Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Russ's Funeral...A Life Well Lived!

These past few weeks have kind of blended into one big blur. It is a very surreal feeling around here! Everyone has left and it is very quiet. Debbie is in Ontario now with her side of the family. They are keeping her busy I am told. She left about a week after the funeral. She had somethings she needed to do before she left and once she got them done they were on there way.

If you are wanting to see any of the pictures bigger then you just double click on them and they should go bigger for you.

This was the front of Russ's funeral program. Russ's life truly was A Life Well Lived! The wheat in the background was something we all thought was fitting for Russ.

This is what you saw when you opened up the program.

Russ's youngest daughter Niki, his daughter in law Barbara (me) and his sister in law Donna all gave the Tribute talk together. I was so glad we had each other up there supporting one another as we gave his tribute.

A family friend (actually it is the father of one of Russ's daughter in laws...Melanie, who is married to Jeff) Noel Burt gave a wonderful spiritual message.

A few people have requested copies of the tribute talk and the spiritual talk that were given. If you would like a copy email me at and I can send you copies.

We also had ALL primary aged children that were there come up and sing I Am A Child of God. It was so neat to see these children all up there and hear there sweet voices sing this song. Russ would have loved it and did love it I am sure =)

We picked this as one (the above song) of the songs to be sang at the funeral as we thought it spoke volumes on how Russ felt about missionary work. He LOVED his mission and so badly wanted to be back with the Malaysian people. He was such a great example to us all!

The last song that was chosen to be sung was Families Can Be Together Forever. This was a hard song to sing, but at the same time we wanted to yell it from the roof tops and let everyone know how we felt. The spirit was strong as we sang this song. We truly believe and know that families can be together forever! We look forward to being with Russ again one day.

This was the back of the program. We thought it was very fitting to have his missionary name tag on there.

(Monday, July 13 2009)

These pictures show the table displays we had set up at the church for people to look at. There was our recent family picture, a picture of Russ and Deb on their mission in Malaysia, his scriptures, his mission name tags, a picture of the farm where he grew up and his missionary photo book from when he was 19 years old.

These were some of the table center pieces at the luncheon. The ladies who put the luncheon on for the family did these all on their own without us knowing. They came up with the idea of incorporating red and wheat into them as Russ was wrapped with a red blanket when he was first born and then of course the wheat is something that is just Russ and him being a farmer. We were pleasantly surprised and SO touched that they did this!

The luncheon after the funeral at the church in the gym. We had buns, salads, deli meats and lot's of desserts. We didn't have too long to eat & visit as we needed to get on the road to get to the graveside for the scheduled time.

Flower arrangements sent to the funeral from family and friends

Slide show of Russ throughout his life
(this was played at the luncheon after the funeral)

Sorry I am still trying to figure out how to get the slide show on here. If anyone can tell me how I would appreciate it =)

The slide show was put together by Russ's nephew Dean. He did a great job and did it all with such short notice...he pulled it off! Thanks SO much Dean, you are wonderful and we are so appreciative!

The funeral went as well as can be expected. Deb had a family friend named Donna make the flower spray that goes on top of the casket. Deb and the kids wanted Donna to incorporate wheat into the flower arrangement since Russ was a farmer and all. There was even wheat on the casket...just like Russ's Dad had on his. There was wheat on the corners and a "Dad" decoration as well. Just a little something extra they can put on caskets now I guess.

The corner decorations on Russ's casket

Casket flower arrangement

Russ was buried in Cardston, Alberta where he is from. It is about a 2 1/2 hour drive south of Calgary where the funeral itself was held. On the way down the weather wasn't nice and it was raining. So we weren't too happy about that. But much to our surprise the rainy weather hadn't reached Cardston yet so the grave side went well with no rain. The minute we were done and leaving the drops started coming. Russ's Aunt Jesse told me that she knew the weather would cooperate for Russ =)

The Pallbearers carrying the casket to the graveside.

The Pallbearers were Russ's 4 sons (Kent, Mike, Jeff and Gary) Russ's 2 son in laws (Mike and Darren), and 4 of his nephews (Kyle, Daryl, Derek and Dean).

The honorary Pallbearers were Russ's grandson's:
Cole, Tyson, Taylor, Josh, Logan, Roel, Macintyre, Lucas, Mitchell and Dylan

and 1 nephew:

Russ's brother Dwight did the dedication of the grave. Russ and Dwight were very close and so were their families. So it felt very appropriate to have Dwight do this for his brother.

You can see in the pictures the weather that was coming. The weather was really calm at the cemetery, a little chilly is all.

Most of the women and grand kids were each given a flower from some of the flower arrangements that were there. We each placed our flower on the casket one at a time as a way of showing our love.

The "GOOD" Family...Deb's maiden name is Good!
We LOVED having ALL of Deb's family here! There was around15 people in our house staying here. And each day there was around 30-40 people here in the evenings. Our ward and friends brought food each day. We were so touched with all the love and help we got from everyone. Each day we had more than enough food for was such a HUGE help!

Having Deb's siblings and parents here was such a blessing for us as we needed them more than we realized. Each of them played such a big part in our day to day life and helped in more way than I can even say. THANK YOU , THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

They took over taking care of our boys as well so we could get things done and not worry. We knew the boys were being taken care of and having fun and it gave us such peace of mind. We love that they love them and that the are so accepting of them. We couldn't have done what we needed to and wanted to do if they all hadn't been here...we love them for that! We are so grateful our kids had a chance to get to know them better. FAMILY IS SO IMPORTANT!

I keep thinking back to when they were all here and I am still amazed by it all. I love that they all came and took over and took such good care of Deb, us, my kids and our home. We have been so preoccupied with taking care of Russ and trying to also take care of Deb and be there for them that we didn't realize how much we were needing it as well. They all brought us much needed relief and support!

I have fallen more in love with the "Good" family =) You are and were like angels that swooped in to wrap your arms around us...and ohhhhh did we need it and we felt it! Words can't express how thankful...we love you guys and we SO appreciate all you did.

A big shout out to my family as well...THANK YOU so much for keeping Brynley for the week that you had her! Brynley is a 9 month old busy little girl and we wouldn't have been able to get the things done so easily if she had been here. It freed up us being able to spend all those last special days and time with Russ and come and go as we needed. THANK YOU for taking care of her at the meet the family and at the funeral as well. You were life savors and we LOVE you and appreciate all you did for us. Brynley loved being with you all so much that she didn't want anything to do with us when she was brought back to us ha is funny now, but at the time it about broke my heart that she wouldn't come to me. She loved her Poppa and they had such a special bond.

Our "new normal"...
We are trying to make a "new normal" around here now that things have slowed down. Kent and I keep commenting on how we feel almost lost like we don't know what to do with ourselves now that Russ is gone. Taking care of Russ kept us very busy everyday and it became such a HUGE part of our daily lives and our daily routine. We miss taking care of Russ and the importance that brought to us each day. Day to day life just isn't the same now that is for sure.

These past few weeks have been very emotional for all of us. We keep being told with time it will get easier. Helping Deb clean out her room and taking all of Russ's stuff out of there was especially hard on us. But on the other hand we were so glad to be apart of helping Deb with it all. When Kent had tears running down his face he would leave the room without Deb seeing him and he would come back in when he had gotten himself back under control. Little things kept setting us off. We didn't want to upset Deb so we didn't let her see us get upset. Seeing Russ's hair on his shirt and smelling him was what made tears pour down my face...also seeing and smelling the lotion that I would always put on his head and ears really got to me. Kent and I would just take turns leaving the room and we would just smile at each other in passing.

Kent and I were driving home the other night from Sheri's when that song by Lonestar came on the radio called I'm already you know it? Tears poured down our cheeks as we didn't need to say anything to each other we just knew what each other was feeling and thinking...we just held each others hand and cried and listened to the song. After the song was over we admitted to each other than when our minds are still and we aren't busy we both are constantly thinking about Russ. Little things trigger the memories and that is a good thing....just hurts the heart is all =)

The tribute talk...
Ever since the funeral there are things I keep thinking of that I wish we had said as well...BUT, that is how it goes. It is really hard to sum up a 58 year olds life when you are only given 15 minutes to do so.

When the family was discussing who they thought should give the tribute at the funeral I was shocked when they brought up my name. Kent was the one who suggested it and everyone agreed. I wanted to kill Kent for suggesting me as he knows how terrified I am about getting up in front of people and speaking. It truly is my biggest fear and I get MAJOR anxiety about it....therefore I don't speak in public normally. I cried when they all asked me if I would help do it as it was what they wanted. I really wanted to do it, but didn't think I could because of my anxiety! I have to tell you a calm came over me and I knew I could do it and I was excited to do it...believe it or not. I felt so honored that they would want me of all people to help give the tribute. It also helped knowing I wouldn't be up there by myself...made it way easier for sure! Amazingly enough when it was time for us to go up there I was pretty calm. I so badly wanted to do this for Russ as I loved him like he was my own Dad! When we were standing up there I was amazed with how comfortable I felt and how at peace I was feeling about the whole thing. He was a great man and is SO incredibly missed already!

Russ was an amazing man! He touched a lot of lives and helped SO many people in so many different ways. We love hearing peoples stories of how Russ touched their lives or their memories of him. So if you have any story to tell us or want to share anything with us PLEASE do as we would love to hear it.

We love Dad very much and we will continue to live our lives the way Heavenly Father wants us to so we can be a Forever family and be with Dad again one day!

Thank you to everyone for all of your love and support!


Lynn said...

Awesome Awesome Post! I have been waiting to hear. Thanks SO much for sharing it.

I am sad that we weren't able to get off work to come to the funeral, but I was very glad for the opportunity to go to the viewing.

I would LOVE to have a copy of the tribute and spiritual talks that were given. I really appreciate the thoughtfulness. I knew that you would give a great talk! I did not know that you have an anxiety about speaking in front of people. I do too. How nice that the spirit helped to calm you.

I keep thinking about what you said about the "Good" family. Wow! What an appropriate name.

Welcome home Barb! I know you and Kent will have many wonderful memories of Russ for years to come.

Kendra said...

I just wanted to say that you did a wonderful job giving the tribute talk. All 3 of you did. It was very heartfelt, and I'm sure made Russ smile :)

The Caballero's said...

Barb, I feel so speechless. I keep reading this post over and over again and can't stop the tears from pouring down my face.

Russ was one of those men that you felt you were a better person for just knowing him. I feel so grateful to have had him and his beautiful family in my life. He will be sadly missed, never forgotten and greeted anxiously and warmly by MANY in the next life. I know I can hardly wait to see that goofy sincere grin of his again :)

Love you guys SO much! Take care

The Stones said...

You did great Barb! I don't think anyone can read this without crying. We all miss him more than words could explain, but you've done really well. love ya

Erica said...

What a beautiful testimony you bore in this post about the knowledge of eternal families. You are a wonderful example of a woman who lives what she knows to be true and I'm sure Russ is so proud of you and your whole family. May the Spirit continue to comfort you at this difficult time. I just can't imagine the roller coaster of emotions you have been through. Lots of love and hugs-Erica

Kent and Barb said...

Thanks everyone =)

Anonymous said...

Pictures of a very personal and emotional FAMILY event..... how considerate of you to make sure that the FAMILY wanted these published all over the internet. Class act!

Deborah and Russell Stanford said...

There is someone who wants to remain anonymous out there who feels the blog of Russell's funeral was in bad taste. I feel very sad for them if it has offended them. This blog was done by Barb at my request. Russ and I have many friends and family in Eastern Canada, the USA and in Asia who asked us to do this so that they could share this very emotional time with us. I personally am pleased with Barb's efforts and our children are as well. If there is offense I wish that person would contact me and let me know so that I can share with them our feelings on the matter. Whoever you are please know that no offense is meant just communication for those who felt left out of the process because of distance and lack of funds to be here.

Deborah Stanford

Sheri said...

Thank you for writing this, Barb. I love looking at the reality of the situation, even though it hurts my heart sometimes because it makes me miss my dad. Please know that whoever wrote as "ANONYMOUS" makes me just as sad because I am happy with the emotions showed in the pictures.Obviously someone from the family, I guess that is why it makes me sad. We don't all feel that way. My mom's comment above proves this. Everyone is different and some obviously take offense easy, most of us know that it was from the heart! Too, bad. I will agree that this post was indeed a class act, though! Too bad they were sarcastic, I am not.Feel the love from the rest of us, Barb. We mean it!

The Stones said...

This post is wonderful! I'm so glad mom asked you to do this Barb. You are amazing at this blogging stuff. Mom asked you to do it with the best of intentions. Any FAMILY of mine would have absolutely no reason to be offended. Even though these may be personal photographs, I am so glad Mom wanted to share them with people. I think it is in very bad taste for someone to make such a negative comment, when this blog is your family journal. This post was dedicated to my father and he would of loved it!

Sheri said...

I was able to get onto this site, thanks from Sheri. Russ was a wonderful man! His life needs to be celebrated and his truly was! We were unable to make the funeral, however not a day goes by that Gord and I don't think about how you or any of the family feels. Your love for one another is wonderful and this gift of love was and has truly been felt. To say that you had that kind of relationship with your father-in-law is awesome! All your pictures and words were very tasteful and heartfelt. God Bless you and keep you! To each one of your family members, Deb, and Sheri...always in our thoughts! Gord and Angie Rose