Thursday, October 13, 2016

A memorable day

Monday, the day of Betsey's committal and the luncheon following at Hallelujah Farm, was truly memorable. The weather was perfect, and everything happened in the way that we had hoped and prayed it would. Betsey, I think, would have been very pleased.

In the morning, I went out early and put up some signs at the four turns you had to take to get to the Hallelujah Farm, just to prevent people from getting lost or confused. I think everyone found the location just fine. Rob and Katie came by the house briefly before the committal service, and then we headed to the cemetery. The committal was just for family members, and our pastor in Guilford, Lise Sparrow, led it. We sang two hymns, Be Thou My Vision, and How Can I Keep From Singing, and Katie Tolles accompanied on the guitar. Lise talked about the specialness of the place: how she,  and a group of women friends of Shirley's,  have come every year  and had a kind of picnic there, remembering Shirley, and now they will include Betsey. I said a few words as did a few others. Lise had a reading from Revelation, and gave a prayer. Then we placed the urn of Betsey's ashes into the ground, filled in the hole with the soil that had been dug out, and planted a beautiful chrysanthemum. It was emotional and beautiful. Now Betsey and Shirley rest side by side.

Rob and Katie at Betsey's grave
While we were there, people were gathering at Hallelujah Farm, so when we arrived, people had had a chance to look at the table of photos of Betsey, a slide show was going on of photos from all stages of her life, and I had also had printed a booklet of "Tributes to Betsey," in which I had collected scores of tributes from people that had come in notes and cards, had been spoken at gatherings, or posted on Facebook. There was a copy for everyone. The buffet lunch that Ellen had prepared had all been brought over the previous evening and Sandy and Roger had put it all out in two locations, so that it was easily accessible, no lines. Everyone enjoyed the lunch and commented on how delicious it was - no surprise! I gathered the Chorale members while people were finishing up their lunch and we ran through our two Bach Chorales. Then at about 2:15 or so, we gathered everyone together and had a time to speak and for music. John and Cynthia played beautifully, a piece for harp and whistle that John wrote based on the singing of the seals (it incorporates a recording of seals), and a piece Cynthia wrote at the time of her mother's death, for harp and cello. Many had never heard them play before, and they were sort of awe-struck. Then the Chorale sang the two Bach pieces, I said a few words as did a few others, Ellen introduced Peter and Mary Alice Amidon, who sang Going Where Those Chilly Winds Don't Blow (which we had arranged for them to play for Betsey via Skype back in July), and we closed with almost everyone singing I Still Have Joy, which was a great way to close. Everyone was moved by this gathering, I feel.

Lunch at Hallelujah Farm: clockwise from left: Rob,  Katie,  Nancy Tierra, Wendy Redlnger,  Fred Ashworth,  Joy Amidon, Lucy Spahr-Blasej

Monday evening we had a spontaneous gathering for supper at John and Cynthia's.

Jerry, Maggie, Daniel, Suzy and John at John and Cynthia's house

All around the table at J & C's

I'll post more photos from the weekend when I get a chance.

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