Sunday, January 4, 2009

Death--The Final Frontier!

No, it's not a bad thing to think about death. I was just thinking the other day and wondering exactly what mom might be up to right now. As I said in a previous post she loved her extended family, and believe me, she had an extended family. Her dad was one of eighteen children. That's right, EIGHTEEN. (It took two wives to produce all those kids, but it's a fact!)

The first major funeral I attended that of my grandfather Edward Price Oldham.I was one year old. The picture at the heading of this blog is our family in 1956 at Grandpa's funeral. If I could recall that time, it was probably the first and last time I ever saw Max's wife, Kay and her oldest children. Funerals are a time when families gather--probably the only time in some cases.

It was said that grandpa had about one thousand first and second cousins. I don't doubt that for a moment. So you see, mom is probably having the time of her "death" enjoying the family once more. They were a tight knit group, one that was highly interested in each other and in the comings and goings of each.

The next funeral that I remember with a lot of pain, is Grandma Annie Obray Oldham's funeral in 1968. I was thirteen. She'd had a stroke and spent the remainder of her days slipping away because she loved life too much to remain inactive. I loved my Grandma Oldham veraciously.

Dad's mother, Geneva Lund Olsen, died in 1972.She had suffered from what they lovingly referred to as "hardening of the arteries". We might call it something all together different these days. But she passed peacefully away on her couch. She was a marvelous lady and a great cook. I gotta tell you that was the last time I've seen some of those cousins pictured on the left. Like I said before, funerals bring families together.

Traditionally in Utah, the fourth Monday in May was referred to as "Decoration Day". It was set aside to honor those dearly departed with flowers--real or plastic. We never missed a decoration day even after moving to California. Our first stop was Mantua, Utah where dad grew up.The next stop was Paradise where mom was raised.
For the life of me I don't recall going to Grandpa Abner Scott Olsen's funeral and that's just tragic. But lastly I shall never forget my own mother's funeral. It took place on Christmas Eve 2005. Isn't that a wonderful day to hold a funeral? Not! What can I say. It was my mother who died. Sometimes in your mind you think they'll live forever and always be there for you. Her impending death wasn't suspected, however she was ninety years old and had been sick and needed a lot of care, but she was mentally as sharp as a tack and just as prickly. In fact I was ticked at her the very day she passed away because I selfishly wanted her to come to California and spend Christmas with my family. She died that night. Boy! Try to get over that heartache quickly. But being with my not-too-serious family helped immensely. We had a celebration instead of a wake, although it was sad and buckets and buckets of tears were shed; we partied. She wouldn't have wanted anything other than a big Olsen family party.

Which brings me back to my thought. Death! Is it something to be feared or welcomed? Someone in their testimony today said how wonderful a plan it is of the Lord's to provide for a passing from this mortal existence when this mortal body is incapable of living past a certain age or physical ability. To some it is a blessed release. Others think it is a terrible shame that some people are taken much too early. Yet who are we to say they really were too young or taken too soon? We just don't know the plan of our Heavenly Father and we certainly don't know what their mission in life or in death was. For an excellent discourse on death, the ramifications and the blessings see Tim's blog. This is part of a talk he has given at many funeral services.

Death--such a pleasant New Year's topic, don't you think? 'Cause we never know what the new year will bring. Are you ready?

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