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April 27, 2006 - Thursday, 11:32 p.m.
After the funeral we walked outside of the church. Fifty-one balloons were handed out (one balloon for each year of his life) and we let them go on Kathy’s mark with a “We love you Steve”. The balloons floated up into the heavens. It was amazingly clear and we watched the balloons rise until we couldn’t see then anymore, which took a long while. There was a ‘lunch’ service in the fellowship hall of the church, like most funerals I’ve ever been to in this state.
There was a break and then around 2 pm the procession to the cemetery left Mohall. Steve was to be buried in Bottineau, which is about 50 miles from Mohall. My mother and I were about 5th or 6th in the line of cars, and we imagined that the 50 mile drive would take about 1 ½ hours at 30-40 miles an hour. We made a loop and passed by MTI, the company Steve started here in town, one last time for him. The lead car after the hearse was Steve’s truck with Kathy and his daughters. The next in line was a friend of Steve’s riding Steve’s motor cycle and the third vehicle was Kathy’s car. We proceeded slowly until we got out of the little town (about 4 minutes after we left the church). Much to our surprise the procession continued to speed up to the speed limit of 65 miles per hour. Now this was pretty fast and a number of times my speed edged up to 75 to keep me close to the car in front of me. We noticed that the hearse seemed to be pulling away from the lead car. At a number of points in the ride the hearse was no where in site. My mother and I laughed about the speed of the procession and commented that as Steve seemed to enjoy speed (he was a pilot, motor cycle driver, skydiver, etc) and we figured he would have really enjoyed the ride and that probably it was the fastest procession that had ever occurred in this state. Eventually we noticed that a semi was bouncing in about out of our lane to pass the procession one car at a time. With the hearse out of site, I am sure the driver had no idea he was moving through a funeral procession.
We arrived at the cemetery and the pallbearers carried the coffin to the plot and the service was held graveside. For the first time (in my life) we watched as the guys removed the rigging for the coffin and began to lower it into the grave. As it began to descend into the ground, Kathy stopped them. She’d gone as far as she could go. She’d hoped to see him to the very end, but this was all she could do. She was upset that she couldn’t complete it and my mother told her it was alright, that she’d done good. As the service ended a friend flying Steve’s plane did a fly over of the cemetery tipping the wings to the right (what they call a wave) as he passed by. Then he disappeared into the blue. It was incredibly well planned. We watched until the plane was gone. (I heard today that word got out that it was going to happen and a number of people in Bottineau came out of their businesses to watch the fly by.)
We left the cemetery and then a number of us stopped at Dairy Queen and got ice cream. We visited a while and then headed back to Mohall to the house. There is an unbelievable amount of food that has arrived here over the last few days. Kathy won’t have to cook for a long while. We visited into the evening and my mother and I headed back to the motel about 10 pm.
As we sat in Kathy’s kitchen and prepared to leave we all commented that it’s seemed it was a long time ago we were sitting at the table having caramel rolls, but it was really just that morning.
It was an emotional day.
We arrived back at the house this morning about 9:30 am. As we sat and visited Kathy left to go take a shower. When she returned to the kitchen she was very distressed. She couldn’t fine one of Steve’s shirts that she particularly liked. She eventually found it hanging in his closet. We went through cards most of the afternoon, there were so many cards to go through and read. We addressed envelops for the thank you cards. Early this evening we went over to the church to pick up all the flower arrangements and plants that were given as gift. I guess that this funeral was the most flowers the local florist has ever had to make. There were an unbelievable amount of flowers. All of the arrangements were beautiful. Steve was relatively well known. He grew up in this area, was once the mayor of the town and has owned businesses in the area for a long time. He was a man that was liked by all who knew him. He was calm, soft spoken and unassuming. He liked very little fanfare. She decided to take some flowers and plants back to the office. A flower arrangement was left in every department. A large arrangement went to the board room. She then went and put some flowers in Steve’s office. She returned for flowers for her office, distressed again. It is going to be terribly hard for her to return to work. He is going to be everywhere she looks. His office with all his stuff, his car was the “MTI CEO” licenses plate, her car with “MTI DRMR” (MTI Dreamer) on its license plate. The house here is the house the girls have lived in a long time (he must have gotten it after the divorce). He is going to have a presence in every direction that she turns.
It is overwhelming to think about.
My heart aches for her. It is going to be a while until her life is going to settle down.
It’s getting late… I really should sleep.
Sweet Dreams. M.