitting because Memom, as the grandchildren called her, always ‘canived’ ways for Lisa, as she was growing up, to play her violin in church services. So Lisa played one last time….for Memom.
There was also a quartet that sang. The members of this quartet own the bakery where Mother worked.They were very special to Mother and she was special to them. They sang, “I’d Rather Have Jesus”. As daughters we selected this song because it truly described how Mother lived her life. There were many things that she did not have. She never had a nice house, or drove a nice car. She never seemed to have enough money and always worked very hard for what little she did possess. However, she did have Jesus and her heart’s desire was always to live for Him. Somehow that was always enough.

They also sang, “Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown?”. This was our ‘cradle song’. Mother sang it to us when she was putting us to bed at night, whenever we needed to be comforted, or whenever she felt like singing it. I can still hear her voice…..singing that song.

Just as with Daddy’s funeral, after the service, after the congregation files by the casket, the family has their opportunity to say good by. It was just as hard to turn away from Mother’s face as it was from Daddy’s, knowing that once again I was not going to see her face this side of heaven.

Mother and Daddy are now buried side by side in a small country cemetery outside the community of Tuscola, Texas.

3 thoughts on “37. Looking at Her Face for the Last Time

  1. Deborah,

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you sharing about your Mom and Dad. My sister and I have been going through something similar and I have been searching for answers related to my Mom’s situation. It is very similar to your Mom’s.

    God bless,

    Rebecca Bunge

  2. I have greatly valued reading your diary. I wish I had kept one myself during the year I lost my wife to cancer. I was so busy looking after our young children that I never really had time to mourn her passing as I should have done. Even after some years the pain is still with me.

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