Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mission Incredible

"If you surrender completely
to the moments as they pass,
you live more richly those moments."
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Elly and Bob, married February 1, 1946
Honeymoon at The Elms

People are unique. Like leaves on a tree, no two are exactly alike. One size definitely does not fill all. Why, then, should we adhere to rigid customs pertaining to death and dying? 

Funerals and mourning rituals used to be rigidly set and were not to be taken lightly. The rules of etiquette pertaining to  mourning reached ridiculous proportions in the Victorian Era. If you'd like to read more about the rules for veils and calling cards and gloves and jewelry and such things, read this.

I'm happy that the rules have eased since then, for according to Harper's Bazaar, I'd be wearing a long dress of "black Henrietta cloth (whatever that may be) or serge trimmed with crape, complete with a deep veil" worn at the back of my bonnet for the next year.

That sounds hot, uncomfortable, and itchy to me.

I'm pleased that people have begun to buck the system and make their own plans for ceremonies, services, or "going away parties" after their deaths.

My mother was one of those people.

She left explicit directions to her brood telling us the plan. No fussy funeral for this Parkville farmer's daughter. No expensive show, and no grave, either. Her letters to us have turned her memorial into a Mission Incredible.

You know by now that Eleanor married Robert Floyd in 1945 and they spent a short but happy honeymoon at The Elms Hotel in Excelsior Springs.

Now fast forward fifty-two years through six children, about as many homes, several careers, more than a dozen grandchildren, a few great grandchildren, and to the death of her loving husband. Now go even further...about fifteen years further without the love of her life.

Elly wanted us to make sure she spent eternity with Bob.

Elly's request to her children was for us to gather together for a party  at The Elms in our parents' honor. That seemed simple enough. We knew that the hotel still existed, though what an additional 65 years might do to it, none of us knew. A quick search told us that the historic hotel has had several incarnations through its century of history, but that it is now thriving as a resort and spa, capitalizing on its proximity to Kansas City, and to the healing mineral water springs for which it was created. Here's what it looks like today.

And so, on Friday evening, April 22, 2011, thirty members of Elly and Bob's family from several generations will gather for a party at The Elms in their memory.

The second request was for us to find the wishing well on the hotel grounds, which held deep sentimental value for the couple. In fact, the wishing well was so significant that Bob created his own replica of the well in the backyard of their home in Oak Grove as a gift to Elly for their 50th wedding anniversary. Here's what the replica looks like....

We had a Spruce up Grandma's Yard party on Mother's Day just last year, and my husband found a commemorative coin in the wishing well while sprucing it up. It turned out to be a coin from the Las Vegas hotel where Bob and Elly had spent their 25th wedding anniversary.

We were dismayed when a thorough search of The Elms website failed to show any photos of the wishing well, but thanks to facebook (yes, you can 'like' them if you want to), The Elms facebook page was a treasure trove of photographs. Look what I found...

Yep, that's it, covered with snow, but it's still there. Whew!

The final request from Elly was that we mingle their ashes together (yes, Elly had hidden Bob's ashes away to await her return to him) and to deposit them in and around the wishing well.

Wehhhll, now it gets tricky. And a little funny. We may have to call Agent Thuenemann in for this mission on Saturday .  To be honest, we're not really sure what The Management might think about people doing that sort of thing to and around their well, so it may be necessary to make this one a covert operation.  Did anyone bring the maps? We'll need recon to assess the situation, then maybe a diversionary tactic to distract The Management away from the suspicious-looking group of people skulking around  in the garden. Ah, yes, an Easter Egg Hunt should be just the thing.

Team Floyd is on the job, Mom, and we won't let you down. Reunited now, rest in the embrace of your loving husband on your eternal honeymoon.

Today, I wish you success in all your missions.

 Music today is "Gabriel's Oboe" by Enrico Morriconi from the visually and musically stunning movie, "The Mission."Carlo Romano is the oboist, playing with the RAI National Symphony Orchestra in Italy . Enjoy.

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