Her earthly body lie in a closed, subdued lavender metallic casket of her own choice, flanked by 50 of her ‘Young at Heart Choir’. A group that she had performed with for over 18 years. A charter member from the first meager practice and inception, she had truly enjoyed her chosen mission to spread the message of God’s love and had willingly ‘paid her dues’.
The ‘Young at Heart’ group routinely travels to countless in-state, as well as out of state destinations, to perform at nursing homes and facilities where the institutionalized ‘inmates’ :>) are incarcerated :>) Including many churches, that also fall under those categorizations :>) As soon as the doors are closed, their audience is ‘captivated’ by the performance :>)
Not being quite sure how these service ‘attendees’ were mentally prepared for an ‘entertainment’ memorial service, it turned out an overwhelming success. Our own three talented sons, each dearly loved by their Grand Parents, Eric being the eldest of her grandsons present, our middle son Bryn, known professionally as ‘Red’, and Kent their younger brother… flying from his home in Wisconsin, each stood before the crowd including their own children, their cousins with their children and briefly described their memorable life experiences, acquired while associating daily over the years with their loving Grandmother Newel.
‘PapaDutch’ was her name, as far as all of the grand kids were concerned. Brief explanation from very young grandchildren (Ginger and Trey) many long years ago tied the thoughtfully crafted name to her husband, known as ‘Papa’ and her lifetime nickname as ‘Dutch.
The many tunes sung by her choir were lighthearted, leading into day by day relevant Christian message lessons, familiar to many who had earlier and/or still experienced the ‘church’ life. A routine that Newel so adhered to all of her life.
‘Sing along’ was encouraged and enjoyed by all (except those of us that can only ‘play the radio’). The line of friends and greeters all remarked to her family about the unique service, planned by Peg and Byron (her local son and her local daughter Peg, my dutifully caring and love filled wife).
Today was not in any way, ‘typical New Mexico weather’, if there is such a thing. The Sandia mountain, our city backdrop soaring a mile above us city dwellers, was entangled in an eerily white embrace of a massive, Western States snow storm. A wintry event that cascaded freezing cold wind down onto us from it’s western flanks.
We, as immediate family, following the greeting line’s formal closure, left the funeral home in escorted white limos, followed by a small brave entourage of those willing to stand outside in the cold wind at her graveside.
Her grandsons and great grandsons (including one very young great grandson ‘helper’ Tyson;>) carefully floated her earthly remains from her body’s last ‘ride’, across the grass to it’s final resting site, next to her beloved husband ‘Ben’s. We willingly chose to wait in honor, for her casket lowering into the temperate earth and out of the cold mountain wind.
Following the last final service for Newel, everyone in attendance was invited to our son Bryn and his wife Jennifer’s, beautiful home. They had worked for days and prepared their home for a large gathering for Newel’s ‘graduation’, providing a wonderful buffet of various fare and friendship. The likes of which she herself created and thoroughly enjoyed countless times during her own wonderfully productive and sharing life on earth. Newel was after all, a productive member of…. ‘The Greatest Generation’.
Jennifer’s father Lee, a tall, rancher who willingly drove the distance ahead of the approaching storm from northern New Mexico, supplied the beef, ham and turkey he had carefully prepared on an outside bar-b-que grill. His kitchen professionalism while working with his daughter Jennifer, ramrodded the chuck wagon feast. He often travels to ABQ to prepare great chuck wagon spreads for special occasions. We are fortunate to be invited to most of them… especially for leftovers:>).
Jen’s mom Jeannine and our other daughter in law Margherita, along with Jen’s friend Concha, worked all day previously and catered the event like professionals, as others added ambiance to the excellent buffet reception. The family and numerous friends stopped in and honored the gathering with their presence. Surprisingly many stayed for the friendly conversations and memories that consumed the entire afternoon.
We left the reception after darkness had settled, as the out of state family members, Grand daughter, her family of children, including Newel’s two daughters Ruth Ann and Melinda, were leaving to eventually catch flights to their out of state homes. Great Grand kids of Newel, others of her legacy, were also leaving to their motels and planes to safely return home. Newel’s one son, her oldest Byron, dutifully remained throughout the entire day, adding to the memorable occasion.
The following weeks will predictably be only blurred memories for a time of acceptance. Our earthly loss of Newel, is in actuality to be celebrated as a glorious event. Newel is now with her lifetime closest personal friend, her councilor, her inner strength against adversity… Jesus Christ… God in Heaven, the one person, the entity, the Power that sacrificed for all of us, to protect and save us from judgement, as the final chapters described in the Bible were documented in prophecy long ago and are being played out day by day.