My Family Reunion – Grandma's Funeral

For many of the younger years of my life, Lucille Gilster, was one of my parents. My mom was a single parent with three little children. No education, no money, but a burning desire to succeed my mom, became the shining role model that one day influenced her to change the world for the better.


Grandma took on the role of raising another family, quickly becoming an authority in my life. I remember living in her basement, sleeping on the floor with my twin brother and sister as my mom slept on the fold out couch. It wasn’t forever, but when you are in the 4th grade it seems like an eternity. It is a memory I will never forget. Grandma continued to make us dinners, take us to school, pick us up, and she would even tuck us in bed at night when mom could only get overnight shifts at the hospital.  All through high school and even into college Grandma was always baking rolls, roasting or sauteing something for us. She shared with me her famous chicken and dumpling recipe and her baked bread recipe. Yes her legacy will live on.


As a writer, and a tribute to her, I felt I should honor her by writing about her last experience with myself.


It was a cold bitter December morning as I sat quietly drinking my tea. I waited for the call. I wrapped another blanket around me. I looked over and my phone lit up. It was my mom. “Hello?” I said in my deep morning baritone voice.


“Hi Aaron, I’m with grandma right now holding her hand. I think this is really it.” she said through the sobbing tears. I already knew that today was the day. Angels had visited me during the night and I could sense and feel a change in the vibrational frequencies around me.


I replied back, “I’m sorry mom. I will be holding you in consciousness. I love you.”  She said, “Thank you honey, I will let you know as soon as …” she trailed off not really finishing her sad sentence.  I heard a click and the phone went silent.


I sat in silence for about an hour. Tears streamed down my face and fell onto my blanket. I didn’t bother to wipe them away, as more would just take their place.  My cup of tea was now cold and my computer had shut off due to inactivity. The silence was finally broken as my phone buzzed. It was my sister in law, Cassie. She called to say that Grandma passed away at 11:00 a.m. central time and mom was on the phone talking to one of her sisters. I said thank you and hung up the phone.


Christmas Eve candlelight services were that night and I had five performances that I needed to get through. My heart chakra and my throat chakra hurt, as rapid bursts of emotion interacted with them. I just didn’t know how on earth I could be in front of thousands of people and pretend to be happy. The thought of that was just so overwhelming. So I just sat there and cried. I reached for my glasses as my contact lenses literally fell out of my eyes with my tears.


Eventually I stopped crying and when I did the room was filled with angels. A warm feeling filled my heart and the room and I felt a sense of peace. A messenger came me letting me know that Grandma was happy and I needed to pull myself together, there was a show that I had to be a part of.  My light was burning bright.


I reached out to some of my friends and their love, support and prayers lifted me to a higher level. Somehow I made it though two very long days. The drive back to Nebraska was even longer. It was cold and freezing. The day of the funeral it was raining sleet/ice/snow. I wore my ski gear so I wasn’t so cold; I am used to freezing cold weather skiing.  My Texas relatives were just a wee bit colder.


The funeral at the church was interesting. For one, the soloist couldn’t make it, so everyone was to sing the songs together.  Imagine my surprise when I started belting out “Amazing Grace” and no one else was singing with me but sort of mumbling along with the piano. I didn’t let that affect my singing and actually sang stronger. I sort of chuckled to myself as my baritone tenor voice echoed through the church. I loved it. I didn’t know the second song, and I didn’t have any sheet music so I sat silently as the piano played with no one singing. My twin brother said he liked listening to me sing and forgot I sang in the choir. He was among many who were disappointed I didn’t know the second song.


Grandma had one final request and that was that all of the grandchildren were pall barer. Myself, Nate, Johna, Matt, Rita, Chadd and Ross were all able to fulfill her dying request. Kendall and Kurt were unable to make it to the funeral. Kendall is an Emergency Department physician and couldn’t leave and Kurt lives in California and could not get a flight due to Christmas travelers.


After standing in the freezing snow for about 30 minutes the grave site burial was over. The casket didn’t go into the ground while we were there. There was probably about 50 people that showed up that cold day. The family all made their way into town, Paxton, the closest town to the farm where Grandma and her daughters spent many years of their lives. We convened at a restaurant called Ole’s, which had been there for generations.


Mom or someone had called ahead and informed the restaurant that the funeral was that day and the family would be coming for a last meal together. They had the back banquet room set up for us. Naturally most families sat with each other. For many it was the first time seeing all these people and wondering how are we all related. We had one common thread and that was Grandma. I wondered if this now large group of family members would ever get together again. Perhaps I could put something together in a couple of years. I’m pretty good at arranging events.


It was a very quick trip. Funerals are a sad but memorable event especially for those who live on. Grandma was 91 years of age. She would have been 92 this month. Her last years of life were painful and made a mockery of her very much alive mind. Her body failed like millions of people. Eventually she just closed her eyes and her last breath of air slowly left her dying body. I give thanks that she is finally free from a prison without walls. As the Asian Angel Author I know (not think), KNOW that what she is experiencing now is far better than her best day on earth. She has come home.


Lucille Gilster
January 31, 1923 — December 23, 2014
Her obituary from the Kearney Hub. Click here.