It gave me a sense of satisfaction that though Aunt Ida had never had many worldly possessions, she did have two funerals. We missed the Nevada one, but about 50 people gathered in the Salt Lake City 47th Ward Chapel. Bishop Ben conducted, and all the other speakers and performers were relatives too. It was a pleasant service, her death at 90 being something rather a matter for congratulation than for mourning.
There was no escort, so we drove separately through very snowy streets to the smooth white cemetery fields, flat markers buried. Flower stands and trampled places of recent burials were the only stains on the white batting. A man placed at a fork told us where to go, and we parked and walked, slipping on ice, to the grave site covered with green vinyl grass pads, with four chairs facing the hole. About half of those who’d been at the service straggled to stand with us surrounded by at least six wreathes, glorious bouquets of flowers in white papier mache vases and perhaps five easeled sprays. Despite the cold, you could smell flowers in summery wafts.
A long funeral cortege went by on the next road over. Marveling over Lu Rae, big with her tenth child, greeting Jenny and her parents (now there’s a miracle), and noting that all Ida’s sisters appeared to be wearing well, we waited. No one sat on the chairs.
A man in a black suit picked his way over to us and asked, “Where did these flowers come from?” They had no name on them. Lu Rae answered, “There were only two small wreaths at the funeral.” “Then where did they come from?” No one knew. “They’re freezing already, anyway,” Mardean observed. “They must have been set up here by mistake,” the man worried. I could see him wondering if he could somehow take them away, but there we all were ready for the dedication of the grave which Uncle Lester, as next oldest, was on the program to do.
We waited some more while our noses turned red and our toes got numb. I started doing a sedate jog in place and my wife found that standing on the plastic turf offered a little insulation from the cold. Finally Lu Rae smiled, “I wanted them to drive with us, but you know Dad. I think we’ve got the other funeral’s flowers and they’ve got my parents.” Bishop Ben dedicated the grave. As we left, the man in black was loading all those flowers into a van.