Friday, August 14, 2009

Strawberry Sunflower Fields Forever

Last week I attended funeral visitation that was literally like a bad SNL skit. Lest I sound disrespectful, even the family of the deceased was in giggles.

My co-workers and I are a tight-knit bunch, so when the father of one of them passed away after a prolonged illness, we wanted to pay our respects. The week had been a long one, with said co-worker off tending to family affairs and another taking va
cation. So between long days with high-maintenance patients and a high case load, it stands to reason that a 2-hour road trip to a visitation after work could get a little slap-happy.

The road trip was beautiful. We got started an hour later than intended and I was starving from skipping lunch. My friend (a pantry pack-rat) packed a bag o' goodies and away we went. Not too far from our destination, we were distracted by a sunflower or two on the way to Decorah, and had to stop for photographs.

At first they were a bit on the shy side, and turned away from my camera.Then I made friends, and we got up-close and personal.My friend casually reminded me to be careful traipsing through the field "so you don't break an ankle." She's sort of my sister from another mister and knows that clumsiness is one of my spiritual gifts.Once they understood we were only there to admire their beauty, they introduced us to their friends. Have you ever seen so many sunflowers on such beautiful rolling hills?
I had looked at the obituary of the gentle man who passed away. Beautifully written, it depicted this man of the cloth (retired Lutheran pastor, to be exact) and a loving family. The address for the funeral home was at the bottom of the obit, so I copied and pasted into Mapquest. We didn't miss a turn. Smooth sailing all the way.

Upon arriving at the funeral home, the greeters ushered us in, quietly whispering that they were in the middle of a prayer vigil. I dropped a sympathy card in the designated box. We didn't get a program (or flyer, or what ever you call those things), and stealthily tiptoed to the back of the chapel to a row of chairs along the wall. The lector was reading scripture.

My first hint that something was amiss was that I didn't see our friend or any of her family. Hmmm.Odd.

The second hint was that the entire row in front of us was gentlemen dressed like this.
We just saw them from the back, and the white ostrich feathers (I think) were fabulous, though not very Lutheran.

How nice, I thought, that the Catholics and Lutherans can come together in such mutual respect at a time like this. It's small-town Iowa and that's what we do.

Two elderly gentlemen sat on the other side of my friends. Not fair. They got programs. So my friend leaned forward to the left to peek. And leaned. And leaned.

She practically leaned out of her chair, but managed to read "Judge Joseph...." on the program.

Just as the lector was saying "Joe really would have loved this scripture."

She sat upright. I gasped. Yes, we were at the wrong service. And we were becoming increasingly late for the other because of, well, sunflowers and all.

We quickly stood and walked out, and asked the men outside about Pastor Peter's service.

"Oh, he's at our other location."
He gave us directions and we were off.

And very embarrassed. But not embarrassed enough for me to run back in the funeral home to ask for my sympathy card back.

Our dear co-worker was delighted to see us - "It's so nice of you to go to all the trouble..." Then we told here where we'd been. We all just howled. That's what I want to happen at my funeral. Giggling and howling. Remember, it will all start with this. And probably go downhill from there.

As a rather tragic (but we're all still laughing) footnote, my friend whose father died stopped at the sunflower field on her way home after a few days with her mother. She wanted pictures, too, as she had been driving past that field for weeks as she waited for her dad to go home to Jesus.

Walking across the ditch, she stepped in a hole. And broke her ankle.

Hence, the long time between blog posts. I've been working a lot!

Tea today: Republic of Tea White with Orange Blossom