Sunday, August 7, 2016

a flurry of activity

Late Wednesday, July 27th,  Kirsten and girls arrived back in Canada for another week and a half. Kirsten's sister-in-law Kenda had passed away a few days earlier so they were back for her funeral and to help get the gears in motion to settle her estate. Of course I was there to see them first thing Thursday morning and spent every possible minute with them during the time they were in Canada. I slept at my parents, where Kirsten was staying, several nights to extend the visiting time. Carm was good natured and kept all the beasts fed and happy.

Saturday Kirsten's husband Shawn arrived from where he was working in LA. He and Carm went to a movie that afternoon - a little interlude from reality. Sunday was a day for serious phone calls, but everyone did manage to come out to our place for a swim on the holiday Monday. I think everyone enjoyed the short break from the grief of funeral arrangements.

During all this to and fro, the car got assaulted by a big rock, smashing a crack into the windshield. Tuesday I stayed close to home so we could get it fixed.

Wednesday and Thursday Kirsten and I spent time together at Kenda's, sorting through her things and arranging paperwork. It is sad to see a vibrant life sift down to a few important papers and heirloom jewelry that is difficult to find. The process got me thinking about my own estate and home. What do I have that is important or valuable? Would someone be able to find them among all the stuff that clutters my house? Maybe I need a document with photos of the heirlooms and a map of where to find everything.

Here's a question to you: do you have a will and if so, does someone know where to find it?

Finally the day came for Kenda's funeral. It was a scorching hot day. Everyone's tear ducts were on a hair trigger. She was so young, and in these sad occasions one can never get away from the thoughts of 'what if it was my sister or other family member'. The tears come more easily.

The funeral was at Beechwood Cemetery which is a beautiful location. The chapel has a soaring ceiling with thick wooden beams supporting it. Natural stone walls compliment the giant boulder that grows out of the floor.  But I'm jumping ahead of myself a bit. First was the visitation where we met some old friends and got to admire the mounties in their red serge. We got there at the start of the 2 hour visitation in case Kirsten needed some emotional support. Although I don't know how much support I was…

The ceremony was lovely. Friends spoke about her, followed by Shawn. There wasn't a dry eye in the place as Shawn struggled his way through the eulogy. The service over, next came the internment. Four RCMP in their red serge lifted the urn and carried it out to the hearse, where two mounted police stood, their black mounts swishing their tails in the heat. It was very moving. Kenda served time on the RCMP Musical Ride and I think she would have been pleased at the equine accompaniment. As she was laid to rest, a bugle and bagpipes rang out across the rows of headstones.

I spent the night Friday, and Saturday morning I went with Kirsten and Shenna to Kenda's where Shawn and his aunt Gloria had spent the night. A few final decisions about things to take back to NZ had to be made… it was the last day before Kirsten and the girls would be on their way back home. Back at Mom & Dad's, Olaf, Tammy and Freya were waiting for us. Once we could get everyone organized, we gathered on the staircase for some family photos  - we hadn't all been together for a photo for years and years - the photo that hung on the wall was over 12 years old, and there had been much growing, and even a few additions since then.

A final gathering around the table (Tammy had brought the lunch from Montreal to be heated up), and then it was time for Kirsten, Shawn and the girls to go to another family gathering . It was a farewell for me and I clung to everyone tightly. I'm not ashamed to say that I shed a few tears.

“I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life, but that great consciousness of life.”

~Jack Kerouac

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