Sad times had come to the King family. My next oldest sister, Judy, passed away after a brief illness. I had visited with her on a trip home less than a year before her death. At that time she was in good spirits, and seemed to be her typical Judy self, with challenges, joys and sorrows, but doing well health-wise. In the five years before her death, Judy had been living in a home for vulnerable adults. The home was managed by a married couple, was located in a lovely suburb of Seattle, and it was a very good fit for Judy, supplying a family atmosphere, but having the structure and safety that Judy needed to get by from day-to-day. When Judy became ill, she was taken to a hospital where, over the course of several days, it was determined that there was nothing that could be done to return her to good health. So, the decision was made to take Judy home, to call hospice in to make her comfortable, and to prepare for her eventual death. Judy understood that her time was short, and faced her remaining days with dignity and grace. She died seven days later.
When the family gathered to make plans for a service to honor Judy’s life, one of the things some of us wanted to do was to go see the place where she would be laid to rest. Judy’s burial plot was to be at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Seattle, where several King family members are buried. I had been to the cemetery on a number of occasions, in part because it is only a few blocks from the home of my brother Bob and his wife, JoAnne. Four of us went to the cemetery on that gray, mild, spring day. As we walked along the narrow stone pathway to the King family plot, another familiar family name caught my eye: Reiten. I stopped in my tracks and took a good hard look – yes, the headstone clearly said Reiten, Hans, Martha and Marguerite! (For those of you who may not have met Marguerite, she is the main character in three earlier entries at this blog. You can find Marguerite’s story in Chapters 2, 3 and 4 above) I put my curiosity on hold, and hurried along to join my family in visiting the place where three Kings rested, and where we would soon have a family service and lay Judy to rest, also.
It is a lovely place, Calvary Cemetery http://www.acc-seattle.com/cemeteries/calvary.html; green, gently sloping, peaceful and filled with the kind of flora that always amazes me when I visit Seattle. At our family burial plot we reminisced about the ones who had pre-deceased us, prayed, and then discussed how Judy’s service would take place. As we left, I went back to the Reiten family plot, bowed my head for a moment of prayer, and took a picture of the headstone. That Marguerite was buried under her maiden name would have been more surprising if our family hadn’t just decided to put Judy’s maiden name on her headstone. Judy had been married, but briefly, and no one in our large, extended family thought of her as anything other than Judy King . If someone wanted to visit her grave in the future, they would certainly look for her burial site under King rather than Shaw, the name she had for only a few years. Maybe this same situation applied to Marguerite, who had married late in life and was a widow soon after. I wondered who had been present at Marguerite’s funeral? She had out-lived her parents, was an only child, a widow and had no children. How are these things done when one’s family is so small, and the family line ends with you? Had my mother or any other member of my family attended the funeral? How would I ever find the answers to any of these questions?
Thinking of Judy and Marguerite being together at the cemetery brought to mind an occasion when my soft-spoken, slender sister stood her ground against the formidable Miss Reiten. There were several of us visiting in the living room at Mom’s house, when Marguerite recalled a King family episode which featured Judy in the role of a “naughty little girl.” At the conclusion of the story, Judy calmly but firmly said, “Marguerite, I prefer to live in the present, not wallow in the past.” I was SO impressed! Marguerite took Judy’s gentle rebuke with unfailing good humor, but it wasn’t long afterward that Marguerite said her good-byes and made her merry way home.
The funeral service for Judy was lovely. We were happily surprised that Uncle Bob Plut, 93 yrs old,was able to join us at the service with the help of his son, Randy. Father Oliver Duggan officiated, and my sister Margie gave a beautiful eulogy. Chris Jones, talented husband of niece, Susie, played his saxophone as accompaniment to the hymn Amazing Grace, which all of us sang together. The final attendance was 20 people. Afterward we went to Bob and JoAnne’s for food and fellowship, and in true King family style, we gathered around the piano to sing. Joy and sorrow cascaded around me so closely as we sang that I had a hard time knowing where one emotion ended and the other began; it was an emotional mash-up of grand proportions. We were surely sad to say good-bye to our dear Judy, yet there was so much life and promise around that family piano that the future looked full of hope. Yes, hope filled the room, and the house and the hearts of those in that space.
Hope is a powerful attribute. It gives us power to face another day, and brings with it the belief that some time in the future, the sadness of this moment will pass, and joyful, productive times will return once again. May it be so. Plus, in the deep reaches of my mind, the germ of a thought began to emerge, “Maybe there is more to the story of Marguerite Reiten!”