September Journey with Phyllis Buell

Syracuse Journal-Democrat

Starting Over

Well, my last official Pandemic Project is complete. Time to move on . . .

Four walls defined my life for the majority of the past year and a half until July 15th and my move to Elmwood.

Now I can come and go as I please. It is a great feeling.

During the past months, I fantasized about a dream gathering of members of my family and friends to experience at my last “party” – my funeral!

You see - it was really quite discouraging to live on the side of a large building where the arrival of each and every ambulance was clearly visible, both night and day.

Sometimes the whirling red and blue lights lit up my bedroom for a long, long time during the dark of night while the resident needing help received attention.

To make a long story shorter, it gave me entirely too much time to think, according to my family . . . too much time to think about “the end.”

The “last goodbye” a funeral gathering represents is not enjoyed by the “honoree,” is it?

I wanted to enjoy mine! Well, the gathering that is – not the occasion.

So I decided to have my funeral be a FUN- eral – and ahead of the real deal!

All kinds of great thoughts kept popping up in my head.

My family is scattered to the winds. When Merle died, a grandson and his family was in Haiti. Something that relieved his mind in those last days was to hear Lee’s voice tell him by telephone they were making plans to return to the United States. Heidi had recently taken a missionary position in Hondouras.

Right now, the one that lives the most miles away from Nebraska is Misty. She and her family live in Colorado.

At any rate, it just isn’t “over the river and through the woods” to Grandmother’s house any more. Everyone’s visits were at different times, because the schedules of their work and commitments were all different.

I was fortunate to obtain four cabins at Mahoney State Park for this past weekend. Isabella Buell, Lee and Brianna’s eldest daughter has already begun her college life. Meredith, Carolyn and Brian’s daughter and her family were the other four missing. Sadly, Meredith contracted the nasty RSV ailment and they stayed home for their own and everyone else’s health. Oh, how we wished they were with us – but we left room for them on the family pictures! Our great photographer took care of that!

With the luck I have with weather and vacations, I was desperately afraid of the first blizzard of the year or at the very least – a typhoon arriving separately or simultaneously would happen!

Instead, this past weekend was one of the most beautiful we have enjoyed for a long, long time. Perfect in fact!

After our time together there, we attended services at our “home” church. A long ago “neighbor” girl (Deb Erickson) sang two of my favorite songs. Following 9 o’clock services we went to the Wabash Cemetery where I told young family members about the interesting lives of their pioneer ancestors that rested there.

My “fun-eral” lunch was at the Gibson Hall in Weeping Water. Annette’s Catering had prepared a wonderful feast for family and friends that spanned the nine decades of my life. Linda Blunt, Donna Clements, Joyce Vogt and Laurel McReynolds decorated the hall and tables with items that were special to me over the years. It was beautiful.

The toilet paper in the mail box did need a little explanation. I’ll leave that for another time.

If you choose to have a fun-eral instead of a funeral, I highly recommend it.