Monday morning, April 21, Justin and Rose ran into town to pick up a few electronics items from stores that had been closed on Sunday so Justin could get her entertainment system running smoothly – she heard how well he did on Lynn and Bill’s. I packed up our suitcases and put a doorknob on the bathroom door while they were away. And we set back off to San Diego with Wendy that afternoon. Justin and I landed at Lynn and Bill’s again, rushing in to shower and change before heading off to the wake. Wendy went to spend the evening at a friend’s home.
The wake was really hard.
This is probably the second funeral and wake I’ve ever been to. I have very vague memories of being at another one when I was very young, but I don’t really have a clear picture of it. Which meant that I had nothing to go on for past experience heading into this.
The cemetery is the same one where Justin’s dad (Kirk) and Grandma Barnett are buried. Since we visited their graves when we were in town last time (2012), I knew where we were going. We walked into the lobby of the chapel and found Justin’s uncle Doug (Grandpa Doug’s other son, he only had two children: Doug and Kirk) chatting with the receptionist. He and Justin chatted for a little while before we moved into the actual chapel itself. There were maybe 15 – 20 people in there, including Pat, Grandpa Doug’s long-time companion, and she introduced us to several of her nieces and nephews and friends who were there to support her. One of Grandpa Doug’s nieces and her adult granddaughter and grandson-in-law were also there, and we know them from the Barnett family reunion that we attended in 2010. Grandpa Doug’s dog, Linda, was also in there, and the poor thing wasn’t feeling well. Her neck was tilted to the right and her balance was off. And several other people who knew Grandpa Doug and Pat came through while we were there, people from the House of Sweden in town and other groups.
Honestly, I got overwhelmed and couldn’t keep track of people.
Grandpa Doug was up at the front, in a lovely white casket, and he looked much too thin. He was missing his always present smile and his red hat, so he really didn’t look like himself to me. I went up and stood there with Justin for a while before we moved to look at the many different poster boards with photographs attached. I couldn’t go back when Justin went back to the casket later. It was too hard.
The photographs were wonderful though, and it was great seeing photos of when Grandpa Doug had been much younger and different events that he and Pat had attended. There were pictures of him with his family members, including one with Justin and his dad at a high school cross country race and another with Justin’s cousin Doug (uncle Doug’s son) in his Marines uniform.
Cousin Doug is in training in Florida with the Marines and wasn’t able to make it up for the funeral. Through the wonder of technology, the next day, his girlfriend was able to Skype with him so he could see the second half of the service.
Justin told me that the chapel we were in was the same chapel as where they had the wake and funeral for his dad, 11 years ago. And was when I lost it and had to sit there and cry for a little while.
We stayed until the chapel closed for the evening, along with Uncle Doug, Aunt Lisa, and Cousin Doug’s girlfriend, Deanna, and her mom, and Pat and some of her family. The receptionist came through and told us that she had to close up, and Uncle Doug asked that she leave a light on for Grandpa Doug overnight, because he always had a nightlight on. She said that she would.
Justin and I got invited to go out to dinner with his aunt and uncle, but Justin wasn’t feeling up to company, so we drove around until we found a Barnes and Noble and wandered around the store for a little while before heading out to find food, and then driving back to Lynn and Bill’s. We arrived late, after they were already in bed, but they didn’t mind getting up to let us back into the house.
The next day, the funeral started at noon, so we took our time getting ready in the morning, making sure we looked presentable. We arrived in plenty of time, which is only worth noting because Wendy made Justin really nervous about showing up late, but we were fine. And also because his Uncle Doug and Aunt Lisa showed up right at the start time because they ran into traffic. There were a lot more people there, but not as many as we’d expected. Justin’s ex-stepmom, Sharon, and her husband, Pat, were there and it was wonderful to see them.
It was a lovely funeral. Grandpa Doug was a Mason and a Marine, so there was a portion of the service where a Mason gave a little talk and I honestly don’t remember all that much about it other than something about an apron and a twig from an evergreen and a lot of references to God being the Grand Master, or something simlar. I know very little about the Masons, but the “Grand Master” reference is so simliar to “Game Master” that it made me inappropraitely amused.
After the gentleman from the Masons sat down, the chaplain opened up the floor for people to come up and talk. Several people stepped up and told stories about Grandpa Doug, as friends, coworkers, neighbors, and relations. Justin stood up and told the story about how Grandpa Doug cut in during the first dance at our wedding. If you’re not familiar with this story, Justin and I had a dance at our wedding reception, even though we’re not very good at dancing. And partway though our first dance, Grandpa Doug walked foward and cut in, booted Justin to the side, and finished the dance with me. It was HILARIOUS! Completely unexpected, but what I came to recognize as being normal behavior for Grandpa Doug.
There were a lot of wonderful stories told and I wish I could remember them, but I’m drawing a blank right now. I do rememer that Pat stood and told about Grandpa Doug’s last few months and how hard it had been for him, that his health had really been declining and he hadn’t been able to do as much. And that recently, he’d been more and more sure that he was ready to go. He was prepared and he was tired. So this funeral was really a celebration that he finally was able to let go. He was free from the pain that he’d been suffering for so long. He was a peace and we should celebrate who he had been.
I don’t remember who said it, but they said that they last words that they heard him say were “Semper Fi!” and that was completly fitting for Grandpa Doug. The Marines had been such a big part of his whole life. There were very few other words that would have been more fitting to be his last words.
After people spoke, the chaplain said a few words, a song played, and then the pallbearers, of which Justin was one, transferred the casket out to the hearse and we made our way up to the burial site. Up on the hill, a handful of Marines took the casket from the car and to burial site. The chaplain said a few more words and then there was the sounding of the arms, or whatever that’s called when they shoot guns at the sky in honor of the deceased. That was followed by a beautiful playing of Taps by two players. The Marines gathered up the flag that was covering the casket and folded it very carefully before it was handed over to Pat. The folding took a long time because they had to make sure it was absolutely perfect. And I don’t have a picture of it, but when the Marine knelt down and handed the flag to Pat, and she accepted it, she held it close to her chest and hugged it, with this beautifully calm smile on her face, so thankful for the gift of that flag and for everything that it represented, both to her and to Grandpa Doug.
And then that was it. A few people put tokens on top of the casket before it was lowered into the ground. And people stood around talking for a while, thanking the chaplian for doing such a good job, and figuring out their plans for the afternoon. The grounds people stood off to the side, waiting for everyone to leave before they would finish up.
We went to Pat’s house, where she and Doug have lived for the last many years, for a reception. It was a little awkward, but we tried to move around from group to group to chat with a bunch of people, since this was the last we’d be seeing them for a while. It was good to be able to spend time with people, though, catching up and remembering Grandpa Doug.
Late in the afternoon, we went back to Lynn and Bill’s house. The four of us went out for dinner, where I finally charmed Lynn to talk about what she does for work, briefly. The whole time we were there (and it’s continued afterward, actually, via emails), she joked that when Grandma Rose came back from spending time at our house at Christmas, all she would talk about is “wonderful Kylene” and she wasn’t going to be taken in by my charms. Oh, no! She was stronger than that! When I got Bill to talk about his work the first morning we were there — he works for a weekly scientific magazine, coordinating with writers and editors and the like — Lynn exclaimed, “No, Bill! You’re giving in to the Kylene charm!” So whenever I tried to ask her what she did for a living, she’d reuse to answer. But over dinner, I managed to get her to talk a little bit about what it means to be an actuary. (Lynn is incredibly bright, by the way. Fantastic mathamatian!) A couple minutes into talking about the variables and things that she has to consider for her work, she stopped and looked at me. “You made me talk about work! No! I got charmed by the Kylene charm!” After which, of course, she refused to talk about it any more. But it made me smile.
We went back to their house, where Lynn showed me how she mades cookies (Justin has raved about her cookies for years) and Justin and Bill tried to fix the record player that wasn’t communicating with the rest of the entertainment center. After that, Justin and I packed up our bags and got ready to head to the airport in the morning.
And that’s the end of Part Three.