Sunday, June 7, 2015

Grandma's Funeral (and way too much journaling/rambling)

From here until the pictures is what was printed on her program.

Services for Peggy Joyce Ellis Rebeck
Seminole, Florida, June 5, 2015

Family Prayer ................................................  Cliff Strupp, grandson

Presiding & Conducting ....................................  Bishop Alex Patrick,
Seminole Ward, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Pianist ..........................................................................  Cindi Klemm

Music Director ..................................  Carol Rebeck, daughter-in-law

Welcome ....................................................................  Bishop Patrick

Opening Hymn ..........  “Teach Me to Walk in the Light” .........  #304

Opening Prayer ...................................  Tiffany Feger, granddaughter

Life Sketch ..............................................  Don Beckman, son-in-law

Musical Number ....  “I Need Thee Every Hour” ........  Olivia Everett,
great-granddaughter, accompanied by Robert Lee, brother-in-law

Eulogy .................................................................  Bruce Rebeck, son

Musical Number .......  “How Great Thou Art” ..........  Bryson Strupp,
grandson, accompanied by Robert Lee, brother-in-law

Remarks ......................................................  Brad Strupp, son-in-law

Concluding Remarks ..................................................  Bishop Patrick

Closing Hymn ............  “The Lord Is My Shepherd” ................  #108

Closing Prayer ...............................  Matthew Rebeck Gille, grandson

Processional to Curlew Hills Memorial Gardens
1750 Curlew Rd, Palm Harbor, FL

Dedication of the Grave .....  Bishop Trevor Rebeck Strupp, grandson

Pallbearers (grandsons): Trevor Strupp, Clifford Strupp, Matthew Gille, Stephen Beckman, Martin Gille, Bryson Strupp, Jonathan Gille

A Life of Service

Always quick to offer service, Joyce Rebeck answered the final call on Friday, May 29, 2015, at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, FL. Born Peggy Joyce Ellis on April 24, 1930, in Los Angeles, CA, to Edna May Dennis Ellis and Randolph Franklin Ellis, Joyce grew up in the Depression Era believing that everyone ate wild rabbit for dinner and got their Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Joyce joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the age of 14 and graduated from high school in Los Angeles, CA. Beautiful and talented, she met Donald Rebeck at a Church dance, then later mistakenly flirted with his twin, Harold “Hal” Martin Rebeck. Hal never let on, and he and Joyce were sealed for time and eternity in the Mesa Arizona Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on June 27, 1950.
Joyce worked for over 20 years as a secretary and executive assistant. She often used her shorthand skills to record baby blessings and baptismal confirmations for anyone in the Church. Joyce and Hal moved to Winter Haven, FL, in 1960, then to Clearwater, FL, in 1964, where they raised 3 children in the Clearwater-Largo area. In addition to her years as a secretary, Joyce also worked as a Realtor, a volunteer English teacher (ESL), and an HR/personnel director. A skilled seamstress, she created costumes for many road shows, sewed quilts and clothing for herself and her children and grandchildren, and sewed prom dresses for her daughters.
As Joyce would say, employment was “just her day job”: her heart was dedicated to family and to “building up the kingdom of Christ on earth.” Joyce served in the Church as a teacher in Primary, Seminary, Sunday School, and the MIA and as a visiting teacher. For years she faithfully taught early-morning Seminary to the teenagers in the Church, inspiring many to continue Christ’s work. She also served as president and/or counselor in Church auxiliaries, including Relief Society, Primary, and Young Women. She gave volunteer service as the secretary to the Patriarch. She loved family history and served as a family history specialist and as a Church employment specialist. She used her talent in music to inspire and comfort others by organizing, directing, and participating in many musical numbers and choirs over the years. In her later years she led the children’s choir, taught the recorder to the Primary children, and was a member of the Seminole LDS Ward choir.

The Lord’s work was always on her mind, and she never let obstacles get in her way. The night before Vicki and Don were to be married in the Orlando Temple, Joyce picked up and delivered a prescription to a home-bound friend in spite of a torrential downpour and flooded streets. After delivery, she accidentally drove her car into an 18-foot-deep pond disguised as a flooded street and had to swim to safety (managing to get her purse). Undaunted and without fanfare, she still made it to the wedding on time.
Joyce was a survivor with a smile. She survived caregiving for Hal, breast cancer, a brain tumor, necrotizing fasciitis, a severely fractured ankle, several broken vertebrae and more, but she never complained and still found time to garden, crochet for her grandchildren, and serve in the Church. She finally succumbed to multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that wreaks havoc with the bone marrow. She is preceded in death by her husband Hal and two brothers, Danye Ellis and Bill Ellis. Survivors include children Bruce Vincent Rebeck (Carol) of Clearwater, Vicki Lynn Beckman (Don) of Seminole, and Peggy Ann Strupp (Brad) of Crane, Montana; and siblings Timothy Craig Ellis, Penny Kathleen Ellis Lee (Bob), Gary Leonard Ellis (Lee Ann), and Jerry Wayne Ellis (Diann). Joyce’s legacy also includes 16 grandchildren and 34 great-grandchildren (plus 3 more announced). Funeral services will be Friday, June 5, 2015, at 10 AM at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 9001 106th Ave, Largo, FL. The viewing and family visitation will be Thursday, June 4, from 5 to 7 PM at the Curlew Hills Funeral Home, 1750 Curlew Road, Palm Harbor, FL.
Joyce’s family would like to thank the Seminole Ward Relief Society and bishopric and all the friends and neighbors for their kindness and sympathy at this time. Through Christ, Joyce lives again, and her kindness and dedication to the gospel and to others live on through her family and through those she taught, inspired, and served.

“I am a member of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I was baptized at the age of 14 in 1944.
I believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
I believe we existed before we came to earth
and chose to follow Jesus Christ’s plan
to come and show we believe in the Atonement.
I believe God loves each of us,
no matter what we have done or are doing,
and wants us to return to Him by obeying His commandments,
and, if necessary, repenting and changing.
I believe in life after death
where we can continue learning and loving.”
— Joyce Rebeck, May 24, 2014

That was her Facebook post which was written before she got sick. I asked my mom if she noticed that Grandma's 2nd to last FB post was her testimony. She had not been to her page to look. She said she was going to cry so she couldn't read it. They decided to add it to the program. 

Don gave the life sketch and added details. 

Olivia sang "I Need Thee Every Hour" and the words had more meaning. Powerful voice. 

Bryson singing How Great Thou Art. It was beautiful. He choked up some but made it through. 

Remarks on the plan of salvation by Uncle Brad, Peggy's husband

closing prayer by Matt (holding Heidi)

Matt, walking back from saying the closing prayer, and a funeral lady is about to give instructions. 
Grandma's Funeral seemed rushed in the beginning and end, but not in the middle. The middle was relaxing, the program was beautifully executed. That sounds insensitive but I can not think of a better word. The musical numbers were powerful, the words took on different meaning this time although I've already grown to love them. I sing "I need the every hour" to myself since I feel like I need all the help I can get so many days. I didn't actually cry. I quenched it each time. That's not the right word either but I'm leaving it. I wanted more Grandma stories, even the ones I knew, I liked hearing again. Because I know God's plan of salvation and happiness, I wasn't thinking that I needed to hear it myself, but it was explained in a way that I did need it, and I'm sure that it gives comfort to others who wonder about the after life who do not have that knowledge. One of my cousins once said how he dislikes how funerals get preachy. It wasn't preachy. And the fact that we know that the only part of Grandma that is dead is her body which was in fairly bad shape lately, is a really good thing. And that's good to share too. It gives hope. Because of course it's not fun to loose people for what feels like forever. It's devastating, unless we can get the perspective of realizing that this life is just a tiny part of our spirit's life. We lived before this for a long time and will live after this for a long time.

I took some photos from the edge of the 2nd row, not sure how appropriate it was, but for my blog, I think it's okay. At the 1 hour mark, Julia then Heidi were so tired that they wanted us to hear about it. So we took them out. Standing in the back, I really wished I had grabbed my camera. The place was full! The flowers on the sides were beautiful. It was so respectful in there. My friend Corrie came. My step-siblings' mom came. Lots of friends from church came who knew my grandma. I want to go look at the guest book.

We were supposed to be there at 9:30 in a side room. I was 7 minutes late (I asked Kat b/c I didn't think we were that late, and I even sat in the car, not rushing, getting my hair or something fixed. I thought it would be more of some mingling then at like 10 minutes 'til, we'd say the family prayer and would go into the church right before the service.) But I guess they had wanted to do a prayer right at 9:30. Everybody was sitting in there waiting for me. So there was not really time to go over to Grandma's open casket like the night before. We did walk past it on our way into the chapel. I did not feel so sad about it. I wondered if my mom or anybody else wanted more time. I know I did for my cousin's funeral.

Holly was in the middle of saying that she had heard that a modern day prophet, perhaps Brigham Young, had said that spirits can stay around for their funeral before [passing through the veil???] or something and that she had said a prayer that Grandma could be there and that she would be able to feel her presence. That was a sweet thought. I thought about it. But Grandma isn't one to make a big entrance, or to talk out of turn. She'll smile. She's smart. She has something to say if asked, or if she feels comfortable enough to add to a conversation, but she's not one to make her presence known. I know she loved her family. She honestly never complained. If we asked her what hurt, she'd tell us, but not until we noticed or asked. And this is not just a recent thing. She would always shove her scriptures behind her back at church. She would shove her purse back there sometimes. She just did what she had to do. That amazes me since if I have a hang nail and you're in the same room as I, you'll know it. She was always so nice too, even when in a ton of pain! AND she is conscientious of others when she's in pain. I'm mean when I'm tired or hurting. She asks about my kids and asks me to go check on them to see if they've awoken - and sure enough, last time one had just woken up. How did she know through that pain and sleepiness?

Since I'm talking about my grandma now, I would've said something about how lucky I was to have been called as her visiting teaching companion if there was an open mic portion of her service. In church, all of the adult men, pretty much, are paired with another guy and they are together assigned a handful of families in our church boundries to go visit in those families' homes. They're called "home teachers." They are to go once/month to go into their homes to teach a lesson, printed in the monthly Ensign publication (also available online), and to tend to needs of the family. They report back to other volunteer supervisors on how the families are doing, and that's how everybody can be served. The women's organization does a similar thing except it's just women who visit just the ladies. Maybe b/c ladies need to have girl talk when no kids/husbands are around. Kids and husbands may be around though, of course. I have pretty much always taken a baby with me when I visit and have at least two kids home when I am visited. Anyway, my grandma was as close to a perfect visiting teacher as you could imagine. She never missed a month. If she could not go visit the sisters on her list, she would send them a card with a photo copy of the month's spiritual message. She copied the article on her home copier even when it printed a big black square or dark photo (that's wasting a lot of ink if you ask me!) The Relief Society would re-type the article out on colored paper each month and would hand it out at church on Sundays, but since she was a primary teacher, she would not get them, or she would only get the one for herself. She'd still print a copy for each sister at the beginning of the month and if we did not visit somebody, she'd mail it. We had one person on our list who was a little needy. She did not drive, so she asked people for rides to all of the church functions and to doctor visits and to the grocery store etc. She called my grandma first since my grandma was her designated visiting teacher. My grandma dealt with her gracefully and honestly. Even when my grandma gave my mom her car and declared herself to be an old lady who should be off the roads, This sister still called my grandma first. Instead of taking these repeated calls as a burden and passing them on to somebody else, she took it. She helped this sister to be self-sufficient in finding rides. Grandma did not pawn her off on somebody else. She kept being the first phone call. This person even called Grandma instead of calling me when I was running late. My grandma didn't even tell me about this until it came up once. There was no point in calling me to tell me, or calling anybody else to stress anybody else out either. My grandma knew that she could listen, so she did. A lot I guess. :)

My grandma helped me to be a good visiting teacher. We designated one Tuesday/month to be our day to visit people. Since I had a baby with me (who did not like the car seat,) she told me that it was okay to only visit some of our sisters and she would send the letter to others (who did not answer the door for us anyway.) She would have driven to everybody herself like she had been doing for years before she turned in her car, but she understood how it was stressful for me. When I was pregnant and got that headache that sent me to the ER, she told me I need to cut something out of my schedule, so she would send the letters the next couple of months for me. Then we were back. Do you know how cool it was to go visiting with her? She knew the thought, had such clear insight and examples. She's so smart and knows God's plan. She knows the scripture teachings. I wanted to make a business card with a picture of the two of us together so the sisters we visited would see us and would let us in the next month. My grandma laughed and said we didn't need to do that. When my grandma got sick, then it was my job to make the appointments and to go visit our ladies. I didn't do such a good job. And I didn't take baked goods each month. Oh yea, Grandma made snacks or bought holiday-appropriate treats every month. Or she'd take a potted plant like an Easter Lilly. She took her pumpkin pies with a whole can of whipped cream in November. She's amazing. I told everybody that too. Because some people loved having us. They thanked us and I would say that it's all my grandma. She's the best. I'm nothing without her. Well, I am, but I'm not a good visiting teacher without her. She did not judge me though. On one hand, she told me to "get those initials after your name," meaning to get college degrees. She had given me $5,000 when I got married which was so so so good. I had savings. Steven had debt. So when I got married, I had debt. (My savings was not much and we used it on our wedding.) Just the culture of me thinking that all debt was horrible clashing with Steven's having to pay for his own car, college, and other responsibilities since he turned into a teenager was hard for me. That money surprised me and helped merge the Gille side of me with my new Feger name. That's all on the one hand. Then on the other hand, she told me I need to cut back and not work so hard and I need to be the good mother/wife to my own little tight family and not do so much outside of the house. She worried about me. She probably still does. Well, she doesn't worry. She prays.

She told me that when she was sleeping in her hospital bed years ago, she felt the warmth from our prayers. She knew how many people were praying for her and she felt the prayers. They helped heal her. This is particularly interesting for a couple of reasons. I was surprised to find out that my grandma was in the hospital last week. She had been in and out, but when she was in, I'd visit her and she'd be back to normal. She had had a scare, but with the IV and a night in the hospital with their pain meds, she was good. We have been praying for her daily and routinely for a long time now. But last week, on Thursday, instead of praying for her to get better, we all kind of started praying for her to pain to stop. For her to be out of pain. For her comfort. For her to be all better. We did not actually say that we knew it could be her time to die, but that's what we instinctively felt. My Uncle Bruce posted this while I was at work on Thursday:
Many of you know that my mother, (aka Grandma Rebeck) has Multiple Myeloma. On Monday she took a turn for the worse and is currently in the hospital and in quite a bit of pain. We would love for her to recover but if it is her time to pass on we will accept that as well. Any prayers will be greatly appreciated to let us know the Lord's will for Mom.
Working Thursday afternoons has become unnatural for me. Something family-related seems to always be neglected at that time. I felt horrible. It got real at that moment. What should I do? Pray. I had been praying for her, but then my prayers changed some. I knew she felt the prayers. I did not get to visit her that day. I had visited her the day before. She seemed to be in pain even though she was sleeping/sedated. But I did visit twice the next day. In the morning, it seemed as though I could have seen her take her last breath. It was so hard for her to breath. Her eyes were open and I talked to her and held Julia up so she could see her. Her eyes did not react but maybe her brain did in there. Man was I praying. Poor Grandma. They wanted to take her to do an ultrasound on her arm. Bruce and I thought that was not a priority and declined. The tech completely agreed with us but another nurse wanted to check with somebody. I visited her again once I picked up the boys from school. They saw her sleeping and working to breath too. She appreciated the nurse giving her water on a sponge. Her mouth was so dry. She closed and sucked on it. Yay for comforts. She had not eaten really since Sunday. Bruce was still there. My mom and Don, Keri and her family got there. My mom and Bruce called Peggy. They made the hard call to officially go the Hospice route. My mom came in to ask if Grandma could lift her arm. She was checking and double checking and making sure this was the right decision. What a horrible decision to have to make, and to have to say aloud even if it feels like it is the right thing. My mom had more questions when the Hospice person came in. I'm glad they had officially voiced it though, because an hour or so later, Grandma died. It's so sad, but we all knew it would happen. I'm glad it happened fairly quickly after we knew she wasn't going to get better. My mom and Don were there. I'm glad the kids were not there. I really wish Bruce had been there. He had been with her all day every day that week. It is such a blessing that he lost his job and moved into Grandma's house. He got another job, but they don't really need him yet or he's on call or something, so he could be so much help for my mom and Grandma. My mom didn't ever act like it was hard for Grandma to need her and Don so much, but I know Bruce helped a lot. And having her big brother here when she/they had to make the decision is so sweet. Everybody deserves a big brother.
My Facebook post:
It has been a busy busy week, lots of time at the hospitals. I have been praying non-stop, some with the constant prayers in my heart, some on my knees, some while cleaning teeth, some while laying awake in bed, some right here at the computer. My Grandma Rebeck is finally out of pain. She's sitting so comfortably in a pretty chair made with gold and comfy back cushions right now in heaven I bet. To her, there was no grey area when it came to choosing the right. She always knew what to do. She did not judge others though and honestly understood from where they were coming and knew they just didn't have as clear of a knowledge of our Savior as she did. She is so smart, yet was not quick to give her 2 cents. When asked, she knew the answers, but held back when others were talking. She is amazing. She's probably patiently teaching people right now up in heaven!
I'm jumping all over the place but I think I mentioned that it was significant remembering how Grandma could feel our healing prayers when she was in the hospital because simultaniously, while Grandma was staying "the same" in Morton Plant Hospital, Barbie was "the same" down at the Bayfront Baby Place hospital in labor. She had started labor days ago it seems, not sleeping, feeling contractions, wondering if it was the day, scheduling the induction, etc. She was scheduled for Wednesday but then it got moved to Thursday. She went into the hospital on Wednesday morning and stayed basically "the same" all day and all night. I was praying for her delivery and for her comfort and for her to be strong and for that delivery to be a good one. Her last delivery was not ideal. So although her labor took forever, her delivery was actually pretty smooth, from what I hear. Again, dang Thursday afternoons at work, I could have gone on my lunch break to see baby Everett be born. I could have held him! I could have taken photos of all of it. Okay that's out, I don't have to complain about that ever again. Anyway, the prayers. My whole family was praying for the girls in both hospitals. And both prayers worked. My grandma got out of her pain. Barbie was able to be strong enough for her delivery. It is the circle of life and it's really all in God's hands. Thinking now about it, I did not even think to pray for Barbie and Andre's baby. I assumed he'd be healthy. So my two prayers of the week combined powers into one for baby Everett. He had to go to the NICU. Whenever somebody asked about how I was doing about my Grandma, I told them to pray for my new baby nephew who was in the NICU. I did not know what was wrong, nor did it matter. It was in God's hands and he could heal this little tiger. And like my grandma felt years ago, little Everett could be warmed by our prayers through his Heavenly Father too. Like my instinct to pray instead of my grandma to get better shifted for her to get out of pain, my prayers gave me confidence about little Everett getting better. I wanted to share that hope and comfort from the Holy Ghost with Andre and Barbie. I think they didn't get much comfort until they got the diagnosis of him having Down's Syndrome. What a shock. But he was improving at that time and it was good to have at least some answer even though that was not a question. With so much negative connotations that come with having a baby with some sort of label, they have a bit of control now. They have something to read about. Their emotions are validated. I felt so so so overwhelmed and like all of my decisions in every aspect of my life were the wrong ones when I was dealing with a happy healthy baby in a supportive family with no worries about job security or putting food on the table or any "real" worry. I did not feel like it was okay to not be okay. But with some big marker that it's okay to feel overwhelmed, I think that's sort of a relief perhaps. Especially knowing that it's finally normal to feel out of control and worried and like parenting is the hardest thing in the whole world when everybody else makes it seem easy. I know that Andre and Barbie are amazing parents. I want them to feel the power of prayer and how it can work for anybody. I do not know why I'm talking about their situation in this post, but these two weeks have merged for me and it's emotional and they're all in my big family. I have only had one chance to cry in my pillow. I said I would be the go to person for info about my grandma's funeral arrangements etc so my mom wouldn't have to answer questions until she knew answers. And I'm keeping other friends updated on my cute strong baby nephew. I need to feel needed so I don't feel helpless. Because that's one of the worst feelings ever. I just needed to write down my thoughts. I'm not helpless because I can pray. I opened my scriptures to a random place and just started reading one night when I was feeling the want to do something for Everett. I read a chapter that gave me excitement and hope. I skimmed it as my mind raced and planned as it often does when I try to focus on scriptures but although I was speed-skim/reading, significant relatable words popped out continuously through the whole chapter, (8, I think). Then, the next morning, Sunday, when I was on my way to finally see baby Everett, a verse in Alma spoke to me.
Nevertheless, after all this, I never have known much of the ways of the Lord, and his mysteries and marvelous power. I said I never had known much of these things; but behold, I mistake, for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power; yea, even in the preservation of the lives of this people. Alma 10:5
To me, it gave hope. The kind of hope that is the expectation of miracles, as the speaker that morning had defined. He distinguished that Bible hope is different from what we think of as hope. It's not a wish. I loved that randomness. I know that if we want answers to prayers, that we are to keep the commandments, pray, go to church, listen to our leaders, and to read the scriptures. I had the night before and it excited me so much so I did at lights on the way to the hospital and it worked again!

So tomorrow I'm going to be refreshed again. I'll take the sacrament at church, will listen to speakers, will feel guilty for not having blow dried my hair, and I will start a new week, ready for more miracles. And maybe I'll get a nap. Those refresh me too. :)

1 comment:

julie babcock said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, emotions, prayers and especially your faith and testimony. You are a light!