02 January 2012

Michael Walter Maier: 1923-2011

Mick + Betty

My Grandpa Maier passed away on December 15th.  Michael and I flew out to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin the day after Christmas for his funeral.  Most of the Maier family gathered at Grandma and Grandpa's house that evening.  Grandma led the way in deciding to celebrate his life rather than mourn the loss of it.  He lived 88 wonderful years, after all.

It was strange not having him there.  I kept thinking of his laugh, which I can still hear in my head.  I hope I never lose that.

The funeral was at St. Katharine Drexel Parish, in downtown Beaver Dam.  My cousin Mindy and I were tasked with "Placement of the Pall."  I had no idea what this meant until we got to the church: we would unfold the cloth that would be draped over the casket before it was wheeled from the back of the church to the front.  After the priest said a few words and crossed himself (I fumblingly crossed myself), he laid the cloth on the casket, and Mindy and I went to work.  It sounds pretty simple, but unfolding that cloth felt powerful. 

I walked back behind the casket to join Michael and Mom - Dad was a pallbearer.  As the Maier family followed the casket down the aisle toward the front of the church, Grandpa's death became a little more real.

The service was a traditional Catholic mass.  Various family members played different roles throughout - Dad read 2nd Timothy 4:6-8 toward the beginning of the service:
6For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
 7I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
 8Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Once the service was over, family and friends drove over to Old Hickory.  The photo poster boards were set up, as well as a commemoration of Grandpa's two holes-in-one.  We chatted and ate and drank, then the time came for his internment at St. Peter's Cemetery.

As we approached the cemetery, a group of veterans waiting outside in the cold became visible, guns in hand.  Several local American Legion members performed the military funeral honors: a 6-gun salute, Taps played on the bugle, and the presentation of the flag to Grandma.  She stayed very still and quiet.  We all moved toward Grandma.  The funeral director then said some words and invited us all to take our winter gloves and mittens off and touch his urn so that we could leave a little bit of ourselves with him.  We approached the urn one by one.  Grandma remained very still and quiet.  We all moved to comfort her.  We all stood for a while, and slowly made our way out of the cemetery.

1 comment:

  1. Very touching Daughter of Mine. You captured it very well.