I attended the best funeral EVER yesterday, in Huntingburg, Indiana. Typically, it’s insensitive to talk about a loved one’s funeral, but this is an exception. The funeral was for my aunt Betty Mullen, one of the best Christian women the world could ever imagine.
To start with, the memorial card at the registration book truly captured Betty’s personality and set the tone for the service. (See photo). Her five daughters, my close-as-sisters cousins, did a fabulous job organizing the whole thing.
There were many tears shed but there was also a lot of laughter as we celebrated Betty’s eternal journey to heaven. Betty was happy at the end of her life, and she saw heaven. Just a few days before she died of lung and brain cancer, she started telling her daughters about the light she was seeing.
She said it was beautiful and comfortable, and it was real: She said, “We made it!” meaning she was seeing heaven and there is a bright light to follow. She talked about the light several times. At one point, her daughter asked her if she could see their dad, Betty’s late husband. She said, “Not yet,” but she was sure she would.
Hospice nurses told them it would be another day or two. Teresa Mullen King and Gloria Mullen Cummings, her first two daughters, could tell by Betty’s motions that she was seeing the light again. Teresa told her, “Mom, you better go. There are people there waiting for you.” Moments later, not one or two days, she passed.
Betty’s casket was a story by itself. Betty was the poster child for thrift-shopping. Before she went into the hospice home, she even made Gloria take her to the local thrift store. Betty used to own a consignment store and she was always at yard sales, trying to make a better deal than what was offered.
When Betty’s husband Louie died in 1997, Betty and the five girls went to the funeral home. As soon as they went in, Betty asked the funeral director, “Where’s the clearance room?” The 7-foot-tall funeral director had a belly laugh over that and Betty was offered a half-price casket for Louie that the funeral director hadn’t been able to sell. “I’ll take it,” she said.
So when the girls went to the same funeral director, Gloria immediately asked him, “Do you have a scratch-and-dent section? Mom does not want to pay full price.”
Again, the funeral director began to laugh, instantly recalling Betty’s purchase for Louie. He said they did have a rental casket he was thinking of replacing because it did have scratches and dents. (If someone is being cremated but wants a visitation, they have a “loaner” they use.)
It was half-price of the new ones and the girls instantly started saying, “Yes! That one. That’s it.” It was a beautiful, solid oak casket. Absolutely beautiful. And yes, you could see some scratches, but that made it all the better.
Gloria, an ordained minister, was prepared to perform the funeral service. Betty often told her daughters, and grandchildren, that Jesus was speaking to them through her. And she was so honest and kind, no one ever doubted it.
So when Gloria approached the podium, she set her notes aside, and said she was going to speak from the heart and she spoke words that, she said, were coming directly from her mother.
The funeral home was full. Included were Betty’s 7-foot-tall grandson, Issac, and another 7-foot-tall man who is married to Betty’s granddaughter. It was such a peculiar thing … three 7-foot-tall men at the same funeral in a little, rural place like Huntingburg.
At the cemetery, little Keurig pods of coffee were handed out. Everyone knew Betty loved coffee, and even if she woke up at 2:30 a.m., she would make a pot of coffee for herself. Personally, I thought the coffee was for everyone to take home, to have a last cup of coffee with Betty. Instead, after the funeral, her daughters all opened their Keurig pods and sprinkled coffee over the casket. Everyone followed.
We sent Betty off with coffee!! Love that. I’m stealing the idea for the sad time my own father passes. But for him, we will sprinkle instant Folgers.
I had a brief role in the service. I read the story I’d written about the time, in 2010, when Betty was held hostage by an escaped convict. The girls asked me to read it because it shared details of their mother’s life. I was honored.
So, I know my Aunt Betty is resting in peace with Jesus at her side. It’s sad that I won’t see her anymore here on earth, but I will never forget her.