April 19, 2001
Some Thoughts on Planning
Some of you may not have been able to access yesterday's entry, due to some server problems. As you probably expect, it deals with some more thoughts about the time between learning Mother's prognosis and her death.
I've said before that during the days after learning my mother's prognosis one of the things I did was work on funeral plans. What I mean by that is to finalize some plans that I had started making several years earlier. That may sound gruesome, but I knew her health was such that it might be possible the plans would be needed at any time, and I knew that there were specific wishes we both had in terms of the service. I also knew that planning ahead for situations that are guaranteed to be stressful can reduce the stress.
During the first weeks after the third stroke Mother had, I was in pretty frequent touch with my cousin George. One of the things I asked George to do was get in touch with the funeral homes back in my home county to find out about prices for various things. He did, and shared the information with me. That made things even that much easier. I had long known Mother's preferences regarding burial, and we already had the family plot.
One of the things that was terribly important to me was that the local pastor invite a former pastor to conduct the service. This was because the current pastor had not met Mother before she had suffered the second stroke, so his only real knowledge of her came from hearing her life story from me. On the other hand, the just-prior pastor had a wonderful relationship with Mother (and with me), and was someone I knew she loved. It didn't seem to bother the current pastor at all to be asked to do this; he readily agreed. I suspect he was grateful for the chance to avoid writing a funeral homily for use at the service of someone he barely knew.
After calling the current pastor with my request, I sat down and wrote a long letter to the prior one. I told him what was going on, and why I had asked the current pastor to ask him to come when the time came. I wanted to make sure he wasn't caught too off-guard at the sure-to-come phone call.
An aside: Lutherans may do things like this differently from other denominations. We are supposed to have church-service-related requests for non-current pastors go through the current pastor, so that he/she actually issues the invitation. It's mainly a matter of courtesy to the current pastor, but it is an etiquette point that one should not overlook.
Another thing I did was call the Development Office of my mother's college, to ask for its mailing address. I had decided that I wanted any memorials to her to be sent there, since the college had made it possible for her class to graduate on time by "forgiving" the tuition during the Depression. The memorial gifts would be my small way of saying thanks for the contribution.
All the planning helped me focus on things I could do. I was also spending a lot of time with Mother, of course. I'll tell you more about that later, but I will say here that it was good.