Monday, July 27, 2009

Charlene's funeral

I only knew her as an older woman in her 80s. I thought she was beautiful. But the pictures I saw at her funeral today shows how truly pretty she was in her younger years. Charlene told me about 2 or 3 years ago that she always had "nice looking legs." She said she did not like her aging body, but she thought her legs still looked good!

Charlene and her husband who died many years ago.
Den and I talked tonight about Charlene's favorite lunch out. It would nearly make me gag every time she would describe it. IHOP's pancakes, with bananas on top, then ice cream on top that, and then carmel sauce and whip cream over that! She loved it!

They are standing as a family in front of the church her husband helped build.
The picture below is my favorite. Charlene was so proud of it and showed it to us before. I can't remember what the circumstances were, but she was with President David O. McKay. See her to the left of him? (I named my 3rd son after him.) He was our Prophet and President of our church when I was growing up (1951 to 1970 when he died) I found out today that he actually married Charlene and her husband in 1945 (I think that was the year).

Her son Perry started Charlene's eulogy today by talking about Christmas Eve 1920. Her 4 older siblings waited in anticipation of her birth as she was born on Christmas Day. Charlene's father had just died the previous April. Perry said baby Charlene helped heal her family's grief.

Her mother taught school so she got special permission for Charlene to begin school a year early so she could be near her mom and she wouldn't have to pay for her childcare. I'm sure her mom had to be very creative like that through the years, raising and supporting her 5 children, and never remarrying.

I sat in that chapel today reflecting on Charlene Miller's life... her challenges, her joys, her pains...many she shared with me over the past 6 years. I thought how we are not who we are in spite of our challenges...but perhaps because of them.

Dennis said he would describe her as "very very kind." I miss her already. I find myself wanting to call her up and tell her what a nice funeral she had today.


Mary said...

I do wonder sometimes who I'll be after all my challenges. Will I be someone I'd even want to know?

Goodness, you've attended a lot of funerals lately!

James and Kresta said...

It looks like you have attended a lot of funerals recently :(. Thanks for posting the pictures and stories. I tried so hard to make it to her funeral, but work was too hectic. She will be missed!

grandmapeg said...

It sounds like Charlene was quite a woman! Isn't that something to have been married by David O. McKay! I admire those single parents who are left to raise children on their own because that certainly is a great challenge. I agree with you that we are who we are because of our challenges. Thanks for sharing this experience. I'm sure Charlene was a big influence on many people.

Eileen said...

Jill, that was so touching, especially the part about wanting to call her to tell her about how nice her funeral was. I felt like that with my own Mom and then later with my Dad too. It's funny how your mind doesn't accept they are gone even though your heart aches with the knowledge.
And I can't even say it was routine with my Mom because of her Alzheimer's that wasn't our relationship the last few years.

This was a wonderful tribute to your friend, and thanks for sharing her stories and her pictures. I laughed when you said what you did about the pancakes because my Mom would order something similar at the diner all the time only it was a waffle, and I had the same reaction you did!

Thanks for sharing this, Jill.
You are in my thoughts and in my prayers,

m_and_m said...

Jill, what a lovely blog!

I found you from your comment on my blog, and wanted to invite you to consider sharing some of your content on a site called Mormon Women ( We are trying to gather hundreds, if not thousands, of Mormon Women together to share their voices about our lives and help the world understand more about Who We Are. Your blog posts, with pictures and your thoughts, are the type of posts we are looking for!

For example, the pictures of LDS women quilting would be great. I loved your post about your friend, Charlene (gave me a lump in my throat -- no, nevermind, now I have tears.)...a beautiful tribute to a wonderful person, a wonderful illustration of the power of sisterhood, a powerful account of love and faithfulness.

Anyway, I am happy to 'meet' you. Thank you for commenting on my blog, and I hope you will consider joining with us to share more about LDS women with the world. (send content to mormonwonan at gmail dot com)

Dad and Susan said...

This was a lovely tribute Jill. You always do such a good job telling the story and expressing your feelings. The early pictures reminded me of Joan Crawford. Your friend was a beautiful woman. Love, Dad and Susan

Jill said...

That's who it is Susan! Den and I were saying last night that she looks like a movie star but we couldn't think of which one. But I think Charlene was way prettier. I love the one of her underneath that picture...the one with her young son. She had the cutest smile.

darlene said...

It's interesting the way they dressed for their wedding receptions back then.

Tom and Karen Mortensen said...

Nice post. She was quite the lady. I just love all those "old" pictures. I just love pictures from the 30s, 40s and 50s.

Lisa said...

I'm glad you shared the day's events and the photos are just stunning. She definately has a very classic beauty. I loved looking at them.

I miss her too, but honestly-she's got to be giddy about being with her husband & being with her parents and all the siblings that went before her.

I always thought it was sad that she was the last one left. Granted she had her wonderful children & grandchildren-they were all so supportive of her & the challenges she faced in her last years.

You & Dennis were so very good to her and I know she regarded you both as cherished friends. I feel so lucky to have had her in my life for a season. I'm a better person because of her. (ps: I'm taking some of the photos for my iphoto album)

Anita Harper said...

Hi Jill,
What a touching tribute to a lovely lady! I didn't get to know her well before I left the ward, but I remember her as always having a kind word to say and a smile on her face.
I have so much enjoyed seeing all the posts on your blog. Your family is growing by leaps and bounds. You certainly have much to be proud of. Seeing McKay's antics made me remember being his seminary teacher (not that he ever "entertained" us like that in class). He was always very talented, both then and now, but then all your boys are! Hugs to one and all!

Sue said...

I have a feeling she knows exactly how nice it was.

What a fun thing to see her with President McKay. I remember meeting him as a child, and he blew me away. Quite a presence he had.


kelly said...

She certainly was a beautiful woman, I love the look of old photos.

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