Our trip yesterday went well. The Blackburns took us to the airport. The traffic was thick and slow. There were dozens of parked buses. People were walking in orange shirts and carrying placards. It looked like a demonstration was in the making. We were happy to get through the area and onto the airport property. I took a picture out the massive airport windows. We could see the high rise buildings that surround our apartment. The first flight went well. After getting through customs in Houston we were stopped by an airport worker. He was a tall black man, probably in his fifties, wearing a red sport jacket. He was there telling some of us who didn’t know any better that we had to pick up our luggage and take it through doors straight ahead to be put on another conveyor belt. He said to us, “I know you are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but you need to get your luggage before proceeding. If you had called ahead I would have done it for you.” Then he laughed. He put out his hand and shook our hands and said, “I am Brother Stewart.” With our black tags there is never a question of who we are. We were delayed two hours in Houston by a maintenance problem with the plane so had to change gates. We finally arrived in Ontario about 9:30 pm and Jill and family were there to pick us up. One thing that occurred in Houston; we put on our wedding rings that we haven’t worn since we arrived in Guatemala. Our rings are far from expensive or big, but we have been warned that jewelry can be snatched off of us.
It was weird to wake up in the United States. I feel like a fish out of water. I feel like I am playing hooky. I even felt nostalgic when I saw all the purple jacaranda blossoms lying in the street here in Corona. I do like all the signs in English. Dick and Jacob took Jill’s car this morning and went to the DMV to get a copy of his driver’s license. Then Jill took us to Lomita to the mortuary where we met Linda and Tiffany and took care of all the arrangements for Mother. I am very grateful to be here to participate in this process. Mother wanted everything to be like Daddy’s funeral so we pretty much followed that course. We picked out a lovely casket with a “rose” theme…not overstated but simple and beautiful.
We all went to In ‘n Out for lunch. That first bite was all I wanted it to be. Dinner was at Miguel’s, McGarys favorite Mexican restaurant. Just the place for us to practice our Spanish! I have been working on the eulogy and an obituary for the mortuary to put online. Robert got my computer connected to the internet tonight and we had some wonderful messages from dear friends. Today is Cady’s 2nd birthday. She is our youngest grandchild….. until January.
9 June 2009…..Tuesday
I’m still feeling weird not being in Guatemala. Dick took the boys out to breakfast and Jill, Dick and I went to Dressbarn at Ontario Mills Mall. It was a very fruitful trip. I found the perfect suit to wear to Mother’s funeral and to use on my mission. I also bought three other dresses that will work for the office or church. They will certainly add variety to my wardrobe. Then when we got home Jill gave me some Cookie Lee jewelry to go with my clothes….plus some Avon items. She is very generous and I know the women in our family, twelve and up, will enjoy that generosity while we are together on Friday.
I worked on Mother’s obituary and emailed it and a picture of her to the mortuary. I also worked on the eulogy that Dick will give. Jill had a PTA meeting so Dick took her then later took Nathan to Cub Scouts. Then he picked up Jill. We all went to get Nathan and then met Robert at Sizzler. Dick and I had steak and lobster. I enjoyed the meal so much. The best steak I have had since leaving the U.S. Jill and Robert went to Costco and we drove home with the boys. Dick enjoyed seeing a Lakers game on TV.
10 June 2009…..Wednesday
This morning we went to Von’s with Jill. I took my list of things we couldn’t find in Guatemala. I bought marshmallow cream for Christmas fudge, clams so I can make chowder, my favorite mascara, a pineapple corer to share amongst our friends, and a few other items. When we got home I had a call from Clark Sandberg. He and his wife live in Linda and Steve’s ward and they have been called to serve as missionaries in Guatemala City Central Mission.
At 10:30 am Dana arrived and took us to Mission Viejo. I finally got to meet Ava Lee Crosby, our precious great-granddaughter who was born New Year’s Eve. I have been waiting to kiss her sweet little cheeks. I held her for an hour when we first got there. Dana, Kelsey, Ava, Dick and I went to Carl’s Jr. for some lunch that we can’t get in Guate. It has been typical June gloom here in Southern California. I returned a Skype call and we talked to Tilleys and the Hermanas.
At 4 pm Blake, Cameron and Dick left to pick up Jeff at the refinery and they all went to a Dodger game. This is the longest Dick and I have been apart in a year. Dana and I went to Steinmart and I bought a black purse. Later Kelsey, Ava, Dana and I went to Sonic for a little food with Jessica who is working there. Kelsey gave my hair a trim and shaping. It was almost midnight before the guys got back.
11 June 2009…Thursday
This morning Dana took us to Lomita to the mortuary. Jill was already there and so were Linda, Steve, and Todd. The guys waited out in the car for us. Linda, Jill, Dana and I were able to dress Mother in preparation for her burial. It was such a blessing and a sacred opportunity to put her sacred temple clothing upon her body that served her so well in her earthly experience. I was privileged to offer a prayer before we commenced.
We came back to Corona with Jill. Mark and family were already here. Mark hugged me with tears just like the hug months ago when we told him goodbye. Aimee and Emily came out to the car to greet us. Emily asked me later if I can go to her house. That brought tears to my eyes. I told her next year we could go to her house in Phoenix right after she turns five. Kristen and the girls arrived safely from Springville. I am discovering that my grandchildren 11 and older are taller than me. Dick and Mark went to pick up the 15 passenger van that we have rented to transport many of us. Dustin’s family arrived at Jill’s tonight and we got to meet our great-grandson, Aidan and Dustin’s wife, Sunny. Alison and Paul flew in and stayed at Jeff’s and Dennis and Christine came and stayed at a hotel because Dennis had a business trip to the LA area.
Today had an exciting occasion. The major league baseball draft is going on and Blake was drafted by Oakland, the team his brother Bobby plays for. Dick is very excited that his grandson-in-law is living his dream. We can tell everyone that our grandson is Blake Crosby THE ball player.
12 June 2009…..Friday
I was awake at 5 am. Kristen’s family arrived from the hotel and we were loaded in the van about seven with Dustin’s family following us. Traffic on the freeway was moving well and we arrived in Rancho Palos Verdes in good time. The Badders were already there. I am so grateful for their support for us. The funeral was lovely. Mother was beautiful in her casket that seemed made to order for her. There were a number of people there. Of course, family swells the numbers tremendously. Mike Orlando, her home teacher when she first moved to Lancaster, was there. Somehow I knew he would be there. Dwain and Margaret McGary (Jill’s in-laws) were there. He was Mother and Daddy’s bishop many, many years ago. Mark offered the family prayer and his sweet emotions were expected and very appropriate. Jill offered the opening prayer in the funeral. She is probably the first woman in the family to pray in a family funeral. Dick gave the eulogy. Jeff spoke eloquently on the great plan of salvation. This was a complete family funeral with Steve officiating and conducting the funeral. Todd offered the closing prayer and Steven dedicated the gravesite. The highlight was the great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren singing “Families Can Be Together Forever.” Kelsey went up with baby Ava and Myrna was there with Kristy and Katy. All the grandsons were pall bearers.
After the funeral we had a meal at the church. Then we loaded back into all the vehicles and drove for two hours to Beaumont for Mother’s burial next to Daddy. That brought completeness to the whole process to have her safely interred. There were flowers from the Greenhalgh cousins on Mother’s side of the family and another arrangement from the Greenhalgh cousins on Daddy’s side. Donna Bendixen (Alison’s mother-in-law) who was so recently widowed also sent flowers and there were flowers from UPS, Paul’s place of employment. They were lovely and appreciated so much. The wonderful gift when we arrived at the cemetery was that Lew and Sandi Stratton had come from Escondido. They were there waiting for us. Not only was Lew an usher at our wedding but he and Sandi have attended our kids weddings and missionary farewells, as well as our own farewell last year. They have always supported us. I was very touched by Kristy and her six year old grief over losing her great-great grandmother. She knew and loved her Nana Great and she was loved in return.
Jill planned a meal for all of us at her home. (She has fed a number of us for days.) Her ward insisted on bringing in more food to supplement. It ended up that only the Graff family and Badders were there but we had a very wonderful time together. We wish that Dennis’ kids, Alison’s kids, Scott’s family and Cyndy could have been here. We live so far apart that we cherish the times we can spend together and with grandkids growing up, some married and/or attending college, and two graduating high school our times together will be fewer. Myrna chronicled all of it with pictures, plus almost 500 pictures taken by me, Maren, Alison, Kristen, and Jill.
I am so grateful for the love and support of our children and in-law children and for our grandchildren. What wonderful, caring people they are. Mother and Daddy loved them and were very proud of them and they know it. They always treated their grandparents with great love and respect. We would rather spend time with our children than anyone else in the whole wide world.
13 June 2009…..Saturday
A quiet time for me today. Dick asked what I would like to do today and I told him I just wanted to stay here and go no place. I got my wish. Meanwhile, Dick and Mark returned the van, bought See’s chocolates to take to Tilleys and toured parts of Pomona and places we lived. Then Dick took Sydney, Madisen and Kourtney out to lunch. Then he went with Jill to Costco and bought a couple of items for Tilleys. Meanwhile, we visited with Jill, Kristen, Alison, Mark and Dustin’s families.
14 June 2009…..Sunday
Dustin’s family left this morning for their drive back to San Francisco. We went to Church and Mark’s family headed back to Phoenix afterwards. Kristen and girls were here with us. I think we are all very tired and ready for normalcy. Dick and I are very ready to return to Guatemala tonight. We fly out of Ontario at 1 am to Houston. We get to spend 6 am to 9 am in the Houston airport and then arrive in Guatemala at 11 am on Monday.
This week has been exhausting and returning to missionary activities will be welcome. I think of all my emotions of this past week. They will go on my “personal and private” journal that I keep on my computer. Some feelings are meant to be shared with many and other feelings are meant to be recorded for myself. Those feeling will be for my family to read but not for exposure to the whole world on my blog.
A Few Pics from The Services that Day: