Although I'm sad, I'm also joyful that she lived a long time. I'm also pleased that she avoided the two things she dreaded most: slowly dying of cancer and slowly dying in a nursing home. She is surely Up There looking down saying she won on those two points.
Her last three years were difficult but she didn't complain. And she was clear-headed enough to repeatedly express her wishes to be cremated and her ashes distributed by my father's grave, her parent's graves and her aunt's grave (the person who raised her from birth after her mother died).
There was a gathering of relatives and friends at her beloved Catholic Church in Jonesville. We laughed and cried together, all expressing a loss that can never be replaced. The Priest held Mass and spoke of her as if he had known her all his life, even though it was a few fleeting moments when he took Communion to her at home. All of this was followed by the traditional meal for all those attending the services. People far and wide brought food and flowers and photos and memories to be shared by all.
I saw people I had grown up with but had not seen for thirty or more years. We all talked like nothing had changed knowing full well that our accumulated ailments and wrinkles alone presented a more truthful expression of our unstoppable aging process. It was fun talking to them and in many ways it reflected their belief that I'm just temporarily away from home.
I had the good fortune to have my Judy by my side the entire time. She was my strength when I needed it the most.
And so ends another chapter in my life.