Remembering: Oma’s Funeral

/ 16 May 2011

A year ago was Oma’s funeral. Below is a summary of the day I sent my high school advisor a couple days later.

The entire day went well. Everything that had to be done before we headed to the cemetery got done with no real issues. Sunday was quite a rainy day, but that seemed appropriate. We went up to the cemetery around 9:30, getting there around 9:45, the trip there is just down the hill Oma's (now Dagmar's…) house is on and up another just across the street. As family we really had to be there a bit over an hour ahead. After taking a look at the chapel where the funeral service would take place (which felt to me like stepping right into the binder of pictures of the place at the funeral home I'd seen a few weeks ago) some of us took a walk out to the gravesite (the same one that Oma's younger daughter and husband were previously buried in). That was nice, to see the grave dug up and prepared for the last bit of the funeral ahead of actually being there with the casket. When Dagmar arrived (she was driven up a little while after all the rest of us walked up) she gave the permission for us all to get one final look at Oma before the guests arrived. For Eric, Anna, and I, that was especially hard. I guess because the original plan was for Oma to be cremated, but Dagmar chose otherwise at practically the last moment, the people at the funeral home hadn't really cleaned her up. Eric actually had to show people the pictures we had taken of her on April 28th just after we had cleaned her up just so that their final image of Oma wouldn't be the almost-mess of a job that the funeral home people left her in. Eric started his iPad recording audio just as the guests started to arrive, a lot of whom I'd met at one point or another in the past 18 years of me being here off and on. The funeral service itself was led by one of the bishops who'd ordained Dagmar a Roman Catholic priest a few years back and one of Dagmar's friends who'd gone through the ordination process with her. Aside from the obvious amount of grief and crying from everyone (but especially all of us, her immediate descendants) the service was quite pleasant. When the time came for anyone who wanted to to comment I spoke of the time I spent with her during her final 3 weeks and of the fact that both on April 28th and there at the funeral I was not just myself, but also a channel allowing all my cousins to be present as well. As we processed behind the casket to the gravesite it was raining and as a result quite cold and windy, but even after being handed my raincoat and hat by Anna I didn't put either on. I just didn't care too much how cold or wet I got during this time. It was hard seeing them lower Oma's casket into the grave, and none of us could really stop crying at least slowly, but it did feel like a nice form of some sort of closure. As I had predicted, it was harder for Eric or I to cry during all this than it was for the rest of my family because we saw the suffering she went through that last week firsthand and knew her death to be a small relief amidst the sadness of her dying. After the service we all went to one of Oma's favorite restaurants and as a group of 40+ (Dagmar had reserved space two weeks earlier) had one of Oma's favorite meals. That was quite nice, and in ways the enormous amount of leftovers we took back to the house was nice too. Everyone could talk with everyone else about their memories of Oma as well as assorted other topics. We didn't walk back to the house until around 3 pm. The rest of the day was spent with most of us just sitting around in the living room talking and looking at old photo albums. With all 5 of my dad's siblings here plus Dagmar plus the 3 of us (Mary, Nathaniel, and myself) it was quite crowded between Saturday morning when the last 3 siblings arrived and this morning when 2 of them left. It was the first and last time all of them were here at the same time. Obviously we're all quite deeply sad about losing Oma, but at least for Eric and myself this also means losing the most steady home both of us have had all our lives. It is hard to think about the fact that when I leave this house Sunday evening I won't ever be coming back, never again be walking up Hungaberg (the hill that her street goes up). I've really lived in three places since I was born, throughout all of them this house has stayed a constant home. That is almost as hard to be losing as losing my great-grandmother is. Vienna will never stop being a home in itself for me, but this house no longer being here will be a hard change. I don't really think that I'll be able to be completely sad and grieving about any of this until I'm back in MN (and likely until after I'm done with my crazy busy and important first full day being back).

As with the posts back in April feel free to comment on this post.