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Feb 7 2008

Funeral Travel

First and foremost, thank you to everyone for your kindness during the last two weeks. From simple phone calls and emails, to the cards, to those who were able to attend one of the wakes or service, your kind words and actions have been very much appreciated by our family.

We found out Grandma Danz died Sunday morning, January 27th, and despite knowing the end was near it, of course, was still difficult news. Despite that, funeral arrangements in two different states had to be planned, people notified and many other details taken care of, so most of that Sunday was spent on the phone and the internet getting the word out and making arrangements. It was just a little weird doing all that the same day we got word, but it had to be done. I can't imagine how people manage who have an unexpected loss. I guess a friend or more distant relative has to step in and take care of things.


Monday we drove straight through to Palatine. Will got the most improved traveler award for, literally, not making a single sound until just about a mile and a half from Grandma Danz's house. We were concerned because the last time we drove a long way, Will let it be known that he was not fully appreciative of the safety offered by his modern-day child seat. In other words, he was nearly inconsolable screaming and crying every 20 minutes. But, not this time, thankfully!

Tuesday morning came quick. Pre-wake preparations were highlighted by Mary's scream of "Will what have you done!!!" It was a tone and level of voice I had never heard from Mary and can only describe it as possibly being in the category of loss-of-limb urgency. I ran up stairs to see what was wrong and found that, after giving the boys a bath, while dressing Drew, Will threw his funeral cloths in the bathtub full of water. We still had over an hour before we had to leave the house so I grabbed the clothes, wrung them out, put them in the washer for a spin cycle and popped them in the dryer. Needless to say, Mary was a little stressed since I hadn't been much of a help with the kids on the trip.


Tuesday evening was the wake in Palatine. While I had ordered the casket and vault and was getting the Oklahoma arrangements taken care of, Donelda had been meeting with the funeral home in Palatine, ordering flowers and making poster boards with pictures of Grandma Danz. Somehow, Donelda also found time to put together a PowerPoint presentation of pictures which played at each wake.

Wednesday, Donelda and I spent a good five hours going over paperwork before Mary, Drew, Will and I drove to Rolla, Missouri, to stay the night. I must say the new Holiday Inn Express hotels are really nice and we enjoyed a good nights sleep.


Thursday was supposed to be an uneventful drive to Goltry, Oklahoma. However, while the drive started out pleasantly, there was an ice storm developing that we were heading into. About half-way down the Will Rogers turnpike between Joplin and Tulsa, we heard a thump...followed shortly by the oh-so-fun thump, thump, thumping. A flat tire. Now remember, we were in our trusty über-safe Volvo S80, packed for a week long cross-country trip with clothes ranging from casual to funeral and plenty of supplies for the munchkin who uses his pants for a potty and lots of stuff for everyone else, pillows, sleeping bag, computer, toys, work stuff...everything short of the kitchen sink. The image I'm trying to convey, is that the trunk and most spaces in the car were packed! Every nook and cranny of the trunk was neatly and totally stuffed to the precise contours of the available space. The trunk lid closed, but not without a little extra effort. Additionally, it was packed under ideal circumstances, where everything was laid out and I had all the time in the world to fit everything in just right.

The temperature was in the single digits and while it, fortunately, wasn't rainy, it was misty which was nice when the 18-wheelers came by and the car rocked back and forth. Road side assistance was not available for many hours because everyone was busy helping get cars out of ditches and a "mere" flat-tire just wasn't a priority. So, I began the process of emptying the trunk so I could get to the spare tire, passing everything through the window to Mary. Who knows where she put it all?! The change itself was relatively uneventful except for my anxiety over the time during which the fully loaded car was jacked up on the frail looking jack while the 18-wheelers did the best they could to blow the whole thing over. Once, the doughnut tire was in place, it was time to "pack" the trunk again as Mary passed everything back through her window. What I lost in neatness, I more then made up for with brute-force the second time around. The whole thing only took 30 minutes, but it seemed longer. From there, since we were just an hour away from our home in Tulsa, we detoured to change vehicles. I also took an unplanned rest on the couch while my physical and emotional batteries recharged before the final drive to Goltry. Did I mention the ice storm earlier? Yep, we made the final leg to Goltry traveling just 30 miles an hour on freshly iced, un-salted/un-sanded road. Grandma Danz always talked about the bad luck she had traveling, so I think this was her final goodbye to us.


Friday we ran some errands in Goltry and Helena and had the wake that evening. The photo is all of us with a long-time friend of my parents, Mrs. Long. She and her husband traveled the world with my parents. They are the most active "retired" people I've ever met. He still writes for the Oklahoman and they both take yearly trips around the world, this year's being a Russian river cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg!


Finally, Saturday after services at Lanman funeral home in Helena, we laid Grandma Danz to rest next to Grandpa Danz in the Karoma Cemetery in Goltry, Oklahoma. Pictures of the headstone and Great-Grandma and Grandpa Buller's headstone after the jump.


Nelda and Donald Danz's headstone.


Ola Mae and Alvin "Spiv" Buller's headstone. Donelda had the presence of mind to take two roses from one of the displays to lay on Grandma Danz's parents' headstone.

Posted by Don |


  1. #1
    Kate said on February 9, 2008 | Reply

    Don - I am so sorry to read about the loss of your mother. {{{hugs}}} Please accept my deepest condolences.

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