At the Santa Fe National Cemetery, funerals are conducted with military precision. Attendees assemble near the entry gate, then at the appointed time, the caravan travels through the cemetery to a Southwest-style shelter for the service. The service is kept to about 15 minutes, then the remains are taken to the grave site for interment.
On a beautiful October day, about 50 family and friends gathered at the Santa Fe National Cemetery to bid farewell to Charlotte Valdez, 89, of Santa Fe. Her cremated remains were to be buried with her husband Tiesnado (Victor), who died in 1987.
Deacon Enrique Montoya with St. Anne Catholic Parish wore a white robe and a brown stole with a gold cross. He started the Rite of Committal by saying, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, let us express our common faith in the Resurrection.”
The family had prayed the Rosary the night before. This brief committal service included a prayer that asked God to sanctify the homes of the living and protect the places of the dead and make ready Charlotte’s final resting place. “We are taking leave of our sister, but one day we will meet her again. Take comfort, and may the mercy of God gather us again in heaven.”
Another prayer elicited several responses of, “Receive her soul and present her to God most high,” followed by a holding of hands for the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. The deacon sprinkled holy water on the wooden urn holding Charlotte’s ashes. He also blessed the assembled, sprinkling us with holy water. He blessed a crucifix that had been resting on the urn and gave it to one of Charlotte’s sons.
The deacon said that “Earth is not our final resting place. On the last day, we will rise from the dead. Live that faith of eternal life and increase our love of God and family.”
Daughter Gina’s long-time best friend Darlene Weber spoke a few words about Charlotte Valdez.
“She always had perfectly-done hair, nails and make-up,” said Darlene. “Charlotte was a mother, grandmother and a friend to all. She loved her grandchildren and had a special place in her heart for each and every one of them.”
“We shared many memories with her. She was kind and had a dry sense of humor and would make us laugh without even knowing. Charlotte was a strong woman and she always got her way, especially when Tiesnado was alive.”
“Charlotte is in heaven now and we are here at her funeral. This is not the time for us to grieve her death but time to celebrate her life. She wants us to be happy, so at this moment when we are about to lay her body to rest, let’s think back and remember how Charlotte touched our lives. How she made us laugh and how good Charlotte was as a person. The is not the moment for us to shed tears, but to be thankful we were given a chance to know Charlotte.”
“In the last few months of her life, her children noticed Charlotte’s health was deteriorating, but her spirit was always there. On her last night, her family spent the night with her, praying for her. The last breath Charlotte took was so peaceful. She knew she was on her way home to be with her Creator, and that is what made her family get through the experience of losing their mother.”
She ended with the poem, To Those I Love And To Those Who Love Me, attributed to Anonymous:
When I am gone, release me, let me go.
I have so many things to see and do.
You must not tie yourself to me with tears.
Be happy that we had so many beautiful years.
I gave to you my love, you can only guess
How much you gave to me in happiness.
I thank you for the love you’ve shown me,
But now it’s time I travel on, alone.
So grieve a while for me if you must,
Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It’s only for a while that we must part,
So bless the memories within your hearts.
I won’t be far away, for life goes on.
So, if you need me, call and I will come.
Though you can’t see or touch me,
I’ll be near and if you listen with your hearts,
You’ll hear all my love around you,
Soft and clear; and then when you must
Come this way alone, I’ll greet you with a
Smile and say, “Welcome Home.”
At the end of the 15-minute service, a representative of the Santa Fe National Cemetery said that Charlotte’s remains would immediately be taken to the grave site for interment and the family could go there to say their last goodbyes in about 15 minutes.
May Charlotte Valdez find beautiful rest in her eternal home.