I’ve been offline for the last week or so. Laura’s mother passed away on June 13 and we have been in Washington State on Samish Island for the funeral. I only had my phone for Internet access, so I’ve not been able to upload photos or do much blogging. I’ll try to catch up with things in these next couple of posts.
Laura’s father, Jim Wright, passed away in 1990 and was buried in Bow Cemetery in Skagit County. Bow isn’t really a town, but it’s the closest post office to Samish Island. The Wrights had purchased side-by-side plots, and it was Mrs. Wright’s wish to buried next to her husband. Amy made the arrangements and coordinated between the funeral homes in Vero Beach, Florida and Mount Vernon, Washington.
The funeral was set for Saturday, June 24. That would give us plenty of time for the various parties to get there. Amy, Laura, and I would be the only ones traveling from the east, but some of the cousins said that they would attend.
Our flight was the Tuesday before, and it was one of the best flights out that we’ve had. Amy arrived the next day. The rest of the week was spent meeting with the funeral home and attorneys to start the long process of settling the estate.
Next door neighbors Duff and Linda said that the weather cleared up when we arrived. Whether or not it was because of us is debatable, but regardless, the weather was spectacular. There was a serenity to the island that’s hard to understand unless you’ve been there. It was just what we needed.
To top things off, it was the summer solstice. That meant that by 4:30 it was starting to get light and it stayed that way until after 10:00 pm. I didn’t get much sleep on this trip, for a variety of reasons.
Friends and family began to gather. Duff and Linda joined us around the fire pit for an evening of s’mores one evening.
On Friday Laura’s cousin Linda arrived from California and her Aunt Net and cousin Storey drove up from the Olympia area. We had another evening gathering, toasting the memory of Mrs. Wright with martinis and chardonnay.
The funeral itself would be a small graveside affair. Mrs. Wright hadn’t lived on the island for five years, so the few remained who would have remembered her would be tied up with a big island event on Saturday. I was glad it was a small gathering, because without a local minister, I was asked to officiate. I had to call upon my liturgical experience as a church music director, but I managed to pull together a service that would serve her memory as well as be fitting for those of use who were there. Amy helped me put together a medley of her mom’s favorite music to be played during the service.
The weather was still beautiful at 10:00 am Saturday morning in Bow Cemetery. We could see the snow-capped Olympics off in the distance, and Mount Baker and the the Cascades peeked out from clouds around the tops of the mountains. A tent was set up and flowers from friends were set up around the casket.
To say that the service was eclectic would be an understatement. I pulled from several traditions, but made most of it up. I pulled a good bit of the content from the blog post I wrote about Mrs. Wright. Here’s the text of my comments and outline of the service.
Laura asked if I would share the medley of tunes Amy and I put together. I have to admit it’s the first time I’ve hear Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Godda-Da-Vida” or Jimmy Buffet’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise” in a funeral service, but it fit. Here’s the medley:
I even found the cassette of Iron Butterfly that Mrs. Wright requested for Christmas for us one year. It was in one of the kitchen drawers.
After the funeral the few in attendance lingered a bit before heading back to the island.
Back on Samish Island we had sandwiches and more fellowship before the cousins headed back home.
The next day Amy, Laura, and I dropped back by the cemetery to see the grave one more time.
Yes, there was sadness, but overall it was a good gathering. It was great visiting with family, and I hope that we can spend more time with them while we’re out this way next year.
And while the funeral and preparations took up most of our time, that wasn’t all we did. We managed to get some time for ourselves. More on that in the next post, when i’ll write about the non-funeral aspects of the trip.