The memorial service for Irene Adele White, 88, incorporated an Episcopalian memorial service with a salute to a woman who was not afraid to pre-plan the elements she wanted as part of her funeral.
At the entrance to the funeral home chapel, next to the guest book, Irene’s grandchildren had written their thoughts about what they remembered most about Grandma. They remembered playing all sorts of board games with her, and that she loved to swim. As attendees took their seats, a pianist played a variety of musical pieces.
The service opened with a video tribute photo montage of Irene from childhood, through marriage and children, to camping trips with the family towing an Airstream trailer, to her senior years. The musical soundtrack was a piano version of As Time Goes By. At most memorial services, the photo montage is shown toward the end, but this was a nice way to introduce the honoree of the service.
The Reverend John Barton opened with prayer and scripture, including readings from Isaiah (“I will make you a feast of fat things”), the 23rd Psalm, Romans, and John (“In my father’s house there are many rooms”). He led the recitation of the Apostles’ Creed, provided on a handout that included two hymns Irene had picked out for everyone to sing, Eventide and Dominus Regit Me.
Her three sons then got up to share memories of their mother. She was born in Wyoming. While working in Washington D.C. for the Army Signal Corps during World War II, she met and married her Navy husband, then returned to Laramie, Wyoming to raise the family. The obit mentioned she and her husband were communicants at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral and active in many civic organizations. They moved to Albuquerque in 1980.
Irene was remembered as a fantastic homemaker who decorated the house year-round according to the season. Thanksgiving at their home was always a warm and loving time. She loved music – she had all of her sons take music lessons and she regularly attended performances of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. She was a dedicated member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, PEO, and Daughters of the Nile. And she loved all sorts of board games and playing bridge.
A tremendous listener with a playful sense of humor, Irene was superb at numbers and tracking things. She was one of those mothers who said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” And she did not complain, even as her health deteriorated in her later years.
And she was purposeful, direct, and practical. When she became ill, she conveyed what she wanted incorporated in her memorial service. What a gift to the family, to give some directions on how you’d like your life to be celebrated when you’re gone.
The service ended with a commendation prayer and the priestly blessing with the sign of the cross directed toward Irene’s cremated remains. The attendees were invited to a luncheon reception at home, followed by an afternoon interment at a local memorial park.
Thanks for thinking ahead and sharing your vision. Rest in peace, Irene Adele White.