Why? Because at least 150 people attended my sister-in-law’s memorial service, held after she passed from complications associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
I know that the count of 150 is nothing compared to a stadium full of football, baseball, or soccer fans. But this 150 people showed up on Monday, the beginning of most people’s work-week, to honor my brother and his stepchildren, and memorialize a woman who impacted their world greatly.
How the day unfolded. Individual after individual arrived: some driving south from British Columbia, Canada, one person even flying in from Toronto, Canada, and numerous people driving north from California and Oregon state. At first it looked like those who set up the venue with numerous chairs had overcompensated in their attendance projections. That was not to be the case. By 2 pm, the scheduled start of the memorial service, additional chairs had to be set up. By 2:15 pm, some of us, most notably my brother, were sweating – not just because it was very hot on that particular Seattle, Washington day, but because the Officiant for the service had not arrived – and never did. But that’s not important.
Time for Plan B. I joined my brother outside just after 2 pm and I suggested that since the Officiant had not yet arrived, it was probably time to figure out Plan B. All the immediate family members sprung into action and the parts that would have been attended to by the Officiant were superbly handled by other family members. Even my brother – who had NOT planned on saying a word during the structured part of the service – walked to the front of the room and spoke beautifully about his wife’s journey to finally reach “home.”
Home is not just a structure with four walls. Quite a few times during my sister-in-law’s illness, she told my brother that she just wanted to go home. Now for those who aren’t familiar with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, oftentimes “home” means comfort, freedom, peace. That was the case with my brother’s spouse. She died on the American holiday, July 4th, also known as Independence Day. That day was her Independence Day, when she could finally flee to comfort, freedom, and peace, with a body – and mind – untethered by any restrictions.
Many blessings to my sister-in-law, my wonderful brother/spouse caregiver, Don, and all of the surviving family members. Monday, August 13th was truly a Celebration of Life and Liberty.