|I arrived at First Baptist Church (FBC) in Garner at just before noon. Though the visitation ran from noon until 2:00, pretty much no one other than family showed up before 1:15.|
I checked out the number of flower arrangements on either side of Jeane's open casket, but pretty much stayed away from it in order to keep it together for my eulogy. I met some of Jimmy's family, who had flown and drove in from various cities and states, and a couple of the friends of Phyllis and Jim, some of whom had also made long trips to be there.
At 2:00, the casket was closed, and the service began.
The pastor, Rev. Ron Fowler, welcomed everyone. The soloist sang, "The Lord's Prayer," and then I approached the altar to deliver my eulogy.
I made it through the entire ten minutes without breaking down, and my voice cracked on the very last sentence only, so that was good.
The soloist sang "Amazing Grace" next.
The pastor gave his message about Jeane's life, her loved ones, and "our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ's promise."
The service ended.
While everyone was leaving the church and going to the limos and to their cars, the pastor came over to me and said, "That was the best eulogy I have ever heard. You blessed this family with a tremendous gift today."
A lady walked by, an elderly member of that church, whom I suspect was in Jeanie and Milton's Sunday School Class when they attended FBC, "Excuse me sir, if I give you my address would you be kind enough to mail me a copy of your eulogy? It was so beautiful."
"I'd be happy to," I said.
"I'll pay you for it, if you want," she said.
"Absolutely not. I'm honored that you'd like a copy of it," I replied. I wondered what would make someone think someone would charge for a copy of a eulogy. That's a totally foreign thought to me.
Walking to my car to get in line in the funeral procession, one of the family friends, Janet, caught up with me. "Your eulogy was so beautiful. It set a new standard in eulogies for me," she said.
"Thank you," I replied, "You're very kind."
"I mean, usually they are a lot about the person giving them, but yours was all about Jeane. That's what I liked about it."
To which I replied, "Thank you. I thought that it was important that the guest of honor be 'present.'"
"Yes, that's it! That's exactly how it felt," she said.
Jimmy's sister-in-law, Robyn (his brother Marc's wife), also wanted a copy of it, as she said she'd like someone in her family to ask her elderly mother some of the questions I listed in it, the ones I asked Jeanie-baby back in January, and whose answers I included in the eulogy.
The procession made its way, with a police escort, to the Montlawn Cemetery on South Wilmington Street, where Jeanie was laid to rest beside her daughter, Marti. Milton's name is on the stone, too, but I know that Milton was cremated, so I think of it more as a memorial gesture than anything else.
As I walked up to the grave site, Phyl had her arms out to greet me, and said, "You did a beautiful job. Thank you." We hugged, and I cried. Better then than while reading.
We said our good-byes at the bier, and then most of us headed back to First Baptist Church for a little food and fellowship. A group of mostly ladies, but there was at least one man in it, had prepared a delicious spread for us: fried chicken, chopped barbecue, slaw, potato salad, hush puppies, green beans, corn, Waldorf salad, a fruit salad, and slices of, some chocolate and some vanilla, cake. And some most delicious sweetened tea.
One of Jimmy's sisters and her daughter both asked me for a copy of my story of Jeane, Milton, and Rhoda, which was referenced in my eulogy.
That's also when Sue (Jeanie's brother's wife) asked me for a copy of my eulogy. I had brought three copies of it, and had them in envelopes: one for Jimmy and Phyl (Jeanie's daughter and son-in-law), one for Jerry and Sue (Jeanie's brother and his wife), and one for Justin and Charity (Jeanie's grandson and his wife).
When I handed them to her, Phyl said, "Other people want copies as well, but we can make copies from these."
I told her I'd make a copy available on my Web site, too. All very affirming.
On the way home, I passed the cemetery again, and on a whim, pulled in. I didn't really "say" anything when we'd left as a group, and I took a few minutes to enjoy the solitude that was there now, with the loose dirt in a little hump, which will, presumably, eventually "settle." The flowers were laid out beautifully in the shape of a "T," and I was tempted to pluck one of the absolutely gorgeous, giant, blood-red roses that had opened to its maximum bloom to take as a momentum.
However, I'm so not sentimental like that and know myself well enough to know that in a week I'd want to throw it away—and yet feel awkward doing it, so I just left it there. I said my final so long to Jeanie-baby, and was glad to have taken the repeat route to be there alone for a few minutes, and to better fix the location of her grave site in my mind.
I met Kevin (av8rdude) at the gym at 7:00, where I did crunches, upper body, and cardio. I'm off my routine, since South Carolina, so instead of doing resistance work on Wednesday and Friday this week, I'm doing it on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Then next week, I'll get back on my regular M-W-F routine.
Resistance (Upper Body)
Cardio (Elliptical Machine)
It was $.99 hot dogs at Snoopy's day today, and after working out, Kevin asked me to join him, Kurt, and Dave in having them for dinner.
I stopped by home, showered, and dressed to go out tonight, and met them at Kevin's place. Kevin had stopped by Snoopy's on his way home to get our orders. Sweet.
The three of them were kind enough to listen to Jeanie's eulogy. I guess I just couldn't let it go yet. All that energy put into it to only read it publicly once, was just not enough, I guess. They were very gracious, and complimentary. Good friends.
Kevin, Kurt, and I met Joe at Flex at just after 10:00, and the four of us played several games of partners pool, which was fun.
Karaoke was going on, and thank all of the deities that ever starred as one, it was Chastity's last night emceeing. OMG. She just doesn't shut the f*&^ up!
The four of us ended up over at The Borough, where we split two orders of cheese fries between three of us—Kurt doesn't eat French fries. I see that I typed something, but I don't understand a word it says. Doesn't like French fries???
All in all, a sad day, a celebratory day, a day of affirmations, and a returning to life's routines.