The Kofford Family relocates to Colorado after 40 years as Californians. In December of 2007, Grandma Lorraine is diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer. Sadly, she passed away on Dec. 26th, 2008 after a year long courageous battle. Follow our journey as we keep Lorraine's memory alive, and as we learn to appreciate that each day we are given, is a gift to be enjoyed!

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
~Maria Robertson

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Remembering...Jan. 15th, 2009

Today would have been my mom's 68th birthday. This photo was taken in 2005 at our home in Dublin before me moved, before my dad passed away, before life changed in so many different ways.

But life changes, and so must we.

My mom's memory lives on at the school where she taught for 28 years. My dad's memory is honored there too for his service on the school board. My mom's caregiver, Gayle, who has become a BIG part of our family, took Ashlyn and her granddaughter to see the plaques that the school has displayed with their names and years of service.

It's so important to me that our children know what an impact their grandparents had on the community they loved.

We arrived back in Colorado last night, and boy, were we all tired this morning! It has been quite a week! Here's a brief...uh no, long, recap of the week!

I flew out last Wed. to have a few week days to take care of funeral arrangements, cemetery arrangments, meetings, etc...I didn't want the kids to miss too much school, so Tom and the kids came to CA on Sat. as well as several friends who were all such a huge help to me! I said I had an "entourage" and they kept me going through all the events of the weekend through the funeral.

My 3rd grade teacher, who was also a dear friend of my mom's, flew up from southern CA, my mom's brother, my dad's sisters, my uncle, and cousin all came from far away. My cousin David flew in from Boston, and I so appreciated the presence of all these wonderful people! Three of my girlfriends from our old community of Dublin, packed up and drove to Red Bluff to be with me, which was truly a priceless gift! They took the kids for ice cream, they stayed with me through the visitation, rosary, made sure I was fed, they decorated at the luncheon hall, etc...etc...I could not have gotten through the weekend's events without them! Thank you Charlene, Sofia, and Judy!!!!

On Sunday, we had the family viewing, public visitation, and rosary. It was a long 4 hour event, but so good to visit with many people who wouldn't be able to attend the funeral. A small group of hard workers all decorated the hall in beautiful Hawaiian colors and flowers which I know my mom would have loved! At the chapel, we had beautiful standing sprays and a casket spray of Hawaiian flowers that included orchids, antheriums, ginger, ti leaves, and ferns. I also brought my mom's ukelele, polynesian dance implements, big shells, etc...that the florist incorporated into the florals. I know my mom would have loved it, and how it honored her heritage and culture she loved!

We had about 15 of us that all went out to dinner afterwards, and it was wonderful to visit and reconnect with old friends and family we don't see near as often as I would like. I am committed this year to getting together more regularly and not just at funerals as it seems to be lately. I felt surrounded by so many people who cared, and that was such a comfort throughout the entire weekend!

My mom's closest friends, Annette and Fred Null.

My mom's caregiver Gayle and her husband Mike.

Annette and Fred's son "Freddie" and his lovely wife Crystal.

My Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Jerry who drove 10 hours from southern CA!

3 generations...Kyle, Tom, and Papa Ron!

Tom's mother Billie and our sister in law Tami!

Me and my dear friend Kim!

Sofia and Judy drove 3 hours from Dublin to help and give support!

My Aunt Beth, and my 3rd grade teacher/dear friend to my mom, "Georgia!"

My mentor and friend Charlene with Ashlyn!

My dear friend Charlene stayed up late with me helping me rework my eulogy and her patience was never ending. She would time me, help me with the wording, delivery, etc...and I was so grateful for her time and patience! She stayed with me at my mom's house and just took over all the "jobs" that I was too flustered to complete. Charlene prepared food, made breakfast, dressed Ashlyn, loaded cars, carried my bags, made sure I had water, kleenex, etc...etc...Sofia stayed by my side throughout the visitation, Judy took the kids to have fun in the midst of sadness, and everyone was just such a huge help!

The weather on the day of the funeral was just the way my mom would have liked....sunny and warm! My friend Lisa drove up from Sacramento, and my good friend Kim F. came as well as her son to support Kyle, and 3 blogging friends from Redding! I had wished there was more time to visit with these special people and all that came to remember my mother! I ordered leis which family and the pall bearers wore, and it was another neat way we could honor my mom. Kyle did a New Testament reading during the service. He was so nervous beforehand, but stood at the lecturn and delivered a beautiful reading that I know my parents would have been so proud of.

I gave the eulogy, and despite my nerves and fear, it couldn't have gone any smoother! As I walked up toward the alter, I just thought of my parents looking down on me, at how my dad used to encourage me to be confident before speaking, and as I turned to adjust the microphone, I saw so many friendly faces. This was my one opportunity to speak on my memories of my mom publically, and honor her by how I handled myself. So, I tried my best to be strong and speak confidently despite my own fears and nervousness. As I was speaking, I saw all the beautiful stained glass windows around the church, and so many events passed before own wedding in this church, Kyle's baptism, and now the funerals of both of my parents. As I spoke, I found my rhythm, and felt good that my parents would have been pleased.

We all drove to the cemetery for a brief service, and then I aksed everyone to take a loose orchid and place it on the casket with a silent prayer or blessing. It was very windy at that point, but luckily the casket spray was attached to the casket and everyone could tuck their orchids into it. I didn't watch my dad's casket be lowered into the grave, but decided I wanted to watch this time. So after everyone left, Tom stood with me as we watched the entire process that took 4 men to complete. We scattered all the flowers on the casket as it was lowered, and stayed until the final piece of grass was laid back on top. My parents are buried under a pretty tree in a small cemetery and it is a very peaceful setting.

These photos are from the following day when we took all the sprays and arrangements back to the cemetery. Kyle is standing near the standing arrangement on the left.

After Tom and I watched the casket be lowered, we drove out to the hall where the luncheon was being held, and enjoyed visiting with so many family and friends that came to honor my mom. After we thanked everyone for coming, we had an open microphone time, and Ashlyn gave a beautiful tribute to my mom that was sweet, pure, and captured her memories from birthday parties to reading stories with grandma. We were so proud of her, and the grace with which this little 7 year old shared her memories.

Grandma Lorraine's two grandchildren, Kyle and Ashlyn.

After the luncheon ended, we came back to my mom's house where about a dozen of us stayed and visited. Then we went out to dinner later in the evening with two of my parents friends that they had known for over 40 years!

The following day, Tom and I ran errands from meetings, to forwarding mail, banking, etc...there is much to be accomplished, but the most urgent needs were taken care of until our next return. Tom's family was such a huge help to me, and we had so many people who cared for us and the kids in the midst of 'to-do' lists a mile long! We flew home yeterday, and now the next phase of life begins. I need to get started on laundry, groceries, the kids activities, etc...but for now, I may take some quiet time to reflect, and mourn. With so much activity, grief takes a back seat, and I know that it will find me through-out the coming weeks.

I look forward to catching up with all of your e-mails, phone calls, and blogs this week. I can't thank all of you enough, for your blog comments, your prayers, and support during this year of change. May we all move forward in 2009 with hope, good health, and faith in all that the year holds for each of us!

With love,
P.S. Yes, I will find a way to post the eulogy if you are interested in reading it. It was 10 min. long though, so I need to find a way to condense it, so it will fit here!


Lucy Marie said...

Thank you for sharing this Denise. You have been in my thoughts a great deal over the past few weeks. I pray that you will feel God's hand on you in the upcoming days, weeks, months and years as you adjust to a new style of life. Blessings.

DeClercq said...

What a wonderful Blog for those of us who couldn't be there. A step by step...I love it. That will save us so many questions when we talk to you in person.

Glad you are back home safe and sound...good luck in the coming days/weeks trying to get back in to the swing of things.

love you,


Anita said...

Denise, I'm glad you are home. Thank you for sharing your story.
I've been thinking of you, and praying for your strength.

Beth said...

Thanks, Denise, for filling us all in on the happenings. It sounded like the funeral was beautiful and you had the support of so many friends and family members, so that is amazing. I have been wondering how you are and it is nice to have some confirmation by your blog, that you made it through...

Sue said...

What a wonderful post, thank you. Sounds like it was a beautiful service and the pictures are fantastic.

Glad you are home and will take your time mourning along with all the other things you must do. I think you are right though... 2009 will be a year of hope. Praying for your continued strength and peace.

With love,

Kim said...

What a happy birthday your mom is having in heaven today. Thank you for sharing all the details of your time in Red Bluff last week. As always you did a wonderful job of filling us all in. I wish I would have met Sofia and Judy at the service as I remember meeting Judy once in Dublin when I was there visiting you. It was wonderful getting the chance to talk to Charlene for a bit though. So many of us love your family!

Take your time getting back in the groove. You deserve a rest.