A story of grieving, part 7 of 7

The funeral and the will

In part 4, I mentioned that we’d be going on a peaceful adventure the week of Thanksgiving. And that is exactly what we did—on our boat.

Smooth sailing
Since we’re at the mercy of the weather when we’re on our boat, the key word is flexibility. We bring books and games, Logan brings his paper and pencils for drawing, and I bring my journal. Brandon brings his tools and his engineering mind. He’s always planning, tweaking, re-engineering, etc.

Duck, Duck, Goose

Duck, duck, goose
Thankfully, we also brought some crackers and spinach this time. We became friends—I mean generous benefactors—of a very friendly pack. I call them Duck, Duck, Goose, for lack of a more creative name. They were precious. The fawn-colored, smaller duck quacked very loudly and could be heard at a great distance, as if to say, “Get ready, peeps! We’re coming and we’re hungry.” The larger white duck quacked much more quietly, but had excellent catching-in-mid-air skills. The goose was great—feisty, chatty, fun. They were a happy pack.

So were we.

Thanksgiving dinner
Most people think about turkey or ham when they think about Thanksgiving dinner. (Don’t say duck or goose. That might freak me out.) This year, we ate Mexican food while watching a movie at one of our local Movie Taverns. I guess you could call us unconventional.

Unpredictable
Speaking of unconventional and flexible, our boat can be either a sail boat or a power boat. And that is a very good thing. The wind can be extremely unpredictable. So can certain people, particularly at big events. You may remember the head-shaking drama I wrote about in the Christmas Chaos section of this post.

Forgive me for the spoiler here, but I was incredibly relieved by the lack of drama at my mom’s funeral. Don’t get me wrong. It was weird in some ways, to be sure.

Let’s get to it….

The end of an era
As we walked down the red carpet in the chapel at my mom’s church, I remembered being here when I was a teenager—singing, hearing about a God I didn’t know at the time, hanging out with my friends. I liked being in this place again. The dark wood; the stained glass; the good, but very-distant memories. It felt different this time. This was the last time I’d be here. I was here for my mom’s funeral.

This was the end of a long era in my life—the era called They’re Still Here. Who are they? The people in the house—the house I grew up in—and the lies. That era has ended.

A glowing eulogy
Have you ever been to a funeral and the glowing eulogies presented from the podium didn’t match the person you knew—at all? I’ve experienced this twice: at Sadistic Shelly’s funeral (Brandon’s extremely-abusive older sister) and at my mom’s funeral.

Let me tell you somepin. (Click here and go to the section called This Year if that doesn’t make sense.) It is very disturbing when the eulogy doesn’t match the person you knew. My mom was described repeatedly as “joyful.” Excuse me? She was catastrophically detached. She hid all the time. She worked hard so she could avoid meaningful interactions with people.

The impressive obituary
The extremely-flowery obituary that Pam and Linda wrote was read during the funeral. Check out this part: “She loved the deep friendships made from over 30 years at [this church].” Where is the trash can? I need to throw up now.

Here’s the truth in that department, from part 5 of The Trauma of Disengagement, written before my mom died:

No friends vs. true sisters
My mom didn’t have friends. She didn’t talk with a friend on the phone. My parents didn’t have friends over to our house. They didn’t get together with friends. They were friendly with people at church, but they didn’t have friends. That is so strange. My friend Lindsey commented: “I always thought your mom was just there to serve your dad.” You got it, sister.

Did and didn’t
As I think about my parents, they were very socially isolated. They did The Church Thing, but they didn’t have true friends. That’s really sad; but here’s the deal. You have to be a good friend to have a good friend. And they simply didn’t have the basic interpersonal skills. They didn’t know how to interact truthfully and meaningfully with other people—not with their children or with other adults. That’s just the pitiful truth.

Mr. Foghorn married to Mrs. Fog.

Gosh. I made a funny. Speaking of funny and Foghorn, did you ever watch Foghorn Leghorn cartoons? That loudmouth reminds me of my dad. I digress….

The way it sounded
I asked my siblings to change that part of the obituary—the deep friendships part—and I reminded them of the obvious truth in that area, but they left the lies in there. I also asked them to change the description of our dad from “dashing” to “handsome.” I am not a fan of drama. But they left it how they wanted it. The flowery language—I mean lies—sounded impressive, right? The Narcissist and her entourage were all about rewriting the story so everybody looked and sounded better-than-good. Exceptional. Noteworthy. Special. Someone to idolize. “Hey! Hey! Look at me! Look at me!”

I was so sick of the lies…. They also wrote that our mom was “an accomplished baker.” I guess people who know how to bake more than three kinds of cookies are “accomplished” in that department—if they’re related to a narcissist. People, get a life.

The flowers and my friend
While Lindsey and I were at the hotel near our house for our three days of Girl Time, I called the florist and ordered a big, colorful flower arrangement for the funeral from our family and her family. My siblings thought the flowers were from my sociopathic in-laws and some unknown friends of theirs. After the funeral, when Linda mentioned the flowers to me, I clarified that they were from us—my family and Lindsey’s family. She seemed surprised.

Invisible
Get ready to do some serious head-shaking.

Thursday, March 1
Journal entry

Linda didn’t remember Lindsey at all—my college friend who spent Thanksgivings, Easters and many weekends with us, not to mention being in my wedding party, at Dad’s funeral, Pam’s wedding, etc.

Doesn’t that sound strange to you, Peaceful Readers? My older sibling didn’t remember my long-term friend at all. Linda had been in the same room with Lindsey many, many times, but didn’t remember her very existence. Talk about being totally checked out. Not present. Not seeing. Not hearing. Not feeling. Not remembering.

Where we grew up
Hmmm. That is strange and sad. But maybe it isn’t so surprising after all. Remember where we grew up—in The Silent Movie. Our mom, Linda and I were The Nameless Silent Movie Character Actors. Our job was to sit down, shut up and pretend to be interested in the entertaining monologues coming from The Important People; I mean The Narrators. You know who The Narrators were—The Narcissists—the only ones who were supposed to be heard—my dad and Pam, The Almighty.

Getting what she wanted
We donated the flower arrangement to the church to use in their worship services that Sunday. Pam ordered her children to gather up all the other flowers without bothering to ask us if we wanted any. Pam, The Almighty wanted the flowers so Pam, The Almighty got the flowers. Typical.

The good stuff
Okay. Enough of that mess. Let’s celebrate the beautiful, amazing aspects of this important day—the day of my mom’s funeral. You’ve already read about French Fries from Jesus. There was much more to this big day.

Thursday, March 1
Journal entry

Brandon and Logan picked us up at the hotel and we rode in the Volt to [the church] in Fort Worth. I was proud of Logan for opening Lindsey’s door and being such a gentleman!

The “family” was gathered in the library. Logan walked right in—bold, courageous young man…. I hugged Max, Pete and Jenny [—Doug and Pam’s children/Logan’s cousins/my nephews and niece that we hadn’t seen for 10 years—]….

The pastor prayed for us all and then we walked into the chapel. We got there first, so Lindsey and I, Brandon, Logan and Linda sat on the front row, in that order. [Pam’s Crew sat behind us.]

The service was very nice, but strange. The people who talked about my mom were describing a woman I never met….

The flowers that Lindsey and I ordered were front and center on the main table. They were absolutely gorgeous. Big, colorful, perfect.

There was a lovely reception in the fellowship hall. I visited with my friends [including Summer, Charlene, Lindsey and Michael]…. I hugged them and thanked them for coming.

Logan was sitting with [his cousins,] Max and Pete. I asked them if they’d shared phone numbers yet, and they whipped out their phones and immediately shared their phone numbers with each other.

I got a cookie—chocolate chip. Yum. I saw a chair at the round table where Logan and his cousins were sitting, plus Linda, Trish and Dan [our cousin and her husband]. I joined them and visited for a long time. Pam was across the room. Brandon and Lindsey joined the table. I really enjoyed visiting with Trish. She’s hilarious….

At the end of the reception, it was our table—filled with people and chatter—and Pam talking across the room with her friend Carol. The Excluder was isolated by her own evil….

[I wrote about Logan’s cousins.] …Max’s favorite subject is History. I told him that Logan loves History too. Max’s favorite part is European History. He has a beautiful smile.

I took a photo of Logan and his cousins together at the end. Lindsey noticed that [my niece] Jenny looked over at her mom to ask for her permission. Pam has done such evil. She must answer to God for it. All of it.

The Lord’s will be done going forward.

Logan was texting Max and Pete from the car. They have interests in common.

The Lord blessed us richly today.

French Fries from Jesus
Front Row
Phone Number Exchange
Family Table (without You Know Who)
Fabulous Flowers
Friends Galore

Thanks be to God Almighty!

As you can tell, the day went better than I could have ever imagined. It reminds me of this beautiful passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

The will
We all recovered from the emotions of the funeral, but the drama wasn’t over. Not yet. This famous saying describes what came next: “The plot thickens.”

According to my mom, Pam “volunteered” to be the executor of her will. Shock of the world: The Control Freak wanted control. I didn’t know that Pam had taken our mom to get her will rewritten (i.e., totally changed). She did that the year of The Showdown—earlier that year. Coincidence? I think not. Yet another cancerous secret….

But she couldn’t hide it forever. Our mom died in February. In July—the month after Pam, The Almighty’s appearance at probate court—the will came out. Linda knew what was in it, but I didn’t.

The secret came into the light.

Secrets coming out
And here’s the thing.

The secrets come out. Eventually.
They come into the light.

A legacy… trauma, lies, denial and secrets
I revealed my mom’s trauma and secret in part 5. My mom hid her secret her whole life. She was molded by her trauma—and by her secret. The hiding. The silence. The shame. The distance.

She was The Fog.

Because she protected the secret and felt protected by the secret, my mom was too afraid and ashamed to see the truth—the truth that healing was available to her. She believed the lies in The Seven Messages of Denial, so she passed down the sickness. She passed it down.

She played a pivotal role in creating a malignant narcissist—Pam, The Almighty. She created Linda, a brilliant but detached Silent Movie Character Actor who never married or had children. And she was my mom. Me—Frankie Ann, The Weirdo—the one who rebelled against the expectations and the silence.

Seeking and finding
How did my mom’s three very-different daughters respond to her aging and death?

Pam sought two things: Control of our mom and control of her money. She got what she sought.

Linda sought one thing: Control of our mom’s jewelry. She got what she sought.

And I—

I sought three things: Truth, healing and peace.
I got what I sought.

TBTG!

The road
I hope you’ll read this famous Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken,” with a special focus on the last three lines. It reminds me of the title of Scott Peck’s masterpiece, The Road Less Traveled. See this post for an excerpt.

Peaceful Reader, is there a trauma or loss in your life that needs your attention? Have you experienced some intrusive thoughts, a dream, some memories that surprised you? It’s time. It’s time for you to do the work of grieving and to lay down your trauma. It’s time to unpack your trauma/loss and lay it to rest. You can do it—one step at a time.

Take this very wise journey—The Healing Journey.
You’ll be so glad you did. It is the road less traveled.

Beginning and ending with why
This series started with a post called Why? It answered this question: “Why do I need to grieve?” The next post, called The Big Why, answers the bigger Why Questions that we all ask. “Why me?” “Why did this happen?” “Why, God?”

Coming next: Come back and we’ll explore these tough Why Questions—and the answers I’ve found—together.

Healing through truth and music
Peaceful Readers, I’ve found great healing in my life through the beauty and truth of God’s word and through music. I hope the truths and songs that I share at the end of each post will bless you too.

Truth from The Word: Exodus 15:2

Song for Healing: “You Hold It All Together” by All Sons & Daughters