Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Grandma (part 2)

I woke up yesterday (Tuesday) and realized that I had gone the day before (Monday) without shedding a tear. This was significant because it ended my 21 day streak of daily tears. Between my Dad and my Grandma, it definitely has been a rocky few weeks and my emotions have been high.

Last Thursday I, along with my parents, sisters, and two-week old Megan, headed up to Montana for a second funeral and the burial of my Grandma. My grandparents lived in Fortine, Montana (less than 20 miles south of the Canadian border) for 31 years, but after my Grandpa died 16 years ago, my Grandma moved back to Utah. It was wonderful going back to a place that holds a lot of dear memories for me.

Both funerals were very nice. I really enjoyed listening to aunts, uncles, and my Dad talk about my Grandma. I learned a couple of new things, but most things I already knew. She was a kind, gentle, and humble woman who never complained (and I mean NEVER) and was in constant service of her family, friends, and neighbors. While living in Fortine, her visiting teaching assignments covered a 100 mile radius, which she faithfully fulfilled each month. It made me think twice about my dumb excuses for missing a month here and there.

It has been a long, long time since I have seen so many of my cousins at one time. I figured that between the two viewings and funerals I saw 65 cousins. Some I hadn't seen since my Grandpa's funeral. It made me a little sad too, knowing that kind of gathering is likely to never again be repeated. Even Aaron surprised us all by showing up at the last minute for the first funeral. He was in Utah for less than 24 hours and I am sure it was a big sacrifice for him to miss class, but I was so happy to see him. It made my day.

Anyway, back to Montana...

We left on Thursday and stayed the first night in Dillon. We got there late and found that most hotels were filled. We thought that was strange for a Thursday night at the end of October, until we saw a sign that said "Welcome Hunters". We secured a room at the Sundowner, where my Grandpa frequently stayed when he traveled for business. However, after paying for the room Mindy decided to check out the bed bug report for the hotel. It was not good. Not good at all. We went back and asked for a return, making the excuse that we had decided that since we had a baby with us, we really needed to find a hotel with two rooms. We ended up at Motel 6, which was a very small step up from the Sundowner. Lesson learned: make reservations before traveling, because even if you think finding a decent hotel won't be a problem, it can be.

The next morning we took the recommendation of a local and ate breakfast at Grandma's Kitchen. One word: bleh. One of my favorite shows to watch is Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the food network and I had all these great expectations of checking out a locally owned restaurant. The food was mediocre. But, the kicker for me was when the cook came out of the kitchen for a brief moment, reveling a prominent plumbers crack. Lesson learned: sometimes it's just better to eat at McDonald's. I never thought I'd say that.

We finally arrived at our destination around 2:30 and met up with most of the family at Murphy Lake. A hot dog roast had been arranged and we arrived just in time. Gathering by a lake for a hot dog roast was a common occurrence during past reunions. A couple cousins had a tent set up with the original fireplace that my Grandparents used to heat their tent when they moved to Montana in October 1964. It was cold and windy outside, so as many as possible crammed themselves inside the tent for warmth and it gave us a small taste of what my Dad's family went through back then. Lesson learned: a hot dog roast in Montana is a lot more pleasant in July that it is at the end of October.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful, we checked into our cabin, got some dinner, and visited with family. The past two days of traveling had really worn out my Dad and he wasn't feeling well by the end of the day, so he retired early to get some much needed rest. Side note: my Dad's chemo has been going fairly well so far, his biggest complaint is that he just doesn't have the energy that he had before.

Saturday was a busy day. We started out by visiting/touring my Grandparents old home, aka The North Forty. Since my Grandma moved away 16 years ago, the home has been completely renovated. I had mixed feelings about going. A big part of me didn't want to go because I didn't want the memories I have of their home to become muddled. Truth be told, I could have gone the rest of my life without going inside the house. While it was interesting to see what had been done with the home, my favorite parts were the things that have remained untouched: a couple of exposed walls, a door, and the shop cabinets. I also really enjoyed walking around a portion of the 40 acres they lived on, while listening to my Dad and Uncle Karl talk about their days in Montana.

Front, side, and back views of the home.
The pond.
The pasture where we set up tents for family reunions.
The generator/power source for the home.
Lifferth sign.
Some suggested it be removed for sentimental reasons,
but I actually like that it is still there marking the property :o)
Scenic views.
The lane leading to the home.
After touring the North Forty, we did a little sight seeing in Eureka, namely the old church house and the high school where my Dad was student body president.

Then it was time for the second viewing and funeral for my Grandma. There was a more somber feeling during these services, I think because people had to say their final goodbyes. It was sad watching my aunts say goodbye to their mother. The services ended beautifully with my cousin Gabe playing "Amazing Grace" as the casket was moved to the van.

My Grandma's final resting place is located on the highest point of the Fortine cemetery. It is easy to see why my Grandpa chose this plot of land, the scenery is beautiful and there is a very peaceful feeling present. I should also mention that my Uncle Wes made the casket and the headstone. Both are beautiful.

After the dedication of the grave, we took advantage of an opportunity to take a picture of my Grandma's 13 children. It is a rare thing to have them all together at the same time.

There was a luncheon afterward and more visiting with family that night. Most people left either Saturday after the funeral or first thing Sunday morning. Our group went to church on Sunday and then we made one final stop at the cemetery before beginning our journey home. Two uncles, Wes and Ern also stopped at the cemetery. Uncle Wes brought tulips to plant in front of the headstone.

Before we left, my Mom said a prayer and then my uncles gave my Dad a blessing. It was a great ending to the week.

We stopped a couple of times along the way to take a few pics of the beautiful tamarack trees. I haven't ever been to northern Montana in the fall and the scenery was stunning. I am hoping to take my family there someday soon.


Marilyn said...

Thanks Jame! That was a beautiful recap of a wonderful week. It made us cry...not good! If we could, we would head back today. We love Montana and being with family.
Love you, Mom and Dad

Lindsay said...

Wow, what a beautiful place. Those pictures are gorgeous! I'm so sorry about your grandma, I hope your spirits are well - you've been through so much lately. Our prayers are with you and your beautiful family!

rsheedy said...

Wow. I sure wish I could have been there too; however, I'm glad you were able to take lots of photos for those of us who didn't attend. We have such an amazing family; I am so glad to be part of it. It was great seeing you and I sure miss you and your cute family!

The Wright's said...

Love this post! I just finished my month and you covered so many details I failed to mention. I'll have to link it to yours (but how do I print that?? ha!) It was a very nice weekend together. And count us in when you take your family there "sometime soon." We LOVE Montana! It would be even better with you guys! :)

Jamie said...

Great post and pictures!

All About M.E.('s) said...

Great post and great pictures. It was a great trip. I'm so glad that we were able to go.