That was nice of them, nice to receive the flowers, but I suppose, in a way, the flowers weren't intended for us. They were flowers of sympathy for my sister Betty who passed away last Sunday evening at a hospital in Oklahoma City.
Betty suffered from stage IV colon cancer which had spread to her liver. That's pretty much end game. "Cancer has no boundaries," one of my cousin wrote in a sympathy email, and he was right. One can diet, exercise, eat and live sensibly only to be struck down by cancer.
Not that my sister did any of that.
I spent a large part of yesterday gathering facts and composing Betty's obituary, getting it ready for the funeral, which will be on Saturday. Which will be a bit different than planned due to the recent weather. My family isn't big on funerals, just a simple graveside ceremony will do. Except this time the rural western Oklahoma ancestral cemetery lies under a couple feet of snow and many of the roads in the area are still closed and power outages are rampant. We'll have this funeral inside at the chapel. Hopefully, it won't be a candlelight ceremony.
Here's her obit (properly bleeped for the Internet public):
"Betty __, 73 year old Yukon, Oklahoma resident passed from this life on February 24, 2013 at Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. According to Betty's birth certificate, she was born on November 2, but family tradition holds that she was born on November 3, 1939 in Baca County, Colorado to __ & __.
In 1943 the family moved to Western Oklahoma and Betty attended public schools in Vici, Seiling, Camp Creek, and Camargo, graduating from high school in 1958. She attended college at Southwestern State University, Weatherford, Oklahoma and in 1962 obtained a degree in education. Betty taught in elementary schools at Braman, Elkhart, Kansas, Camargo, and Temple where she retired from teaching. After retiring, she worked at tag agencies in Coweta and Broken Arrow.
Betty touched the lives of many people and was always willing to help others. She especially loved children, her students, and she loved spending time with her family, her nieces and nephews and their children who consider Betty their beloved special grandmother. Late in life, Betty was married briefly to the late L___ G___. She cherished the time she spent with his children.
Betty was preceded in death by her parents, __ and sister Mary __. She is survived by a foster-son Jack S__, her four brothers and sisters-in-law, ____; 3 nieces, 8 nephews, 6 great-nephews and 9 great-nieces, and many, many friends."
The obituary leaves a lot unsaid. I left out the part where as a child Betty talked a slightly younger brother (me) into running away from home. The fist fights she had after school with an elementary school arch enemy. The fact that she spent many years as a driver and EMT in a volunteer ambulance crew and told a slightly gruesome tale of cleaning up remnants from a shotgun suicide. That she loved telling stories and recounting fairy tales. Several generations of children can testify to that.They can also tell you about routine Friday movie nights where she plied them with popcorn, stories and old movies while their parents had the evening off.
That she was a dust bowl brat born not far from the Ken Burns' documentary epicenter, suffered many bouts of childhood pneumonia, survived teenage polio, adult breast cancer, verbal spousal abuse, and numerous episodes of depression and anxiety. Oh yes, did I mention the two brain surgeries? No? Well, she was somewhat accident prone.
She was a good sister. I'll miss her a lot.