Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Dreaded Phone Call

On Wednesday morning, the 6th of June, we received a phone call that we will never forget.  My  sister was bordering on hysterical as she told us that her husband just died. He was 55.  Ed had a heart attack the previous week and spent several days in the hospital and receiving two stents.  His prognosis was good.  He went home on Sunday and was feeling great.  He went to sleep Tuesday night and didn't wake up.  My sister went to wake him up in the morning but he was already gone.  She was shaking him and yelling for him to wake up and their two children heard the commotion and also found their father dead in his bed.  Needless to say, there were some very hysterical people when my sister called and asked us to come.  About one hour later we were in the car heading south to Pinon Hills, CA.  After a 14 hour trip, we arrived at 1:30 in the morning and immediately Andrea and the kids embraced and we all cried. 

This past week has been one of extreme sadness, and very stressful funeral preparations accompanied by some wonderful blessings.  Ed had once said that he wanted to be buried at the Catholic cemetery in Mission Hills which is a 1 1/2 hr drive.  We went to the Catholic mortuary on Friday to make the arrangements.  None of us had any real experience with funeral arrangements.  I have performed scores of funerals but never made any arrangements.  We were totally shocked when we learned how expensive it is to bury someone.  Then we found out that the Catholic cemetery is the most expensive of all others in the LA area.  The first price quote for $6500 just for the mortuary and that did not include the cemetery which would have been another $8500.  Just for them to pick up and transport to the mortuary, embalming, and service to this point, we already owned them over $2000.  We told the funeral counselor that we needed a bare bones funeral and we put a stop to the whole thing while we regroup.

My brother-in-law had been out of work for a few months.  He had no life insurance of any kind and they were living from month to month so an expensive funeral was out of the question. 

I found a casket company in LA and we went and bought a very classy casket for 1/5th the cost that the funeral homes charge.  Then we found a cemetery near the house that was one third the cost of the Catholic cemetery.  We returned to the Catholic mortuary on Sunday afternoon and we told them exactly what we wanted so we got the cost down form nearly $15,000 to under $8000.  We still didn't know where all the money was going to come from.  We did already had $4000 donated from family and friends.  But by Monday every cent of the entire cost was covered. Someone from their church gave her an anonymous gift of $1000.  they have only attended this church a few times but the people really helped out.  Her neighbors brought food every night and even money for her.  A company where Ed had worked for many years gave Andrea over $4500 with the promise that more is coming.

I put together the DVD slide show (which saved us a hundred dollars).  We made our own memorial cards and I did the service.  Ed's father was a staunch Catholic and insisted of having a priest come.  To have a priest come and do his mumbo jumbo cost $300 and they will not come if they aren't getting paid.

Well, yesterday was the funeral at the Catholic Mortuary being performed by a fundamental Christian preacher.  I was sure to present the gospel at both the funeral service and the graveside.

One thing that we all learned from this experience with the funeral home and cemetery is that it is extremely important to pre-arrange our funerals.  When we return to Oregon we are going to do that very thing.  We cannot let anyone go through what we just went through.

I plan on returning to Oregon on or about June 20th and Dayle will stay with my sister for a week or two to help her with the future.

Thank you for your prayers and please continue to pray for Andrea and Spencer, age 12, and Madison, age 10.