In my last blog I wrote about how I felt after getting "a sign" regarding my decision as to where to inter my mom's cremains. Today, I want to let you know about a serendipitous burial location for my mom's best friend:
My mom met Helen when we relocated to Florida in 1973. The two worked together at Montgomery Wards and shared many common interests.
After my mom died, I continued to send Helen, who had left the area, Christmas cards with an update on my family.
In early July of this year, I received the email below:
Just wanted to let you know that my Mother passed away on the 21st. She was 89 years old and was as ready as anyone could be to go home to Jesus.
My wife and I are going through her things at our house and I've noticed cards from you for many years. I'm not sure exactly who you are or what church you went to but it seems you and my mother were close at one time or the other...
(Note to self: Remeber to keep your old email addresses forwarded to whatever you're currently using so people can still connect!)
I emailed Bill and explained my relationship with his mom. We corresponded back and forth via email discussing ways he could preserve his mom's many pictures and mementos. Unfortunately, by the time we connected, he had tossed out the many letters my mom had sent Helen. As he continued to go through his mother's belongings he discovered a clipping his mom had kept of my marriage announcement in the newspaper and he sent it to me.
In genealogy we don't often think about family friends as retaining our family information but seeing that clipping reminded me of the importance of checking outside the immediate family for records, too!
About a month after his first email, Bill sent me the following:
"We finished up cleaning out my Mother's apartment yesterday and that is a relief. We've been going through her things when we can and it is so difficult as she had re-organized to a method we are not familiar with. Things from the 20's next to a package from some charity asking for money from recent years. Just trying to organize the photos is tough enough.
The funeral went very well.. I'm sure there haven't been many like it. The kids were all very supportive during her time in the hospital and hospice. I'm attaching the story [that was] read and my mothers Testimony. Also pictures of her miracle cups. She was convinced her cups could make a difference to someone so I am attempting to follow through with her wishes. Please forward parts that are interesting to you to anyone you would like....
We were going to record the service but after we saw the samples we realized that some memories should remain just that. ...
My mother was engaged to one of the neighbors in 1981 (John) after my Dad died in 1978 . They were going to get married on the day after he actually died of a cerebral hemorrhage. It was a sad time for her but it was life changing, again. She ended up housekeeping and baby sitting for his Son and Daughter in Law in Miami. She did that for a while and they moved to Orlando. She decided to stay and get her own apartment. Several years passed and money was an issue and the neighborhood was changing. At that point I asked her to come back and stay with us while I was working. She moved back in with the couple again and raised their kids through the teen years in Orlando. [Then we] found her an Apartment in a 55+ complex. She said she had never been happier!
Anyway, the point of the background: During the service her deceased fiance's son told me that his father's Crypt was right over there and pointed to the first section of the Mausoleum that was very close. Talk about shivers going down your spine! We had absolutely no idea it was within view although I have a vague memory that my mother said that he was buried somewhere in the place. I know she had no idea! She had no sense of direction at all! We picked out the place and only had her over to approve of it. It is such a beautiful place. Our "ashes" bench is right next to her. We put my fathers urn and his dogs urn in with my mother. When we asked her in the hospital if it was OK she just showed indifference. Perhaps his religious beliefs were a factor? If she would have known that John was laid out in sight I don't know what the answer would have been................ "
So dear readers, what is the probability of a family member purchasing a cemetery plot for their loved one and only discovering at the funeral that "We had no idea that John was buried in direct sight of our area............... It was so nice that we actually went there and had lunch a couple of times on our bench with my mother. I think she really enjoyed it there. If she would have known her beloved John was right in view" All I can say is, WOW!
And the last email I received from Bill ties in his mom and my mom's messages from beyond using butterflies:
"Speaking of Butterflies: The following is an excerpt from my mother's "Book of Miracles".
"I flew from Miami to St. Petersburg to visit my son and family for Mothers Day. I told Bill that I would like to go to church as a family on Sunday. I enjoyed church, and afterwards, we went out to eat. It was a lovely day. When we got back to the house we sat on the back porch for a while.
A butterfly landed on my hand and stayed there for a long time. I could move my hand back and forth, up and down, and it still stayed there. Finally, it flew to Bill's hand , then to the children's hands, one by one. Then back to me it flew. After it had visited each of us, it flew back to the shed and stayed there a long time. It came out about the same time every day that I was there. When I left, they never saw the butterfly again."
Butterflies seem to be a metaphor for life in some way. So beautiful but so short a time.."
My mom had died shortly before this visit. Was the butterfly visitor a message from my mom to Helen? Doubters will say it is all a meaningless coincidence and psychologists will explain humans need to seek meaning in life, especially during a stressful time. Those are two explanations but I prefer to believe that there is a lot of knowledge yet undiscovered and that we may one day better understand events beyond current explanation.