On Hallow's Eve, Friday, October 31st, Jason and I, my parents, two aunts and an uncle sat with Grandma Maxine at her home as she breathed her last. My dad had just picked up his sister from the airport and made it to the house ten minutes before hand, where they and another sister prayed, held Grandma's hands, stroked her hair, and told her of their love. Grandma was 89 years old and still a lovely sight. She'd had Alzheimers for six years and had been cared for by my aunt and uncle in the five years since Grandpa died. So, while we lost her bodily that night, we had lost her mentally over a long time, which made her passing bittersweet.
Within 1/2 hour, our local cousins, my brother and his wife, and my mom's parents arrived, and we sat together all evening mourning and celebrating a long life now gone. A complete rainbow stretched across the sky just outside the house. We all stepped into the cool autumn where we could see it end to end.
The next week was full, with family members arriving and a memorial service to plan. I think our time together watching old slides, recounting our heritage, and especially the service itself were fitting tributes to Grandma. Lots of people shared memories of her life of humility and giving; she was absolutely the most selfless person you could hope to meet. She followed my grandpa to the ends of the earth. In the 60's, before this type of thing was commonly practiced, they drove a pickup camper from Alaska to the southern tip of South America, stopping along the way to help whomever they could, mostly pastors in small churches who needed sabbaticals or other support. They combined their love of travel and different cultures with service to God and man.
Here's their engagement picture.
Grandpa and Grandma Lautaret's four children:
Lavonne, Carolyn, Larry, and Rita
This is my sister and I with our namesake grandmas.
My middle name is after Grandma Louise,
and Rachel's is after Grandma Maxine.
One of the songs we sang at the memorial service was an old bluegrass number that has these lyrics that I've been singing ever since:
Mother's not dead
She's only sleeping
Patiently waiting for Jesus to come
The birds will be singing
While Mother lies sleeping
They will sing o'er as the grave sinks away