Friday, August 1, 2008

Gram's Memorial Service

Almost all of our family returned to Sheridan, Wyoming for our Cox family reunion from July 10-12 with the express purpose of burying our Gram.

I have many photos to post from the rest of the reunion, but right now I want to write about Gram's memorial service.

Gram chose to be cremated, as did Grandad nearly 18 years ago. It seems that most people around here don't do cremation, so it was a curiosity for me. At first I thought it was a little strange, but Gram had a wonderful article in her "Just in Case" book about cremation. It's called "Light, Like the Sun" and you can read it here. It has made me think that that's the way I want to be buried.

My Mom and Aunt Jane picked out a beautiful urn for Gram. It suited her perfectly; silver, with wildflowers, and not too ornate. Simple and classy.

The day of the memorial service, July 10th, was a hot but gorgeous day. It reflected Gram's personality, bright and cheerful with the sun shining. So many of her old friends showed up and there was an atmosphere of joy as many friends who hadn't seen each other in quite some time enjoyed their renewed acquaintances.

Victoria Bales was a close friend of Gram and Grandad's for decades. She is an artist and did two lovely paintings of my Grandad, one of him on horseback with the Big Horn Mountains in the background (1970) and another portrait of him when he had a beard, with his horses in the corral in the background (1980). Victoria loved Gram and said that she trusted her implicitly. When she decided to get divorced from her first husband, Gram was one of only two people Victoria told, knowing that Gram would not judge her and would offer her support and love.

My Aunt Jane (left) and my Mom (right) with their cousin Douglas MacGregor and his wife.

I love this picture of my brother Don chatting with Terry Punt, who was one of the mountain men up at Kearney Lake when Gram and Grandad were caretakers there. Don spent several summers there as a teenager and Terry was somewhat of a mentor to him. I love that Terry still sports his long hair and beard, just like he did 20 years ago!

Nicholas with his daddy, Don.

Even Becky's son Connor seemed to realize it was time to sit still and be reverent.

Lily and her cousin Faith (Don's) admiring all the flowers by Gram's grave.

Each of the family members wore a piece of MacGregor tartan ribbon, even little Emma (Becky's) , just 3 weeks old.

The Methodist minister did a beautiful job with the service giving a great message of hope and talk of the resurrection. I gave a short life sketch and my brother Don talked about how Gram was the true essence of a Christian woman and she instilled those values and passed on that legacy to all of us.

This is my favorite picture from the service. Lily really loved her Gram and she was not at all disturbed or scared about her death. Mom kept the urn here at the house until we were ready to go to Wyoming, and every once in awhile Lily would go downstairs and stroke the urn and talk about Gram.

Jim Niner, a Sheridan local, sang a beautiful cowboy song about the beauties of Wyoming. He has a wonderful throaty, raspy kind of voice, just perfect for an old cowboy song.

My cousins Chris and Katy and their dad Kenn Pilch. I love Avy and her sassy cowboy boots and Sedona's crazy hair blowing in the wind.

The service ended with a bagpiper (what was his name, Mom?) playing "Amazing Grace". He knew Gram and was tickled pink and honored that Mom asked him to play for the funeral. What I loved was that he continued to walk among the trees and play other songs after the service was over, leaving a wonderful spirit as we all mingled and shared thoughts of Gram.

Before we left Sheridan, we went back up to the cemetery to see Gram & Grandad's grave one more time. Lily had her bear that she chose from Gram's belongings after she died. She named the bear Jeanette.

This is the whole family plot. It was so peaceful to see Gram laid to rest next to her cowboy. As I looked out across to the Big Horn Mountains, I thought, "I can't think of a more beautiful place to arise on resurrection day, to share in the joy of eternal life with your family."


Anonymous said...

The piper's name is Bob Wyatt. Not only does he play the bagpipes, but he was Gram and Grandad's attorney when they lived in Sheridan. He has one of Grandad's rawhide braided walking sticks and often goes for walks with "Don".

Another beautiful blog...
Love, Your Mom

Kris said...

Hi Sue,
I lost touch with your blog for a while (a lot has been going on here.) I'm glad everything is going well for you. This is a beautiful account of your Gram's service! What a great record you are keeping.

Becky in Wyo said...

Yes, thank you for rounding out the story of our trip to Sheridan, and showing the reason we all went, especially the little tales of the friends Gram and Granddad had during their years in Sheridan, and throughout their lives.

Lori Gerten said...

It makes me sad that I didn't get to know Gram better. I would have loved to have sat with her for awhile and heard all her stories. Her life was enriched and colorful and because of her the world is a better place.

What a wonderful blog entry. Great pictures too.

Kernal Ken said...

A beautiful tribute, beautifully photographed.

Your Gram is smiling down on you, well pleased.

Sara said...

What a beautiful service for a beautiful woman and her beautiful family! Love you all~