Friday, April 23, 2021

A ‘Christmas’ card for a coronavirus year

Daily Inter Lake | December 27, 2020 12:00 AM

We’ve almost made it. Only five more days of 2020.

There’s probably not a soul who isn’t looking forward to turning the last page on this calendar. We’re all exhausted.

As the Inter Lake’s primary obituary editor, let me tell you this year hasn’t gotten any easier as the months crept by. It’s remarkable how many families have had to write obituaries for their loved ones this year.

When we lost my oldest brother to a heart attack last November, my mother, my siblings and our spouses were able to gather for his funeral, a reception with his friends and friends of our family, and then for Thanksgiving dinner at my mother’s home in Cincinnati — the first time in years we were all together.

But that wasn’t to be when my mother died of natural causes in April during an emerging pandemic. Only eight of us could attend her Mass due to covid restrictions. No reception, no fellowship permitted afterward at the church, no public gathering at the cemetery. We never had the chance to celebrate Mom’s life with her many friends. As time went by, the absence of any chance to share stories, memories, or sorrow weighed heavily on my heart.

Three years ago, the family threw a grand party for Mom’s 90th birthday. I designed and ordered 75 invitations on cardstock featuring a teal peacock feather with gold lettering, both the choice of colors and the bird a nod to Mom’s flair for style. We had great food, libations, a band and everyone who came from near and far to celebrate Mom danced, including Mom.

We are so glad we had that party!

Thankfully, Mom never knew her funeral services would be restricted.

At the time of her buria, we hoped it would be possible to have a celebration of life later this year. But the coronavirus war waged on into fall, taking its devastating toll on the country. It became obvious we would not be able to plan an event this year, flying being risky and, especially, since most of Mom’s friends are elderly, a large gathering would put them at further risk.

The idea came to me to design a custom memorial card using the same company I’d used to create her birthday invitations. Though the website didn’t have any templates specifically for that purpose I found one I could make work, to say what I wanted to say and with plenty of room for a lovely photo of my mother (In her younger years she’d actually been mistaken for Elizabeth Taylor more than once … and we’d been regaled by those stories more than once).

The card went out to 70 of Mom’s friends and relatives describing our family’s desire to connect with them in a meaningful way to celebrate her life.

My “Christmas” card for 2020 asked Mom’s friends to remember her in some of the ways she would have loved — singing and listening to the great songs of her era, praying to the Blessed Mother, planting flowers next spring, or enjoying a glass of wine at sunset.

I gave the location of her gravesite — a pretty, peaceful cemetery — in case others could visit. And those who do visit over the holidays, will find a Noble fir Christmas wreath marking her grave. Ever the decorator, Mom would have loved that too.

Community Editor Carol Marino can be reached at