Monday, September 8, 2014

Farewell to Flora: Foreboding, Fading, and Fox-trotting Away

Remember my Recipes from series? Wherein I tried out the family recipes from my grandmothers and great-aunts? I have an some update on Aunt Flora of Recipes from Aunt Flora. (I think I need to dig out that cookbook again soon.)

It was only a month ago, when my inbox got got a very sad e-mail from my father. His Aunt Flora, his mother Roa's sister, the last remaining link to that generation of his family tree, was failing faster than expected. Even with the foreboding feelings that had prompted an increase of his visitations to California over the last year and this summer, it was still hard to read things like:

Aunt Flora told [Cousin L] how bad she was feeling and [that she was] passing blood.
Last Monday Aunt Flora was admitted back into hospital where they ended up doing a scope of insides and found cancer cells, and polyp that was bleeding and falling apart. They have her with heavy meds, bringing the bleeding under control, and maybe let her go home Sunday. She has to see Dr. again in two weeks and let them know which of the treatments she is able to follow or stay away from. One is operation now but heart will not let this happen, another is check[ing] again in a year to see what growth it is taking, the third is just let the ten year cycle take its course and stop the bleeding the best they can now.

We talked to Aunt Flora for a few minutes and she is weak, tired, and ready to get out of the hospital again.

[Cousin L] is sure they heart conditions will not allow for an operation now or ever, so she is just taking it a day at a time for right now.
Poor Aunt Flora. She had already been through so much. Been so unhealthy for so long. Suffered from some of the same ailments that afflicted Roa. To have cancer on top of it all? You had to wonder if she would want to fight to stay here any more, or whisper up prayers to those who had preceded her.

I got the following two days later. Two. She passed not even 48 hours after I got the first email. 

We have been talking back and forth all day with Calif. and just finished finding out a few details in Aunt Flora’s passing sometime mid-morning today. 

Seems [Cousin L] was called in to hospital at 1 AM this morning and sat with her mom through the morning. Aunt Flora could not breathe and her lungs gave out in the end. No fluid could be drained so they just made her comfortable. About 3 AM Grandma Roa was with her and they seemed to be at one of the USO clubs having a good old time from the comments and body motions that went on for a couple of hours.  …. There is an email coming maybe that might fill in the blanks for us.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
l-r: Aunt Flora, Grandma Roa, and Aunt Teddy, 3 late, great ladies


I cannot truly express how marvelous I think it is to picture my Grandmother Roa and her sister possibly dancing their way over the "veil of shadows." Young, momentarily carefree, pain-free. Based on the few pictures I've seen of them from the WWII era, I can only imagine.

As my Grandma Ollie lingered near the veil, in those days after that accident, her hands were busily quilting away. We know she had visitors. At the actual end, I don't know, yet, how she passed, or who all was with her.

But, at some point, my Aunt Flora and Grandma Roa were together and possibly dancing.

What a way to waltz out.
I wonder, when my time comes, if my hands will be busy. Not making typing movements, but banging away on a big black Steinway, playing the glorious music I hear in my dreams but never have played in this life, a Rhapsody in Blue or the Rach 3, or something not yet written. Or  ...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Fullness of time revealed?

It is my impression that it was important for Grumpa's mission be delayed so that he could visit with his aunt before she passed, and to be able to travel to CA for the funeral and be a witness, documentarian, and to represent Roa's family lines.

Regardless of whether I'm correct, as THIS generation of the family's documentarian, I feel it's important to record and share. Thanks to technology, mass emails can keep family members updated. Photos can be taken and passed around, and obits not overlooked. With thanks to Grumpa for forwarding all these emails on, I record them here, for posterity.

The following, dated August 11, 2014, is a fitting obit and eulogy from Grumpa's cousin Lurane's husband Tom, about his mother-in-law's last days. Only a few minor edits have been made.

Flora C. Morgan Tillery passed away this morning about 8:30AM, August 11, 2014. As most of you know she has needed to visit St Agnes three times in the past 2 months with several different problems that have afflicted her in her advanced years. We have seen many, many miracles, important answers to prayer and blessings offered in her behalf over the past 10 years. But time has a way of catching up to all of us and so it was not unexpected that the frequency of issues, their severity and the necessary trips to the hospital would eventually have a very weakening impact on her overall health and well being. When I was helping her into the car to start this last trip to the hospital, she expressed her appreciation to me for the help, as was her normal way of doing things, but this time it was stated in such a way as to let me know she did not expect to come back to the house. That this in her mind was the last trip she would take to the hospital. While we saw many great miracles performed by the qualified staff, the hospital was her least favorite place to be. She would have much rather sat through three hours of church, than go to the hospital for any reason. She was always ready to go home from the hospital.

Yesterday was somewhat typical of how things have gone lately, as Lurane, with the early shift and later I, had been in and out of the hospital even up to 5 AM this morning. We had gone home for a while at 8:30PM Sunday, but the hospital called us back at 1AM. She was very restless, having trouble breathing and it took a while to get her settled again. We went back home at about 4:30, but the call came again just before 7AM. She was again having difficulty breathing and was experiencing a lot of anxiety as a result. They had transferred her to ICU just after 7AM and were trying to provide needed life support when she passed. It was her wish that she not be kept on any type of life support unless there was a need for goodbyes with family. All of that had been taken care of in recent weeks, so She was ready and willing to go home at the earliest possible time. The veil had been thin all night as we could over hear her talking to her sister, Roa, who had passed away more than 10 years ago. They were as close as any two sisters could have been in this life and while one lived in Ogden [UT] and one in Clovis [CA], they stayed in touch as best they could through regularly scheduled phone calls for all of their adult life. We know and find great comfort in knowing she is in the best of places. There she was undoubtedly greeted by her Father and Mother, Her Husband and 3 of her children. Not to mention her sister, Roa and her brother, Wayne who she adored and missed more than you can imagine.

Grandma had a great pioneer legacy and while she was not always active in her adult life, she was an advocate of the gospel and the gospel teachings. She knew and appreciated that families are forever and she did her best to insure that even here on earth, there was a bit of heaven for her family and their friends, at 1112 Oxford Street in Clovis, Ca.  We will miss her unconditional love of all of us and her wise counsel, especially on how to work together as a family unit. Her greatest strength was keeping everyone pulling together in the same direction, if possible, for each other; and for the whole family. She set a great example for all of us to follow and we will forever refer to the many, many things she taught to all of us in word and deed. We are all fine here and there is no need for food, or meals of any type. We are by nature a grazing group and even now food plans and preparations are underway. But we appreciate the thoughts and prayers of our friends and loved ones in our ward and stake.

We know that Flora was blessed by her great Home Teachers and Visiting Teachers. She like many more in our wards and stake was kept close to the gospel by their consistent visits and their love expressed to her in both words and deeds. She relished their visits and for literally decades it was through those faithful members of the Clovis 1st Ward, the Dry Creek Ward, and later the Orchard View Ward that she remained connected to the teachings and promptings that can only come through the spirit, delivered in full measure by those who possess that spirit and teach with that spirit. They did that great work each month in her home for more than 40 years. During much of that time she rarely if ever attended church until the combination of those great Home Teachers and Visiting Teachers and the promptings she received from family members, even a granddaughter caused a great change in her heart and gave her the needed courage to move forward. 

... And so it was to be that in her 84th year she did indeed prepare herself to have and use her own temple recommend. She was helped in that process by a loving Bishop and Stake Presidency. There she did kneel over the alter of her temple and place her aged, soft hands into the hands of her son. [Editor's note: She was sealed to her husband.] ... and in subsequent ordinances ... each of her deceased and recommended living children were sealed to her and her chosen mate, Marion Luther Tillery.

We have seen and have been truly blessed by her great example. By her love of our Father In Heaven. By her love for each of her children, their wives and husbands, their children and now children's, children’s, children. 3 sons and 3 daughters call her mother. 24 married children call her Grandma Tillery. 39 children call her Great Grandma Tillery and there are 9 children who are her great, great grandchildren. Now add in all the spouses, their siblings, the parents of the spouses, their friends and ward members, each impacted by her life and example and you get a sense of the blessings she provided to so many. What can one person do? More than we can possibly imagine, especially when they are constantly doing good.

Many of our family members will be gathering. We will be gathering to remember, teach and learn; and that is how she would want it. The funeral is likely going to be held next Monday at 10 AM at the North Stake Center. She will be buried in the Clovis Cemetery on Villa, next to her Husband, Marion Tillery, her first son Pat and very near her second oldest daughter, Janean. All is as it should be. We must all face and or deal with this temporal death situation. It is part of the plan. This temporary separation has occurred before as Grandma Tillery left the pre-existence and came here before we did and  we missed her then as we will miss her now.

The time will come quickly when we will all be together and hopefully each will be well prepared to qualify for the greatest blessings and gifts our Father In Heaven can bestow upon us. That of Eternal Life and Exaltation, coupled with eternal progression, inseparably connected together to this wonderful family we love and cherish so much. That is how I know of the perfection of this plan, the Savior’s Plan. He and our Heavenly Father loves us so much that they want us to have and hold onto these ever expanding relationships as part of our lives, forever and ever and ever. What a plan. What an opportunity for each of us if we make needed choices and live as we have been commanded to live.

Thank you for your love of us, for your support and friendship for us and for Grandma Tillery. She loved her ward members, her home teachers, her visiting teachers and especially her Priesthood Leaders. Thank you for making this important time of her life so meaningful and so prosperous for and to the benefit of her and all of her posterity. We are much blessed by all of you and all that you do.


More on our family Farewell to Flora to follow.

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